Saturday, 23 July 2011

More Aid to Greece

The BBC has a good story summarizing what is known about the latest aid package to Greece. The story also has a link to the original EU press release which is a short 4 page document short on specifics.

According to the BBC story:

"Debt relief
The Institute of International Finance - a global trade body representing big banks and other major lenders - said the planned debt restructuring would target participation by 90% of Greece's private sector lenders.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said private lenders will contribute a total of 135bn euros of financing to Greece.
The plan is expected to provide some 50bn euros of debt relief to Greece.
Three of the four options offered to lenders to swap or relend existing debts would extend Greece's repayment terms by 30 years, while the fourth would do so by 15 years.
They all offer a much lower interest rate than Greece's current 15%-25% cost of borrowing in financial markets.
Two of the options would also involve "haircuts" - reducing the principal amount of debt Greece has to repay.
The terms of the deal imply a loss to Greece's lenders equivalent to 21% of the market value of their debts, said the IIF."

This sounds like a short-run band aid solution to buy some time before a new round of financing is required. The voluntary target participation by 90% of Greece's private sector lenders is a way to stop credit default swap (CDS) payouts. Which brings up an interesting question. What then is the point of purchasing CDS if payouts can be voluntarily suspended?

While the aid package is designed to soften the blow of Greece's current debt situation, it is unlikely that the austerity measures imposed in Greece are going to do anything except plunge the economy into a deep and long recession (see here). In Greece, tax collection is too low (or too lax, since tax evasion is prominent) relative to government spending. Realistically, the EU needs to consider the option of allowing Greece to default on their debt obligations and a possible strategy for allowing Greece to exit the Euro.

Spiegel Online International has really good coverage of the European debt crisis.

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