Tuesday, 17 July 2012


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:

  1. The landfill/incineration/midden heap/the sea.
  2. 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.


Geneviève said...
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Pseudz said...

Mandos, Thanks for the portrayal of apparently poorly meshed gears in the EU. I suppose that the accretion of an 'economic block' might have intended to give a countervailing weight in contests with economies of the size of China or the US - and maybe it's actually doing that to some degree. The internal messiness of the EU appears to suit a metaphoric representation by a bad disaster film:
12 - 16 back stories - told before the train, ship, dirigible leaves Moscow, wharf, ground. Characters display: pluck, fecklessness, cowardice, bravery variously in a preposterous and perilous escape from certain death.

Natch, that's silly. But had not Germany to make quite an 'accommodation' after re-unification?

My suspicion is that some in Germany will benefit handsomely from membership in the EU while a majority do not. Democratic tensions will ensue . . . much as they do with each of Canada's free-trade deals.

The scam of "rising-tides-lifting-all-boats" is fine if you're in a boat - - but the majority aren't in boats. Corporate feudalism appears to be spreading fairly steadily to this peon. I'm wondering how long the tattered 'false-front' of democracy can be propped up. How loud the music? How bright the bunting?

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