There weren’t a lot of surprises at Expo Real, when most people just seemed relieved it wasn’t a repeat of the chaos at the 2008 edition. The mood was quite similar to the one that prevailed at CEDEM, except that the financial news of the past two weeks has simply wiped the forced smiles off the faces of optimists. That’s not to say that people are generally feeling apocalyptic. It’s just that there’s a storm coming and we all know it.
The question at this point is simply how Europe’s policy makers will act like leaders as this storm comes ashore. Will they act more or less in a unifed, rational way? Or will they protect their own political interests and abandon the idea of a strong Europe? It really comes down to little else. Up till this point, the European Union has been about smiles and fireworks and economic growth. Now we’ll be finding out if the euro was meant to be.
Investors were saying that “everyone’s waiting to see what happens in November.” That’s another way of talking about whether Greece will need more money. Which is a foregone conclusion. Athens isn’t, and probably never was, the real issue. That’s a problem that can be handled. Rome is really where it’s at.