NEW YORK – It has been three years since the outbreak of the euro crisis, and only an inveterate optimist would say that the worst is definitely over. Some, noting that the eurozone’s double-dip recession has ended, conclude that the austerity medicine has worked. But try telling that to those in countries that are still in depression, with per capita GDP still below pre-2008 levels, unemployment rates above 20%, and youth unemployment at more than 50%. At the current pace of “recovery,” no return to normality can be expected until well into the next decade.
A recent study by Federal Reserve economists concluded that America’s protracted high unemployment will have serious adverse effects on GDP growth for years to come. If that is true in the United States, where unemployment is 40% lower than in Europe, the prospects for European growth appear bleak indeed.
What is needed, above all, is fundamental reform in the structure of the eurozone. By now, there is a fairly clear understanding of what is required: