The dense river network in northwestern Europe (not to mention more roads and railways) affords that region much lower transportation costs. Thus, Northern nations have a significant competitive advantage in exporting. The one trick Southern nations had up their sleeves—devaluing their currencies to make their exports cheaper—ended with the adoption of the euro.
The result? A Germany with a trade surplus, and an Italy with a national debt at 120% of GDP and more choppy water on the horizon.
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