I promised a personal evaluation of the Positives and Negatives of the euro. They aren't in any particular priority order.
- It has helped to avoid a third World War. [I don't actually give it credit for this but others do.]
- It has eliminated exchange costs, so making cross-border travel easier between some member countries.
- It has benefitted the German economy.
- It has brought Eastern Europe closer to Western Europe.
- It has forced the French to speak a bit more English. [OK, I'm scraping the barrel here.]
- Because of its (inexplicable) strength against the dollar, it has made worldwide trade more difficult for most eurozone members
- It has heightened tensions between member states.
- It has created a North-South divide.
- It has engendered divergence rather than convergence.
- It has encouraged phoney asset booms in Spain and other countries.
- It has encouraged corruption on a massive scale.
- It has strengthened, rather than weakened, nationalist sentiment.
- It has delivered to Germany a leadership it doesn't want and probably can't exercise.
- It has created very high levels of unemployment in Spain and other countries.
- It has visited on populaces the sins of the corrupt and the incompetent, leading – for example – to thousands of evictions in Spain.
- It has wrested political and economic control from democratically elected governments and given it to an undemocratic, unelected cabal of the EU, the ECB and the IMF.
- It has prevented troubled governments from having recourse to devaluation to help their economies improve.
- It has condemned Spain and other countries to at least 10 years of minimal growth.
- It has caused an increase in the size of the black economy in Spain and almost certainly in Greece and Italy as well.
- As someone has put it – “It has crippled half of Europe”.
So, I'd have to say the net balance is negative.
But what will happen next?
I don't know.
But I do know that every commentator believes that nothing will be solved until there's a fiscal union and a real central bank.
They also seem to agree that these are nowhere in sight. Which says all you need to know about the EU - An institution burdened with huge problems but incapable of solving them.
This week a senior German figure - the chairman of a scientific council that advises the finance ministry - said: “Europe is important to me. Not the euro. And I would only give the euro a limited chance of survival.” Asked whether he thought the single currency would last five years, he replied: “Five years sounds realistic.”
Who am I to argue?