Downgrading The Eurozone

A blog about business and economics.
Dec. 16 2011 4:32 PM

Downgrading The Eurozone

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BERLIN, GERMANY - OCTOBER 06: In this photo illustration precarious towers of one Euro coins stand on October 6, 2011 in Berlin, Germany. World finance leaders are scheduled to meet in Berlin today to discuss measures on how to counter the growing European debt crisis. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images

The series of downgrade warnings issued to Eurozone countries by Fitch today is not, in and of itself, particulalry consequential. But the breadth of the countries getting warnings — Belgium, Spain, Slovenia, Italy, Ireland, and Cyprus — is telling. In particular, it's Slovenia and Belgium not Slovenia and Croatia. It's Ireland and Italy, not Ireland and the United Kindgom. What these countries have in common is the euro. In other words, a set of institutional and monetary arrangements that just don't work very well.

If I were an elected official, I'd be extremely reluctant to pull the plug on this endeavor even though it was misguided from the start and isn't functioning in practice. But I'd be leaping at the opportunity to be the second prime minister to bail on the whole thing if someone else went first.

Matthew Yglesias is the executive editor of Vox and author of The Rent Is Too Damn High.