“In other words, though Greece may be diminished, its catastrophe has offered the rest of the currency bloc a frightening example of what can happen when governments skirt the rules. If sacrificing Greece is the price for preserving the euro, so be it. […]
Ultimately, the debate comes down to one’s definition of ‘solidarity.’
Most Germans, for example, are convinced they showed Greece the utmost solidarity by providing billions in low-interest loans. While forgiving Greece’s debt might put the country on more solid financial footing, it would open the door to ‘moral hazard,’ the rewarding of bad behavior.
What that reasoning ignores is that Germany was the biggest winner of Europe’s bailout policies. No country has benefited more than Germany from the introduction of the euro, which has been a boon to its industry, fueling exports across the region. So if ‘saving’ Greece was really about preserving the euro, Germany was primarily acting in its own interest.
It’s easy to see why: The loans provided to Greece by the European rescue funds have put little German treasure at risk. In fact, so far they’ve generated a tidy profit.
Europe, to quote a Teutonic saying, has left Greece with too much to die and too little to live. […]
Instead of giving Greece that breathing room, Europe, at Berlin’s insistence, only agreed to give Athens more time to pay back its rescue loans, effectively delaying the day of reckoning.”