Column : A year to forget
Football, as they say, is a game of two halves. The year that has just ended was a year with a dismal first three quarters and a better last quarter. We are not out of the woods yet, but there may yet be the end of the tunnel not too far away.
The eurozone came near to breaking up or at least ejecting Greece. Various dire threats were issued, elections held, which threatened the worst. But, in the end, the misery, which is endless, was given renewed support. Greece will take the poisoned chalice and drink it. A whole generation of Greek youth will have their lives blighted. The European Central Bank (ECB) became the only authority among many others that was decisive. Its proposal of bailing out countries if they asked for help was a brilliant confidence trick. No country would be likely to ask for such help as it would indicate to the markets that bankruptcy was imminent. Markets would act faster than the ECB and, hence, no country, not even Spain, asked for help. The ECB is a class central bank and knows a trick or two.
Yet the longer-run prospects for the eurozone are dim. None of its structural problems are resolved. A tighter fiscal union would suit the northern countries if it did not bind them to rescue the weaker southern members. There is no proposal to