Wolfson offers

20th October 2011

The chief executive of Next and a Conservative party donor will run the competition through thinktank Policy Exchange which give details of how to enter the prize on its website .

The peer told the BBC: "I think there is a very real possibility that the euro may collapse, and if that happens then it needs to be managed, and if it's not managed then it's going to be catastrophic for European finances, and not just for European finances. The knock-on effects for the world banking system would also be very very serious."

And any winning applicant must answer four rather stark questions. They are as follows:

  1. How to ensure that any new currencies would be stable?
  2. What areas should the new currencies cover?
  3. What currency would government debt be paid back in?
  4. What happens to individuals' debts?

On Director of Finance Online veteran financial journalist Richard Northedge argues that the prize is unwinnable.

He says that were Greece at one end of the economic scale or Germany at the other to leave it could never be orderly.

His conclusion is that "the banking system could probably not withstand the shock of the defaults or the haircuts on devalued debt, never mind the complexity of the arguments over how to redesignate loans and liabilities.

"As opposed to the funds in the euro system, Lord Wolfson's money is safe. Even if there can be an exit from the euro, it cannot be orderly. Still, I saved you having to read 25,000 words before telling you this is a question without an answer."

On Telegraph, Daniel Knowles argues that the problem cannot be solved by economists but only by politicians. He writes: "£250,000 to fund economic research is a good thing in itself, but I fear Lord Wolfson may be disappointed with what he gets for it. This is not a failure of economists – it's a failure of politicians. It has been from the very beginning."

On the Telegraph comment boards, manonamission is poetically cynical.

"A poem springs to mind for Europes leaders to bear in mind for their solution to the financial crisis:

"Forward, the Light Brigade! Charge for the guns!" he said. Into the valley of Death rode the six hundred…"

The Guardian's economics blog thinks the prize may be of interest elsewhere in Europe but for rather different reasons.

"Policy Exchange's instincts may be Conservative and eurosceptic but the results should also be of interest to the thousands of protesters in Greece and the teenagers joining lengthening dole queues in Spain and Portugal, where there are many years of austerity ahead."


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