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This is what a European "technocrat" looks like. Lucas Papademos will take over from Georges Papandreou as prime minister of Greece, as the Eurozone continues to sink.
Europe is full of flamboyant politicians, but when it comes to rescuing the continent from financial ruin, the money right now seems to be on the most technocratic of technocrats: economists who have served time in the trenches of the very common currency they helped to create in the 1990s. As the euro has melted down, the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, has stepped aside, replaced by Lucas Papademos, an economist. In Italy, the embattled billionaire PM, Silvio Berlusconi, is being moved aside to make room for Mario Monti, another economist.
The message to Europeans is pretty clear: politicians created this mess, and now the people who actually know what they're doing with the economy will get us out. Try to imagine what this would be like in America. We'd kick Obama out of the White House and replace him with...an executive from a consulting firm. Oh, wait...didn't Mitt Romney work for Bain & Co. back in the day?
Reuters finance blogger Felix Salmon and Marketplace New York bureau chief Heidi Moore went on "The Madeleine Brand Show" this morning to discuss the ongoing (Neverending?) European debt crisis. It was a lively discussion, moving beyond the probability of a Greek default in its debt and raising the specter of Italy defaulting on its debt — or more accurately, being unable to "roll it over," or pay off maturing bonds with new bonds, at the same interest rate. Unfortunately for Italy, its borrowing costs are going up, making it difficult to execute this maneuver.
At one point, Heidi made reference to a video of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the odd couple of the European Union, who together have been lurchingly trying to cobble together a rescue package for the Eurozone's common currency.