Yanis Varoufakis at Project Syndicate:
Last week, in its financial stability review, the European Central Bank issued an angst-ridden warning: Europe is facing a self-perpetuating debt-fueled real estate bubble. What makes the report noteworthy is that the ECB knows who is causing the bubble: the ECB itself, through its policy of quantitative easing (QE) – a polite term for creating money on behalf of financiers. It is akin to your doctors alerting you that the medicine they have prescribed may be killing you.
The scariest part is that it is not the ECB’s fault. The official excuse for QE is that once interest rates had fallen below zero, there was no other way to counter the deflation menacing Europe. But the hidden purpose of QE was to roll over the unsustainable debt of large loss-making corporations and, even more so, of key eurozone member states (like Italy).
Once Europe’s political leaders chose, at the beginning of the euro crisis a decade ago, to remain in denial about massive unsustainable debts, they were bound to throw this hot potato into the central bank’s lap. Ever since, the ECB has pursued a strategy best described as perpetual bankruptcy concealment.