Letter: East German history a bad guide to EMU

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East German history a bad guide to EMU

Sir: David Miller's thoughtful letter compares EMU with the unification of the currencies of East and West Germany.

There is less similarity than he suggests. The currencies were unified at a rate of one West mark to one East mark. A more realistic rate would have been 1 to 5, perhaps 1 to 10. EMU will happen with existing exchange rates. If these are wrong the damage has already been done. They are not, in any case, so far wrong - the currency markets don't allow them to be. Black Wednesday happened when currency misalignment was minuscule compared with the overvaluation of the East German mark at unification.

As Mr Miller points out, East Germany had been an isolated economy. This is not the case for EU economies. The UK exports between a quarter and a third of what it produces, importing about the same amount. About half of this trade is with the EU. This is fairly typical of EU member states.

It is precisely by avoiding the long-term damage done by currency overvaluation that EMU will confer its greatest benefit.


London SE17