The Non-Crisis of the Euro
BERKELEY – The global financial crisis has breathed new life into hoary arguments about the euro’s imminent demise. Such arguments often invoke Milton Friedman, who warned in 1998 that Europe’s commitment to the euro would be tested by the first serious economic downturn. That downturn is now upon us, but the results have been precisely the opposite of what Friedman predicted.
Unemployment is rising – and with it populist posturing. In countries like Italy, already suffering from Chinese competition, and Spain, which is experiencing a massive housing bust, the pain will be excruciating. Yet neither country shows any inclination to abandon the euro.amp#160;
They understand that even whispering about that possibility would panic investors. They see how countries like Denmark that maintained their own currencies have been forced to raise interest rates to defend their exchange rates when the United States Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank are cutting interest rates. They see how, if there was still a lira or a peseta, they would be experiencing capital flight. They understand that they would have to fend off an old-fashioned currency crisis at the worst possible time. They appreciate that there is stability and security in numbers.