The Creditor/Debtor Game

Good piece tonight by Martin Wolf in the FT:

The country with the credit sets the rules. Debtors have to beg, particularly in a fixed currency arrangement, whenever finance is needed to cushion an adjustment imposed via deflation. Creditors can also insist on their interpretation of the causes of a crisis. Germany states that it is all the fault of bad fiscal policies: correct those and bind fiscal policy for all time; the virtuous will then inherit the earth.

This view of the world suffers from three drawbacks: it is wrong; it is self-defeating; and it is destabilising. It is wrong because far from all crisis-hit countries suffered from irresponsible fiscal policies. In important cases, they suffered far more from irresponsible private lending and borrowing. It is self-defeating, because attempts by every member country to tighten fiscal policy at once will impoverish all, including creditors. The view is also destabilising, because the way out of this trap would be via a shift of the eurozone into external surplus. Resolving the internal imbalances by worsening global ones is a bad idea.

via InfoViewer: Creditors can huff but they need debtors.