Europe Needs Shock and Awe, but…

By Marc Chandler

Various news wires are reporting leaks of the IMF/EU/ECB review of Greece. Apparently they are concluding that the implementation of the conditions for last year’s aid package have ground to a halt.

Related Posts
1 of 935

They are also concluding that the Greece economy is weaker than they had previously thought. Earlier they had assumed Greece would contract 3.5% this year and now 3.8%. Next year’s growth was also revised down to 0.6%, roughly half of what they had previously forecast. Weaker growth of course has a knock-on the fiscal situation.

Subscribe to our newsletter

The media leaks suggest that the Troika projects Greece’s financing needs to be about 170 bln euros 2012-2014 (inclusive). Where is this going come from ? Here is where there are conflicting reports and numbers. There will be almost 60 bln from the first package that will be rolled up into Greece Aid 2.0. Officials seem to be counting on about 30 bln euros from asset sales during this period. Many private estimates claim this is too high. On the other hand, when Schauble talks about a significant role for the private sector, the purchase state assets, should be included.

Officials also seem to be assuming/hoping that the voluntary extension of maturities are worth 30 bln euros. This is also a bit tricky as the recent comments by the rating agencies have suggested. Assuming it is do-able without triggering a credit event, who would be the likely participants? Trichet should have been asked if the ECB would be one of them. The ECB is among the single largest holders of Greek bonds. The ECB had indicated in the past that it would hold those bonds it purchased until maturity. Greek pension funds are also likely candidates to extend maturities and some Greek banks, especially with the Greek bonds in the "hold to maturity" bucket may also participate.

Assuming that these components are more or less achieved, it still leaves about 55-60 bln euros in new loans from the IMF/EU/EFSF. Given the odorous nature of aid and another aid package at that, as well as moral hazard issues, it is understandable why the European officials will not want to do more than is necessary. Yet this could be a strategic mistake. They need to leave no doubt in the market’s mind that Greece will have the funds available to keep its creditors whole, through at least 2014. Some flexibility needs to be built in. If the privatization proceeds fall short or the roll-overs are too close to "distressed exchanges", is there going to be an appetite for a third package.

The other important point is that what happens to Greece is understood as the possible (likely?) course for Ireland and Portugal. A credit event in Greece would increase the risks of a credit event in the other periphery. Many of the arguments claiming the euro zone would be better off if Greece were to drop out, do not fully appreciate the contagion. If Greece were to leave the union, the risk premium on the remainder would go up not fall and there still would be the risks of a systemic financial crisis in Europe.

Get real time updates directly on you device, subscribe now.

1 Comment
  1. DavidLazarusUK says

    The problem for the EU politicians is that if Greece defaults it will mean that the banks will have a huge loss to accept immediately. They really want this to be pushed back beyond the next election and another day closer to their retirement on cushy government pensions. A default is inevitable because the only solution is for the complete purchase of all Greek debt so that when they do default it does not trigger credit default swaps, though you can expect some governments not to cooperate. So it will not work. Let Greece default as soon as possible because we need the debts to be wiped out not imposed as a burden on the next two generations. That is the same in the US. If the periphery default then the big US banks could be insolvent again. Will the US taxpayer stand yet more banks bailouts?

  2. Anonymous says

    The problem for the EU politicians is that if Greece defaults it will mean that the banks will have a huge loss to accept immediately. They really want this to be pushed back beyond the next election and another day closer to their retirement on cushy government pensions. A default is inevitable because the only solution is for the complete purchase of all Greek debt so that when they do default it does not trigger credit default swaps, though you can expect some governments not to cooperate. So it will not work. Let Greece default as soon as possible because we need the debts to be wiped out not imposed as a burden on the next two generations. That is the same in the US. If the periphery default then the big US banks could be insolvent again. Will the US taxpayer stand yet more banks bailouts?

Comments are closed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More