Slowly, but surely, the cat is emerging from the Eurozone bag – and it’s a ruthless, snarling beast with sharp claws, hardly the fluffy pussy the International Monetary Fund and Europrats of Brussels would have you believe.
Because a doomsday scenario is being shaped by the ominously-understated Euro Working Group (EWG) in the event – likelihood more like it – of a Greek exit (‘Grexit’ in money-market speak), after next Sunday’s second General Election in weeks for the vote-weary Greeks is predicted to deliver a resounding win for far-Left, anti-austerity parties.
The plot being hatched by the EWG is likely to act as a template for other errant nations that won’t take their German-prescribed medicine (note to Spain’s PM, Mariano Rajoy: ‘Swallow the bitter pill, amigo, or else’) and it amounts to this:-
- Suspension of the Schengen Agreement, thus reintroducing border checks at all Eurozone frontiers (to halt a rush of money smuggling);
- Capital controls to staunch a run on banks;
- Limits on cash withdrawals from ATMs
Cristine Lagarde, the IMF boss, still refuses to predict whether Greece will leave the euro, claiming that ‘It’s going to be a question of political determination and drive’.Whatever this coded sentiment or loosely-construed threat actually amounts to is anyone’s guess, but last week billionaire investor George Soros, who knows a thing or two about currency trading, indicated the EU has three months to sort out its financial crisis or its curtains for the euro.
And, however Lagarde, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Rajoy and the Brussels’ spouters dress it up, this week’s €100-billion ‘rescue’ package for Spain’s ailing banks was nothing but a straightforward sovereign loan to buy time and precious little else for Rajoy’s regime.
As a consequence, to all intents and purposes the European Central Bank now has first charge on Spanish assets. So any private investor buying Spain’s government debt bonds (are there are any still loco enough to do so?) will be relegated to the end of the queue if it ever comes to pay-back time.
That essentially freezes the country out of the capital markets, so its financial destiny is wholly hocked up to the IMF/EU forever and a day, unless Spain follows the Grexit with a Spexit and eventually quits the euro for a return to the peseta (Portugal and Ireland get ready to dust off the escudo and punt, respectively).
Naturally, the Europhile politicos and Europrats will cry into their Chablis that their dream of a single-currency, one-size-fits-all mish-mash has been shattered and their power is gone.
But the flip side is we might return to the original ethos of the Common Market – a tariff-free trading zone, with the unhindered passage of goods, people and cash, not some ill-conceived United States of Europe, where nations cede their national identities to an unelected, anti-democratic ruling clique of Euro bullies.
Naturally, it means an end to straight bananas and the survival of cheese-and-onion crisps – both proscribed by Brussels – but somehow I think we can live with that.