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Opinion

Eurozone crisis: Geography lessons

When things get really tough in the eurozone, politicians in the region, rather than perusing A treatise on money or Essays on the Great Depression, have a strange habit of reaching for – an atlas.

This has mostly entailed pointing out that they aren’t Greece. As long ago as February 2010, Spanish finance minister Elena Salgado felt moved to point out that "Spain is not Greece". Not to be outdone, Ireland’s then finance minister, Brian Lenihan, stated that "Ireland is not in Greek territory" in November 2010. In a revenge attack Greece’s finance minister, Giorgos Papaconstantinou, made the point that "Greece is not Ireland", prompting Spain’s Salgado to simply show off by announcing that "Spain is neither Ireland nor Portugal". Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the OECD, felt moved to add that "neither Spain nor Portugal is Ireland".

Having established these cartographical ground rules, Spain’s prime minister, Mariano Rajoy, then threw the entire competition open last month by declaring that "Spain is not Uganda". This may prompt a whole new discussion as to which nation wins the at-least-we-aren’t-them award as the eurozone crisis lurches on. Fitch’s Ed Parker observed last month that "Italy is not ...Spain". Normal service is, however, resumed when an email lands in Euromoney’s inbox on June 26: "Germany could be the new Greece, warns UBS economist".

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