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Don't Just Blame the Bankers

In order to save the European economy, Europe's political class needs to make some hard decisions.

1:55 PM, Feb 12, 2012 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
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Martin Taylor, chairman of Syngenta and a former chief executive of Barclays, has written a thought provoking article about the perilous state of the European economy in the Financial Times. He observes that while most of the world is quick to blame bankers, the problem is also that European leaders need to make some unavoidable and tough decisions:

Right now, for the European political class, the objective of saving the euro overwhelms all else. It should not be the only priority. The most important thing is to ensure that more tested aspects of the EU survive an all-too-possible euro break-up. It was a mistake for powerful people in Brussels and Frankfurt to say in 2010 that a bank defaulting on its bonds would necessarily bring about a sovereign default; that a sovereign default would mean the end of the euro; that the end of the euro would mean the end of the EU. Apocalyptic rhetoric can become self-fulfilling.

At such times the first job of leaders is to do no harm: to ensure that a bad outcome, if it turns out to be inevitable, does not necessarily lead to consequences that are worse still. European politicians are finding their primary aim – re-election – extraordinary elusive. They should take comfort: reputations are not secured by pursuing lousy policies that keep you undeservedly in power in the short term. We do not elect people in order to re-elect them; we elect them to make difficult choices on our behalf.

Read the whole thing here.

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