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posted on 18 November 2015

The Euro Was Pointless, Recent Conference Finds

by Dirk Ehnts, Econoblog101

An article on FT's Seeking Alpha makes the point that euro was pointless from the very beginning:

In retrospect, it's clear the euro simply shifted risk from exchange rate fluctuations to defaults (for foreign creditors) and nominal income (for domestic workers and businesses). This wasn't sufficiently obvious at the time, however, or we wouldn't have seen such massive growth in cross-border banking and portfolio flows within the currency bloc before 2008.

Contrary to what the euro's founders believed, it now appears the absence of monetary union is what's needed to channel capital flows most productively across borders. That's the real tragedy of the single currency: it was pointless from the start.

Participants were high-ranking policy makers and mainstream academic economists, which is a bit surprising. It seems that now, eight years after the sub-prime crisis and the following euro crisis, the policy makers finally consider the idea that the euro was not a good idea. It can be fixed, and it should be. Else, the European Union will disintegrate. UKIP in the UK and Front National in France are putting political pressure on the governing elite, it seems. The recent events in Portugal might also play a role. Otherwise, why is the criticism coming up only now? Heterodox economists have been saying for many years that the euro would not work, and most American, British and Swedish economists agreed (which is why the latter two countries opted out of the euro).

Let me also point out that I do not agree with the above article. Channeling capital flows is not as important as it is made out to be by the orthodox economists. Savings are not needed for investment, bank loans are. So, the orthodox economists are still short of understanding what happened in the euro zone.

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