You don’t have anything better to do on a Friday evening than read this new report from Marcus Walker, Charles Forelle, and Brian Blackstone at WSJ on a secret group that was formed during the depths of the financial crisis to head off a possible sovereign debt crisis in Europe.
The heretofore unknown group — dubbed “The Group That Doesn’t Exist” — comprised of sub-minister level government officials who kept their discussions top-secret, even keeping discussions hidden from their own government leaders, for fears that leaks would shake Eurozone confidence.
The task force met in the shadows of the EU’s many councils and summits in Brussels, Luxembourg and other capitals, often gathering at 6 a.m. or huddling over sandwiches late at night. Participants kept colleagues in their own governments in the dark, for fear leaks would trigger rampant speculation in financial markets.
Potential crisis candidates were obvious: Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain, a group of deeply indebted states derisively tagged with the acronym “PIGS” by bond traders.
A gap quickly opened up between Germany, attached to euro-zone rules it viewed as banning bailouts for profligate countries, and France, which wanted greater freedom for national governments to support each other as they saw fit.