January 1, 2012 marked the 10-year anniversary of the euro, a singular currency that services 17 countries throughout Europe, but there is little to celebrate.
Marred by what the European Commission deemed “fiscal and macroeconomic imbalances built up over the decade,” many financial analysts say the euro is in trouble. Countries such as Ireland, Spain and Italy have all been marked by high debt levels and threats of recession, particularly in the last three to four years.
As recently as this week, Greece announced it would be looking for bailout money to the tune of 130 billion euros. “The bail-out agreement needs to be signed,” said government spokesman Pantelis Kapsis told Greek television outlets. “Otherwise, we will be out of the markets, out of the euro.”
However, if countries such as Greece attempt to discard the euro and return to their original national currency, this is not a process that can take place overnight. In fact, experts in the banknote industry say it will take a minimum of one year before any particular countries can revert to another currency.
Before banknotes can be processed, they have to be designed, developed and equipped with security features to prevent counterfeiting. These elements must be assembled before being shipped to the paper maker, which can take three to four months. After that, the notes are sent to the security printer who must undergo at least six to eight different processes to get the notes ready for circulation.
“When we look at the eurozone it is very challenging to contemplate the logistics behind that,” Chad Wasilenkoff, CEO of Fortress Paper – a company that manufactures banknotes – told BNN in December. “It could be easier if one country such as Greece were to fall off, but if the whole thing were to come crumbling down it’s just not logistically possible.”
Despite the length, an article published by RT.com last month said central banks throughout Europe are preparing contingency plans evaluating their needs for additional printing capacity should the euro come to an end.
The Malta Independent: “Little To Celebrate As Eurozone Marks 10-Year Anniversary”
RT.com: “Highway To Hell? Greece Barrels Toward Euro Exit”
RT.com: “Plan B: Printing Presses on Standby To Beat Euro’s Demise”
The Globe and Mail: “Video: Can Printing New Currencies Keep Euro Zone United?”