It’s crunch time for Europe

David Brancaccio Oct 26, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY

It’s crunch time for Europe

David Brancaccio Oct 26, 2011
HTML EMBED:
COPY

By Bloomberg’s count, today’s euro crisis summit is the 14th in 21 months. The big question is whether number 14 will result in anything more solid than the first 13. The eurozone leaders are trying to solve three main issues: a decision on how big a loss Greece’s creditors will face; a plan to get money to Europe’s banks — among the big holders of toxic Greek debt — and a way to increase the size of the EU bailout fund to help nations in trouble with their sovereign debt.

We talked with Jennifer McKeown, senior European economist at Capital Economics in London. She says of the three issues, the decision on how much of a haircut Greece’s creditors face is the most likely to be settled at the summit. But, McKeown says, anyone expecting a comprehensive “shock and awe” plan to emerge from the summit is likely to be disappointed.

McKeown says there’s just too much bureaucracy to manage and overcome. For instance, German Chancellor Angela Merkel had to get approval from her legislature just to attend the summit, not to mention how to approach the issues once she arrived.

In fact, McKeown thinks the problems are so intractable that they could lead to the breakup of the European Union. She points out that these issues are starting to cause domestic problems in countries across the continent, in debtor nations such as Greece and Portugal, and as well in the three biggest EU countries: Germany, France and especially Italy.

McKeown says the breakup could just be Greece departing the eurozone, or it could be much more widespread. She says she can imagine a scenario in which Germany has to leave. That nightmare scenario could result in a new German mark so overvalued that it brings Germany’s export economy down with it. McKeown also imagines a possible scenario in which Germany leads a new smaller union of countries that agree with its policies.

No matter what happens, McKeown says she can’t imagine this summit will be the one that solves Europe’s problems. McKeown says it could take many, many more such meetings before the Europeans get beyond their crisis.


Also on the show today, news that the cost of public and private universities are increasing faster than the rate of inflation is a big hit to the Marketplace Daily Pulse today. Tuition at private, four-year schools went up 4.5 percent this academic year. Public school tuition grew at a rate of 8 percent on average. Read the story.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.