Sugestões de leitura sobre a situação na Zona Euro – junho de 2015 (acrescentado)

Perante uma nova aceleração da crise na Zona Euro tendo a Grécia como pretexto mais próximo e perante o risco de uma simplificação do discurso quanto ao passado, presente e futuro da Zona Euro e das consequências globais dos eventos em desenvolvimento, apresentamos aos nossos leitores algumas sugestões de leitura da imprensa nacional e internacional sobre o tema.

No Diário de Notícias, Bernardo Pires de Lima em “Parabéns a Todos“. Um excerto:

“Desde o início do que erradamente se chamou “programa de ajustamento” (o correto seria programa de abalroamento), a Grécia passou do bipartidarismo pró-europeu a um governo de extrema-esquerda a bater o pé a Bruxelas, viu contrair o PIB em 25%, o desemprego manter-se em níveis obscenos, um novo batalhão de excluídos sociais, as previsões de crescimento económico falhadas pela troika, a social-democracia em extinção, o extremismo político sentado no Parlamento, e Moscovo e Pequim a rondar. Se era este o brilhante plano da UE, não há dúvida de que vivemos tempos de loucura política. (…)”

No Jornal Público, entrevista a Laurence Ball, professor na Universidade Johns Hopkins nos Estados Unidos: “É muito difícil acreditar que a Grécia sai do euro e todos os outros ficam”. Um excerto:

“(…) Em relação a Portugal, muita gente apresenta o país como um caso de sucesso, porque voltou a crescer e o desemprego está a baixar. Concorda?
Bom, a taxa de desemprego está em 13%. Acho que há alguma coisa errada no mundo se começamos a chamar um sucesso a uma economia com 13% de desemprego. Esse é o tipo de derrotismo e de abaixamento das expectativas que acho que não devemos fazer. 

O que prevê para o futuro da zona euro?
Apostaria em um de dois cenários e nenhum deles é muito positivo. Um é uma situação em que se continua a viver um pouco como até aqui, com alguns países com um desemprego de 13%, outros com 25%. Talvez os 13% caiam para 10%, talvez os 25% caiam para 22%, mas sempre com um cenário de longo prazo de emprego fraco. O outro cenário é que esse desemprego persistentemente alto acaba por revelar-se intolerável para a população de algum país, que acaba por eleger um governo que não quer ficar no euro. E eu acredito que se um país sair do euro, outros se seguirão. A história de contágios em crises cambiais sugere que é muito difícil acreditar que a Grécia sai do euro e todos os outros ficam, por exemplo. 

E um cenário em que se estabelece uma união orçamental mais forte, que permitiria outro tipo de políticas na periferia poderia ser uma alternativa?
Do ponto de vista económico seria exequível, mas politicamente não é. Se houvesse uma grande expansão orçamental na Grécia financiada pela Alemanha, isso provavelmente resultaria. Mas a oposição política a isso e as exigências do Pacto de Estabilidade fazem com quase de certeza não venha a acontecer.”

Na The Economist, “The costs of Grexit still outweigh the benefits for both Greece and the euro area“. Dois excertos:

“(…)  A cheaper currency would boost exports and tourism, but the benefits could easily be frittered away in higher inflation, especially as the central bank would be unlikely to enjoy genuine independence. In any case, Greece no longer needs to enhance its competitiveness with a devaluation since it has already achieved an “internal devaluation” through a sharp fall in wages. What is more, because exports make up an unusually small share of the economy, the gain from a devaluation would be limited.

Grexit would still be troubling for the rest of the euro area too. The direct cost to euro-zone governments of a Greek default would be higher than in 2012, because they have since lent the country more money. Arguably, this would simply be recognising reality and would at least stop them throwing good money after bad. However, they could well find themselves instead having to provide large amounts of aid, if Grexit led to a humanitarian disaster. (…)

Although the balance of costs and benefits for the euro area might therefore appear more favourable, it would still be a risky move. Crucially, it would debunk the idea that membership of the euro was irrevocable. That would turn the single-currency club into just another fixed exchange-rate system that might be vulnerable to speculative attack.

On balance, then, the costs of Grexit still outweigh the benefits for the euro area as well as Greece. There are sound economic grounds for both sides to compromise and strike a deal. Whether strident politics in Greece and the creditor countries will allow that to happen remains an open—and pressing—question.”

No Financial Times, Wolfgang Münchau defende que “Greece has nothing to lose by saying no to creditors“. Um excerto:

“(…) If Mr Tsipras were to reject the offer and miss the latest deadline — the June 18 meeting of eurozone finance ministers — he would end up defaulting on debt repayments due in July and August. At that point Greece would still be in the eurozone and would only be forced to leave if the ECB were to reduce the flow of liquidity to Greek banks below a tolerable limit. That may happen, but it is not a foregone conclusion.

