Greek Bail-Out Crisis

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/financetopics/financialcrisis/7591027/Greek-aid-in-doubt-as-German-professors-prepare-court-challenge.html
Greek aid in doubt as German professors prepare court challenge
Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
The Daily Telegraph
15 Apr 2010

A quartet of German professors is to preparing to challenge the EU-IMF rescue for Greece at Germany’s constitutional court as soon as the mechanism is activated, claiming that it violates the ‘no-bail-out’ clause of the EU Treaties.


http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/461663a0-5613-11df-b835-00144feab49a.html
Europe’s choice is to integrate or disintegrate
Wolfgang Münchau
Financial Times
Monday 3 May 2010

The aim of the rescue package agreed for Greece cannot conceivably have been to prevent a default… the numbers do not add up. The main purpose I can detect is to reverse the rise in Greek bond yields and stop contagion.

[…]

A debt restructuring will eventually be necessary, however, because Greece’s debt to gross domestic product ratio is going to rise from its current 125 per cent to about 140-150 per cent during the adjustment period. Without restructuring, Greece will end up austere, compliant, and crippled.

The decision to take Greece out of the capital markets for three years will prevent immediate ruin but has only a marginal impact on the country’s future solvency. The underlying assumption of the agreement is that Greece can sustain austerity beyond the time horizon of the accord, without falling into a black hole. The latter is particularly optimistic. Standard & Poor’s, the rating agency, last week estimated that Greece would not return to its 2009 level of nominal GDP until 2017.

[…]

On my estimate, the total size of a liquidity backstop for Greece, Portugal, Spain, Ireland and possibly Italy could add up to somewhere between €500bn ($665bn, £435bn) and €1,000bn. All those countries are facing increases in interest rates at a time when they are either in recession or just limping out of one. The private sector in some of those countries is simply not viable at those higher rates.

…three things are required if the eurozone is to survive in the medium term: a crisis resolution system, better fiscal policy co-ordination, and policies to reduce intra-eurozone imbalances. But this is only the minimum necessary to get through the next few years. Beyond that, the eurozone will almost certainly need both an embryonic fiscal union and a single European bond.

I used to think that such constructions would be desirable, albeit politically unrealistic. Now I believe they are without alternative, as the experiment of a monetary union without political union has failed. The EU is thus about to confront a historic choice between integration and disintegration.

Germany can be relied on to resist every one of those measures. In the meantime, European leaders will treat each new crisis with the only instrument they have available: an injection of borrowed liquidity. But this instrument has a finite lifespan. If it is not blocked by popular unrest, it will be blocked by constitutional lawyers.

… There can really be no doubt about what the “no bail-out” rule was intended to mean. It meant that Greece should not be supported. The EU had to resort to some unseemly legal trickery to argue that advancing junior loans at a massive scale to an effectively insolvent country does not constitute a bail-out…

So what is the endgame of the eurozone’s multiple crises? For Greece it will be debt restructuring, a polite term for negotiated default. The broader outcome is more difficult to predict: it will either be deep reform of the system or a break-up.

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