在美国看来，欧债危机就像是由地域特色鲜明的老套人物扮演的一场荒诞喜剧：吝啬的盎格鲁撒克逊人、不负责任的地中海人以及盛气凌人的布鲁塞尔官僚。如果置身其中，这可一点也不好笑。用英格兰银行（Bank of England）行长默文•金恩的话讲，欧洲正在“分崩离析，看不到显而易见的解决方案”。
From the U.S., the European debt crisis can seem like a black comedy populated by regional stereotypes: iron-fisted Anglo-Saxons, feckless Mediterraneans, and haughty Brussels bureaucrats. Closer to the action, it isn't funny at all. In the words of Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, Europe is "tearing itself apart with no obvious solution."
Pending the second Greek election on June 17, it is hard to make predictions. Many commentators see a Greek exit from the euro as the precursor to a broader breakup. In Brussels some EU veterans argue the opposite. They say that once the euro family has ejected Greece, which has always been a problem child, it will come closer together and forge ahead. Until now, my inclination has been that the Europeans would muddle through, with or without the Greeks. But for that to happen, the continent must find a way to kick-start growth.
Austerity has failed miserably. Outside of Germany, the continent is mired in recession. In seeking to slash their way to a balanced budget, all too many countries have fallen victim to the vicious circle that Keynesian economists warned about: When government spending is cut, demand slumps, firms lay off more workers, unemployment increases, tax revenue falls, and the deficit remains stubbornly high.
Many academic economists favor abandoning the euro (or restricting it to Germany and a few other core countries) because that would allow nations like Ireland and Portugal, and even Italy and Spain, to devalue their currencies and give their exporters a boost. That looks good on paper. But a disorderly breakup of the euro would create financial chaos. There would be bank runs, stock market collapses, more political instability, and quite possibly another global recession.
A less drastic option would be a Europe-wide fiscal stimulus, with spending focused on the periphery countries. François Hollande, the new French President, supports the idea, and Angela Merkel, in an interview with CNBC, suggested she was open to it. But even if a stimulus program materialized, it would be modest and temporary. To really get Europe back on track, it would need to be combined with permanent debt write-offs designed to bring the financial burdens of the periphery countries down to more manageable levels.
Debt remains at the root of the problem. If Greece's second bailout, which was agreed upon in March, had worked as planned, the country would have emerged with a debt-to-GDP ratio of more than 160%, and the interest on that debt would have consumed one in five tax dollars into the indefinite future. Ireland, which has done everything its debtors demanded, is in a similar bind. No wonder voters have tired of austerity.