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Europe's Deadlock [Kindle Edition]

David Marsh
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

In this short, fiercely argued book, David Marsh explains how five years of continuous crisis management not only have failed to resolve the Eurozone's problems but have actually made things worse. While austerity-wracked southern states descend into misery and resentment, creditor countries led by Germany fear that they will be forced to subsidize their weaker brethren indefinitely. Constructive dialogue has collapsed as European decision making descends into terrified paralysis, and the potential paths out of the impasse are blocked by indecision and incompetence at the top.
As voters in Greece and Italy rebel against externally imposed hardship, and the sums needed to bail out failed economies reach ever more staggering proportions, the contradictions at the heart of the European project are becoming more and more obvious. Marsh warns that the current succession of complex technical fixes cannot sustain the Eurozone on life support indefinitely. Radical solutions are on offer, but without leaders who are strong and principled enough to push them through, Europe risks a depressing future of permanent decline.


Product Description

Review

'Marsh is an expert chronicler of European monetary union, and his analysis deserves serious consideration.' --George Soros

'David Marsh's short book is a more sceptical take on the euro crisis. A seasoned Bunesbank-watcher and historian of the euro, he has long argued, as did the Bundesbank, that the single currency cannot work without fiscal and political union.' --The Economist, 18th July 2013

'An admirably lucid analysis. Marsh weaves together the politics as well as the economics of the euro.' --Lord (Nigel) Lawson

'A concise and devastating analysis...A must-read for all in the world of finance.' --Lord (Meghnad) Desai, Emeritus Professor of Economics, London School of Economics and Political Science

'Although I am more optimistic than David Marsh about the possibility of a political and economic solution to the euro crisis, he accurately identifies all the main problems facing Europe's present leaders.' --Gerhard Schröder

'An excellent read - I enjoyed every one of its 120-plus pages.' --Lord (David Owen)

'The euro crisis is a moving target, and only someone with David Marsh's remarkable instincts has the remotest chance of hitting it. The book is a bull's eye.' --Professor Barry Eichengreen

About the Author

David Marsh is chairman and cofounder of the Official Monetary and Financial Institutions Forum.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 353 KB
  • Print Length: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (15 Aug. 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00DZ231IS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #296,619 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick summary, nothing more 19 July 2013
By David Wineberg TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Kindle Edition
I had expected a sharply worded, highly controversial treatise on the euro and the eurozone. In a fast 120 pages, I expected new directions, new insights, and harsh accusations. But that's not what Europe's Deadlock is. It is instead a very competent, very quick history of the euro and what ails it.

We all see the headlines and the stories daily. We know southern countries suffer because they can't devalue. But while it is easy to say being in a common currency removes flexibility to act for your country, Marsh rightly points out the chaos created by weaker countries devaluing at will, bankrupting vendors in other nations. An example is the Italian lira, already nearly worthless, added more zeros after the decimal point when it devalued by 30% in the early 90s. The euro crisis is reminiscent of the gold standard, where individual countries could not bend the situation to their own advantage.

Nor is it any secret that instead of using their admission to the euro as the opportunity to rationalise their institutions and regulations, Ireland and the southern countries brandished it as proof of their merit. Their narcissistic selfishness is costing everyone in Europe today. Marsh barely glances off that image.

The recommendations at the end are futile - things like full political union. Forgetaboutit. These are enormously proud countries, many of the postage stamp variety. They will give up nothing. Nor would any other in the world. Marsh acknowledges his recommendations are "demanding."

So we are left with is a competent history, right up to the Cyprus banking disaster, but really not much else. If you haven't been following the rise and fall of the euro since inception, this book is a fine refresher.

David Wineberg
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
This book is a good read and short at around five hours reading. As the title suggests, this book is not a polemic putting forward a particular criticism or solution, but more like an exasperated insiders view of the messy reality. The book reflects in a very realistic and believable way, almost to the point of being jaded, the fudge and compromise nature of the way the Euro zone is holding together. The author reveals how the reality is very messy, with political imperatives impinging upon economic decisions. A strength of this book is that Germany's role is put firmly centre stage, which makes David Marsh well placed to tell the story. His snippets on what certain key actors in the drama have said and thought adds atmosphere to the dry bones of the story.

