Late night daydreaming

The whole day had been rife with twitter rumours. Mostly they'd been about military armoured cars driving around on a weekend and trucks being commandeered.

I was out walking the dog for his late night walk, when I saw a police car roaming the streets of our village.

That was odd. The police don't bother with our village, because hardly anything happens here. There is the occasional minor car accident. Last year a motorcyclist got himself killed launching his bike off the dike in an ill-considered overtake manoeuvre. I think that's the last time a police car was spotted: screaming through the village, sirens, lights and all.

This one was cruising along, both passengers looking slightly tense, I thought.

When I got home, my wife told me there was going to be some announcement. She was a bit miffed too, because the announcement, apparently broadcast on all stations, was interfering with the latest episode of 'Rizzoli and Isles'.

All stations interrupted their program at about the same time, with a journalist (a different one from each station,though all of them from the same location. You could even see the others in the background of the shot of one) telling us about an emergency press conference. Speculation there was a lot of, but flipping through the channels it became clear that not one of those present had any idea what was about to happen.

After a couple of minutes of inane MSM chatter, the conference room was entered by a government press officer and the prime-minister, followed by the ministers of foreign affairs, the interior and finance, as well the the director of the Dutch National Bank (DNB). All of them looked haggard and a bit frumpy, with crooked shirts and badly knotted ties.

The press officers started the meeting with a "Ladies and gentlemen, the prime minister will make an announcement. Afterwards there will be a brief opportunity for asking questions. Please keep all of your questions until after the announcement". The camera shifted jerkily to the prime-minister, as he arranged his papers and cleared his throat. My, but did he look ill at ease when he started.

"Ladies and gentlemen, fellow citizens of the Netherlands,

The European debt crisis, which started in Greece, is spreading and is now seriously affecting the Dutch economy. A loss of trust in the European single currency and European capability to honour its obligations is hampering, even blocking, Dutch businesses from earning money. The continued crisis is now threatening to destroy pension funds and institutional investors to the point that the Dutch welfare system is under threat of collapse.

Let me stress that we value our neighbouring countries. We value continued cooperation within Europe. The Netherlands is a trading nation and we will commit ourselves to continue fostering close relations with befriended nations across Europe and the world.

But when an economic system threatens to destroy what we have been working for, for over 60 years, we must ask ourselves if that system is the right solution. Continued participation in such a system threatens to leave many hard-working Dutch without a well-earned pension. It is even threatening all Dutch with loss of all their savings. Not because of something we did ourselves, but because of the irresponsible behaviour of banks and governments within what was supposed to be a union of responsible and dedicated member countries. When confronted with such a dire situation, a government is left no choice but to honour the responsibility bestowed upon it by the people that have elected it.

For all of these reasons, your government has come to the conclusion there is now no other alternative, but to withdraw from the monetary union and the euro. Starting at midnight all national transactions, accounts and deposits will be denominated in new guilders. Initially they will be exchanged on parity. This means that one new guilders will be equivalent to one euro.

As we speak, all financial institutions are working to ensure a smooth transition. But this is a big project, which will take more then an evening. Therefore, this government has declared tomorrow, Monday, a bank holiday. Businesses and shops will be closed, you will not have to go to work. This affords our country the time needed to finish the transition and ensure all businesses, shops and banks will have sufficient amounts of the new currency to facilitate normal, day-to-day transactions. As of Tuesday, you will be able to shop for your evening dinner as you did before, be it with a new, and at the same time old an familiar currency."

The PM went on a little while longer, mainly to stress the friendly relations he was convinced could be maintained with the rest of what used to be fellow EUnion member states. But I stopped paying attention. The neighbours were out, ringing doorbells, opening champagne bottles and toasting anyone who'd come out.

We were free again. We were a country again. It was a long and unforgettable night.
Sorry about that. I just had to indulge a little. With EURef I hope that something like the above will come to pass.

But I just saw the Sarkozy speech, and I am not optimistic. In nine days time, we may be find ourselves part of something truly awful. Something which, if the signs don't lie, our own government will not protect us from. If that is the case, I will keep the above as a reminder of what could have been. Of something that should have been.

