COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Billionaire George Soros warned on Monday that the euro crisis is growing deeper, tearing at the fabric of European Union cohesion, because policymakers are prescribing the wrong remedies.
“I’m afraid that the euro crisis is getting worse. It’s not over yet, and it is going in the wrong direction,” Soros said in discussion with Denmark’s economics minister hosted by the daily newspaper Politiken.
“The euro is undermining the political cohesion of the European Union, and if it continues like that could even destroy the European Union,” Soros said. “That is due to a misunderstanding of what the problem is.”
Soros, the Hungarian born U.S. investor, said that the creators of the single European currency believed that imbalances were created in the public sector without understanding that markets themselves can create imbalances.
He said the euro crisis is being dealt with by policymakers as a fiscal crisis though the crisis began as a collapse of the banking system in the United States and was compounded by a divergence of competitiveness among European countries.
He said that failure to deal with the crisis was creating tremendous tensions because people, who see that policy is failing, are driven into anti-European positions and dissent is growing within and between the countries of Europe.
“It could be reversed at any time if only the authorities understood that the box is broken and you need to find some out-of-the-box invention to bring it back inside the box and then put it right, change the rules of cohesion,” he said.
Soros said the crux of the problem was that debt reduction was coming at a bad time for the European economy. “You can grow out of excessive debt, you cannot shrink out of excessive debt.”
And he warned that the euro zone fiscal compact, an agreement by 25 EU leaders to prevent another debt crisis and restore confidence, was pushing in the wrong direction because it obliged governments to balance budgets and reduce indebtedness at a time of inadequate demand.
He said that because fiscal stimulus was ruled out, monetary policy remained the only tool available.
editing by Ron Askew