He describes very well what seems to be the central knot of the matter; that, in being inside the Euro zone, Germany benefits from a weaker currency than its own imports and exports would dictate, therefore exaggerating its creditor position. The opposite is true of the southern European states experiencing difficulties. Overlaying an American United States model would suggest that the surplus countries should allow strong wage and price inflation at home and also send out transfer payments, to diffuse this disequilibrium. But Germany's history and understandable reluctance to subsidise spendthrift foreigners further makes this unattractive. So the disequilibrium remains and a series of fudges and incremental crisis solutions keep kicking the can down the road. The book hints at how this disequilibrium is instead dissipated (as well as from the more obvious official rescue packages) through German banks buying assets and bonds in the southern countries. This was one area where I would have liked more detail.
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4.0 out of 5 stars What future for Europe? 8 Nov. 2014
Format:Paperback
A short, readable, polemic, which argues that five years of continuous crisis management have not only failed to resolve the Eurozone’s problems, but actually made them worse. ‘Constructive dialogue has collapsed and the potential paths out of the impasse are blocked by indecision and incompetence at the top.’ Strong stuff, and the programme outlined (p118-119) may be ‘unrealisable’, but more movement in the general direction outlined is taking place than the author recognises. Pity not more statistics and graphs of trends (including euro/$ exchange rate changes over the past 20 years) would have helped. It is an open question whether the ‘euro crisis’ is largely a media generated storm, although the nightmare of national and international debt mountains (much of it ‘mis-sold’?), and the over dependence on the largely parasitic financial sector certainly needed correcting. And this is, essentially, a global issue.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Robert Hill 18 July 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Very readable account of the troubled Eurozone, if pessimistic. He confirms in my mind the that the new Asian economic powers will overtake Europe soon and that European including British are out of their depth and just pushing problems down the road.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Realistic and Pessimistic Description of the Many Knots and Dilemmas 16 Sept. 2013
By Rob Julian - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This book is a good read and short at around five hours reading. As the title suggests, this book is not a polemic putting forward a particular criticism or solution, but more like an exasperated insiders view of the messy reality. The book reflects in a very realistic and believable way, almost to the point of being jaded, the fudge and compromise nature of the way the Euro zone is holding together. The author reveals how the reality is very messy, with political imperatives impinging upon economic decisions. A strength of this book is that Germany's role is put firmly centre stage, which makes David Marsh well placed to tell the story. His snippets on what certain key actors in the drama have said and thought adds atmosphere to the dry bones of the story.

He describes very well what seems to be the central knot of the matter; that, in being inside the Euro zone, Germany benefits from a weaker currency than its own imports and exports would dictate, therefore exaggerating its creditor position. The opposite is true of the southern European states experiencing difficulties. Overlaying an American United States model would suggest that the surplus countries should allow strong wage and price inflation at home and also send out transfer payments, to diffuse this disequilibrium. But Germany's history and understandable reluctance to subsidise spendthrift foreigners further makes this unattractive. So the disequilibrium remains and a series of fudges and incremental crisis solutions keep kicking the can down the road. The book hints at how this disequilibrium is instead dissipated (as well as from the more obvious official rescue packages) through German banks buying assets and bonds in the southern countries. This was one area where I would have liked more detail.

An important dimension to the Euro zone story the author discusses is the behaviour of Germany in the early period of the Euro. During this time Germany was battling through her own issues of reunification and a drive to improve the flexibility of her labour markets. The author alleges that the German establishment neglected to challenge the profligacy (which partly took the form of buying German cars etc.) of southern Euro countries while it was happening. The conflict between the moral tone Germans are prone to take towards their less prudent and industrious neighbours, and the benefits Germany gains, through obvious and less obvious devices, from her neighbours imprudence, is a theme which comes across well in this book.

All in all the title and the book provide a depressingly believable account of what is likely to happen and not happen in the Euro zone. For those well up to date with the subject, this book will be little more than revision. For the rest of us it is an efficient guide to an important subject.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A decent argument that paralysis will continue into the future regarding the Euro primarily due to political factors 8 Sept. 2013
By Yoda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Any review of this book would have to start by mentioning two facts. The first being the author's expertise on European Central Banking and the second the relatively short length of the book. The author, David Marsh, is a leading expert on European Central Banking with six serious books on the subject under the belt. He is also a Chairman and Co-Founder of the Official Monetary Financial Institutions Forum as well as having served as being a contributor to the Financial Times for almost twenty years. Hence this book is written by an authority on the topic, not some author with little or no expertise in the field. With respect to length, the book is only about 120 pages in terms of text and the pages are quite short, at about three paragraphs per page. Hence if the reader is looking for a scholarly tome on the subject this book will most likely disappoint. This reviewer recommends, for a more in-depth discussion, the author's previous book "The Euro: The Battle for the New Global Currency" (published in 2011).

In "Europe's Deadlock" Mr. Marsh posits that political constraints will prevent the Euro's members from taking the needed steps to strengthen the Euro in terms of the needed political institutional changes that are required to strengthen it. He also posits that, simultaneously, it is not in the interests of the majority and more powerful members of the Euro, in particular France and Germany, to let it collapse. Hence he expects the current political paralysis and inertia to continue into the future. This argument he makes quite intelligently and convincingly.

