After finishing my reading of Chapter 5 for “Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System,” it seemed at this point of the book the author viewed Euro as a potential challenger to the dollar as the reserve currency. The author James Rickards surmised that the Eurozone could regain strength and vitality as long Germany and other Eurozone member countries could go ahead and reform several internal problems.
Although I don’t remember all of the internal problems James Rickards described that needed to be reformed for Eurozone, I think he’d mentioned about labor mobility and several others. Nonetheless, James Rickards imagined that if Eurozone could move the unemployed workforces from Eurozone member countries to employment resource scarce countries such as Germany, then the unemployment problem for the Eurozone could be alleviated. In effect of this, the revitalized workforces that were moved could once again contribute growth in terms of consumption and investment and so on in general.
I have to wonder though, would Germany and other employment resource scarce countries, assuming jobs are abundant and requiring to be filled, want a flood of migrants from Eurozone member countries to disrupt the local employment flow? Nonetheless, it seemed that China had successfully implemented something like this by allowing migrants from rural area to migrate into the cities, consequently expanding the cities’ size, reach, productivity, and so on. As Chinese migrants are readily earned city’s incomes, they can then export some of their earnings back to the rural areas for whatever. Perhaps, some of the migrants will have enough money to go back home and open up businesses of whatever, and this in turn slowly urbanizes the rural areas. As China’s urban cities got crowded, overused, overpopulated, and so the labor demand for such cities cannot grow more — wages for such cities might be higher as workers expect cities’ wages and not of rural areas’ wages — the flood of migrants will slow down. Nonetheless, China’s coastal cities can relocate factories and other essential industrial capacities into the inner China where rural areas are common, and in this process China finds cheaper labor and urbanizes the inner rural cities.
James Rickards imagined Eurozone member countries could do something as China’s labor mobility but without the factor of urbanization. After all, many Eurozone member countries may not need urbanization at all if I’m not wrong on this. I think Eurozone member countries can definitely improve the labor mobility to improve the Eurozone as a whole, but internal political strifes among Eurozone member countries may prevent this to be done without danger.
Imagine Germany’s political force may not want to see the German workforce order to be disturbed too much, because once the workforce order got disturbed it could be a lot harder for such a workforce order to be reversed back to its normal flow. To make my point, let’s assumes that Germany is experiencing growth in general and demanding bigger labor workforce, migrant workers from Greece and elsewhere within Eurozone can migrate to Germany to fill up the labor demand. The problem is when Germany begins to experience economic downturn, the huge number of migrants will not be viewed favorable to the local population. At this point the migrants will stop migrating to Germany, and the migrants that are already in Germany will go elsewhere within Eurozone to find jobs. If everything works out the way the supply and demand force is meant to behave for the labor demand in Eurozone, things will not be so bad. Nonetheless, will Germany in an economic downturn easily find it to be easy to accept migrant inflow when the economy picks up again? The bigger question is what if the whole Eurozone experiences economic downturn, where the migrants who work in Germany migrate to within the Eurozone? Perhaps, the migrants may have to go beyond the Eurozone for jobs, but it’s not easy for the migrants to migrate beyond the Eurozone for jobs for obvious reasons (i.e., documentation issues, immigration issues, etc…).
It’s hard for me to imagine Eurozone as a whole uses a single dominant language for facilitating economic conditions. French will forever speak French, German will forever speak German and so forth for the whole Eurozone. I assume this will be the same for writing too for the Eurozone member countries. My point is that every time migrants from Eurozone relocate themselves elsewhere within Eurozone, they may have to learn new language (e.g., writing, speaking) in order for them to be effective at their new jobs. This won’t be easy if the economies within the Eurozone change too frequently (e.g., economic downturn, economic upturn).
I think we can pretend that many economic models and facts and equations can point out the problems and provide solutions for an economy, but we fail to realize that what matters most is the irrational behavior of humans. We humans don’t behave rational all the time, because we are not the robots. Robots follow the rules of the algorithms without theirs own rationalization. Us humans tend to do things on our own as if we know best, thus when we become irrational we don’t think that we are irrational. As a collective whole humans can be very irrational, and this shows why our history is full of wars and tragedies. Our economies behave the way we are, and so when we are not so rational, our economies become irrational. With this notion, I don’t think few simple suggestions such as labor mobility and so forth can be implemented with certainty. Even with labor mobility and so forth could be realized, the global economy as a whole has too many moving parts, and these moving parts can be counter productive to the positive trends that occur within the Eurozone. For an example, United States will not want to see the Euro rises for obvious reason (i.e., dollar’s reserve currency status must be upheld). China too wants its currency to become a reserve currency in the near future. With the two biggest economies in the world, United States and China, with very powerful military mights to back their agendas, it’s easy to imagine there are so many more moving parts within the global economy as a whole.