13 reacties:

Oggie zei

As a Brit

thespecialone zei

Seems my comment crashed as Oggie so now I am posting as a guest!.  As a Brit and first time visitor (directed from eureferendum) we can only hope that one day your dream will come true.

DP111 zei

KV

I just don't see how the Euro is going to go out of business. The most important fact is that there is no political will in the Eurozone against the Euro, and then to go through a very fraught period of change for everyone.

1. No political will

2. The leading members of the Eurozone are fully committed to the Euro. As long as they do not say otherwise, the Euro will stay.

3. The peripheral Eurozone members, Greece etal,  would still like to be in the strong shelter provided by the Euro, backed as it is by the likes of Germany. If they left, they would be at the mercy of the financial markets, in which they will have no say.

4. The IMF, would not like the Euro to be dropped.

5. Neither does the USA.

6. The markets worldwide would stand to lose a lot of money if the Euro is killed off. So there is any real interest to see it killed.

Despite all the expert opinion on this side of the channel, I believe that the Euro will not go out of business.  The currency of any nation or nations, is a political act. It may collapse in value but will stay the official currency until there is a political act against it.   

Perry zei

Committment to the Euro is one thing,; being able to pay for it is another.
The 30% differential between south & north in Europe is genetic,
cultural & historical. If Greeks were Germans etcetera, etcetera, etcetera!



The EU is a black Monnet hole. Billions more Euros will be thrown onto the funeral pyre before this Shakespearean tragedy is over.
The markets worldwide may well stand to lose a lot of money when the
Euro collapses, but as they are not part of the solution, it stands to
reason that the markets are part of the problem. Merkozy are doomed.

DP111 zei

Perry

I realise that there is 30% differential between North and South, but how does that affect the decision, which is a political one. 

In the US, there is also a differential between the financial integrity of states. Yet the dollar stays.  

AlternateJE zei

There can be no other outcome than the end of the euro. Sarkozy has stated that he is willing to sacrifice sovereignty over the continued existence of the euro. Other nations will follow suit. Than decision making will come in the hands of the eurocrats and we have all been abel to see how those eurocrats handle the big decisions: very, very slowly. So either the euro ends now because there is no future in it (which - of course - is the case), or it has to end years from now. Either from the fact that that the big decisions don't come and the financial en economic state of the EU deteriorates uncontrollably, or the fact that all EUnations loose a too large portion of their sovereignty, the EU is governed by eurocrats and the people won't feel represented at all in a democratic system. In that last case we will see war: not for the fact that de EU or the euro have stopped existing, but for the fact that the EU continues to exist, no matter what the costs.
Either way, the euro's span of life is limited or extremely limited.

DP111 zei

AltenateJE

The trouble is that economic and political pundits were forecasting the demise of the Euro by December 2011. Last month the forecast was by mid December the Euro will be gone.  Then the forecast that the demise will take place just after the 10th anniversary of the Euro (March 2012).

I just dont believe it anymore. To me it seems that we are being played for chumps. This is a drama, in which the politicians get star billing. They have tried to be celebrities, and that is what it seems to me now. They meet, they hug(whats with this hugging business), they come out for photos, but thats it. Its just a celebrity fest. Politicians, like actors, want to be in the limelight. That is why even Cameron jets around Europe to get into the picture, though the UK is not in the Eurozone. Look at them. They are having a whale of a time.
 
I will stand fast and say that the Euro will be around for the longterm. It will go up and down as normal currencies, but thats it.

Klein Verzet zei

Oggie, thanks for stopping by and leaving your thoughts

DP, I think I am with Perry and AlternateJE on this one. The options for the euro are, as far as I can see, collapse in the short run, or collapse in the longer run. It cannot just cannot survive.

The worst-case scenario will be trying to keep the euro at all cost. This will bankrupt the entire Eurozone, and possibly the entire EUnion. Collectively the EUnion does not make nearly enough to service, let alone repay, the debt that is owed. Economies are shrinking, making the situation even worse.

