By: Randy Ataide
Crazy talk, right? I was meeting with a Portuguese friend a few days ago, and this is what she asked me. Well, actually, it was more of a statement. This was the second time on this trip that I heard this phrase from two different people. I don’t think we have heard much along these lines back in the U.S., but then again prior to coming to Europe I had not heard serious conversation of the end of the Euro as common currency. That is now being openly discussed in many areas of public and ordinary life.
Most of you know I have been in Europe for November and for a few days into December. I have had the opportunity with a group of PLNU MBA’s and colleagues to visit Portugal, France and Germany, and discuss the current Euro zone (and world) crisis in great detail with both experts and ordinary people. The news here that we accumulated this past month has been far more sobering than I expected and understood from my perspective in San Diego.
Rather than attempt to provide you with some great economic and business details and projections (I think we all know someone who can do this far better than me!), I thought I would share some snippets of conversations which I have recorded below. These may give you some idea of what is happening here. I hope you enjoy them and find them interesting
“The contagion is here and spreading.” – OECD Chief Economist to the MBA group, 11/21/11
“I object to the German and French Dictatorship.” – Portuguese political leader, morning news, 11/29/11
“People here have long concluded that a single Euro for the Euro Zone cannot continue.” – Portuguese man, 11/7/11
“The Italians are being bailed out. What is next?” – Overheard from two elderly Portuguese women on a street corner, 11/28/11 (It is somewhate shocking to be seeing economics being talked about by elderly people normally thinking about the fresh fish at the market.)
“You Americans get what you pay for. You are an untaxed country.” – Economist from the University of Paris II, 11/21/11
“The primary reason the EU and the Euro was created was to stop wars in Europe. If we lose the Euro where do we go?” – Said by a Parisian economist to us, 11/21/11
“The Germans took nearly 100 years to repay their debts from WWI to the Allies. And then they corrupt us with easy money that they want repaid in three to five years. How is that fair?” – Said to me in private conversation by a Portuguese woman on 11/28/11.
“The future is the relationship between the United States, Germany and India. This is the only power that can stand against the Chinese.” – Said by a German University leader in Stuttgart to me, 11/8/11
“Brazil? Wait two more years until the World Cup and Olympics passes. Then you will see the bubble deflate there and wreak havoc on the high-flying Brazilians.” – Said to me by a Lanaguage Instructor, 11/29/11
“Yes, we have fine roads and bridges, but there are no businesses and commerce to support them. We are like a child given a pair of oversized basketball shoes to grow into but we have no ball to play with. ” – Lisbon CEO comment to me over lunch, 11/29/11
“The EU provided us much but the price we paid was abandoning our industries such as fishing, clothing and cork. Now what do we do?” – Said to me by a Portuguese man, 11/25/11.
“It is feeling very much like the 1930’s in Southern Europe. We see the rise of the German power in the North and it concerns us. The future is so unknown.” – Two Portuguese men, said to me on 11/5/11.