Paul Lachine

The German Hour

A series of events over the last few weeks have set in motion a downward spiral for the eurozone. Unless officials – especially German officials – act fast, financial markets’ verdict will be ruthless.

BRUSSELS – A series of developments over the last few weeks have set in motion a downward spiral for the eurozone. Unless officials – especially German officials – act fast, the verdict of financial markets is bound to be ruthless.

First, the eurozone has failed to turn the tide. Mario Draghi, President of the European Central Bank, was right to note that, despite numerous ministerial meetings and three summits, implementation of the decision to increase significantly the firepower of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) is still lacking. There are now growing doubts about the effectiveness of the EFSF.

Second, and partly as a consequence, virtually all eurozone countries’ debt is trading at a discount relative to German Bunds. While it was necessary to price risk more accurately, it is difficult to believe that the Netherlands, with a debt ratio nearly 20 percentage points lower than Germany’s, deserves to be assessed as a higher default risk. But now even the mighty Bund has started to suffer from heightened market anxiety.

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