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Financial Times: Courts, Voters and the Threat of Another Euro Crisis

Author: Gideon Rachman
February 14, 2014


"Two of the most respected institutions in Germany, the Bundesbank and the constitutional court, are now on record as registering profound objections to the policies underpinning the euro.

As long as the German economy is strong, such laments are unlikely to churn up mainstream German politics. But when things get tough, as they inevitably will at some point, the intellectual groundwork has been laid for a "stab-in-the-back" theory that will explain Germany's problems by reference to the illegal and improvident acts of the European institutions."

Germany has surrendered and the euro is saved. That seems to be the markets' interpretation of last week's ruling by the German constitutional court on the European Central Bank's "whatever it takes" policy to save the single currency. The judges' ruling essentially boiled down to this: "We don't like what the ECB is doing. We think it illegal. But only the European Court of Justice can strike it down."

Since the European Court is highly unlikely to accept this invitation, the ECB will be able to preserve its policy of Outright Monetary Transactions – essentially a promise to be the buyer of last resort for the bonds issued by eurozone countries. Had the German courts struck down the ECB's policy last week you would have seen chaos on the markets. Instead, calm prevailed.

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