David Shirreff writes:
It seemed like reasonably safe fantasy when I wrote the first draft of EuroCrash! in October 2010 – working title Gilda in Euroland. Since then things have rather slid out of control. Bankruptcy threatens Greece and perhaps other countries; euro-zone leaders are trying to patch things up with their EFSFs and ESMs. The humorous side seems all but lost. But history tells us that even in the grimmest times you need some light relief.
Behind the story of Mark and Gilda – the Hansel and Gretel of Euroland – lies the deeper tale of the birth of the euro – from Jean Monnet, a founder of the European Coal & Steel Community in 1952, to the moment in 1999 when the single currency was born, right up to the point which we haven’t reached yet - and with luck may never reach - the sad end of a multi-year, multi-country economic experiment.
This is not necessarily predicting doom and gloom. It is a parable, and a dreadful warning about what might happen if certain steps – long overdue – to save the euro zone are not taken. Our perilous future lies in the hands of a few decision-makers. Let’s hope they’re enlightened enough to get it right.
LOST in the forest, Mark and Gilda stumble on the European Currency School, run by the devious Madame Mitterrand and her outsize colleague Papa Kohl. Mark and Gilda are taken prisoner, as part of a dastardly plan, to create a single currency domain.....but Gilda escapes and continues her adventures through Euroland, meeting....
.........Jean Monnet, who started the whole idea....
......while politicians Angela Merkel, David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy struggle to make sense of the crisis......
....the wayward currencies of eastern Europe, still not yet captured and free as the air.........
...Jean-Claude Trichet, the greatest eurocrat of them all....
The whole thing is almost bound to end in tears.
Dramatis personae (in order of appearance)
Gilda – daughter of a woodcutter and a wicked stepmother
Mark – her adopted brother
Papa Kohl – head of the European Currency School, and chancellor of Germany 1982-1990
Madame Mitterrand – his wife, and president of France 1981-1995
Jean Monnet – a 1950s French bureaucrat, and a founding father of the European Union.
Callum, Juanito, Stavros – pupils at the European Currency School
The Snake – a system that linked European currencies before the move to fixed exchange rates
Norman Lamont – British chancellor of the exchequer in 1992
George Papandreou – Greek prime minister October 2009-November 2011
Jose Zapatero – Spanish prime minister 2004-December 2011
Enda Kenny – Irish prime minister, March 2011-
Standard & Poor’s, Moody’s, Fitch – the rating agencies
Jean-Claude Trichet – president of the European Central Bank 2003-October 2011
A Berlin taxi-driver
Lek, Zloty, Dinar – exotic European currencies
David Cameron – British prime minister 2010-
Angela Merkel – German chancellor 2005-
Nicolas Sarkozy – president of France 2007-2012
François Hollande - president of France 2012-
Mario Monti - Italian prime minister 2011-
Mario Draghi - president of the European Central Bank October 2011-