I think the author is too optimistic about the whole Eurozone as a whole. I do think the author does have many good points on why the Euro won’t collapse and Eurozone won’t be breaking apart, because he explained well why United States and China do not want to see the collapse of Euro and Eurozone. James Rickards mentioned that the United States had been wanting to keep inflation high in the United States and interest rate low for revitalizing exports and easy debt payments. By printing more dollars, the United States can push inflation up. By printing more dollars, the United States also keeps the Euro strong. Besides United States exports deflation to Eurozone member countries, China too wants the Euro to stay strong for many reasons. One noticeable reason which James Rickards mentioned is that China wants to diversify its foreign investments. Instead of only investing in United States treasury bonds (i.e., dollar holding), China wants to convert some of its Dollar holding to Euro holding and other Eurozone investments. This way, China does not have to put all of its eggs in one basket. After all, how can one be sure that the dollar will be alright for indefinitely?
Entering Russia and so the picture of global economy becomes even more complex. Russia does not want the dollar to be the only reserve currency, and Russia isn’t having a good relation with the United States since forever. Especially since Syria, Libya, and Ukraine crises/conflicts, United States-Russia relationship has gotten worse than ever before. In fact, many people think this relation is making a full circle (i.e., getting worse to the freezing point of the cold war). Russia is an energy export country, and so Russia’s energy geopolitical maneuver has great impact on the world. As United States boosts its own energy export sector, it’s in conflict with Russia in the energy export market. Meanwhile Eurozone member countries are depending on Russia for energy supplies such as natural gas. This is a big security issue for Eurozone member countries, because Russia can blackmail Eurozone member countries into submission by raising prices or producing less energy resources. Can the United States help Eurozone member countries to rely less on Russia’s energy resources?
Anyhow, Russia with its own geopolitical agenda can make the whole global economy a lot more complex. It’s already happened as Russia and China signed the $400 billion natural gas deal. With this deal Russia will not have to worry about too relying on Eurozone member countries for natural gas export. As Ukraine conflict continues, United States and Eurozone member countries continue to sanction Russia. Returning the favor, Russia cuts more ties with the United States and Eurozone member countries. With these economic sanctions between them (e.g., Russia vs United States and Eurozone member countries), the outlook for the global economy might be dampened by a lot. Meanwhile Japan, Philippines, and Viet Nam are in territorial disputes against China. China might play hardball and sanction these countries. If the tension between these countries against China are not dying down, the global economy as a whole might get even worse. Simply put, there are way too many uncertainties and moving parts for the author, James Rickards, to be certain that Eurozone will be able to reform without issues. Without reforming appropriately, the Eurozone will not be able to perform. If things got really bad, the Eurozone might even see the collapse of the Euro. This is why China isn’t exactly put all of its eggs into the Eurozone. Although China is cutting back on the buying of the United States’ treasury bonds, China isn’t exactly cashing out all of United States’ treasury bonds. It means that China is still hedging between the United States’ dollar and the Eurozone’s Euro.
In summary, I think the author is too bullish on the Euro even though the Eurozone isn’t exactly doing too well at the moment. If the Eurozone fails to reform as how James Rickards had advised in “Death of Money: The Coming Collapse of the International Monetary System” book, the Euro may suffer great setback. Furthermore, Ukraine conflict might add more energy, economic, and political issues for Eurozone to be dealt with. If the United States sees the Euro as the potential rival for the dollar’s currency reserve status, the United States might not want to see the Euro rise. China might not want to see the Euro rise also, because this might dampen the potential for the Yuan to become the sole reserve currency. Nonetheless, what if the Euro rise will happen anyway and China will insist the Yuan to become another reserve currency? This will be very problematic for the United States for obvious reasons. One noticeable reason would be the world will use the dollar even less as the reserve currency, and this will make it harder for the United States to print more dollar to pay off debts. In a nutshell, the global economy is a mess and a battlefield, and James Rickards might be very wrong for being too bullish on the Euro.