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What the economists are saying about Europe

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As the euro zone crisis shows no sign of resolution, economists and analysts are becoming increasingly pointed in their criticism of European policy makers. Here is a sample of recent comments on the financial stalemate in the EU:


On his New York Times blog, Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman says the dithering by euro zone leaders reminds him of the Peanuts' Lucy, who pulls the football away just as Charlie Brown is about to get his kick:

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"There has been a rhythm to the euro crisis: again and again, investors start to realize how bad things look, and spreads rise; then policy makers put together some sort of response, which produces a partial (but only partial) return of confidence, until it becomes clear just how inadequate that response was; then return to step one."


At The Globe's Economy Lab, Constantin Gurdgiev, head of research with St. Columbanus AG, says euro zone policy makers can't stop themselves from kicking the can further down the road: "The fourth year into the crisis, and all G20 meetings have evolved into predictable verbal ping-pong: the non-EU nations urging Europe to deal with the crisis and the EU representatives returning boisterous claims that "robust," "timely," "resolute," "decisive" solutions are being planned. More admonitions for action follow even more "resolute" claims of Europe planning to unveil a "definitive" road map to a plan for resolving the crisis. Ad infinitum. ....So let's just do more of the same: Plan for the plan, hold decisive summits and keep the cash-for-junk scheme going at the ECB. All so totally European in terms of absurdity and predictability."


Karen Cordes Woods and Derek Holt of Scotia Economics say, "Moody's is on to the child's shell game that appropriately characterizes the response to Europe's debt crisis thus far. Swapping one nation's debt for another via contingent guarantees entails no free lunch. They've moved it around so much underneath different shells that no one seems to know how much of it sits underneath which shell."


Guy Foster, head of portfolio strategy at UK investment manager Brewin Dolphin, says both Greece and the euro zone need to come clean with investors: "A confession that banks need to recapitalise will only work though, if it is made in conjunction with a second confession; that Greece will not repay its outstanding debts. ... That such a crisis has been allowed to develop is a travesty that has already inflicted serious damage upon Europe and its trading partners. In large part this comes down to the failure of both the debtor, Greece, and the creditors, the European banks, to take that crucial first step."

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At the Wall Street Journal, University of Pennsylvania law professor David Skeel, sees parallels in Europe with the situation in the United States three years ago: "Greece is Europe's Bear Stearns. If the European Union continues to treat rescue as the principal option for Greece, and to treat "default" like a dirty word, it is headed down the same path the U.S. took in 2008. As bad as that sounds, the consequences of going the bailout route will be far worse than they were in the U.S."

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