This is a bit dated (with respect to internet attention-span and if the author reads this he should be assured the title is a joke) but in the course of talking cogently about the tensions between redistribution, democracy and populism in currency unions, especially one composed of members unequally prudent in fiscal terms, Yglesias writes this gem:
To be a little bit crude about it, since there’s a lower bound on income the median person always has an income that’s below the population mean. Consequently, democratic governance necessarily leads to redistributive policies. This means that even though democracy is widely supported, there are significant tensions around how decision-making units are supposed to be defined. Few Americans are eager to live in a democracy composed of a union between the USA and India.
To this end of realism there’s also a good Gillian Tett column in the Financial Times about shifting attitudes toward, “spreadsheet,” or purely quantitative evaluation of risk in the credit market, an approach broadly taken to developed nations, and the ‘softer’ qualitative considerations thought germane to evaluating the risk of lending to developing nations. She argues:
Never mind the fact that the fiscal “numbers” of many emerging market countries now surpass those of western nations, or that some emerging market nations are now considered less risky than developed ones. (Mexico, to cite just one example, has more credibility in the credit derivatives market than Spain.) The really big shock is that soft, social issues are suddenly becoming crucial to the developed world. Most notably, with voters in Europe having kicked out almost a dozen incumbent governments, and political extremism on the rise, questions of social cohesion and trust matter deeply. This type of risk cannot be factored into a spreadsheet.