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If you can figure out a way for a country to leave the euro, you could win yourself a £250,000 prize. Mark Lees/PA Archive
Quitting Time

The CEO of Next offers €300,000 if you figure out how to leave the euro

Simon Wolfson, who is also in the House of Lords, offers a prize to anyone who comes up with a way to quit the currency.

A CONSERVATIVE PEER and the chief executive of the retail chain Next wants to give you a €300,000 prize. And there’s an apparently simple way to win it: can you figure out how best to let a country leave the euro?

Simon Wolfson has donated £250,000 to the ‘Wolfson Economics Prize’, being run by the not-for-profit London-based Policy Exchange.

Its quandry is relatively simple: it simply asks for submissions on how to manage the orderly exit of one, or more, member states from the European Monetary Union.

One of the major stumbling blocks faced by the single currency, in the midst of the ongoing European debt crisis, is how to leave it – a circumstance never imagined when it was being first conceived.

Though the 1992 Maastricht Treaty outlined specific criteria that countries had to meet if they wanted to join the euro, it never outlined how a country could leave it – meaning there is no ‘formula’ for states to follow if they want to revert back to their old currencies.

Wolfson’s challenge is to come up with a system that allows for countries to leave the currency in an orderly way, with the minimal impact and disruption either to their own countries or to the others left in the Euro.

The project is targeted at top academics and economists from around the world, but is open to entry by anyone who is interested – and with a prize of £250,000, it could well attract significant worldwide interest.

“There is now a real possibility that political or economic pressure may force one or more states to leave the euro. If this process is mismanaged it could threaten European savings, employment and the stability of the international banking system,” Wolfson said.

This prize aims to ensure that high quality economic thought is given to how the euro might be restructured into more stable currencies.

The winning submission will be asked to consider what a post-euro Eurozone would be like, how to manage the transition between the current situation and live after the euro, and how employment, savings and debts would be treated.

The one-off prize is will be the world’s second-biggest economics cash prize in 2012, second only to the Nobel Prize. The deadline for submissions is January 31.

Entry criteria can be found at the Policy Exchange website.

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