Aid is making the Euro debt crisis worse

Note this point in the WSJ today:

Germany and its Northern European allies believe only intense market pressure can force weak economies to cut spending and improve competitiveness. But Greece has learned that whenever the crisis in Europe's periphery threatens to overwhelm the core, Europe will ignore previous broken promises and step up with a fresh bailout.

Italy now appears to be making the same calculation. The government insists it will fulfill its commitment to balance the budget by 2013, but ministers show no appreciation of the urgent need for structural reforms to address the chronic weakness of an economy that grew on average 0.3% between 2001 and 2010 and experienced a 25% increase in unit labor costs relative to Germany over the same period. Instead, they talk incessantly of euro-zone bonds as a solution to misfortunes they blame largely on external forces. . . .

But this is exactly what I wrote in June:

Greeks apparently believe that they have Europe and the world over a barrel, that they can make the rest of the world pay their bills by threatening to default. Greece’s default would be painful for everyone, but for Europe and the United States, indeed for the world, the alternative would be even worse. If politicians in Ireland, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and other countries think that their bills will be picked up by taxpayers in other countries, they won’t control their spending and they won’t sell off assets to pay off these debts. Countries such as Greece have to be convinced that they will bear a real cost if they don’t fix their financial houses while they still have the assets to cover their debts. . . .

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