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Most Americans, and probably most other non-Europeans, view the eurozone’s handling of its crisis with something between dismay and disdain. The authorities’ endemic failure to get ahead of events has continually roiled markets, and fosters deep doubt that Europe can avoid prolonged recession or, worse, widespread default, euro exits or even a breakup of the single currency. The cacophony among—and frequently within—the member countries prompts confusion and understandable charges of ineptitude. The Greek flip-flops of recent months, and the latest Italian turmoil, have exacerbated this negative impression.

Yet Europe has performed much better than it has talked. Each phase of…

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