WASHINGTON, DC – Today’s conventional view of the eurozone is that the crisis is over – the intense, often existential concern earlier this year about the common currency’s future has been assuaged, and everything now is back under control.
This is completely at odds with the facts. European bond markets are again delivering a chilling message to global policymakers. With bonds of “peripheral” eurozone nations continuing to fall in value, the risk of Irish, Greek, and Portuguese sovereign defaults is higher than ever.
This comes despite the combined bailout package that the European Union, International Monetary Fund, and European Central Bank created for Greece in May, and despite the ECB’s continuing program of buying peripheral EU countries’ bonds. Heading into its annual meetings in a few weeks (followed by the G-20 summit in Seoul in November), the IMF is bowing to pressure to drop ever-larger sums into the EU with ever-fewer conditions.
Indeed, official rhetoric has turned once again to trying to persuade markets to ignore reality. Patrick Honohan, the governor of Ireland’s central bank, has labeled the interest rates on Irish government bonds “ridiculous” (meaning ridiculously high), and IMF researchers argue that default in Ireland and Greece is “unnecessary, undesirable, and unlikely.”