Many German political observers estimate that, under the best circumstances, their country is unlikely to have a new three-party coalition government before Easter — April 1.
They realize that this might be an optimistic forecast given the fundamental differences separating those who want a status quo stability (two right-wing parties) and a radical change of "governing culture" (the left-wing Social Democratic Party of Germany).
Expectations are so dire, and so low, that the unfolding political events in Germany could mean the end of stability in the entire European Union.
In spite of that, the euro was soaring last Thursday to $1.2537 during the press conference at the European Central Bank. That was the highest reading since the middle of December 2014. And that had little to do with the talking down of the dollar by a U.S. delegation having fun in the Alps. As of last Friday, the euro was up 16 percent against the dollar and 5.4 percent in trade-weighted terms since the Trump administration came to power a year ago.
That puzzling paradox of a strong currency in a politically disintegrating economic system owes mainly to the euro area's improving cyclical growth dynamics, engineered by a supportive monetary policy, and to trading bets ignoring the convulsions of the European project.
The project in question has been a difficult work-in-progress for the past 59 years, as the relentless French-German rivalry failed to define mutually acceptable terms for a fairy tale called the European economic and political union.
The euro is a result of such a political struggle between the two nations: Fearful of an overwhelming power of a reunited Germany, France insisted on a monetary union to dilute the influence of its erstwhile arch-enemy across the Rhine.