A prediction for you: Greece and the European Union will split the difference in their quarrel over debt relief. What's uncertain is how their respective governments will justify the new deal, and how much damage they'll inflict on each other before accepting the inevitable.
EU governments, with Germany in the lead, are saying that debt writedowns are out of the question. Debts are debts. Greece's newly elected leader, Alexis Tsipras, calls the current settlement "fiscal waterboarding" and says his country faces a humanitarian crisis. His government won't pay and wants much of the debt written off. Neither side is willing to give way.
What surprises me is that this all-or-nothing positioning takes anybody in. (...)
There's a serious risk that Greece will default unilaterally. This would not be in Greece's interests, but it's too close a call for comfort. The existing settlement will require the government to run primary budget surpluses (that is, excluding interest payments) in the neighborhood of 4 percent of gross domestic product. That means that if Greece defaulted, it could cut taxes or raise public spending substantially without needing to borrow.
The downside of default would be huge -- possible ejection from the euro system. That would be a calamity for Greece and, because of the risk of contagion, for the rest of the euro area as well. Nonetheless, if the EU offers Tsipras nothing, that's how things could turn out.
Therefore, in the end, the EU won't offer nothing. But the posturing on both sides needs to stop and discussions of a possible compromise need to start quickly, or Tsipras and the EU could talk themselves into the worst-case scenario they both want to avoid.
Thursday, January 29, 2015
Publicada por Miguel Madeira em 11:29