Issing: Ausscheiden Griechenlands aus Euro wäre für Überleben der Gemeinschaftswährung besser gewesen

by Gastbeitrag on 4. Januar 2012

Morgen Abend strahlt CNN International um 20.45 Uhr ein Interview von Richard Quest mit Otmar Issing, dem ehemaligen Chefvolkswirt der EZB aus. CNN stellte dem Blick Log Kernaussagen und das Transkript der Sendung vorab zur Verfügung. Hier die Kernaussagen:

  • Prof. Issing sagt, er habe die EZB in der Entwicklungsphase des Euro auf die Risiken einer Gemeinschaftswährung hingewiesen. Dazu zählten u.a. die großen Unterschiede bei der Wettbewerbsfähigkeit der Märkte, die unterschiedlich hohen Arbeitskosten sowie die unterschiedlich ausgerichtete Finanzpolitik der Staaten.

  • Prof. Issing ist der Meinung, dass die nationalen Regierungen, etwa in Spanien, die von der EZB und den nationale Banken geforderten Maßnahmen gegen eine Überhitzung der Märkte, nicht umgesetzt haben, weil Steuererhöhungen und Einschränkungen unpopulär sind.
  • Nach einer langfristigen Lösung der Währungskrise gefragt, antwortet Prof. Issing: Die Euroländer müssen akzeptieren, dass sie nicht mehr als sicher eingestuft werden, wenn sie sich nicht an die Regel halten. Es sei ein Fehler gewesen, an Italien und Griechenland Geld zu denselben niedrigen Zinsen zu verleihen wie an Deutschland.
  • Daraus folgert Prof. Issing, dass ein Ausscheiden Griechenlands aus dem Euro für das Überleben der Gemeinschaftswährung besser gewesen wäre.
  • Es sei keine gute Position für eine Zentralbank, wie aktuell die EZB, in politische Machenschaften und Abhängigkeiten verstrickt zu sein, urteilt Prof. Issing.
  • Desweiteren betont Prof. Issing, dass die vor 20 Jahren verabschiedeten Maastricht-Kriterien, von allen Staaten gemeinsam vereinbart worden seien. Eine Gemeinschaftswährung mit einer unabhängige Zentralbank, die zu stabilen Preisen und Finanzmärkten führe, sei keine deutsche Entscheidung, sondern ein gemeinsamer Beschluss aller Staaten gewesen.
  • Auf Richard Quests Frage, ob alle der aktuell 17 Euroländer den Euro behalten werden antwortet Prof. Issing, dass er sich dabei heute, anders als noch vor zwei Jahren, nicht mehr sicher sei. Aber er ist der Auffassung, dass der Euro die Gemeinschaftswährung von einer großen Gruppe von Ländern in Europa bleiben wird.

Über CNN Marketplace Europe

CNN Marketplace Europe beleuchtet einen der am stärksten vernetzten und in der globalen Wirtschaft einflussreichsten Kontinente sowie seine aktuellen Herausforderungen. Neben Interviews mit CEOs von Top-Unternehmen spielt die wirtschaftliche Bedeutung Deutschlands für Europa und die Welt eine besondere Rolle. Als Europas größte Volkswirtschaft und viertgrößte der Welt haben die hier getroffenen Entscheidungen in Politik und Wirtschaft eine weitreichende Bedeutung. Interview-Gäste der Sendung waren bisher unter anderem der Präsident der Europäischen Kommission, José Manuel Barroso, der Generalsekretär der OECD, Angel Gurria, sowie Herbert Hainer, Vorstandsvorsitzender der Adidas AG. CNN Marketplace Europe ist jeden Donnerstag um 20.45 Uhr auf CNN International zu sehen.

Transkript in englischer Sprache


RQ: Richard Quest
OI: Prof. Otmar Issing
RQ: When they designed the euro, you were there weren’t you, you were there?
OI: I was on the first board of the ECB.
RQ:  Did anyone say, we are constructing attacking time bomb unless they start moving their
economies together?

