The more I read about the Eurozone sovereign debt crisis, the more I worry. It’s unclear though whether I worry more because I’m learning more about the scale of the problem, or if reading about it is, in and of itself, making me unnecessarily anxious. Politicians offer me little reassurance, talking mostly to the markets.
“Politics cannot and will not simply follow the markets,” Chancellor Merkel said on Sunday. Only, politics has no choice with Europe facing its greatest challenge since the Yugoslav Wars.
Merkel’s words may be an attempt to stand up to the markets. Or maybe they’re dishonest, since she really has no choice but to follow the markets and try to keep them calm. She could mean that it’s real growth, not the day-to-day fluctuations of the markets, that should concern politicians. She could mean that that structure and speed of the legislature is incapable of dealing with markets moving so quickly, demanding so much.
It’s all opaque, and our leaders offer us little to hold on to for hope. Wanting someone to parse things, I end up listening to people like Nouriel Roubini. He writes that a second Great Depression could be around the corner and that the only solution is in stimulus, infrastructure investment, progressive taxation, regulation, bank break-ups, stronger welfare systems, and social safety nets for enhance productivity. Forcing growth seems like a good way to recover. But those ideas are entirely too progressive for a conservative and austerity-embracing continent.
It’s worrying that I am only reassured because Europeans are not at war with one another, summer vacation continues regardless, and it’s not end of the world. It’s just 2011.
Credit: European Parliament