Global Analysis from the European Perspective. Preparing for the world of tomorrow

Who does the euro destroy?

After the 2015 introduction of the common currency in Lithuania, much has changed. On the one hand, the euro positively influenced economic growth, as loans became cheaper, resulting in increasing exports and investments, on the other hand, the gap between rich and poor and between the level of living in the cities and in the countryside deepened. Until the beginning of the post-pandemic inflation, prices and salaries increased continuously in the Baltic country, but the latter mainly in the cities. Already between 2015-2019, prices increased by 10%, among others food by 6% and services by 22%. In the post-pandemic period, all Baltic countries are now among those with the highest inflation, with salaries, including those of the richer urbanites, unable to catch up with galloping food prices for a good two years. The ECB’s policy is not helping anyone. If one speaks to a Lithuanian or Latvian on this topic, one hears the following: I used to be able to often invite my girlfriend to the restaurant, now I can hardly afford it (a Latvian truck driver aged around 30). Prices have become European, salaries have not.

However, the argument with growth seems to be a bit misguided. Polish economy with its own currency is growing faster than that of Slovakia and Slovenia, which quickly adopted the euro. Since the introduction of the common currency in the PIGS countries, they systematically lose their growth rate compared to Germany. Contrary to the widespread complaints in the German media about Polish fiscal policy (and the hope that it would be “disciplined” after the introduction of the euro), public debt in Poland is keeping within limits – and this despite the policy of social transfers never seen before. In the euro zone, on the other hand, debt is exploding, despite various formal restrictions. This is true even for the countries that joined the euro without having a public debt problem. The debt has been created over time – precisely in this oh-so-fantastic union. This fact is illustrated in the following graph.

Source: Ameco

The culprit is the crazy idea that one monetary and fiscal policy should fit all countries like a universal recipe (one size fits all). One policy for 24 countries – that can’t work, like a 5 year plan for all Soviets, or one for the so very different regions of China. The same interest rate for the entire Eurozone cannot be effective. It leads to destabilizing and costly imbalances in individual member states, which subsequently spill over to the entire euro area, which cannot develop fast enough vis-à-vis the U.S. and China.

But what’s all the talk about? After all, it’s summer vacation and you want to relax. That’s when we recommend a vacation in Croatia – the latest to enjoy the benefits of the single currency. After the introduction of the euro this year, prices in the once cheap country rose to the level of Austria. The Austrian “Kronenzeitung” even compared the price level with Swiss health resorts. The Croatian newspaper “Slobodnaja Dalmacija” calculates that a kilo of cherries and figs now costs 8 euros – 10 percent more than a year ago. Wholesalers have to pay 5 euros for a kilo of pears, 3 euros for cucumbers and 5 euros for peaches. No wonder tourists are canceling their reservations in the country that depends on them the most in the whole EU (11% of GDP comes from them). Another local newspaper “Jutarnji list” points out the surprisingly high cost of daily rent of a deck chair. On the island of Hvar it costs €40, in Split €35 and in Dubrovnik €33. On Croatian social media, a video of an American tourist is very popular, where she aptly notes that the price of the service remained the same after the currency conversion from kuna to euro. The greed of (small) entrepreneurs is one downside of it all, the other is that the euro is actually always Teuro. So we wish you a nice vacation in Poland.

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