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Who Will Blink First Between Germany and Greece?

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Friday, 06 February 2015 08:02 AM Current | Bio | Archive

The global economic fog must be hindering long-term investors.

Many economies around the world have either stalled or are close to doing so, including many countries in the eurozone. For example, Germany and Spain released their latest industrial production data, with Germany performing below expectations. Spain's economy contracted.

Meanwhile, the Eurogroup Finance Ministers will soon meet to discuss the present Greek situation. I wonder if the present Greek government won't bow back to the established agreements between the Troika (European Commission, IMF and ECB) and Greece.

Many worry if the ECB starts rejecting Greece's (Greece is already, albeit “de facto” bankrupt) junk-rated collateral that such a move could be the beginning of a major disruptive event in the eurozone.

Let’s hope it isn’t, because the negative fallout would be felt everywhere, the U.S. included.

After a 2-hour meeting in Berlin, Germany, between the new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and German Finance Minister Schauble, Mr. Schauble stated: “… they agreed to disagree…” while Mr. Varoufakis stated: “… they even did not agree to disagree…”

It doesn’t look like the Germans are in an accommodating spirit to Greece’s requests for reviewing the bulk of the existing agreements, which, it must be said, have put Greece in a U.S.-1930s-like depression situation.

Reuters revealed on Thursday it had had insight into a German Government confidential document that stated among other things: “The Eurogroup needs a clear and front-loaded commitment by Greece to ensure full implementation of key reform measures necessary to keep the program on track … The aim is the perpetuation of the agreed reform agenda (no roll back of measures), covering major areas as the revenue administration, taxation, public financial management, privatization, public administration, health care, pensions, social welfare, education and the fight against corruption…”

So, in my opinion, here we have it: “Who will blink first?”

It's impossible to have a clear idea about the outcome of all this because it will in the end come down to political decisions that usually have very little to do with sustainable economics.

In the context of all this I always think back to that article in the Financial Times on April 2, 2012, under the title that says it all while very little has changed since then: “The euro time bomb no one can defuse.”

I hope in the end it doesn’t come to Greece leaving the eurozone, because only very few have somewhat of an idea about the collateral damage that could provoke, but believe it wouldn’t be pretty if that were to happen.

In 2012 Roger Bootle won the "Wolfson Economics Prize” with his entry under the title: “Leaving the Euro: A Practical Guide,” which was a contest for proposals on how the eurozone could be safely dismantled.

After winning the prize he said: “… if executed correctly, the pain of exit would relatively soon be replaced by a return to growth,” something that would encourage other distressed states still in the currency zone to exit.

“The biggest danger of contagion will be if Greece makes a success of leaving the monetary union.”

Maybe some EU decision makers in Brussels could have that in mind when they will have to make far-reaching decisions on Greece.

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HansParisis
I hope in the end it doesn’t come to Greece leaving the Eurozone (Grexit) because only very few have somewhat of an idea about the collateral damage that could provoke, but believe it wouldn’t be pretty if that were to happen.
europe, greece, investing, investors
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2015-02-06
Friday, 06 February 2015 08:02 AM
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