July 08, 2015

History, more than blaming Greece for the crisis, might marvel at how Greekish Europe became.

Sir, Martin Wolf, making a case for Eurozone solidarity towards Greece writes: “Blame for the mess lies quite as much with irresponsible (mainly French and German) private lenders…” “If Greece leaves, the euro will be fragile.” July 8.

By now Martin Wolf knows that European banks, between June 2004 and November 2009, were allowed to lend to the government of Greece against only 1.6 percent of capital, which meant they could leverage over 60 times to 1 their equity. And so the first part in that call for solidarity would be much stronger if stated as it really was: “Blame for the mess lies quite as much with irresponsible bank regulators named by Eurozone governments giving irresponsible private lenders incentives to lend too much to Greece…”

But beware, European banks can still lend to most European sovereigns against much less capital than what they are required to hold when lending to the European private sector. And by doing so Europe still implicitly holds bank credit to be more efficiently used by their government bureaucrats, than by their entrepreneurial citizens. And most, including Martin Wolf, keep on turning a blind eye to this absolute lunacy.

Wolf also argues: “Blame for the mess lies [also with] the governments that decided to provide the loans to Greece with which to bail those lenders out. This refinancing was of negligible benefit to Greece”. Since the implication of that is that, instead of private lenders’ shareholders suffering losses from lending to Greece, it is now the Eurozone taxpayers who will… that might provide great political incentive for the Eurozone’s leaders to double down on “solidarity” towards Greece… pushing the can further down the road.

All young Europeans need to learn much from seeing the Greek pensioner’s not being able to cash in their bank cheques. Europe and the euro are fragile, with or without Greece.