“Eurozone Troubles: Is the Union at Risk?”

It’s feast or famine when it comes to my schedule, sometimes I have months when I am not in school, which translates to plenty of hours for working on home improvement/repurposing projects, reading for pleasure, and keeping up with the blog. Then there is the rest of the time — now, when I have endless reading and writing for my classes. I try to make it out to catch up with friends, go to the theatre, and also attend events associated with school…

In October I attended NCAFP’s Transatlantic Relations project (National Committee on American Foreign Policy) at the Union Club in New York.

The Union Club is a historic building with a well-known past. Most people consider the Union Club the first men’s social club in New York. It is still a private club. My recommendation is if extended an offer to enter the building, take it. The interiors are stunning, great architectural details, fabrics, marble, etc. And please remember to follow the rules –- including turning over those pesky mobile phones to coat check.

I am very interested in economics these days, including the problems within the eurozone. I have written several research papers on the European Union and why enlargement has had a negative effect on the euro (eurozone). So, a panel discussion on “Eurozone Troubles: Is the Union at Risk?” seemed up my alley. Panelists included Mr. Nicolas Véron: Senior Fellow, Bruegel (Brussels)/Visiting Fellow – Peterson Institute for International Economics, Dr. Irene Finel-Honigman: Adjunct Professor of International and Public Affairs – Columbia University, and Professor Dr. Christiane Lemke: Max Weber Chair in German and European Politics – New York University.

Two of my professors were also in attendance — Edward Goldberg and Colette Mazzucelli, PhD. Both professors were in the building all day for the private discussions about the eurozone, which one can only imagine as spirited based on the varied opinions of the panelists.

This event took place during the most recent debt ceiling/shut down craziness. It angers me when legislators intentionally mislead a public that relies on them to understand economics, to honestly explain the meaning of the debt ceiling, as well as the significant impact a default on paying U.S. bills would have on the global economy. What disturbs me is the fact that the shutdown was a political power play that forced people out of work and left citizens without benefits. According to financial ratings agency Standard & Poor, the government shutdown led to a loss of $24 billion from the U.S. economy. Alas, this is a topic for another day, and another blog. But the subject did come up at the NCAFP event.

Nicolas Véron often speaks at governmental hearings and commissions and is considered a top outside advisor for the eurozone. In 2012, Bloomberg Magazine named him one of the Top 10 Thinkers and ranked him in the 50 Most Influential People. For me, he ranks alongside Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, which is a big deal in my world. Though I’m sure many of you reading this blog are thinking who the…are those guys. I won’t bore you with the details.

I most identified with Véron’s point of view on the eurozone, which includes the need for a centrally controlled federal banking system for the member states. Véron answered questions from students, including about the government shutdown. He said that the behavior of the U.S. Congress is irresponsible and dysfunctional, whether they would have actually let the U.S. default or not.

So far I have not been disappointed by any of the extracurricular school events that I have attended. I hope next semester’s offerings are just as varied and interesting.

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