What once could be dismissed as simply a Greek crisis, or simply a Greek and Irish crisis, is now clearly a eurozone crisis. Resolving that crisis is both easier and more difficult than is commonly supposed.
The economics is really quite simple. Greece has a budget problem. Ireland has a banking problem. Portugal has a private-debt problem. Spain has a combination of all three. But, while the specifics differ, the implications are the same: all must now endure excruciatingly painful spending cuts.
The standard way to buffer the effects of austerity is to marry domestic cuts to devaluation of the currency. Devaluation renders exports more competitive, thus substituting external demand for the domestic demand that is being compressed.
Barry Eichengreen is George C. Pardee and Helen N. Pardee Professor of Economics and Political Science at the University of California, Berkeley. His books include Golden Fetters: The Gold Standard and the Great Depression, 1919-1939, and two Princeton books: The European Economy since 1945: Coordinated Capitalism and Beyond and Globalizing Capital: A History of the International Monetary System.