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Daily View: How to solve the eurozone debt crisis

Clare Spencer | 09:55 UK time, Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Following the G20 countries' order for the eurozone countries to solve their debt crisis this weekend, commentators give their suggestions.

Martin Wolf says in the Financial Times that while the eurozone may be able to manage this emergency, it is inconceivable that they'll get to the underlying causes:

"Inside the eurozone, adjustment of imbalances remains essential. But it is also vastly difficult, because the exchange rate has gone. In its place, comes adjustment via depression and default. A currency union with structural mercantilists in the core now threatens a permanent slump in the periphery. Solving that is the true cure. Can it be done? I wonder."

But Anatole Kalestsky goes a step further in the Times and says the eurozone could be saved if it was made a full-scale political federation, with power to borrow and veto member countries' tax and spending decisions:

"With each successive crisis, eurozone leaders come closer to admitting openly that there must be joint responsibility for national borrowing and spending, so national governments must be brought under centralised control. After staring into the abyss of a euro break-up this summer, the German and French political and business elites have now prepared themselves for the leap that full-scale federation involves."

Kaletsky continues to recommend that Britain should fund a federal Europe in return for more power.

In a piece about the new Commons debate about a referendum on being in the EU, the Telegraph's Benedict Brogan says British politicians are making out the UK is immobilised in the crisis:

"There is nothing substantive that the Government can do, they say, to generate the level of growth that would come if Europe simply got its act together and resolved its problems. Individual supply-side measures already announced, such as making it more difficult to take an employer to a tribunal, help at the margins but no more. Only when Greece is allowed to fail in as orderly a manner as possible will the markets find certainty.
"There are plenty who in turn are frustrated by what they dismiss as this counsel of despair."

The Economist's leader says the euro can be saved, if eurozone countries concentrate on growth and restructuring debt instead of "austerity and pretence":

"Europe must make an honest judgment about which side of the line countries are on. Greece, which is unambiguously insolvent, ought to have a hard but orderly write-down. The latest, inadequate plan for a second Greek bail-out, agreed at a summit in July, should be thrown away and rewritten. But all the other euro members (and on present numbers Portugal is just about in the solvent camp) should be defended with overwhelming financial firepower. All the troubled economies, solvent or insolvent, need a renewed programme of structural reform and liberalisation. Freeing up services and professions, privatising companies, cutting bureaucracy and delaying retirement will create conditions for renewed growth - and that is the best way to reduce debts."

Finally, chief executive of Next, Lord Wolfson, hasn't come up with a solution but is prepared to give away £250,000 of his own money to the economist who does - whether it means ironing out the problems of integration or managing a transition to the end of the euro. He explains in the Times why:

"The unplanned disintegration of the euro would endanger the financial stability of sovereign states and the world's banking system, along with the savings and jobs of millions. The damage could take a generation to repair...
"Currently there is only one plan: deeper fiscal integration that gives EU central authorities greater control over tax and spending in member states. But this does little to cure structural deficiencies in the eurozone. At best it trades short-term disaster for longer- term stagnation, putting off, though not averting, the day of reckoning."

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