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Customer Review

on 21 November 2012
Having struggled through this drab book, I would nevertheless recommend it as essential reading to anyone who has an interest in the future direction of the global economy and does not, at the same time, believe that `muddling through' can in the end save the day. As of late 2012 it still appears, on the balance of probabilities, that the cracks in the Eurozone will bring about a major global recession, further blighting the lives of millions.

The book is described as "a collective effort by members of the Research on Money and Finance at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London." London, of course, is a kind of off-shore listening post as far as the Eurozone is concerned - though the lead author, Costas Lapavitsas, is a fully paid-up Greek - and we get a flavour of the discussion in the introduction: "The ruling strata of Europe have been determined to create a form of money capable of competing against the dollar in the world market, and thereby furthering the interests of large European banks and enterprises. Governments have not desisted even when the mechanisms of the euro have grossly magnified the recessionary forces ... the burden has been passed onto the working people of Europe in the form of reduced wages and pensions, higher unemployment, unravelling of the welfare state, deregulation and privatisation."

Inevitably, perhaps, the focus is on Greece as the `canary in the mine' whose dire symptoms were a foretaste of those now becoming obvious in all the peripheral countries. The book contributes an exemplary analysis of how we arrived at this appalling situation, supported by numerous diagrams. These, it has to be said, are hard work: eg `Sovereign CDS spreads: 5 years' graphically demonstrates the road to hell for Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain as compared with the relative (economic) heaven of France and Germany over one year from mid-2009; but to fully grasp its significance you need to simultaneously read up on `CDS spreads' and unravel six shades of grey.

The authors briefly analyse the necessary options if the existing "form of money" is to remain the glue holding the EU together; however they firmly come out on the side of the peripherals defaulting on their own terms, exiting the zone and rebuilding from `square one' with revived national currencies - and identities. So - hello again, for better or worse, to Drachma, Punt, Pesetas, etc...

What is missing from this book is `local colour'. We're left with the feeling that academics and members of the "ruling strata" need to transport themselves from the heights of macro economics to the day-to-day reality of ordinary people whose lives were turned upside-down when the euro was imposed. How these people will react to the profound political and economic changes which are, even now, being planned behind closed doors, will determine the colour of all our futures.
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