The 24% unemployment reached at the depths of the Great Depression was no picnic.
This crisis of long-term unemployment is having a profoundly damaging impact on the lives of those bearing the brunt of it. We know this thanks to a series of careful studies of the problem conducted in the depths of the 1930s Great Depression.
For those unfortunate enough to experience it, long-term unemployment - now, as in the 1930s - is a tragedy. And, for society as a whole, there is the danger that the productive capacity of a significant portion of the labour force will be impaired.
The consequences of a collapse would not be pretty. Whichever country precipitated it - Germany by threatening to abandon the euro, or Greece or Spain by actually doing so - would trigger economic chaos and incur its neighbours' wrath.
As for the single market, the E.U.'s landmark achievement, there is no question that a euro zone breakup would severely disrupt its operation in the short run.