Nobel-winning economists attack Le Pen’s plan to leave Euro

Front National leader Marine Le Pen

Marine Le Pen’s anti-EU programme has been rubbished in an open letter by nine Nobel Prize-winning economists.

The nine signatories, who among them hold 25 prestigious Nobel awards, include American Joseph Stiglitz, Frenchman Jean Tirole and Indian Amartya Sen.

What prompted the most influential economists in the world to speak out was the fact that Ms Le Pen and her team have repeatedly claimed they have the support of 188 economists, including the holders of 12 Nobel Prizes (three of whom are dead), to justify the cornerstone of the Front National’s programme – France leaving the Euro.

The text of the open letter is short, in six points. The first is that “European integration is essential, not only to maintain peace on the continent but also for the economic progress of member states and their political power in the world.”

The second point states that: “The developments proposed by the anti-European programmes would destabilize France and call into question the co-operation between European countries, which is now ensuring economic and political stability in Europe.”

This is an unprecedented step by the economists. Many of the signatories of the letter, especially Mr Tirole, who initiated it, usually prefer lecture halls and research labs to the media glare – but this underlines how dangerous they feel the situation is.

The Nobel economists’ aim is broader than just the Front National – there are obviously other anti-European candidates in the campaign. They also violently attack protectionism and competitive devaluations that will provoke reprisals and lead to dangerous trade wars.

Some of the economists have in the past criticized the euro, including Mr Stiglitz. But the economists state in their letter “that there is a big difference between choosing not to join the euro in the first place and getting out after adopting it”. Clearly, not all of them would have advocated the establishment of a single currency in Europe, or at least not without having previously built more solid federal institutions, with a European budget, common borrowing, etc.

But they are clear on the dangers of exiting the Euro: “While Europe and the world are facing unprecedented hardships, more solidarity is needed, not less, and the problems are too serious to be handed over to divisive politicians.”

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