Currency Woes and the Dance of the Seven Veils
Deaglán de Bréadún
There is a very strange atmosphere in political circles arising from the uncertainty about the future of the Euro. There has never been anything quite like it in recent decades.
People are openly wondering what happens to their savings if the Euro goes bye-bye and we see a return of the Punt.
What happens to the value of your wages/salaries and the value of your house or apartment? Will there be a substantial discount if one currency is replaced by another?
There is always a tendency in political and media circles for emotion to get a little out of hand. Steady nerves and a stiff upper lip are needed, some would say.
But that isn’t really enough on this occasion. The problems of the currency need to be sorted out.
Personally speaking, I have long been an advocate of a hard currency. On assignment in Moscow for this newspaper in 1994, I saw the effect of a major currency devaluation on people’s pensions and their standard of living.
To this day, I remain haunted by the sight of mothers and elderly folk selling their household goods on the street, outside the underground railway station, the famous Moscow Metro.
Other side-effects ensued: there was a massive increase in prostitution when even middle-class women were forced into it as a means of ensuring there would be food on the table.
Ironically, what emerged in the aftermath of the Soviet Union’s collapse proved to be a very good illustration of Marx’s comments about the cash-nexus as the basis of human relationships in a capitalist society.
Meanwhile, our own budgetary process proceeds apace, with next Monday and Tuesday set for the last part in the Dance of the Seven Veils.
It can now be said that, in the process of establishing the common European currency, our EU leaders forgot the old dictum that “The devil is in the detail”.
Lax standards and regulation have led to the present mess. It is very hard to enforce proper standards when you haven’t got a unitary state.
The Germans have a point when they say we all need to clean up our act – but is it too difficult in a sprawling community of many nations and is it too late in any case? Fingers crossed!