Waarom Duitsland moet leiden of opstappen

NEW YORK – Europa is al sinds 2007 in de greep van een financiële crisis. Toen het faillissement van Lehman Brothers de kredietwaardigheid van financiële instellingen in gevaar had gebracht, werden particuliere schulden vervangen door staatsschulden, waardoor een niet eerder ontdekte zwakte in het fundament van de euro aan het licht kwam. Door hun recht om geld (bij) te drukken over te dragen aan de Europese Centrale Bank (ECB) stelden de lidstaten van de eurozone zichzelf bloot aan het risico van een staatsbankroet, net als derdewereldlanden die kampen met zware schulden in buitenlandse valuta's. Banken die veel staatsobligaties van de zwakkere eurolanden op hun balans hadden staan, werden potentieel insolvabel.

Er is een parallel tussen de aanhoudende eurocrisis en de internationale bankencrisis van 1982. Destijds heeft het Internationale Monetaire Fonds het mondiale bankenstelsel gered door nét genoeg geld te lenen aan de met schulden overladen landen; staatsbankroeten konden vermeden worden, ten koste van een langdurige depressie. Latijns-Amerika kende een 'verloren' decennium.

Duitsland speelt nu dezelfde rol als het IMF in 1982. De omstandigheden zijn anders, maar de gevolgen zijn hetzelfde. Crediteuren schuiven de hele last van het aanpassingsproces af op de debiteurenlanden en ontlopen hun eigen verantwoordelijkheid.

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