The competition for most poorly timed campaign of 2009 is already heating up, despite us only being two weeks in. Reuters is reporting that Willem Buiter, former Bank of England bigwig, has today launched a new campaign to persuade Britain to join the euro.
The fundamental plank of Buiter's campaign seems to be that now there's an economic crisis, people will want to seek safety and security in the Euro's cloying embrace, no matter what the cost. Unfortunately for him, he's wrong.
Our polling of last week produced two informative results on this issue.
In a referendum on the Euro:
64% would vote No
24% would vote Yes
Asked whether the financial crisis has made them more or less likely to support Euro membership:
18% say it has made them more likely to support the Euro
27% say it has made them less likely
That hardly suggests the "overwhelming" case that Buiter claims is now obvious in favour of Euro membership. If anything the research suggests that people are highly sceptical of the idea that bigger and more lumbering is in any way better, particularly in a crisis which is seeing America so hard hit.
Economically, the idea that is would be better for us fighting a recession if we had no control over interest rates, and had our economic reputation pegged to those of Greece and Portugal, for example, which had lie about the economic data just to join the Euro, is bizarre in the extreme. Add to that the political implications of losing control over one's currency and money supply and Buiter's on to a loser.
He's not exactly helping himself, either, though. His quote on Reuters displays a remarkable arrogance which is hardly going to win people over:
"There's a real risk of a triple crisis hitting this country -- a run on sterling, a sovereign default crisis and the banking crisis. It's a small risk but it is an unnecessary risk that would be substantially diminished if this country had a real currency."
Wow- what a great way to persuade people that you respect them. If anything, talk of the Pound not being a "real" currency is going to alienate people more. His campaign doesn't seem to have a name yet - given this arrogant display, perhaps we should dub them the Ivory Tower Group.