"Europe has an unfortunate tendency towards civil unrest when subjected to extreme economic pain," says Albert Edwards of Socit Gnrale. This could force governments in the southern states to abandon austerity and the euro. But that isn't the only way the euro could split. The launch this week of a new German anti-euro party, Alternative fr Deutschland, also raises the spectre of a German exit.
Alternative wants "the dissolution of the euro in favour of national currencies or smaller currency unions" and an end to the bail-out fund. It reflects concern that Germany "has become the de facto paymaster for the rest of the eurozone", says Spiegel.de, a news website. It says citizens are being misled about the true extent of Germany's potential bail-out bill.
"The appeal of a German exit is obvious," says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard in The Daily Telegraph. "It is the least traumatic way" to end the gulf in competitiveness between core and periphery, "the cancer" undermining the long-term future of the euro.
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If a southern state left, it would face a huge drop in the value of its currency against the euro, making its euro debts far more expensive and threatening to cause a default. But this way Club Med stays with the euro, avoiding possible bankruptcy, and also benefits from a currency that would become cheaper as investors scoop up the new deutschmark. Austria, Finland and others could well join Germany.
This scenario is still a long way off. The new grouping has yet to become a formal political party and may not muster enough signatures to appear on the ballot for September's national elections, notes Spiegel.de. But this group is not simply a populist rabble. It contains "an impressive list" of supporters, including the former head of Germany's industry federation and economically liberal academics.
German jitters over the euro are unlikely to abate following Italy's election result. Last week's cover story in Wirtschaftswoche, a business weekly, bemoaned the loss of majority support for austerity and structural reforms in the indebted states and fretted that the south will call on the rescue funds while the European Central Bank prints money to buy bonds.
Mounting tension in the next few months between north and south could stoke German eurosceptisicm. With all the main parties pro-euro, the new group's clout could grow rapidly.
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