Lars P. Syll – MMT perspectives on the euro

In her unsuccesful general election campaign of 2017 Theresa May promised “strong and stable” leadership. Look what Britain got. The same was promised with the euro. What the euro-nations got was German ideological obsession for rules over reality.

Lars P. Syll is an economist at the Faculty of Education and Society at Malmö, Sweden, not to mention a prolific blogger on his own website.

Cross-posted from Syll’s blog

When the euro was created twenty years ago, it was celebrated with fireworks at the European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt. Today we know better. There are no reasons to celebrate the 20-year anniversary. On the contrary.

euroAlready since its start, the euro has been in crisis. And the crisis is far from over. The tough austerity measures imposed in the eurozone has made economy after economy contract. And it has not only made things worse in the periphery countries, but also in countries like France and Germany. Alarming facts that should be taken seriously.

Europe may face a future with growing economic disparities where we will have​ to confront increasing hostility between nations and peoples. What we’ve seen lately in France shows that the protests against technocratic attempts to undermine democracy may go extremely violent.

The problems — created to a large extent by the euro — may not only endanger our economies, but also our democracy itself. How much whipping can democracy take? How many more are going to get seriously hurt and ruined before we end this madness and scrap the euro?

The euro has taken away the possibility for national governments to manage their economies in a meaningful way — and in country after country, the people have had to pay the true costs of its concomitant misguided austerity policies.

The unfolding of the repeated economic crises in euroland during the last decade has shown beyond any doubts that the euro is not only an economic project but just as much a political one. What the neoliberal revolution during the 1980s and 1990s didn’t manage to accomplish, the euro shall now force on us.

austerity22But do the peoples of Europe really want to deprive themselves of economic autonomy, enforce lower wages and slash social welfare at the slightest sign of economic distress? Are​ increasing income inequality and a federal überstate really the stuff that our dreams are made of? I doubt it.

History ought to act as a deterrent. During the 1930s our economies didn’t come out of the depression until the folly of that time — the gold standard — was thrown on the dustbin of history. The euro will hopefully soon join it.

Economists have a tendency to get enthralled by their theories and models and forget that behind the figures and abstractions there is a real world with real people. Real people that have to pay dearly for fundamentally flawed doctrines and recommendations.

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1 Comment

  1. Decades ago I read about some unemployed people complaining about lack of jobs. Of course they meant regular work that paid a living wage. By that time I did not have a job, nor paid work, but I kept myself occupied with keeping fit, which costs nothing if you have plenty of time, and reading in the library, which also is free. As an unemployed person, one would have little money, but few people these days, in Europe at least, are not able to connect to the internet or have access to good books. Looking at the youth unemployment figures for the Eurozone countries, it strikes me that there is a huge resource there which the neo-liberal kleptocratic technocracy is happy to ignore. The Left, presumably in opposition to the current globalisation ideology, has also neglected this huge human resource.
    Even more important is the fact that the unemployed young people themselves are neglecting this enormous store of human, exonomic and sociopolitical potential. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to raise one’s awareness by oneself. Political awareness is something that political activists take generations to inculcate within the hearts and minds of targeted populations, but unless the Left have a hidden agenda, I don’t quite understand that the political opposition does not get to work on this. I know the Left are divided between democrats, sort of, and internationist totalitarians, and the political centre is at war with itself. It’s only the Right which appears to be slowly coming together. I have spoken to young people occasionally. Politically, they are a closed mind. If ever the young in Europe get to see the broader picture of global politics and get their heads around it, there would be a revolution in Europe. Perhaps one should call it a counter-revolution. The revolution has already happened in almost all of the western democratic nation-states. To wit: Parliamentary democracy has been hijacked. Few people have yet to notice. Maybe the democrats in Europe should wake up to what’s been happening.

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