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January 30th 2009

EU Periphery Laments Euro Membership

Only last year, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain were collectively the pride of the EU, boasting strong growth characteristics and buoyant capital markets. In hindsight, this was but a mirage, as the stability of Euro-membership allowed such "peripheral" economies to embark on a colossal building boom and spending spree that was ultimately baseless. Greece, which is perhaps in the worst shape of the lot, witnessed its twin deficits (government debt and trade) rise to dangerous levels; given its membership in the EU, it is unable to resort to currency depreciation to rectify the problem.

The illusion has since been shattered, and it seems investors are trying to overcompensate for their previous naivete. Yields on government bonds for all five countries have begun to creep up, and a handful of speculators are betting on the possibility of default. Most experts insist that such a scenario is unlikely, but at the very least, the credit crisis has exposed the chinks in the armor of the EU, demonstrating that the currency also has its drawbacks. The New York Times reports:

While sharing a currency with some of the mightiest economies in the world helped Europe's poorer nations share in the wealth, a boon during boom times, in hard times the rules of membership are keeping them from doing what countries normally do to ride out economic storms, including enormous spending.

Read More: Once a Boon, Euro Now Burdens Some Nations

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Posted by Adam Kritzer | in Euro, Politics & Policy | No Comments »

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