Monday, December 5, 2011

Munchau is depressed

Reading Wolfgang Munchau is not a lot of fun at the moment. His doom-laden pronouncements are all the more depressing for the fact that he is almost certainly right to predict that France and Germany look set to fudge it yet again.

In any case, at least the scenario is becoming clearer. The ECB will probably act if given the political backing, as Draghi suggested the other day. But Merkel only seems to want ECB action if the Southern Europeans commit to open-ended austerity. This is politically implausible, as well as being almost certainly economically counter-productive.

So here we are. If we were a game theorist, I could probably write a nice paper about this. It's basically a Prisoner's Dilemma game, but I fear it's an unbalanced one, because I'm not sure the Germans even understand what the cooperative outcome would be. So they dig in their heels.

Let's just hope they blink, because they're going to be dragged down by this as much as anyone else. What price those years of 'sacrifice' for competitiveness if they end up with a Swiss exchange rate and an insolvent banking system?