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Why Would Europe Need To Ask China For Euros?

By Matthew Yglesias on October 29, 2011 at 5:15 pm

"Why Would Europe Need To Ask China For Euros?"

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Maybe there’s something I’m missing, but it seems to me that before we ponder the geopolitical implications of European leaders asking China to pony up some money for the European Financial Stabilization Fund, can we talk about the economics of it? European countries’ debt is denominated in Euros. Which is to say that various European governments owe various sums of Euros to various parties. The government of China, it’s true, has a tidy stockpile of Euros which it could lend out or hand out to assist with this. But the collective governments of Europe have the power to create an infinite quantity of Euros at any time.

You can imagine the government of Japan being in some situation where it felt it had to ask someone to help it out with some Euros. But Japan can’t run out of Yen. The United States can’t run out of dollars. And Europe can’t run out of Euros. It’s true that individual European states can run out of Euros (like how Chicago could run out of dollars) but if European leaders as a whole collectively want more Euros, the place to get them is the European Central Bank. That’s what central banks are for.

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