Paul Lachine

Striking Euro Gold (and Silver)

The alternatives for Europe’s currency, the euro, seem increasingly limited to a desperate muddling through or a chaotic collapse. But there is a bolder and more productive approach that relies on past experience with multiple currencies.

PRINCETON – The alternatives for Europe’s currency, the euro, seem increasingly limited to a desperate muddling through or a chaotic collapse. But there is a bolder and more productive approach that relies on past experience with multiple currencies.

The threat posed by Europe’s current policy impasse can hardly be overestimated. In the early 1930’s, monetary-policy incoherence paralyzed US policy, with the Federal Reserve Bank of New York locked in insurmountable conflict with the Chicago Fed over monetary easing (at that time through open-market securities purchases). Today’s chronic policy disputes between Germany and France are producing a level of uncertainty that is potentially even more destructive.

Every few months, European governments launch a new and ever more ingenious initiative to resolve the eurozone’s debt crisis. For a day (and sometimes only for a few hours), financial markets rally euphorically. But soon doubt sweeps back in. There is no sense of a realistic endgame. And there is no longer-term vision of how the fiscal integration needed for the effective operation of a monetary union could be achieved in a practical timeframe.

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