Specifically, Mr. Marsh states that for the Euro to be strengthened, in the long-term (as opposed to just managing the currency from one crisis to the next), the following steps need to be taken:

1) A full scale political union among the Euro's members needs to be reached that will lead to the creation of a centralized central bank to back the currency.
2) Following from the above, centralized European control will have to be established over all national members' fiscal and economic policies.
3) The European Central Bank will have to become a de facto lender of last resort, in much the same way that the Federal Reserve Bank is in the U.S.
4) Direct revenue raising mechanisms must be established that will replace current member states revenues.
5) Formal entry and exit policies need to be established to replace the current ad hoc policies that are currently in place.
6) Eurobonds on a European-wide basis will need to be introduced to replace current member states individual member states bond issuance.
7) Delay any new members being allowed to join until the above six steps are taken.
8) Form a South Africa style "truth and reconciliation" committee to investigate what has gone wrong and how it can be rectified.
9) Improve burden sharing with respect to fiscal expansionary and austerity policies across the whole body of membership instead of the current policy of fiscal contraction in the Southern states (with no fiscal expansion in the Northern wealthier members).
10) Enact a Marshal Style program to assist the Southern States.
11) Establish a fully integrated banking system and regulatory system, analogous to the Federal Reserve in the US.

The book mentions these reforms and elaborates on them but in only two or three pages of the book's text. The remainder of the book is spent on discussing, quite obviously, why these are not feasible from a political perspective. Hence two of the weaknesses of the book, the fact that the political factors against the above mentioned reforms being made are relatively self-evident plus the fact that the economic factors not being discussed in enough detail. Due to the book's weakness with respect to the lack of economic discussion, it serves as a very good complement to the articles in George Soros' "Financial Turmoil in Europe and the United States: Essays". Mr. Soros emphasizes nearly all of Mr. Marsh's above 11 points but discusses why they are so important from an economic point of view. Mr. Soros' analysis, however, lacks a discussion of the political factors that so prevent the aforementioned reforms from being made. Hence the books are almost perfect complements. Mr. Marsh covers the political side (with little economics) while Mr. Soros covers the economic side (with little discussion regarding political feasibility).

Despite the fact that Mr. Marsh concentrate's nearly entirely on political factors the book still does a very good job at making the argument that needed reforms will not be coming along any time soon and that the current policy of "muddling along" will continue. For this reason alone this reviewer highly recommends it. However, due to the lack of economic analysis in his book though this reviewer highly recommends reading it in conjunction with Mr. Soros' book.
5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A quick summary, nothing more 19 July 2013
By David Wineberg - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition
I had expected a sharply worded, highly controversial treatise on the euro and the eurozone. In a fast 120 pages, I expected new directions, new insights, and harsh accusations. But that's not what Europe's Deadlock is. It is instead a very competent, very quick history of the euro and what ails it.

We all see the headlines and the stories daily. We know southern countries suffer because they can't devalue. But while it is easy to say being in a common currency removes flexibility to act for your country, Marsh rightly points out the chaos created by weaker countries devaluing at will, bankrupting vendors in other nations. An example is the Italian lira, already nearly worthless, added more zeros after the decimal point when it devalued by 30% in the early 90s. The euro crisis is reminiscent of the gold standard, where individual countries could not bend the situation to their own advantage. No system works for everything.

Nor is it any secret that instead of using their admission to the euro as the opportunity to rationalize their institutions and regulations, Ireland and the southern countries brandished it as proof they were top players. Their narcissistic selfishness is costing everyone in Europe today. Marsh merely glances off that image.

The recommendations at the end are futile - things like full political union. Forgetaboutit. These are enormously proud countries, many of the postage stamp variety. They will give up nothing. Nor would any other in the world. Marsh acknowledges his recommendations are "demanding".

So we are left with is a competent history, right up to the Cyprus banking disaster, but really not much else. If you haven't been following the rise and fall of the euro since inception, this book is a fine refresher.

David Wineberg
4.0 out of 5 stars Really prescient discussion on the issues that inevitably led to the Greek financial crisis. 23 Feb. 2015
By Bayard B. - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Really prescient discussion on what issues inevitably led to the Greek financial crisis and how the EU doesn't have the tools to solve it. It's a story of how irresponsible European governments would inevitably make life really tough for the responsible governments. It could have (and probably should) have been foreseen. After all, Italy, Greece, Spain,and Portugal didn't become almost insolvent overnight. It had been developing for years and should have been foreseen when the EU currency union was being formed.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What happened 18 Sept. 2013
By Marc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The book it's ok, I believe this is a 5 star book for someone who is not well aware of the european mess... In case you already have the knowledge of european situation, and if you follow the market or the news this book doesn't add new data...
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