Category: Europe

Science the Messenger Gagged

COSTAS SYNOLAKIS, professor of environmental enginering, Viterbi School of Engineering.

This op-ed originally appeared in the Wall Street Journal.

It is impossible to predict earthquakes with the precision that would have helped the 300 people who died as a result of the earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy, on April 6, 2009. It is equally difficult, apparently, to predict court decisions.

After a 13-month trial, six scientists and one government official were sentenced to six years in jail Monday for giving authorities information that was “too reassuring” about the possibility that an earthquake would take place in the wake of a series of small earthquakes. The defendants will also have to pay compensation to the families of 29 of the 309 victims who, swayed by government reassurances, did not evacuate their homes, according to relatives.

How to Save the Euro: A Little More Inflation in Germany, Please

ARIS PROTOPAPADAKIS, professor of business and finance, USC Marshall School of Business.

This op-ed originally appeared at the Huffington Post.

Euro zone leaders’ latest plan to rescue the euro, agreed to late last month, focuses on two crises: the continent’s ailing banks and the sovereign-debt woes of Europe’s southern peripheral economies. Unfortunately, their blueprint neglects a third crisis that continues to grow and could bring down the euro zone: Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain are becoming increasingly uncompetitive economically relative to Germany.

Most economists agree that renewed economic growth is essential for saving the euro. The problem is that the effects of measures such as creating a banking union, the centerpiece of the recent summit’s rescue plan, may save the banking system but will do nothing to reverse the loss of competitiveness among the region’s economies. The euro zone can’t wait much longer, as the steadily rising borrowing costs of Spain and Italy demonstrate. It needs to start growing now, and the fastest and surest way to stimulate growth without increasing deficits is for Germany to accept a much looser monetary policy and the consequent higher inflation to help restore the competitiveness of Europe’s peripheral economies.