Can the European Union be saved? So ponders financier Soros (Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States, 2012, etc.), who fears that the unifying project of the euro “has gone badly wrong.”
A favorite bogeyman of the conspiratorial far right, the author admittedly draws criticism for having made much of his considerable fortune on betting on economies going south. The conditions for currency speculation, though, could not be better: As interlocutor Schmitz, a correspondent for Der Spiegel, observes, we live in a time of “reflexivity,” when perception and reality are badly mismatched regarding macroeconomics, causing instability throughout both markets and governments—instability that economists have been hard-pressed to understand. By Soros’ account, unfolded in these wide-ranging conversations with Schmitz, it was almost a self-fulfilling prophecy that the instability of the euro—touched off by the financial chaos of the Great Recession in America—should have affected the poorer nations on the EU’s fringe most profoundly. Greece and Spain, for instance, were relegated “to the status of Third World countries,” in part due to the weakness of their central banks. The discussion can be technical, but Soros is generally plainspoken; as a bonus, he is also quite revealing about himself, confessing that his wealth has allowed him to exercise his penchant for impressing his ideas on the world. As for the possibilities of the euro’s survival, Soros has definite ideas that may not please the already burdened taxpayers of Germany, whom he wishes to enlist in equalizing the cost of credit and instituting the “eurobonds” that the nation’s banks have resisted.
For economics and policy wonks, to be sure, but with interesting insights into the functioning of one of the world’s most powerful—and potentially far more so—economic blocs.