Blanchflower: EFSF changes not enough because markets are leading policymakers

The Bloomberg interview with David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College last week captures the essence of the European sovereign debt crisis. The essence of what Dr. Blanchflower says is this: European policymakers are leading from the rear and that has meant an escalating crisis which is now too far gone to be fixable. He calls it “the economics of Dither”.

I think he has it right. The dithering by policymakers has created contagion where they have consistently said they were looking to avoid contagion. Just today, another French bank has come under the microscope because of its poor liquidity situation. This time it is Dexia, a French-Belgian group that was already bailed out in the 2008 panic. European bourses are down in a major way with banks leading the charge. Dexia has traded down by 14% as it has been put on review for downgrade due to its Greek debt exposure.

My comments a year ago on the policy-making approach in Europe still hold:

But now that it has gone pear-shaped, the EU has repeatedly tried to get through this crisis by making little fixes and tweaks without addressing the fundamental problems of excessive sovereign debt on the one hand and bank undercapitalisation on the other. They have their heads buried in the sand.

A few thoughts about the euro crisis and the psychology of change, June 2010

Blanchflower video below

1 Comment
  1. David Lazarus says

    This is not a liquidity problem. It was and has always been a solvency issue. Ever since 2007 when Nouriel Roubini pointed this out the banks have been avoiding the issue. The US banks may have re-capitalised themselves quite successfully as have a couple of UK banks, but many are still hiding their losses. Austrian and Swiss banks might report worse than expected as a result of Hungarian property losses. The contagion was always there. The balance sheets were a mess in 2007 and still are.

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