In the short term, the Euro crisis is about the ability to roll over debt. As with a commercial business, it’s the cashflow that kills you.
In the long term, a lot of commentators think the root cause is long-term flows of capital from the southern European countries to the northern ones. I can’t comment on whether that view is correct, but this table makes it really obvious why people hold that view.
The table describes the balance of payments current account – essentially the amount of money permanently moving out of, or into, a country. For example because that country is producing stuff people want, or because overseas workers are sending money home.
Every Eurozone country on that list with a persistent negative balance is in crisis. Most with a persistent positive balance aren’t really.
Of course, it’s hard to know what the cause and effect is here – for all I know, this could be merely a symptom of a deeper problem that the bond markets are also picking up on. Answers on a postcard.