Every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way

From an interview of ECB board member Jörg Asmussen with the Wall Street Journal ($):

WSJ: Until last December you dealt with the debt crisis from the German finance ministry. Since January you are with the ECB. How has this change affected how you look at the debt crisis?

Asmussen: You have a more limited mandate (at the ECB), which is price stability and contributing to financial stability. On the other hand you have a broader, namely European, perspective. We see media reports every morning from Cyprus to Ireland and from Estonia to Portugal. This is amazing sometimes. You have topics that cross the whole euro zone. But sometimes you have topics like Target2 balances that we only see in German newspapers. Sometimes you have issues that are lively debated in Ireland that are not issues in the rest of the euro zone. You have clearly a European perspective at the Euro Tower.

The highlighted remark seems to reflect Frankfurt’s bemusement with their very own Irish Question, which has crystallized in a debate about why Ireland is still servicing the legacy unsecured senior debt of insolvent banks. Indeed, Mr Asmussen’s visit to Dublin last week seems to have poured fuel on the fire, as Colm McCarthy and Guido Fawkes explain. On the other hand, Germans may not be happy to see Target2 presented as a purely German obsession, since whatever the technicalities, it gets to the balance of payments aspect of the Eurozone crisis. At what point does every country fuming about its own particular hand get seen as evidence of a systemic problem?

 

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