The first half of June will be hot, nervous and slow. This is neither a weather forecast nor a traffic report but a commentary on the timeline facing the EU.
Because Germany, uniquely among European nations, is enjoying an economic boom, it will take real courage for the German Social Democrats to propose a fundamentally different course.
Less than a month after France chose her new president and few months before Germany starts her own elections campaigns, Europe is dealing with a collapse of more countries in the eurozone.
There's a new scarlet letter in town. Actually, it's the same letter -- "A" -- but it stands for a different word that's increasingly regarded as shameful: Austerity. The darling idea of 2010 and 2011 has become the pariah concept of 2012. And the evidence of profound change is all around, from France and Greece to Germany and -- gasp -- the Republican Party. The change, when it comes to the conventional wisdom on austerity, has come from a combination of public pressure and leadership: one pushing up from below, the other pressing down from above. None of this means that we should break out the Keynesian champagne any time soon. But it's clear the forces of austerity are in retreat. And that's a very good thing.
These issues doubtlessly need to be addressed, but what's notable is the sea change in the conversation. Ideas that were once off the table are now being taken up by EU governments and organizations and Euro pundits. The austerity discourse no longer dominates. Why?
Historians will look back on the spring of 2012 as moment when Europe's institutions and leaders either failed to contain a deepening crisis -- or as a time when leadership grasped the common stakes and rose to the occasion.
While Greece is right on the razor's edge of default, and may yet be granted some overdue relief, the prospects for broader European recovery are still very bleak until the politics get a lot more radical.
What would happen to Greece if it quit the euro? Financial chaos, capital flight, riots and bank failures... maybe. But after the apocalypse, Greece would eventually revert to its 1960's status: a poor but proud nation living off tourism, shipping, agriculture and fishing.
Only by leaving can Greece reissue the drachma and let it devalue sharply. Everything Greek will be available at fire sale prices, which will attract foreign investors and make Greek exports price competitive. Greece and its people will be left a lot poorer, but that's also now inevitable.
Europe's political winds have shifted over the past month. The first sign of this preceded the event now being hailed as the catalyst, Sarkozy's loss in France's presidential election, and it occurred in an unlikely place: the Netherlands.
From Athens, Greece, to Madison, Wisconsin, the common theme today is said to be "austerity versus growth."
What most people seem to ignore is that creating an attachment bond with your baby is about putting your child's needs ahead of yours. It's as simple as that. Seriously.
Germany can refuse to budge on austerity, but for how long if its remedies don't cure Europe's ailing economies?
Yes, America has a long-term budget deficit that's scary. So does Europe. But the first priority in America and in Europe must be growth and jobs.
Watching the jubilation at the Place de la Bastille last night, where the Socialist candidate Francois Hollande was declared the next President of France precisely at 8:00 p.m., followed by delirious chants of "Sarkozy, c'est fini!" I couldn't help thinking of Grant Park, November 2008.