For over a year, our premise #1 in interpreting the newsflow out of Europe has been that in the absence of actual practical ideas, and the continent's glaring inability to do simple math, the only option left to bEURaucrats has been to literally baffle people with so much endless bullshit that the general audience would be simply stunned by the possibility of an alternative that the union's leaders were all talk and absolutely no action, let alone analysis. As of today, we now know that that is precisely the case: for over a year Europe has been mouthing off hollow rhetoric in hopes that the market would just leave it alone, and that promises of promises and plans of plans would be sufficient. That plan (pardon the pun) has now failed. And so behind the scenes chaos turns into fully public panic. As the FT's Brussels blog summarizes, the only game left in town for Europe now is to push off D-Day, but not to some indefinite point in the future, like the US, but to tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, to channel the bard here. And nothing confirms better that it is all over for Europe, than the following summation of the terror and utter cluelessness gripping Europe, than the following sentence from the FT: "Just to recap, by Wednesday night there will have been nine meetings of ministers or national leaders in five days."
- Friday afternoon: Eurozone finance ministers
- Saturday: EU finance ministers
- Saturday: EU foreign ministers (general affairs council)
- Sunday morning: EU national leaders
- Sunday afternoon: Eurozone national leaders
- Wednesday: EU finance ministers
- Wednesday (tbc): Eurozone finance ministers
- Wednesday: EU national leaders
- Wednesday: Eurozone leaders
This excludes some pretty major conferences, such as the impromptu pow-wow for Jean-Claude Trichet’s retirement in Frankfurt last Wednesday, and a bilateral summit between Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy on Saturday.
Simply said, Europe has telegraphed that it has failed to even plan for a plan.
But for those curious about the largely irrelevant details, here they are again from the FT:
After a two hour overrun, the meeting of the EU 27 has broken up here in Brussels, to be followed by a pow-wow of the 17 eurozone members. This could be another late one.
One thing we know has been agreed so far: more meetings.
Instead of a single summit of eurozone leaders next Wednesday, as had been planned on Thursday afternoon, it now looks like there will be at least two – but probably three – more separate get-togethers.
The most important of those will be European Council (of 27) just before Wednesday’s eurozone summit.
This is painted as a big win for Britain and Poland, the biggest “outs” (of the eurozone) who are afraid of seeing their influence on the wider EU wane by literally not having a seat at the negotiating table for the big decisions taken by eurozone leaders.
Oh, and don't think for a minute that the US is in any way better, or immune: it isn't! Courtesy of the massively interconnected network for global debt, as represented most recently here, we know that any blow up in Europe will immediately shift over to the US. And when that happens, everyone will hit the turbo print button.
The rest is Weimar history.