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The worst and the vest of austerity

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: In June, it was Greece. In August, it was France, Italy, Spain, and Portugal. In September, it was Greece again — and Spain. In November, France took another turn, before Italy again in December, this time in a major way. Every month, despite an ever-darker outlook for economic growth, countries announce new …


Three ways to wave the Eurozone

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: Since the summer, the continuing installments of the Greek crisis have concealed a worrying process of fragmentation in the eurozone. Indeed, there are several grim indicators of this development. First, the spread between banks’ borrowing rate and the zero-risk rate has been climbing since July. Financial institutions with liquidity increasingly prefer to …


Big reform in small packages

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: France, which now holds the presidency of the G-20, has chosen reform of the international monetary system as its main priority for the Cannes summit in November. But is the issue worth the time and energy officials will devote to it? And where can such discussions lead? When French President Nicolas Sarkozy …


Europe’s small steps and giant leaps

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: The world was expecting Eurobonds to come out of last week’s Franco-German summit; instead, the eurozone will get economic governance. According to German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy, the great leap forward to the creation of Eurobonds would perhaps be the culmination of that process, but for the …


Europe’s last taboos

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: You can always trust the Americans, Winston Churchill said, because in the end they will do the right thing, after they have exhausted all other possibilities. For the last 18 months, this has been Europe’s method for confronting its sovereign debt crisis as well: it has taken the necessary decisions, but always …


To repay or not to repay debts?

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: For months now, a fight over sovereign-debt restructuring has been raging between those who insist that Greece must continue to honor its signature and those for whom the country’s debt should be partly canceled. As is often the case in Europe, the crossfire of contradictory official and non-official statements has been …


Europe and the Arab spring

By Jean Pisani-Ferry PARIS: In 1989, the wall separating the two halves of Europe suddenly collapsed. Within the space of a few months, a hitherto seemingly immutable order gave way to commotion and impatience. At first, the old countries of Europe were paralyzed with fear of the unknown and anxiety about immigration — and then they …


The making of international monetary reform

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: If French President Nicolas Sarkozy had written the prologue to his presidency of the G-20, which has just commenced, he could not have done better. The run-up to the G-20’s summit in Seoul was marred by a series of currency controversies, bringing international monetary reform to the fore. Whereas French intentions to …


The crooked path of financial reform

By Jean Pisani-Ferry BRUSSELS: Two years ago, governments saved the necks of the world’s financial markets. Yet today, those same markets intimidate governments, or at least some of them. In Europe, the market for Greek debt has frozen, and interest-rate spreads between Irish and German euro-denominated debt recently reached alarming levels. Spain has succeeded in reducing …


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