Выбор редакции

The euro zone crisis: A cunning plan?

OVER the last 24 hours, a couple of contacts have posed an intriguing question. Has the latest stage of the euro zone debt crisis been part of a cunning plan? Both Greece and Italy are forming technocratic governments and Berlusconi has finally gone. By the end of this week, indeed, the governments of all five countries in the PIIGS grouping (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain) will have changed since the start of the crisis if, as expected, the ruling Socialists lose power in Spain. The prospects for economic reform in the peripheral European countries look a lot stronger than before.Who is behind this plan? One could point the finger at Angela Merkel or at the European Central Bank; by not giving the peripheral nations a blank cheque from the German voters, or unlimited money creation, they have forced those nations to make hard choices.If it is a plan, then, to quote Blackadder, it has been "more cunning than a fox who's been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University". Until this autumn, the apparent aim of all the EU's rescue packages was to stop the crisis spreading to Italy and Spain; it has spread to both. Indeed, the borrowing costs of supposedly core countries like France and the Netherlands have been rising relative to those of Germany. Although it grew in Q3, the euro zone may now be in recession; that can hardly have been part of the plan.If ...