Start the conversation
Of all the pyramid schemes that governments and banks have perpetrated in the last decade, the Eurozone debt crisis is the most damaging.
No amount of posturing by European Central Bank President Mario Draghi can change that fact.
The market may like what Draghi has to say about the fate of the euro, but tomorrow's big ECB meeting will change little.
The massive amount of money Draghi will need to print is far too great for the German taxpayer or the ECB's balance sheet.
Eventually, the Eurozone will break up and drag the global economy right down with it.
In the long run, that will mark the beginning of the recovery, but in the short run it will precipitate a banking and economic crisis that will make 2008 look like child's play.
As investors, we had better be prepared.
Politicians Doomed the Euro
The Euro was a reasonably sensible idea, although without political integration it was always likely to cause trouble.
What's more, the technical side of it was for the first ten years handled very well by Otmar Issing at the European Central Bank. Issing spent his career in the Deutsche Bundesbank and knew what a decent currency looked like.
However, two decisions taken by politicians doomed the currency.
One was to admit Greece into the union, which to any competent observer was a hopelessly corrupt and uncompetitive economy propped up by giant EU subsidies.
More important, though, was the design of the TARGET (Trans-European Automated Real-time Gross Settlement Express Transfer System) payments system which was replaced in November 2007 by TARGET 2.
As I wrote in an earlier article, it is the secret system that blew another hole in the euro.
Target 2 requires all payments between banks in different countries to go through the national central banks (thus giving those otherwise redundant entities something to do).
Theoretically that's the same system as in the U.S., where many payments are made through the regional Federal Reserve Banks.
However, in the U.S. the larger banks deal direct, and outstanding payments in the regional Fed banks are cleared regularly. What that means is that if Alabama runs a payments deficit with New York, no large balances are allowed to build up.
Conversely, there has been no automatic clearing between the central banks in Europe. This may sound arcane and boring, but I promise you it is not.
These payment imbalances have two nasty side effects.