Barry Eichengreen in Charles Wyplosz se v sveži kolumni v VoxEU seveda hecata. Opisala sta kronologijo reševanja evrske krize … kot bi se reševanje krize moralo zgoditi. Če bi leta 2010 evropski voditelji priznali, da je grški dolg nevzdržen, če bi Nemčija in Francija sanirali svoje banke prek bail-ina in če bi ECB zagotovila izredna likvidnostna sredstva bankam in začela s programom kvantitativnega sproščanja, bi bilo krize konec že leta 2012. In evropsko gospodarstvo bi lepo raslo in inflacija bi bila okrog 2%.
Seveda se nič od tega ni zgodilo, “modri” evropski voditelji so v navalu nacionalističnega egoizma naredili vse, kar se je dalo, narobe. In kriza je še vedno tukaj, deflacija in banke pred kolapsom. In danes po tej travmatični evrski izkušnji, ki še kar traja, seveda nikomur več, razen norim Baltom, ne pade na misel, da bi se pridužil kakršnikoli monetarni uniji.
What happened next – a set of decisive steps that quickly resolved the Crisis – was nothing short of a miracle, made possible by a combination of steely resolve and economic common sense. In their historic 11 February 2010 statement, European heads of state and government acknowledged that the Greek government’s debt was unsustainable. Rather than ‘extend and pretend’, they faced reality. Lending Greece even more money would only render it even more heavily indebted and force it to undertake an even more draconian fiscal consolidation in order to maintain the fiction that it could pay back what it borrowed. In any case, there could be no bailout of the Greek government, given the Maastricht Treaty’s prohibition of such measures. Greece, European leaders insisted, had to restructure its debt as a condition of external assistance.
The French and German authorities nationalised their worst-hit banks and bailed in their large creditors. Spillovers to the US and global financial systems were minimal. Members of the Bundestag congratulated themselves for having defeated moral hazard. The French lionised Mr. Sarkozy, the presidential candidate now wearing the mantle of François Mitterand, the esteemed leader who nationalised banks in 1981.
The answer came with Trichet’s famous ‘do whatever it takes’ speech in London in late 2010, the ECB president having concluded that the central bank’s lender-of-last-resort responsibilities trumped his desire to be seen as a Teutonic-style inflation fighter. Recognising that bank resolution, however well organised, took time, the ECB cut interest rates repeatedly in early 2011 to offset the deflationary effects. It then initiated a programme of quantitative easing, purchasing government bonds at a rate of €100 billion a month initially for two years. That spreads had fallen made the nationality of those bonds a non-issue, which in turn made this substantial volume of purchases possible. Lower spreads also made it easier for the Irish and Spanish governments, both lightly indebted, to continue running modest budget deficits, thereby supporting the continued expansion of their economies.
It helped that Germany, with leadership from Merkel, relaxed its efforts to eliminate its own budget deficit. Ever the realist, Merkel concluded that it was impossible to keep turning down other countries’ requests for a bailout without offering a helping hand in the form of faster growth in Germany. She accepted the argument, made by the IMF and the Commission that resolving the Crisis required rebalancing within Europe and that rebalancing could not occur solely through deflation in other countries. It required higher wages and prices in Germany.
Thus, by the end of 2012, following three years of turmoil, the Crisis was over. Growth in Europe had resumed. That growth enabled governments to begin narrowing their budget deficits, reassuring the markets of the sustainability of their debts. Aggressive easing enabled the ECB to hit its 2% inflation target. With prices rising by 4% in Germany, rebalancing within the Eurozone proceeded without forcing a disastrous deflation on countries like Greece.
What is remarkable, in hindsight, is the combination of pragmatism and reasoning based on sound economic principles displayed by European leaders. Instead of finger pointing, they acknowledged that they were collectively responsible for the Crisis. Rather than allowing macroeconomic policies to be dictated by ideology and doctrine, they modified their policy stance in response to evidence. Instead of allowing their decisions to be dictated by the bank lobby, they stood by their no-bailout rule. The IMF similarly stood by its principles, pushing for debt restructuring and relief despite warnings of impending disaster by the bankers.
The Dutch and Finns, among others, continued to suggest that the Stability and Growth Pact should be strengthened through the application of even more intrusive and bureaucratic measures. Old ideas die hard. But as fiscal positions strengthened, their counterproductive proposals were shelved. As debts declined to sustainable levels, control over national fiscal policies was restored to national governments. Those who claimed that the euro could not work without political union were proven wrong. The ultimate measure of success is that policymakers in various parts of the world are now actively contemplating own monetary unions of their own, following the European example.
Vir: Barry Eichengreen & Charles Wyplosz, VoxEU