This book is written by a man who wants to see the European experiment succeed, but is not confident that it will succeed. I think this is a fair book on the topic; it does not absorb all of my biases on why I think the Eurozone is hopeless: a) Currency unions have never worked; they must either become a nation, or break up. b) I have a saying, “Governments are smaller than Economies, and Economies are smaller than Cultures.”
This saying puts things in their place. Government can’t in the long run prevent things that are economically successful, those things fill human needs. But cultures are bigger than economies; we don’t live to consume. We live for ideals. Different cultures have different ideals, and it means that a purely individualistic or collectivist view of economics won’t be accepted in the Eurozone. They muddle in the middle.
The Eurozone is a political and economic experiment, and was pretty successful and harmless until they began to seek a common currency. Yes, there were other problems, bureaucrats in Brussels, seeking human perfection though regulation, helped to strangulate a previously more competitive Eurozone economy. That said, the common currency offered some offsetting advantages of efficiency.
But there are other troubles. There are unaffordable pensions in many countries that lie behind that economic problems. As one who is 51, and well off, why should anyone, aside from oil wildcatters, who endure a lot of physical stress retire at age 50 on the largess of the taxpayers, that is, if you have taxpayers.
Even retiring at age 60 is ridiculous, which France has recently reverted to from 62. France will never be able to afford it as a nation.
But then there are cultural issues: do you care what your laws are? Would you care if immigrants are ruled by Islamic Law? Would you care if your grandchildren, a minority like the Maronites (Roman Catholics) in Lebanon, are ruled by Islamic Law?
The Main Economic Issue
After all of the strangu-regulation, what if economies can’t grow at levels sufficient to exceed the rates at which they borrow? They slowly fail, as debts grow, and doubts about repayment grow.
In the Euro-zone this is particularly pertinent, because countries can’t depreciate; they must repay in Euros. When the Euro was introduced it was heaven for many nations, because they could borrow cheaply. Eventually, they had too much debt, and lenders rebelled.
This is the nature of an area that is not a natural currency area — the Eurozone. This was an experiment doomed to fail.
None, but I would be a full Euro-sceptic. This can’t work. More effective human labor is always better than less.
Who would benefit from this book: If you want to learn about the problems in the Eurozone from someone that is fair, you will find it here. If you want to, you can buy the book here: The Decline and Fall of Europe.
Full disclosure: The PR flack asked me if I wanted the book, and was kind enough to send me the book.
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