Monday, 17 October 2011

omicron, omega

Did you know that the Greek letters omicron and omega just mean little-o, big-o respectively? Euro notes and coins bear both Latin and Greek script, which I believe is a piquing reminder of the mutual glossing that may have been behind the monetary union. Since the Maastricht Treaty, no one wanted to exclude any established members of the old or new Europe, regardless of the maturity of their economies and markets, and I do not believe that Greece and other nations unilaterally covered-up their fiscal health and talked their way into membership.
I am sure that to a large extent, against warnings of economists and analysts that saw at the time weaknesses, hyperbole and litotes, that such obstacles were overlooked towards the formation of a more perfect union, and not a German or a French hegemony or a north, south schism. It parallels the lesson unlearned with the economic collapse fuelled by the housing bubble, which with exuberance oversold the properties market to all and sundry on the hopes that value would keep increasing. I have great hopes for the euro and the ideas behind it still--including the absolute solvency of each country’s financial systems without respect for outside shaming and subjective ratings, should it not lead to overarching micro-management of each country’s affairs or usher in conservative governments that undo the social and equitable fabric of its constituents, but I do think that one aspect that this vision elided over was that of competition and customers. Within a bloc of currency, it is hard for one country, maintaining its standard of living and government support, to compete with another, more advanced in manufacturing. It is that competitiveness that will lead to recovery and growth, and not an outsider's idea of discipline or scope of government responsibility.  The average shopper, I do not think, would forgo price or quality (or his or her own sense of protectionism) to seek out Greek, Spanish, Italian or Portuguese goods to fan their solidarity. The money-changers (nummularium) did a brisk business across borders, as well, and within Europe, we are our own best trading-partners.