To me the biggest lesson regarding the continuing and on-going megafail that is the Eurozone is the fact that we have definitive, living proof that is productivity is not a virtue, and that it is indeed possible to over-produce. That leisure and "laziness" have positive merits. When some countries (people) produce more than they consume, it isn't necessarily a sign of individual national (personal) virtue, and it certainly is not reliable evidence even of their own prudence.
Germans in particular were encouraged to produce more than they consumed. Since we live in a world in which the law of conservation of matter holds, this means that there are only two possible destinations for the surplus:
- The landfill/incineration/midden heap/the sea.
- Other people.
We haven't yet entirely reached the level of depravity where we'd openly admit to doing (1). So the excess was exported to other people: most importantly, other Europeans. What wasn't exported directly to them were turned into savings that chased investments in, e.g., the Spanish housing sector.
But what was consumed by other Europeans was exactly what the other Europeans in the indebted countries did not produce, or stopped producing. Which makes perfect sense, because subsidized excess production sold from country A to country B means that it's not economical to produce in country B, especially when country B can no longer protect (ECONOMIST ALARM BELLS) itself from country A.
What should happen is that country A eventually increases its consumption, and brings everything back into balance, or country A stops overproducing.
Country A (i.e. Germany and, really, all the other Eurozone surplus countries) is not increasing its relative consumption, even though its goods have been purchased with enormous debt from country B. And the citizens of Germany are coming to the increasingly angry realization that they aren't going to be paid back for what they produced and have now apparently given to the "slackers" in the Euro south. Who, in the meantime, are suffering under massive unemployment and state austerity.
So the (quite literally) trillion-dollar question is, where did all those payments go? What was all that debt created for?
I leave that question as an exercise for the reader.