The European Summit: Don’t Forget the Economics
The early analysis of the European summit are concentrating on the politics – Britain’s return to a form of ‘splendid isolation’ and what this means for the UK’s relationship with the EU in the years to come. (The Economist’s Bagehot is especially good on this).
Whilst the politics are of course of huge importance, I can’t help but feel that the economics are a more immediate concern in the days, weeks and months ahead. This summit was after all about resolving the Eurozone crisis not about the UK’s relationship with Europe.
The news on this front is bleak.
Citi now expect that European GDP will fall for the next six quarters something not experienced by Japan in the 1990s. 18 months of renewed recession is a grim prospect.
Meanwhile the European Banking Authority believes that Eurozone banks face a capital shortfall of €115bn. This morning Moody’s downgraded the ratings of three large French banks.
Yields on Italian and Spanish government bonds are still climbing whilst sovereigns and banks face having to issue a great deal of debt in the coming months and what look like increasingly unattractive rates:
Euro-area governments have to repay more than 1.1 trillion euros of long- and short-term debt in 2012, with about 519 billion euros of Italian, French and German debt maturing in the first half alone, data compiled by Bloomberg show. European banks have about $665 billion of debt coming due in the first six months, according to Citigroup Inc., based on Dealogic data
Against this backdrop we have what FT Alphaville are calling another ‘Eurofudge’, another short-term compromise that fails to engage with the real issues.
Again policymakers are passing the buck to the ECB, an ECB that doesn’t seem especially interested in taking the necessary steps.
Apart from its political and constitutional relationship with the eurozone, something else is at stake for the UK at the European Union council: whether we are propelled back into hideous and serious recession.
British jobs – lots of them – are at risk if the eurozone doesn’t sort itself out.
And right now, it doesn’t look as though eurozone leaders have come up with a sustainable solution to their debt crisis.
Today’s net trade figures (which were welcome good news) underline this point. Despite the attention paid to the news that exports to China were doing well, 46% of our exports last month went to the Eurozone.
Their problems are our problems and amidst the big political questions the Eurozone is sliding into a nasty recession and financial crisis, one which could have a huge impact on the UK.