Archive for January, 2012

Loss of Sovereignty

According to the Financial Times, Merkel wants to make the new bail-out conditional on Greece giving up fiscal sovereignty to a “budget commissioner” with veto power who is to be appointed by the eurozone finance ministers. Without knowing the precise details, of course, it is too soon to evaluate this possible proposal, however, one is left wondering, first, if this is really necessary and, second, if it is constitutional. Besides, the issue at hand is that the Greek government cannot implement reforms fast enough because of resistance by special interest groups and unions. How is a budget commissioner going to help with reforms outside the public sector?

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Watching the Greek news daily on (satellite tv) has convinced me of a communication issue. Admittedly the Greek government has its hands full with the PSI “haircut” and the troika demands. But it assumes that the average citizen knows enough economics to realize that the only choices right now for boosting competitiveness are exit from the euro and serious devaluation of the drachma or euro retention and serious internal devaluation, unfortunately through substantial reductions in labor costs. As we argued in earlier postings, even though this comes down to a political decision, economists would mostly agree that staying in the euro is more beneficial for the long run, unless Greece ends up having no choice. If clever journalists cannot get this, why does the government assume that everyone else can?

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