France has given its clearest indication to date that the surging euro is a threat to Europe's fragile recovery and will not be tolerated for much longer.
"The euro at $1.50 is a disaster for the European economy and industry," said Henri Guaino, right-hand man of President Nicolas Sarkozy.
The currency has risen 15pc in trade-weighted terms since March, equivalent to six quarter of a percentage-point rises in interest rates. It briefly flirted with $1.50 against the dollar on Tuesday before falling back on intervention fears.
What concerns European policymakers most is the lockstep rise against China's yuan. Beijing has clamped the yuan firmly to the weak dollar for over a year, quietly benefiting from the export advantages. It accumulated $68bn (£41bn) in reserves in September alone as a side-effect of holding down the currency. Fresh reserves are mostly being invested in eurozone bonds, pushing the euro higher.
French finance minister Christine Lagarde said it was intolerable that Europe should "pay the price" for a dysfunctional link between the US and China. "We want a strong dollar, and we have reiterated it again in the strongest manner," she said after this week's Eurogroup meeting. China's trade surplus with the EU reached €169bn (£154bn) last year.
Europe and Japan are now the last two blocs standing as everybody else lets their currencies fall, or takes active measures to hold down the exchange rate -- with "beggar-thy-neighbour" echoes of the 1930s....MORE
Thursday, October 22, 2009
"Euro at $1.50 is 'disaster' for Europe"
Our old pal, Ambrose the morose, reporting for the Telegraph: