By Amitabh Pal on January 02, 2012

Ten years ago on New Year’s Day, an economic measure was implemented that its architects thought would be celebrated forever. Instead, a decade later, the creation of the euro is seen as a major disaster.

A Europe-wide common currency has been a major cause of the economic crisis that has gripped the continent. By shackling the various countries in an economic straitjacket and by imposing brutal austerity and anti-growth policies over such a broad swath, the euro has made tens of millions suffer terribly. No wonder that even its inventors seem to be willing to forget what should have been a celebratory anniversary.

“Ten years later, the word ‘euro’ in a headline is usually paired with the word ‘crisis,’ ” reports the New York Times. “Instead of hosting celebrations for the ten-year anniversary, policymakers appear to be staying as quiet as possible. … In Brussels, there will be neither a ceremony nor even a news conference to mark the occasion.”

In a number of ways, the euro has been a major factor in the current continent-wide mess. First, it has prevented crisis-ridden nations from taking the necessary steps to revive their economies.

Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman explains.

“By going on the euro, Spain and Italy in effect reduced themselves to the status of Third World countries that have to borrow in someone else's currency, with all the loss of flexibility that implies,” Krugman writes. “In particular, since euro-area countries can't print money even in an emergency, they're subject to funding disruptions in a way that nations with their own currencies aren't—and the result is what you see right now.”

And the European Central Bank, with its German-driven agenda of extreme fiscal conservatism and anti-inflation hawkishness, has played a terribly detrimental role. Its approach makes the Federal Reserve, with its attempts to stimulate the American economy in the wake of the subprime debacle, look positively enlightened by comparison.

“Some kind of history was made in Brussels, where Germany, enforcing its hegemony in all the wrong places, imposed changes in the European treaties that make fiscal austerity permanent and legally binding, with sanctions for slackers,” writes Andy Robinson in The Nation, narrating what happened at the summit meeting a few weeks ago. “It was like the Treaty of Versailles after World War I, only the other way around, with Germany now on top.”

No wonder some astute economists are calling for countries like Greece to exit the euro—a move that will effectively spell the end of the decade-long project.

“Greece cannot afford to settle for any deal that does not allow it to grow and make its way out of the recession,” Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic Policy and Research wrote in the New York Times some months ago. “The attempt to shrink Greece’s way out has failed. If that’s all that the European authorities have to offer, then it is time for Greece, and perhaps others, to say goodbye to the euro.”

Ten years after the folly of its creation, it is time to give the euro a decent burial.

If you liked this article by Amitabh Pal, the managing editor of the Progressive magazine, please check out his article entitled "The Year the Protester Took Center Stage."

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A plea to United States citizens to work for peace

An Indian journalist globally renowned as an advocate for the poor, Palagummi Sainath detailed the detrimental...

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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