Whither Responsibility?

The financial crisis threatening the Spanish government deepened Thursday as its borrowing costs hit a new euro-era high, touching levels that previously forced other euro-zone countries to seek sovereign debt bailouts.

So writes Jonathan House in a recent Wall Street Journal article.  Emese Bartha echoed the sentiments in her own WSJ article.

The Italian government’s borrowing costs soared at a bond auction Thursday, a development that will make it more difficult for Prime Minister Mario Monti to avoid having to seek financial help from other euro-zone members.

And just what are these nose-bleed borrowing costs that send whole nations scurrying for OPM?  They’re in the range of 6.0%-7.5% interest rates.  The Spanish 10-year bond, for instance, now runs for 6.96%, “a new euro-era record,” while the Italian 10-year bond goes for 6.23%.

What were the interest rates in another one-among-twenty or so nations (which august club includes these nations of the EU), the US at  the end of the Carter/beginning of the Reagan era?  In 1980, the US 10-year bond rate peaked at 12.84%; in 1981, it got as high as 15.32%.  Our 10-year bond rates had been above 6.96% since early 1974, and they didn’t fall below that level again until mid-1992.

Who bailed us out when we had such trouble?  We did.  We handled our own problems.

But there was a sense of responsibility in those days.  Today, it’s all OPM, and that’s a bottomless piggy bank from which every nation should be able to draw.

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