07 May, 2011

The Euro in danger

A strange story emerged on the Der Spiegel website last night: that Greece had decided to leave the euro and was in talks with eurozone finance ministers. It was denied by Brussels, but then it would be.

Greece - together with most economists - has concluded that it is not going to be able to pay back its debt. There are riots on the streets, and the Government is threatened.

Lending it more money is not the answer. I have been saying for several years that the Eurozone needs a mechanism for countries to go bust within it, or to leave it.

The financial markets have kept the euro strong, because they believed that the system of bailouts would work, and nobody would lose out by lending to the poorer countries. That belief is now under threat. Greece simply cannot make the repayments and maintain social cohesion. And if Greece is forgiven part of its debt, how long before Portugal and Ireland want the same treatment? And what will happen to the banks which are holding so much debt from these peripheral countries without having to write it down? If Greece leaves the euro its debts will be worth 60c per €, and the banks would have to make provisions.

Things are not looking good in the Garden of Eden.

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