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Inside investment: The self-preservation society

The euro will survive. But the self-preservation instinct of its architects must mean the defenestration of Greece.


When England lose on penalties in the World Cup quarter-finals this month (we all know this is inevitable) the shootout will be governed by a new rule. Penalty takers will no longer be permitted to delay the kick at the last second with a feint to fool the goalkeeper. This tactic, much beloved of the splendidly moustachioed John Aldridge of Liverpool Football Club in the 1980s, has been banned by the International Football Association Board. Transgressors will receive a yellow card and be told to take the kick again.

Subtle feints are not the sort of thing that the European Union and European Central Bank engage in. They prefer a simpler path to success: pick up the goalposts and move them to a position that is more convenient. When sterling was forced out of the Exchange Rate Mechanism in September 1992, the rules were changed so that bilateral rates could fluctuate by up to 12% rather than 2.25%. The markets then turned their attention to the French franc in 1993 and this margin was duly increased to 15%. Remarkably, just six years later, the single currency was born.

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