There will be sovereign defaults in the eurozone, with a default by Greece now inevitable. Ultimately the thing that underpins any country’s debts is its ability to raise enough tax to service and eventually repay them. Greece cannot hope to do that. Ireland will be pushed to do so but probably can. I would, however, worry about the long-term credit-worthiness of Portugal, Spain and Italy.
So then you have to ask whether a default of a eurozone state breaks up the eurozone. I don’t think we know the answer to that yet. We do know that the Germans, who hold the cards, will do absolutely everything they can to stop such a default, even if they have to grit their teeth as they do so. My instinct is that a country defaulting would not of itself lead to that country leaving the euro, but if its costs and prices were totally out of line, that probably would be the least painful way of extracting itself. If that is right in the short-term, things will be patched up and the euro will come through this downturn intact. But the next downturn, in five or 10 years’ time? Surely not.