(K. Brent Tomer),
The Euro and the Battle of Ideas. By Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James and Jean-Pierre Landau. Princeton University Press; 440 pages; $35 and £24.95.
THE euro crisis that first blew up in late 2009 has revealed deep flaws in the single currency’s design. Yet in part because it began with the bail-out of Greece, many politicians, especially German ones, think the main culprits were not these design flaws but fiscal profligacy and excessive public debt. That meant the only cure was fiscal austerity. In fact, that has often needlessly prolonged the pain. Later bail-outs of countries like Ireland and Spain showed that excessive private debt, property bubbles and over-exuberant banks can cause even bigger problems for financial stability.
That is one early conclusion of “The Euro and the Battle of Ideas”, by three academics from Germany, Britain and France. They describe thoroughly the watershed moments of the crisis, how power shifted to national governments (especially in Berlin) and the roles played by the IMF and the European Central Bank (ECB). They blame euro-zone governments for failing to sort out troubled…Continue reading