End of the line for the euro: a novel
August 13, 2011 8:09 AM   Subscribe

Starting last month, the French daily Le Monde has been publishing an economic thriller in series, called Terminus pour L' Euro (in French) (The End of the Line for the Euro). The series is behind a subscription wall, but Presseurope has started republishing the series in ten languages, including English...
The story narrates the events of summer 2012, as Germany decides to leave the Euro and what follows. It has caused a stir in France, as rumors about the true identity of the author (who signs the series as Philae, after an island in Egypt apparently) continue to circulate, and some think he is the French agriculture minister Bruno Le Maire. Some say that the rumors that led to the precipitous fall in French banks' stock a few days ago, were due to misunderstanding the fictional character of the story...
Real rumors that Germany threatened to leave the Euro last year, were dismissed by its Chancellor, yet as the eurozone crisis develops, no one is certain any more that the series is simply fiction and not a possible, real scenario, advocated by many...
posted by talos (24 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I can't fine parts 2, 3 and 4 in English. Am I being thick?
posted by entropos at 8:42 AM on August 13, 2011

Looks like they haven't been translated yet.
posted by entropos at 8:45 AM on August 13, 2011

I used to have a hard disk named Philae. "An island in Egypt" is a crude understatement. Ptolemaic temple complex, ancient centre of commerce (a key transshipment point and border post on the Nile rapids), and then pilgrimage and tourist destination for two millennia until consistent inundation by the Aswan Low Dam heavily damaged the painted reliefs and the landscape of the site, and led to UNESCO carving the buildings up in the 1960s and moving them to higher ground.

I'm sure the author has their reasons for using this as their pen name. (On the other hand, at the time I was just following my established Ancient Mediterranean computer naming convention, and I thought the name Philae had a good sound and look about it.)
posted by waterunderground at 8:45 AM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

So that's where Clippy got to: "It looks like you're trying to sow fear, uncertainty, and doubt! Would you like some help thinly veiling your efforts as fiction?"
posted by anotherpanacea at 9:33 AM on August 13, 2011 [7 favorites]

Absolutely fascinating, thanks for posting talos. I love speculative political fiction — especially if the "what if" scenario is so acutely plausible — but I've never read any that involves Merkel and Sarkozy!

(It's usually either Hitler or the President of America, it seems.)

If anyone can point me to the later parts in any language I'd much appreciate that.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:46 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

especially if the "what if" scenario is so acutely plausible — but I've never read any that involves Merkel and Sarkozy!

I sense some slash fan fiction in my future!
posted by Slothrup at 9:58 AM on August 13, 2011

The sun had set upon the Willy-Brandt-Straße, and the last rays of dying daylight pierced the clear glass of the deserted upper floor of the Chancellery.

"Not this again," Angela thought, as the bold hands of a cheeky statesman massaged the Chancellor's shoulders. But this time, the fellow's name was Nicolas.

"We have to stop meeting like this," Nicolas whispered.

Sighed Angela: "We just might, Nicky, we just might."

In the distance, a phone rang.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:17 AM on August 13, 2011 [4 favorites]

The Euro is not going to be sustainable without increased federalism in Europe. This was the plan all along.
posted by humanfont at 10:25 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

The Euro was a good-time friend but with GDP growth contracting, the true nature is revealed. They wanted monetary unity, but not fiscal unity, the best of both worlds. Worked great until 2008. The solution now is fiscal unity but politically appears impossible. So economic realities are setting in slowly, kick the can kick the can *boom* August 2011 stock crash. New political realities emerging. Nationalism, right-wing mainstream, hatred, riots, class warfare.
posted by stbalbach at 10:26 AM on August 13, 2011

The Euro is not going to be sustainable without increased federalism in Europe.

Never going to happen. Old hatreds once again coming to the fore will prevent it entirely.
posted by kgasmart at 10:35 AM on August 13, 2011

If the Euro goes down and every country goes back to its original currency, there's going to be another period of everyone using the confusion to raise their bloody prices. Which is just what everyone needs in this recession. I know that's a relatively minor issue in the midst of everything else, but it still pre-emotively pisses me off.

On the plus side, Dutch currency would hopefully go back to being stunningly beautiful again. So there's that.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 10:49 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]

It is never quiet in this bunker. Without the background noise of overground life, a choir of server rack fans provides a constant droning din, a complicated system of air ducts its willing sound box.

"There's no way I can slip into Tegel unnoticed," The President thought, standing pensively between two twin beds, his Mickey Mouse boxer shorts belying a newfound sense of urgency.

"I know," he decided, awkwardly fumbling into yesterday's suit. "I will walk to Schönefeld and have them meet me there. A long morning stroll will do me good."

With shoes in hand, the unshaven President of the French Republic slowly ascended the cast iron spiral staircase, the Chancellor still soundly asleep in her part of the lits-jumeaux. "More like 'lits-jamais'", he grumbled.