The eurozone creditors may well decide that it is in their own interest to talk about debt relief for Greece at that point. Just consider their position. If Greece were to default on all of its official-sector debt, France and Germany alone would stand to lose some €160bn. Angela Merkel and François Hollande would go down as the biggest financial losers in history. The creditors are rejecting any talks about debt relief now, but that may be different once Greece starts to default. If they negotiate, everybody would benefit. Greece would stay in the eurozone, since the fiscal adjustment to service a lower burden of debt would be more tolerable. The creditors would be able to recoup some of their otherwise certain losses.

The bottom line is that Greece cannot really lose by rejecting this week’s offer.

Paul Mason, jornalista da BBC em Greek crisis: crunch time. Um excerto:

“(…) If you ask yourself why Syriza does not just fold, live to fight another day, you haven’t been watching the TV enough. After five years of austerity, imposed first by the socialists then a conservative-led coalition, the process has destroyed every political force that tried to make it happen.

The conservative right is fragmented, at war with itself; the old Pasok party, which once gained 40 per cent of the vote, can now fit all of its MPs around a table. Smaller parties that joined the austerity bandwagon – like the moderate Marxist DIMAR and the nationalist rightwing LAOS – just disappeared.

The Greek leadership will play this as Greece versus Euro-imperialism. They will, in the face of a totally hostile TV and newspaper media, appeal to the 41 per cent of Greeks who prize fighting austerity more than membership of a currency in which they are always the black sheep. They’ll have no shortage of supporters in the economics profession – including many traditional right wingers – who’ve observed the Euro and its hapless central bank become a dysfunctional and unpredictable structure.

The country will divide: right versus left – as it has been divided since British tanks rolled into Syntagma square in 1944 to install former Nazi collaborators into office in preference to the communist-led resistance.

But this time we don’t know who’ll win. For certain we’ll know who’s lost: everybody in Europe who argued the EU can contain the economic aspirations of the left as well as the right.”

E para o final, provavelmente o texto mais abrangente, no blogue da London School of Economics entrevista Philippe Legrain antigo assessor de Durão Barroso “The Eurozone has become a glorified debtors’ prison”. Um excerto:

” What were the key policy failures that brought us to this point?

The official narrative that has taken hold in Germany and EU circles blames the crisis entirely on others, not least profligate and reckless southern Europeans. It argues that since others, not Germany, are responsible for the crisis, they must pay the price for it. Germany does not need to change, others do. As well as paying back their debts in full, they must emulate what Germany did a decade ago: consolidate public finances and bear down on wages to restore competitiveness. That way they can be as successful as Germany supposedly is.

There’s just one problem with this narrative: it is entirely false. The true story is as follows. In the years up to 2007, there was a huge credit boom across the Western financial system, from the United States to Iceland. It involved a massive expansion of cross-border lending by dysfunctional and dangerously undercapitalised banks, abetted by the complacency – and sometimes the complicity – of central bankers, regulators, supervisors and politicians. And Eurozone banks were at the heart of it.

As well as gambling on American subprime mortgages, German and French banks lent too much, badly to Spanish and Irish homebuyers and property developers, Portuguese consumers and the Greek government, both directly and together with local banks. When the bubbles burst and banks began to fail, governments decided to bail them out, protecting banks’ creditors. Banks’ initial losses were often related to American subprime mortgages, over which European governments had no control. But when it became clear in early 2010 that Greece could not pay its debts, Merkel – together with a French trio of Jean-Claude Trichet at the ECB, Dominique Strauss-Kahn at the IMF and President Nicolas Sarkozy – took a different approach.

To avoid losses for French and German banks, they decided to pretend that Greece was merely going through temporary funding difficulties. And under the pretence that the financial stability of the Eurozone as a whole was at risk, they decided to breach the legal basis on which the Eurozone was formed – the “no-bailout rule” – and lend to the Greek government so that it could repay those foreign banks and investors. Further loans from EU governments to Ireland, Portugal and Spain followed, primarily to bail out local banks that would otherwise have defaulted on their borrowing from German and French banks and other financial investors.

As a result of these bailouts, the bad lending of private banks has become obligations between governments. And a crisis that could have united Europe in a collective effort to curb the banks that got us into this mess has instead divided it, pitting creditor countries – principally Germany – against debtor ones, with EU institutions becoming instruments for creditors to impose their will on debtors. The Eurozone has become, in effect, a glorified debtors’ prison.

It is tragic – but hardly surprising – that as a result Germany and EU institutions are now resented so much in debtor countries. It is also understandable that northern European taxpayers are angry at this. But instead of resenting southern Europeans, they should direct their anger at the banks that their loans, in effect, bailed out and at the policymakers who made it happen. And the upshot is that European taxpayers now have an incentive to resist the debt relief that Greece needs to recover. They would also lose out if the €64 billion bank debt unjustly imposed on Irish taxpayers were written down.

By putting the narrow interests of the banks ahead of those of ordinary citizens, Merkel and other Eurozone policymakers have set Europeans against each other. While governments bailed out the banks, first directly and then indirectly through the EU loans to southern European governments, they didn’t force them to clean up their balance sheets. As a result, the Eurozone now has state-sponsored zombie banks that use the cheap liquidity provided by the ECB to roll over their bad loans to zombie borrowers while denying credit to new ones. (…)”

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