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Steve Kettmann Headshot

The Myth of the Euro's Imminent Demise

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The Occupy movement was supposed to have resulted in a fundamental reassessment of the notion, erroneously thought to have long been central to U.S. self-identity, that ours was a system of and for big money, in short, that a juiced-up, out-of-hand, shameless greed was the point of existence.

What a joke. The top 1 percent are doing better than ever -- and far too often, the people in control of our narrative are all obsessed with money, as if that were the smart thing, the wise thing, to believe that the ultimate determination of worth and value is the god of "economic growth."

Peel away a layer and most coverage of the ongoing Euro crisis is really about greed: U.S. commentators get all worked up, ripping the Germans for being "smug" or simply writing as if they were discussing stupid, petulant children who don't know enough to pull up their own pants, and their point really is: Why don't you play along? Why don't you accept the Wall Street influence on the Obama administration (and forget about the greed-is-beautiful-ain't-it? Romney campaign)? Why don't you bow before the almighty grandeur of the "markets," fine fiction that they are, and do whatever they happen to tell you at a given moment?

Anyone reading the U.S. press last year would have assumed the Euro would be dead by now. It isn't. Here's guessing the Euro will survive the current crisis -- which would be good not just for Europeans but for the world.

Why? Why should anyone care? Because if the Euro dies, it won't be the Germans -- or the Greeks -- who killed it, it will be a U.S.-led system of big-bank hegemony that gives unchecked power to speculators, looking for quick profits, all based on very little actual knowledge.

We hear the same claptrap over and over in the same know-it-all tone, all of it written up in New York offices, far from Europe, far from any sense of perspective. One article follows another, with commentators competing to see who can get more snippy.

What's clear is this: No one has the answers. No one has a real solution to the problem. There is no easy fix. If the Germans jumped when people said jump, then a week later they would be told again to jump in another direction and another and another.

Here's how Fareed Zakaria described the situation in a recent Time magazine column:

"Throughout the euro-zone crisis, it has become conventional wisdom to regard the Germans as narrow-minded, ungenerous and dogmatically wedded to prescriptions of austerity to treat Europe's problems. Those criticisms are vastly overstated. Consider that Germany is being asked to take its taxpayers' money -- in a democracy -- and use it to bail out a country like Greece, which is guilty of mismanagement, poor competitiveness and financial fraud. And it has said yes! In return for this, Germans are being called Nazis in Greek newspapers."

Not only in Greek newspapers. The crisis has too often turned into an excuse to rip Germans and deal in cheap stereotype.

Here's predicting the Germans will -- for all their faults -- find a way to lead Europe through to some kind of way out of this mess. It won't be pretty. Along the way will come more "Argmageddon Now!" headlines. But the Euro will continue and the European experiment will continue, which, as a reminder, is based on the idea that people can live side by side without fanning national rivalries too excessively (except during the World Cup!) and that, yes, life has more to it than trying to squeeze every last dollar of profit out of people and create companies that offer less and less to customers, besides aggravation and disillusionment, as executives get huge bonuses they don't need for dreaming up new ways to rip off the normal person.

If the Euro does go under, the entire international financial system will not survive much longer. So for all of you rooting for the Euro to collapse, be careful of what you wish for.