Exporting Stasis: A European Delusion

July 20th, 2014
in Op Ed

Euro-zone Politics and Social Instability Seem To Be Inching Towards A Showdown

by Roger Erickson

Time to say goodbye? Shauble Calls on Italy to Pursue Structural Reform

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble called on Italy to pursue its ambitious structural reform efforts if it wants to boost its economic-growth prospects. Mr. Schauble said:

"Especially since growth forecasts for Italy have been reduced recently, it's important to reform and cut the debt level convincingly.  Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi has presented ambitious and broad-based reforms.  The Stability and Growth Pact is the foundation for politico-economic cohesion in Europe."

Follow up:

Euro-zone politics and social instability seem to be inching towards a showdown over making a simple choice.  Neuter the fiat?  Or allow cultural growth?  Seems like an easy choice, for those able to think clearly, so what, exactly is Schäuble demanding?  Three distinct interpretations come to mind, but they're all guesses.

#1 Is Schäuble calling for every country to be a net exporter, like Germany? Really?

It's hard to imagine a collection of stereotypical engineers ... who nevertheless won't admit that the sources/sinks of production/consumption (not the dimensionless liquidity units) have to roughly balance in a growing global economic system.

There still seems to be a widespread inability to separate liquidity units from saving units. Schäuble isn't the only one blind to the obvious.

Fiat currency is NOT the right vehicle for stable, long-term savings.

That is WHY the linguistic terms "asset appreciation" and "interest rate" were invented!

Labor wages can't be the ONLY variable that "inflates"!

I blame our outmoded education system - (and Germany's too) - for not including something so fundamental as a basic part of education. There is a difference between dynamic and static assets, and how they are denominated. Failure to grasp that is partly killing many aspects of policy.

#2 On the other hand, perhaps Schäuble is drawing a line in the sand and saying - for EEU "politico-economic cohesion" - that there can be only one .... net exporter?  Fine.  He still doesn't come out and acknowledge the required running sectoral balance between production and consumption - and the tolerance limits for deviations from it, in the form of demand leakages (savings). Has anyone met this guy, and hence have any idea what he's really thinking?

#3 Do you suppose that Schäuble's master plan is to export static assets to the future? :)  Instead of exporting increasing options to future generations?  Perhaps he has a point worth considering ... for maybe 5 seconds.  Just imagine where we'd be if our grandparents had put every Model-T into long term storage, instead of using them at the time. :)  Fine again! If Schäuble's message is really all that valuable, surely the Europeans should just put HIM into cold storage, and preserve his valuable message for some time in the future, when his descendants will clamor to stop doing whatever they're doing, and instead do less. :)

He might want to take an extra pair of pj's to the cryo chamber, in case the slumber party lasts longer than he expects.  Good way to export pj's too! :)

All joking aside. It's no longer clear what structure Schäuble is keen on reforming, but his own brain circuits might be the best place to start. It's rumored that vigorous exercise of both body and logic ward off Alzheimers and preserve the ability to think clearly.

Exporting clarity and context awareness?  What a novel thought! :) Now that might be a way for Germans to have their exports and increase their dynamic value too!

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