Domino effect in the Eurozone

The dangerous game that has started out from Greece

The game of dominoes is one that by its very nature does not stop. Depending on the skill and/or luck of the players, the game ends when all the pieces are laid together, or at any rate when most of them are. Then, if you like, the game can start all over again, with the certainty that the time and effort to put the pieces together again are far more than the split seconds needed to make them fall.For some, and certainly not just in our time, dominoes are also a speculative game: the domino effect leads to the collapse of weakened economies, inflates and deflates stock exchanges, and leads to the bankruptcy or revival of big and medium businesses. In this case it’s more than a game: it’s a speculation that guarantees enormous profits (and losses) in the form of internet-based casino banking. In recent months we have been witnessing what has all the appearance of a great game of dominoes with the European economies taking the place of the dominoes themselves, and with the central players countries without any industrial tradition and with the head of the Euro as their prize. Greece is floundering about in an ocean of debt, trying to survive with a life jacket bearing the logo of the International Monetary Fund, on the ability of which to withstand the waves no one is betting. Portugal is following Greece a short distance behind, and the rumours hinting at a similar situation in Spain, Italy and the UK are growing in volume and plausibility.Let’s be clear: the domino effect – however speculative and unfair – does not attack sound economies. The Hellenic Republic has for some twenty years been pulling the wool over the eyes of Brussels with a maquillage, with faked-up balance sheets for the peace of the Stability Pact and the safety of the Single Currency. This was a “fiddle” on both sides: on the part of the Greeks, and also on the part of the EU, when you think that the European Union (Commission, Council, Central Bank) has always accepted the Greek data at their face value. It is painful to realize that nobody ever thought of the silent domino effect that is now impacting on the lives of millions of people who live and work honestly and who are now being asked the foot the bill for the misdeeds of others; these are the victims whom the speculators are bringing down. Punishing the politicians and bankers responsible for the bankruptcy would be opportune and right, but is it politically realistic? Redress is needed, but beware of making the price for it be paid by those who have to survive on 1200 Euro per month, and who see wastage, illegality and ostentatious wealth of dubious provenance all about them. And beware, too, of concentrating efforts just on the recovery of the debt without building solid foundations for development policies.The domino effect, as we said, is spreading. Portugal and Spain are on much the same footing as Greece: of course, they have more efficient public services, but the bubbles of the stock exchanges and the over-exposed indebtedness of the banks are undeniable. A human sentiment of solidarity cannot but arouse concern for the destinies of millions and millions of families.But there’s also another aspect of the crisis that needs to be taken into consideration. The Euro Zone still includes among its fundamental principles the protection of the economies that participate in it from external attacks: for financial stability and economic solidity. That’s how it has been thus far, with tolerable success, despite the fact that the rise in prices has never been accompanied by a corresponding growth in purchasing power. Now, however, the speculative attacks on the countries of the Euro are glaringly self-evident… and most of them come from within the Eurozone itself. It’s a crazy domino effect, without beginning or end. Or is it something else? And now that the dominoes could fall also in the western part of the Mediterranean, or even on the other side of the Channel, what must we expect?It’s not easy to answer such questions. What’s easy, on the other hand, is to identify the victims of all this: the honesty and dignity of those who are not playing the game, who are outside it, but who are paying its consequences. In other words, the majority of citizens. On the sixtieth anniversary of the Schuman Declaration it is of them we must think; it is of them that our rulers, bankers and economists must think: statistics don’t have families, but people do.

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