The crisp air of Tiergarten before dawn was unforgiving.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 10:52 AM on August 13, 2011

Presseurope has translated the first part only, sorry I didn't make that clear, and will possibly (?) translate the rest in installments (judging from the 1/4 on the header). I think.
posted by talos at 11:00 AM on August 13, 2011

Never going to happen. Old hatreds once again coming to the fore will prevent it entirely.

In the event this does happen (Euro breakdown), it will be quite unfair to blame it on German old hatreds rather than Greek old largesse. You can't expect Germans to gladly pay for the Greek party.
posted by falameufilho at 7:32 PM on August 13, 2011

.. actually German Landesbanks were financing the Greek party since years..
posted by ruelle at 12:42 AM on August 14, 2011

i was thinking of a similar financial sci-fi script..

in the year 2018 a major mediterranean country fails to repay its debt; a group of contractors hired by creditor thus tries to "repossess" part of the country's naval arsenal, including an aircraft carrier. However they soon realize that...

(to be read while listening to the original a-team theme)
posted by 3mendo at 6:35 AM on August 14, 2011

grrr.... creditorS, sorry
posted by 3mendo at 6:36 AM on August 14, 2011

"You can't expect Germans to gladly pay for the Greek party"
What Greek party? I was living here and never noticed a thing. This has to be an oligarch thing, seeing as to I was never invited... 2/3 of pensioners during this "party" were getting under 700 Euros a month. 20% of those working (and 10% of the workforce was unemployed) were working below minimum wage and/or uninsured, if I remember correctly. Now of course it is vastly worse: hunger and homelessness are what the austeritarians have wrought.

The German taxpayers I should emphasise, are not paying for the Greek anything: they are paying private banks and their stockholders in order that they avoid the default that their very ill-informed investments would have led them to unless they were bailed-out. If one lends money to a corrupt elite everyone in the EU is a. aware of and b. doing business with and supporting, one should not be surprised when the proverbial chickens come home to roost, certainly you shouldn't expect them to pay rent.

I would also assume that by now the meme that this is somehow a Greek thing would have disappeared from public discourse, seeing how one after the other most EU countries are sliding to debt peonage through generalized Hooverian austerity (or would Brüning be a more appropriate idiotic policy reference here?). In fact the linked story imagines how this whole bail-out the bankers thing will explode as soon as France is targetted, and I think that won't take til next year to become reality. To assume that Greece is behind the impending crash is to blame the Crash of '08 on Lehman brothers: It doesn't work that way...
posted by talos at 7:53 AM on August 14, 2011

* Average retirement age of 53
* 14 salaries a year
* Unmarried daughters of civil servants are entitled to collect pension from a dead parent
* Public sector salaries out of sync with the private sector

It was a party, dude. Sorry to hear that you weren't invited and now you're going to pay for it anyway. But fact is - it's going to be tough to convince the Germans to pay for this as well, and that may cause the breakdown of the Euro, not "old hatreds". You know what's really ironic? Aesop was Greek.

talos: "2/3 of pensioners during this "party" were getting under 700 Euros a month"

Pensions spending in Greece was 12% of GDP (3% is the EU average). This average means nothing.
posted by falameufilho at 9:47 AM on August 15, 2011

Sorry - this average (under 700 euros a month) means nothing. Not the 3% EU average.
posted by falameufilho at 11:41 AM on August 15, 2011

Wow, where do you get all those wrong facts from:
- Average retirement age before the recent reforms was 61.7 (fig.15 greece is marked EL), that is higher than the German or the EU average.
- 14 salaries a year added up to a annual income that was on the average around 2/3 of Germany's (PPP) - and mind you that average is not median, I say this because Greece had perhaps one of the greatest wage inequalities in the EU.
- This unmarried daughters' thing is a relic from the past and was used pretty rarely and certainly not throughout the public sector. It's the Greek reactionaries' equivalent of "walfare queens". And it wasn't the pension they could collect, just some extra benefit. If I'm not mistaken the total cost for this was *six million Euros*, that is something like 0.003% of GDP
- And public sector salaries where they can be directly compared (i.e. teachers private and public, doctors private and public etc) were not "out of sync with the private sector" - a private sector that was paying less and less btw for more and more from it's workers over the past 20 years...

And 3% (really, if only this was true!) is most definitely *not* the EU average in pensions' spending. It is around 12% and in 2007, Greece was at 12.3%.

So let's leave the false myths to Bild and the likes, shall we - these are unfounded urban legends... The Greek economy had, indeed, huge problems, none of which had to do with workers being overpaid. Nowadays even less so.

Again: this was an oligarch's party and so is the party that is being prepared as we speak for the bankers by the austeritarians all over the EU - and well beyond...
posted by talos at 12:23 PM on August 15, 2011 [1 favorite]

Time to reread Po Bronson's Bombardiers.
posted by chavenet at 3:53 AM on August 16, 2011

Ooh la la, Nicolas!
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 12:54 PM on August 17, 2011

The rest of the story is out:

2/4: Trundling towards doom
3/4 Wall Street's harsh judgment
4/4: Shanghai endgame
posted by talos at 2:12 PM on August 19, 2011

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