...behaviour is something that economists struggle to capture. Joseph Stiglitz does better than most ... Stiglitz is contemptuous of the advocates of austerity within a single currency straitjacket ... Yet, having spent 300 pages dismantling the currency project, the author suggests it is still worth salvaging. The case he makes for a 'flexible euro' needs more detail in order to convince.
Stiglitz’s indictments of the single currency, and his solutions to its supposed structural flaws, are conventional and also unconvincing. By contrast, his critique of specific policies is original and extremely helpful. If eurozone leaders took his advice on policy choices, they would disprove his bigger claims about the euro’s supposedly unsustainable structure.
Early in the book, Stiglitz writes that he made a decision not to recount the birth of the euro, which is a shame, because this story is crying out for narrative, characters and nuance. Instead, Stiglitz has written a polemic, one that reads like a series of loosely stitched-together lectures ... Another downside to his style is that it strips the humanity out of the story.
Mr Stiglitz gives too little weight to the mistakes of crisis countries. The book has other shortcomings. The strident tone and frequent self-references will put off many readers. If sentences that contained the word 'I' or 'my' were expunged, the book would be rather slimmer. In places it reads as if the miseries of the euro zone stem from sinister corporate forces and not misplaced idealism. Similar arguments crop up in several chapters, a further irritation and a symptom of careless structure ... Mr Stiglitz is at his best when coolly analytical and at his most trying when settling scores. Yet on the essentials, he is surely right.
...though Stiglitz spews plenty of populist rhetoric, The Euro is thick with dense paragraphs (imagine an economics text written by Michael Moore) ... Far from the measured analysis that one might expect from a renowned economist, The Euro has the strident tone of a political pamphlet. Italics are everywhere, as if the reader were being screamed at. There is a numbing incantation of faults attributed to the troika.
Stiglitz, a critic of status quo globalization even before his time at the IMF (during which he produced Globalization and Its Discontents), explains why the eurozone is basically an economic marriage of convenience rather than a deep political union … Stiglitz’s verdict is convincing...Stiglitz argues persuasively that it never had to come to this, because a shared currency was never really required for a shared Europe, a project that he deeply supports. Europe could have focused more tightly on a common foreign policy, defense, trade, social safety nets, labor standards, and so on, rather than grasping for the tantalizing low-hanging fruit of monetary union crafted by a group of elite technocrats … Stiglitz doesn’t argue that any of this would have been easy.
What stands out is the relentless indictment of past and present stewards of the eurozone, whom he charges with committing every possible sin against progressive economic principles. In this, the book reads much like Mr. Stiglitz’s earlier ones on globalization and inequality—only now with the euro as chief villain ... Even for the sympathetically minded, the book will be a bit of a repetitious slog. But for patient readers, there are moments of amusement. These come particularly when Mr. Stiglitz plays at evenhandedness ... But for all the polemic, many of Mr. Stiglitz’s most damning observations are on target.