Letting the ECB print money will destroy any faith left in the euro and will in all likelihood make a Zimbabwe of us all.

But I would venture that before we reach that state at some point some country will decide it has had enough, social unrest is getting to much, we're quitting, thank you. That will be the signal for a stampede, I would guess.

You are of course right: Letting go of the euro is as much a political decision as was the decision to adopt/introduce it. But economic realities may force politicans hands.

That is what Merkozy and their merry band of crypto-Marxists are to thick to get through to their skulls: Politics doesn't rule the economy. It is the other way around. Adam Smith knew that already some 300 years ago.

AlternateJE zei

Your point is taken but merely up to the point of a euro that consists of those nations that have and are still able to comply with all the rules set in the Maastricht treaty. France isn't one of them but pretends to be so. But your point also confirms the possible sense of misrepresentation by the general populus in the eurocrats. And not only the eurocrats that have their arses stuck to EU-parliamental chairs, but also those national politicians who are willing to limit or end their nation's sovereignty. Especially in those nations that are bound to bleed to 'reward' nations that - in most cases- have wilfully broken the EU's budgetary rules (in some cases by downright fraud). The war I mentioned (ansd I will conceed to the fact that I'm very sceptic) will therefor not be between European nations, but will be a civil war between euro-critics en euro-huggers.
Again, but I will slightly refrase, the life span of the euro AS IT IS TODAY is limited. And I might add to that: If that is not the case, than the life span of democracy as we know it today is limited. Either one has to cave in if this crisis is to be solved.

DP111 zei

KV, Perry, AlternateJE

I think one has to attach some numbers to "short" term and "longterm". If by longterm one means years, then it is for practical purposes, for good, as no one knows what the longterm future is. 

We will have the Euro for the longterm, that is atleast 5 years. The EU and the Euro along with it, may die as a consequence of other events - a civil war as a consequence of a conflict between Islam and the West, but not just due to the present crisis. 

AlternateJE zei

Nations like the USSR (what an example!) could only survive because they were led by violent dictators. It took 70 years to end that suffering. Hence my last addition: either democracy or the euro has to cave. Sure, the EUSSR will survive for a decade, and maybe even more, but the situation (the euro or the EU as we know it today) can not be sustained for another, let's say, 30 to 50 years (which adds up to up to 70 years since 'Maastricht'). But that horizon will come with extremly costs. I won't be surprised to see the situation change within 5 years. By then several nations will have concluded that continuation will have and will continue to cost them too much.

DP111 zei

AlternateJE

If you expect the Euro to last for 5 years, then  fine. As far as I'm concerned that is in the far future - a week is a long time in politics thing. But what I find in the papers and even knowledgable blogs, is that they dont expect the Euro to last even 6 months (it was a month at most a few weeks back). To give an example, for Merkel to get an agreement from the German constitutional court for a EU treaty change will take up  to 2013, they say. That the commentators assert is too long, as the markets will not wait that long. The implication is that the Euro will die or be killed before then. 

Europe is a rich continent by any measure. The demise of the Euro cannot be accepted by the EU elite as that would lead to the unravelling of the EU. 
That has implications in other strategic arenas, of greater moment then the current problem of debt. The Euro problem will thus be fixed soon enough. BTW, The EU is adept at wriggling out of constitutional requirements that it itself made.

Thanks for the interesting discussion. 

 

DP111 zei

AlternateJE wrote: Hence my last addition: either democracy or the euro has to cave.

I failed to take note of that comment. It depends on how the EU defines democracy. We have seen that the EU is averse (allergic) to referendums - so Direct Democracy will not be on the agenda. It was enlightening to see the vitriolic attack on the Greek PM when he suggested that the Greek people need to have a say whether they wished to accept pain in exchange for Euros (perfectly sensible). The upshot - an elected PM of a supposedly sovereign nation was fired. 

Once this Euro debt crisis is settled, the EU is going to make some token concessions to the plebs, as they are conscious of the democratic deficit.  

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