22
May

A Strong Currency II

Escrito el 22 Mayo 2011 por Mikel Aguirre en Economía Global

 A current anecdote in the FT shows the uncertainty in the EU:
A story is told of a man sentenced by his king to death. The latter tells him that he can keep his life if he teaches the monarchs horse to talk within a year. The condemned man agrees. Asked why he did so, he answers that anything might happen: the king might die; he might die; and the horse might learn to talk. (M.Wolf, Ft.com, The euro zone’s journey to defaults, 10.Mai 2011).

During the late 90’s, political tensions and fights within the core of old European countries and the Mediterranean ones-became one of the major concerns. There was a lot of controversy, already forgotten, when the European Monetary Union was created.  As the last goal was to achieve a political union it was decided to be obtained by what today does not seem as such a good strategy: an economic union.

Such task posed a main obstacle and that was the asymmetric size and structure of the different State members’ economies. In order to overcome this problem, some economists claim the Maastricht criteria-set so as to determine whether or not a member was eligible for joining the Monetary Union-had been literally “cooked”. Some experts also believe the integration of some peripheral countries like Spain or Greece was utterly premature. If we take into account the current conflict of interests between the PIIGS block and Germany we will come to the conclusion that the strength of the Euro is becoming a destructive weapon. Germany is Europe’s most thriving economy. The policies historically implemented German governments to keep the gap between salaries and inflation as narrow as possible by effectively controlling both sides of the equation; this has enabled the Germans to resist and keep domestic consumption afloat.

Although a cheaper currency and low interest rates may foster exports and be, at least in theory, potentially beneficial for peripheral States it is not for Germany, even if it sounds illogical. We should also bear in mind that a strong currency enables the Euro Area to purchase goods at a lower cost because of the exchange rate-especially dollar-euro. This is crucial when it comes to talk about energy since many European Monetary Union countries, except for France, have high energetic dependency and need to purchase it from non-Euro markets-petrol overall-where the trading currency is the US dollar.

Finally we should have in mind that the last decade the emerging countries have acquired a 5% of external debt in foreign currency.  Meanwhile the external debt of the euro zone countries has increased a 50% in EUR.   The lenders did not have a careful approach about the debt in the same country of the debtor and finally this has been a mistake as the economy in Greece is, for sure, completely different to the one in Germany

Don´t you think that the main issue why the euro zone is the actual situation is because nobody worried about debt in the same currency?

PD: Thanks to Hubertus Halmburger and Pedro Arcas for their ideas and comments

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