Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The consequences of Greece and Spain collapsing in tandem

The Economic Times from India has an interesting article on the consequences of the ever more likely-seeming combined collapse of Greece and Spain, read here.

The following is a brief extract, but the entire article is worth reading:

"When you have Greece and Spain happening at the same time, the problem becomes exponential and very, very dangerous," said Stephen Jen, a former economist at the International Monetary Fund who runs a hedge fund in London. "So far, the policy has been to buy time and build a firewall - but that just makes the cost bigger. There is just no good ending here."

The numbers do look dire.

Stephane Deo, an economist at UBS, estimates that the cost of a Greek exit to European taxpayers would be 225 billion euros, assuming Greece defaulted on the money it now owes to European public institutions.

But, he says, the real fear is that while that was happening, the slow-motion collapse of Spanish banks from toxic real estate loans could suddenly turn into a fast-moving bank run, as depositors pulled out their money.

With Spanish banks now holding deposits of 2.3 trillion euros, such a loss of confidence could be disastrous for Spain and for the highly interconnected global banking system. The financial world's assumption lately has been that it is sufficiently prepared to absorb the consequences of a Greek withdrawal from the euro. But if a Spanish banking collapse were factored in, Europe's long-dreaded "Lehman moment" might finally arrive. "The scale is just so much bigger, when you talk about Spain," Deo said.

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