OI: I would not call that a time bomb, I called it an experiment. I was very critical that this could work
before it started. I have published papers and given speeches about the risk of it: Not collapsing, but
of it creating big tensions. We warned the ECB about the divergences of competitiveness, on public
finance policies etc. So, this did not happen in the dark of the night, this happened in the light of the
day. A crisis was in the pipeline, this was a cry by announcement. I must confess that I mentioned, I
didn’t expect. But for me, very early on, the crisis was to come.
RQ:  Were the politicians just not listening or had they hoped, do you think, to solve and to settle the
experiment in time, in the future, in an orderly fashion?
OI:  Politicians behaved as they almost always do. Take one example: When the Spanish housing
market was overheating, the ECB and the Bank of Spain asked the National Government to do
something about it, They didn’t. Why? It would have been very easy to impose additional taxes,
restrictions etc. on people buying apartments and houses. But this is an unpopular move and they
didn’t.  We warned. I accompanied the first President of the ECB Wim Duisenberg to the first meetings
with the euro group. Later we petitioned Trichet with graphs and papers showing that unit labour costs
were diverging in a dramatic way, so this was something that was known… 
RQ: But if this was something that was known and they weren’t listing and this was a crisis that was
waiting to happen. Then surely solving it is going to take so much pain, and so much angst, to put this
thing right?
OI:  The longer you wait with approaching problems, the bitterer the medicine, I think this is like in
personal life.
RQ:  Which doesn’t bode well for any agreement to actually long term address the problem?
OI:  I would not go so far, I think strengthening the pact to have national rules is key. The problems
and the causes at the national level have to be solved at the national level. And finally, I think,
countries have to accept that markets will not give them higher credibility, if they don’t apply these
kinds of rules.
RQ:  So while some are beating up on the markets, you are basically saying the markets have a role
to play in keeping them honest.
OI:  Absolutely, absolutely. And markets have failed for many, many years. Italy, Greece, even Greece
enjoyed the same low interest rates as a company like Germany. This was a market failure and this
must not be repeated. What we see now you might say markets etc… But all in all, the rise in spreads
was in the right direction. For me the question was always, Greece was told time and again, next time
if you don’t do more, you won’t get money, if you don’t deliver.
RQ:  So you would have preferred to see Greece going bust? No that is being inflammatory; you
would have preferred to see Greece being allowed to go rather than being bailed out?
OI: I question whether Greece should have got money time. And if they would not have had more
money, they would have had to decide what to do.
RQ:  So, a Greece default long term for the survival of the euro would have been the preferable
OI: All in all I think so. It would have made clear that this is a club. If we have a club of non-smokers
and some of its members start to smoke again, we say we turn it into a smokers club?
RQ:  We will come back to that in sec, let’s just turn to the question of the role of the ECB of which you
have huge experience. People are crying for the ECB to become more involved, whether through purchases of government debt, or lender of last resort. I read your recent article in FT on that point,
but your fundamental point is against the ECB becoming more involved? 
OI: Basically, there might be situations in which it is a crisis, but as a permanent measure I think this
involvement of the ECB in politics, and a central bank being involved in politics, means that it is kept in
political games, give and take relationships, and this is not a role a central bank should take.
OI:  The rules were signed by the UK in Maastricht 20 years ago, so these were common rules. An
agreement that we should have a common currency based on the independence of the bank,
delivering price stability and public finances which are solid, no bail out.  These were not German rules
these were the European rules agreed upon by all signatories.
RQ:  Do you still expect, absent anyone joining, do you expect the 17 members of the euro will stay
the 17 members of the euro?
OI:  If you had asked me two years ago I would have said yes. Today, I am not so sure any more, and
what I said before about Greece is already an example of that. But I strongly, not only believe, I am
convinced, that the euro will stay and with a larger group of countries. 

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