The Euro's Never Pure and Rarely Simple

 | Dec 08, 2011 | 9:15 AM EST  | Comments
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You will get a lot of advice for what to read to understand the European Union. Mainly, it's Orwell.

The right will probably point you to "Animal Farm" and the left will fret about the dangers of "1984." (Those long Lululemon (LULU) will just stick with "Atlas Shrugged.")

But as the big debt-crisis summit that is bound to disappoint pretty much everyone begins, everyone would be advised to brush up on Oscar Wilde.

Just before the summit began, Jean Leonetti, France's minister of European Affairs said the euro could "explode." This is very similar to the imaginary character of Bunbury in "The Importance of Being Earnest." In order to avoid any unpleasant obligations (mainly familial) Algernon Moncrieff invents a consistent invalid whose sick bed he must attend at any given moment. But when the ruse wears thin, Bunbury explodes.

Algernon. [Airily.] Oh! I killed Bunbury this afternoon. I mean poor Bunbury died this afternoon.

Lady Bracknell. What did he die of?

Algernon. Bunbury? Oh, he was quite exploded.

Lady Bracknell. Exploded! Was he the victim of a revolutionary outrage? I was not aware that Mr. Bunbury was interested in social legislation. If so, he is well punished for his morbidity.

Algernon. My dear Aunt Augusta, I mean he was found out! The doctors found out that Bunbury could not live, that is what I mean—so Bunbury died.

Even apart from the market wanting to punish anyone interested in social legislation, the similarity is striking. We are at a point when the euro has been found out. Whether the EU wonks decide if it can live or not is the issue.

Digging deeper, the Bunbury ruse was probably the key to the whole issue. Countries like Greece affected a high economic moral tone in Brussels to get into the single currency, but as "a high moral tone can hardly be said to conduce very much to either one's health or one's happiness" it was Responsible Greece in Brussels and Happy Greece at home.

Perhaps the solution is for the euro, like John Worthing, to just change its name and start over.

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