I saw this chart in a presentation last week and I reckon it summarises the conundrum that is Europe.
What you are looking at on the left hand side is the Real exchange rate (TWI based) adjusted for unit labour costs. It is clear here that even with the fall in the trade weighted RER for SPain, Italy and Greece that Germany is streets ahead in the competitiveness stakes.
What you see in the right hand side is the unemployment rate. When austerity has bitten inside the fixed exchange rate system that is the Euro there was nowhere else for unemployment to go except up. Germany is still doing well but the scary part of this chart is that the rate of increase in Italian unemployment is going vertical as did Spain and Greece before it.
So there we have the conundrum of Europe.
Germany should save the Euro but perversely the Mediterranean periphery should abandon it and try life with their own currency once again – Lira, Peseta, and Drachma’s. Perhaps enlighten self-interest will win out for Germany in the end, indeed it feels like it will but the German populace and its politicians have further concessions to wring out of their southern neighbours yet and that takes time. Time the markets may not give them.
Have a great day
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