If the people of Europe want an ever closer union, or if an ever closer union evolves naturally out of a sense of common identity, that’s OK. But being duped and forced into marriage because the PIIGS are all pregnant and Germany is the father, though all of them thought they were just holding hands and nobody told them that sharing a common currency was quite such an intimate relationship — is another thing entirely.
If you spun a globe and stopped your finger 12 times on 12 random countries, they just might make more sense for a monetary union than the euro zone.
That’s the conclusion from this awesomely clever chart showing the difficulty, and maybe impossibility, of the euro experiment.
Here is what this chart shows. Compared across more than 100 factors measured by the World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Report, from corruption to deficits, JP Morgan analyst Michael Cembalest calculates that the major countries on the euro are more different from each other than basically every random grab bag of nations there is, including: the make-believe reconstituted Ottoman Empire; all the English speaking Eastern and Southern African countries; and all countries on Earth at the 5th parallel north.
And here is your tweetable fact: A monetary union might make more sense for every nation starting with the letter “M” than it does for the euro zone.
Euro zone unemployment just hit a 15-year high. German unemployment just hit a 15-year low. What can those of us across the Atlantic glean from this seemingly bipolar state of affairs? That austerity, every economic conservative’s favorite prescription for an ailing economy — the medicine Republicans here in the United States are pushing hard — is an utter disaster.
A few euro zone members, including Germany and the Netherlands, are enjoying a relative jobs boom. And yet, europe’s overall unemployment rate is 10.8 percent. How is this possible? Because of depression-level unemployment in Europe’s austerity-plagued periphery. […]
This should put to rest the notion of “expansionary austerity” — that is, that budget cuts can spur growth by giving businesses increased confidence. It has been an epic, epic failure with interest rates at zero. The more a country has cut, the more unemployment it has. Greece, Spain, Portugal and Ireland have all had markets (and Germany) force them to radically reduce deficits amidst already deep slumps. The result has been even deeper slumps. Joblessness has jumped to levels not seen in advanced countries since the 1930s.
Read more. [Image: Eurostat]
Euro area sovereign spreads vs. 10y bunds