Breaking Up is Hard to Do: The Eurozone and the political economy of monetary disintegration

Graham Bird

Published: September 2012

From a position some years ago where the euro was seen as set to challenge the dollar as the world’s leading currency, there are now serious concerns that the ongoing Eurozone crisis will lead to some countries eventually withdrawing from it, beginning a process of European monetary disintegration. In retrospect, insufficient attention was paid to the economics of optimum currency area theory when the Eurozone was set up, and too much to the apparent political imperatives of European unity. Reversing the process of European monetary integration is not straightforward. There are significant uncertainties, but there are also serious doubts as to whether the reforms needed to sustain the Eurozone in its current form will be introduced. The withdrawal of some of the weaker economies does not signal the end of the euro. By analogy, while some marriages are based on close compatibility, and are successful and long lasting, others encounter irreconcilable differences. In these cases divorce, although unpleasant and stressful, may be the preferred outcome.

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