(target-2 claims/liabilities in BEUR as per June 30, 2012)
Whatever I say below is irrelevant if the Eurozone survives as is and if it returns to financial stability. By that, I mean that all Eurozone countries return to having more or less the same creditworthiness on their own.
Let me start with a provocative statement: the liabilities represent the lunches already consumed. The claims represent the lunches already consumed but not yet paid for.
My understanding about how those balances came into existence is the following: the smaller part represents the current account deficits financed by the ECB. The far larger part represents official capital flight (i. e. capital flight via bank accounts).
To the extent that it represents capital flight, we are witnessing a situation which, in more militant times of history, has led to wars of aggression and to expropriations of assets of the defeated (provided that it was the creditors who won the wars).
Capital flight, in times where national Euro-exits cannot be ruled out, represents the following: the wealthier nationals of the liabilities-countries who see their countries going down the tube, hedge that risk by “bringing their financial assets into safety”. The tax payers of the claims-countries finance that exercise (without probably knowing it).
Should the Eurozone crash, the wealthier classes of the liabilities-countries can, with good reason, smile at the naivité of those tax payers of the claims-countries for having made it possible for them to “bring their financial assets into safety” while they now have to foot the bill for this.
Put differently, and based on Greece as an example: when the tax payers of the claims-countries are called upon to foot the bill; when they have to accept enormous tax increases to pay that bill — well, then the wealthier Greeks can smile at them and say: “You should have done what we did!”
The only comforting thought is: the “common folk” in Greece won’t be able to say that. Instead, they will sympathize with the “common folk” in the claims-countries.
With every passing day, this situation becomes more extreme. The fuse is burning and on its way to the explosive. Can it still be stopped? Only through very radical measures.
One such radical measure would be: let’s immediately draw a line (while keeping the Euro alive as is). Let’s tally up the losses and negotiate amongst each other a fair distribution of these losses among all parties involved. And then, let’s start all over again, using the benefits of all the experiences we could collect in the past!