The EU's Major Living Contrary Indicator Breaks his Silence
He couldn't leave well enough alone. After the third and 'final' Greek rescue in as many years, the eurocracy's contrary-indicator-in-chief felt compelled to endanger the relative calm enjoyed by the markets by opening his mouth.
We are of course referring to European economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn.
As German news magazine Der Spiegel reports:
“The worst of the euro crisis has passed, says European Commissioner Olli Rehn, who points to the common currency area's falling budget deficits in an interview on Thursday. Greek Prime Minister Samaras is also optimistic, saying that his country is now on the right track.
Have we seen the worst of the euro crisis? According to European Commissioner Olli Rehn, we have. He said on Thursday that the debt and financial crisis afflicting Europe's common currency zone has surpassed its apex.
Rehn, commissioner for economic and monetary affairs, told the Financial Times Deutschland on Thursday: "The last high point of the crisis was in June, around the time of the Greek elections. Now we have a reverse trend."
Rehn defended the strict austerity measures applied in countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain, and credited such policies with successfully reducing the combined budget deficit in the euro zone from 6.2 percent of the currency area's gross domestic product in 2010 to 3 percent this year and a projected 2.5 percent in 2013.
In the interview, Rehn said a change in policy is underway, from one of purely crisis management, to a focus more on structural issues and the competitiveness of all euro zone and European Union member states.
Some figures from the real economy, Rehn allowed, such as extremely high unemployment in several euro-zone member states, remain alarming. Much of that, he said, is due to developments in the first half of 2012, including uncertainty over the Greek elections and doubts about Spain's banking sector. Rehn said he is "less pessimistic" than he was before the summer break because during the summer, euro-zone governments and the European Central Bank (ECB) helped stabilize the situation.
Rehn's comments are not the first time that he has voiced optimism about the future course of the euro crisis.”
Saints preserve us! You bet 'it's not the first time' the good commissioner has 'voiced optimism' about the crisis. Unfortunately his bursts of optimism have a so far unblemished record of being extremely ill-timed. He's a kind of reverse doomsayer: every time he says 'this time the volcano definitely won't break out' it's almost like a guarantee that everything will be covered in glowing lava and two meters of ash within days.
He's been predicting the end of the crisis since the day it began, and as such his value as a contrary indicator may one day be exhausted, but he has never in all this time lost his uncanny sense of timing. Will this time be different? Note that Mario Monti's resignation was announced within days of Rehn making the optimistic noises recounted above.
EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner Olli Rehn. He's to the EU of today what Halley's Comet was to medieval Europe: a harbinger of doom.
(Photo via Reuters)
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