Looks Like Europe Needs a Whole Bunch of Paint

Posted: Nov 10, 2011 12:01 AM

Once upon a time, I knew a man who was one of the most successful public relations men in history.  

No, he didn’t work on Madison Avenue nor did he have his own firm charging thousands per hour.  

He was simply a guy who knew that if you put enough paint on the outside of your house, you could pretty much cover up everything. 

You see, during the great housing mania of 2000-2007, our hero (or villain depending on your perspective) had a 4,000 square foot house that was located on the best lot in his community.  

The house was a three-story Victorian that seemed to jump off the page of a Charlotte Brontë novel.  

He periodically painted his beautiful dwelling in varying colors that never went unnoticed. 

His lawn and shrubs were immaculate, but no one was allowed to get close to his PR creation.  

As the housing mania built to bubble proportions the offers on his house became almost obscene.  

Still, he would not list or allow anyone to inspect his house.  Another warm spring season resulted in a new coat of paint and more buying frenzy. 

Then one day, it happened.  He allowed a carefully guided tour of the inside of his house, a ten minute walkthrough with no time to look closely.  

Everyone knew, or at least thought, the inside would be as pristine as the outside, and they were certainly not disappointed. 

Hundreds filed through and the offers escalated to numbers beyond our hero’s (villain’s) wildest dreams. 

He carefully managed expectations, desires, and hype better than any Madison Avenue executive could have hoped for. 

With no broker, no inspection, sight unseen, the best house in the community was sold at the peak of the market, with no contingencies.  

Shortly thereafter, the dry rot, mold, and termites started showing through.  The degeneration that had been simply covered up with paint moved so quickly that the house became uninhabitable in a very short period of time.  Caveat emptor. 

So it is with Europe, and any country or entity that lives and breathes on its debt. 

No amount of PR, political changes, further debt, or any amount of paint will slow down the deterioration that has been building for years. 

Like our fairy tale, the time has come and the house is now in a state of disrepair.