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Tags: European | Meltdown | Asian | Economy

Yale’s Roach: European Meltdown Would Batter Asian Economy

Wednesday, 30 May 2012 01:23 PM EDT

A European meltdown, such as a messy Greek exit from the eurozone, could seriously batter Asian economies worse than the U.S. 2008 crisis, says former non-executive chairman of Morgan Stanley Asia and Yale professor Stephen Roach.

Financial ties between Europe and Asia have grown in recent years as have trade ties, which make Asian economies more vulnerable to the European debt crisis than they were to the U.S. financial collapse of 2008 save Japan.

Take financial links.

Editor's Note: How You Lost $85,000 During the Last Decade. See the Numbers.

"The Asian Development Bank estimates that European banks fund about 9 percent of total domestic credit in developing Asia — three times the share of financing provided by banks based in the United States. The role of European banks is especially significant in Singapore and Hong Kong — the region’s two major financial centers," Roach writes in a Project Syndicate column.

"That means that Asia is far more exposed to an offshore banking crisis today than it was in the aftermath of Lehman Brothers’ collapse in 2008, which led to a near-meltdown of the U.S. banking system."

Trade ties between Europe and Asia have grown over the years as well, and a collapse in Europe could cut demand from Asian factories, bruising China especially.

"With Europe and the U.S. still accounting for the largest shares of China’s end-market exports, there can be no escaping the tight linkages of Asia’s China-centric supply chain to the ups and downs of demand in the major developed economies," he wrote.

"Moreover, there is an important and worrisome twist to those linkages: China itself has tilted increasingly toward Europe as its major source of external demand. In 2007, the European Union surpassed the U.S. as China’s largest export market. By 2010, the E.U. accounted for 20 percent of total Chinese exports, while the U.S. share was just 18 percent."

Add to that, internal demand in countries like China won't make up for any shortfalls in Europe.

Greeks go to the polls on June 17 to elect a new parliament, and current polls show the conservative New Democracy gaining over its leftist rivals, which would indicate Greeks likely favor sticking with the euro even if it means enduring belt-tightening austerity measures in exchange for bailout funding.

However dark clouds are brewing over Spain.

Yields in Spanish government debt have been spiking as investors worry if Madrid can prop up its financial sector that took a massive hit in the real estate bust.

Regional governments are asking Madrid for help refinancing their debts as well.

The Spanish economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2011 and in the first quarter of 2012, which puts the country officially in recession.

Expect that downturn to continue into the second quarter of this year, the Bank of Spain reports.

"Available indicators for the second quarter are still scarce but they do anticipate that activity will continue contracting in this period," the Bank of Spain says in its monthly report, according to the AFP newswire.

In the first three months of 2012, Spanish unemployment averaged 24.4 percent.

Editor's Note: How You Lost $85,000 During the Last Decade. See the Numbers.

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Wednesday, 30 May 2012 01:23 PM
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