Saturday, August 13, 2011

Greek Contagion

Here is a very well written article about the Greek debt chrisis from the Epoch Times, which I thought you would enjoy.

Now don't forget that America has a huge debt chrisis after years of Bushes incompetance.

Deal Fails to Cure the Greek Contagion

Eurozone at risk as cost of bailout climbs

Cancer, which starts with a few small, isolated cells, is a formidable disease. Early detection and removal of the malignancy generally leads to recovery. But left untreated for too long, the malignant cells spread to engulf and destroy the entire organism.

In a similar way, untreated financial dysfunction can engulf and destroy entire economies. Early in 2010, it became clear that Greece, with its out-of-control deficits, bloated and militant public service, business crippling bureaucracy and endemic corruption, was far too diseased to recover.

News that the Greek government had fraudulently gained entrance to the Euro-zone by hiding real debt ratios that were well beyond the limits required for membership gave Brussels ample justification for cutting Greece away before the disease could spread. Instead, the EU and the IMF opted to pour €110 billion (US$156 billion) down the dark hole that is Greece’s terminally ill economy.

Now, having burned through those funds in little more than a year, comes a new €109 billion (US$154 billion) injection of life support.
Always Blaming Someone Else

University of Athens Professor of International Relations Theordore Couloumbis rightly diagnosed the root cause of the country’s malignancy when he stated “The big problem of Greek society is to consider someone else responsible for everything that goes wrong.”

This contagion effect has seen bond ratings collapse in both Portugal and Spain.

Given its fraudulent entry and entrenched irresponsible behavior, the really puzzling question is: why would other Euro-zone countries transfer the hard earned wealth of their responsible taxpaying citizens to bail out the dysfunctional, ungrateful, and often rioting Greeks?

We can only imagine how perplexing and frustrating this question must be for German citizens, who are footing the bulk of the bailout bills. Ironically, the Euro-zone’s failure to cut away the Greek cancer when it had the chance has turned the prospect of a Greek debt default into a contagious pathogen threatening the entire 17 member Euro-zone. And the reason for that has everything to do with who holds Greek debt.

Greece has a sovereign debt of €340 billion (US$480 billion), more than half of which is held by French, German, and British banks along with the European Central Bank. German banks hold about €40 billion (US$57 billion) in Greek government bonds, British banks hold about €19 billion (US$27 billion) and the European Central Bank holds €49 billion (US$69 billion).

French banks have the greatest exposure at €65 billion (US$92 billion). No wonder French President Nickolas Sarkozy let out a sigh of relief when his Finance Minister Christine Lagarde was chosen as the new head of the International Monetary Fund.

At more than €30,000 (US$42,000) for every man, woman, and child, Greece’s debt greatly exceeds the value of the country’s assets. And it’s a deadbeat debtor with negative future prospects. Without Euro-zone backing, the market value of Greek bonds would fall to almost zero, wiping billions of Euros off the balance sheets of European banks whose health is critical to Europe’s fragile and faltering economic recovery.

Even as the cost of Greek life support moves to €219 billion (US$310 billion), it’s apparent that won’t be enough to save the patient. And given their costly and politically divisive struggle to save the comparatively small Greek economy, financial markets are understandably skeptical that the Euro-zone could help much if any its larger members edge toward debt default.

This contagion effect has seen bond ratings collapse in both Portugal and Spain. Now the Euro-zone sovereign debt disease has entered a dangerous new phase as Italy, the zone’s third largest economy with a debt over five times that of Greece, moves under the market’s microscope. These four countries, together with Ireland, represent a whopping 40 percent of the Euro-zone economy.
Cutting Greece Loose

Sadly, these events were easy to predict, and to prevent. As I concluded in a column last February, “There is a much better way to ensure the Greek pandemic doesn’t infect the whole Euro-zone. Cut them loose.

Related Articles

Greece Should Exit Eurozone, Expert Says

The economic crisis triggered a series of bailouts protecting companies, individuals, and unions from the consequences of their actions. Now, countries themselves are expecting to be relieved of that responsibility. An EU bailout of Greece would surely lead to the rampant spread of disease deadly to the future of the world’s largest economic zone.”

The moral of this sad saga is that whether it comes to personal, corporate or national health; failure to act decisively when we have the chance almost always leads to lasting regret, and sometimes to our complete demise.

Gwyn Morgan is the retired founding CEO of EnCana Corp. Troy Media Corporation.

A really good comparison that Like Cancer you should act with purpouse and stop it spreading.
The problem with polaticians is that they dilly dally while the iceberg gets closer.


  1. I thought we had something to complain about here in the states. I'd be frustrated if my tax dollars were bailing out other countries. Oh wait they are. Sigh. I'm afraid the whole thing may just have to collapse in on itself before anything gets fixed. One thing's for sure, the longer this goes on the uglier it'll be when it does fall apart.

  2. don't forget that America has a huge debt chrisis after years of Bushes incompetance

    Bush certainly wasnt a fiscal conservative. However one puzzles over the fact that Obama has tripled the deficit that he inherited under Bush.