Wednesday, May 16, 2012

In Extremis: Greece and Germany

In the ancient past (when I was learning the nautical rules of the road) we were taught that certain ships had the "right of way" when there was risk of collision while other ships were "burdened."

That terminology is no longer used, but the principal is much the same.

How do you know if there is risk of collision? If the other ship is CBDR - that is, on a constant bearing and decreasing range.

It was the duty of the ship having the right of way to maintain course and speed. It was the duty of the burdened vessel to maneuver to avoid collision.

What if both ships insist that they have the right of way and maintain course and speed? At some point, after sounding warning blasts on the ship's whistle, the ships become so close to each other that the only way to avoid collision is for both ships to act.

That situation was known as being "in extremis."

Greece and the European Central Bank have been on a collision course and now are in extremis. At least if the object is to keep Greece in the Eurozone, both vessels must put the helm over and take up a new course.

But no one is at the helm in Greece nor will anyone take the helm for at least a month. Nor is it apparent who is at the helm of the ECB, but it still looks like Germany has the conn.

Europe may be in for a humongous collision.

It's at least time to check out the life vests and life boats.

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