Monday, April 18, 2011

John Mauldin: The Cure for High Price

Now let’s fast forward to Sunday and the elections in Finland. Yes, Finland, that bastion of euro correctness.

It turns out that some of the nation’s voters don’t see why they should “donate” to a fund that will bail out Greece, Ireland, and Portugal (for openers – forget about Spain!). There is a party, called (in translation) the True Finns party. It is a very nationalistic party and generally does not get more than 4% of the vote. But recent polls show their level of support has more than tripled and is approaching that of the three biggest parties: Center, National Coalition, and Social Democrats, which each have about 20 percent. It is very possible that the True Finns could get a sizeable vote. If the polls are right.

Why? Because they are the only way Finnish voters can say no to using their money to bail out other countries. Some 60% of 2,400 respondents in an April 8 survey by Think If Laboratories said they opposed bailouts, while 31 percent approved. The margin of error was 3 percentage points. (Canadian Press)

The True Finns note that no one rushed to their aid when they had their own crisis in the ’90s. The country has since gone on the “straight and narrow.”

60%! Wow! The True Finns have made it clear they will not go into coalition with any government that votes for more bailout funds. Think that same sentiment is not rising in Germany? Most people are concerned about the debtor nations rejecting the terms of the deal. Finland may show us on Sunday that the no vote works both ways!

As I understand the treaty, even the debtor nations must “guarantee” the debt that is used to bail out other countries, even as they accept bailouts. It is all for one and one for all. But what if Finland says no? Does that mean the end of the debt bailouts? Will the rest go on without Finland? Will other voters in countries with little deficits also decide that enough is enough? Can Angela Merkel keep her coalition together in Germany? The possibility of a crisis is high and rising. Stay tuned.