Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Risks of a "Grexit"

I don't quite understand the parallel currency proposal that Wolfgang Münchau has been advocating in his columns the last several weeks. But his view of the current state of eurozone risk is clear (Why smoke and mirrors are safer than cold turkey Financial Times 03/15/2015)

... The odds of a Greek exit from the eurozone have shortened dramatically in the past two weeks. The two sides may tone down their rhetoric in the coming days but I cannot see the creditor countries relenting on the conditions of last month’s debt rollover agreement. Nor can I see the Greek government fulfilling them. Since nobody knows how many days or weeks Athens is from insolvency, the risk of a sudden exit is clear and present. Grexit may never happen — but it is time to get ready.

Grexit is not an outcome any rational person would wish for. It will undermine the EU’s geostrategic influence. Economically, it will unmask a hidden truth: that the monetary union is just a beefed-up fixed-exchange system. A large number of financial contracts would instantly default. It is unclear how the global financial system would cope. The eurozone’s fledgling economic recovery would be at risk.

For Greece an exit may well work in the long run if it is well managed; but it will bring economic misery in the short term. The country is still running a current account deficit, meaning it is reliant on external funding to support domestic consumption. That funding may disappear from one day to the next, should Greece default on its creditors.

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