For a project intended to draw Europe together, the euro did surprisingly little to build solidarity. German voters endured a recession two decades ago after bringing in their brethren from the Soviet bloc. They now appear unwilling to spend a pfennig to help the Greeks, Spaniards, Portuguese, Irish or Italians. Conceived as a tool for integration, the euro could, instead, tear Europe apart.
Some two decades ago, when Europe’s leaders worked out the details of their grand vision to connect the European Union with a single currency, virtually every economist on this side of the Atlantic — and most of those on the other — figured out that the euro would be fatally flawed. What took economists some time to understand was that Europe’s leaders didn’t much care what they thought.“The European Commission did invite economists to present their views. It was a Darwinian process,” said Paul De Grauwe, professor of European political economy at the London School of Economics. “I was invited, but when I expressed my doubts I wasn’t invited anymore. In the end only the enthusiasts were left.”The single currency served an overriding political objective. Like the single market before, it was conceived primarily as glue to bind Europe more closely together, tie Germany’s prosperity to that of its neighbors and prevent a third world war from the Continent, which had brought us two. A few engineering flaws wouldn’t be allowed to get in the way of such an important project.
By Eduardo Porter, May 15, 2012 NYT