Charlemagne: Beware of europhoria

TWO sets of numbers tell a contradictory story about the euro zone. Economic data point to improvements by the month, even by the day: growth is picking up and the borrowing costs of even the most indebted countries keep falling. The crisis is over, say some Eurocrats. By contrast, polls ahead of this month’s European elections point to political upheaval. Voters are exasperated with their governments and with Europe; anti-establishment groups are on the rise and may come top in some places.Europe may be about to test de Tocqueville’s contention that the most propitious time for revolution is not when conditions are worsening, but when they start to improve. “Evils which are patiently endured when they seem inevitable become intolerable once the idea of escape from them is suggested,” he wrote. Having witnessed the evils of falling living standards and mass unemployment, and with a general sense that citizens have had to pay to save banks (all worsened by leaders’ mismanagement of the crisis), there are signs that escape is at hand.This week euro-zone finance ministers congratulated Portugal on making a “clean exit” from its bail-out, forgoing the safety net of a…

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