Global News Journal
Beyond the World news headlines
Greece's creditors have essentially let it off the hook by overwhelmingly agreeing to take a 74 percent loss. So what better time to remember one of the first times Athens got in trouble with paying its debts.
In 490 BC, the bucolic plains before the town of Marathon were the site of a bloodbath. Invading Persians lost a key battle against Greeks, who were led by the great Athenian warrior Kallimachos, aka Callimachus.
The trouble is, Kallimachos shares some of the difficulty with numbers that modern Greek leaders appear to have. Before launching himself upon the Persians, he pledged to sacrifice a young goat to the Gods for every enemy that was killed.
His troops slaughtered some 6,400 invaders. Unfortunately the Athenians didn't have that many young goats. So they had to spread the repayment and legend has it that it took them a century to honour the pledge.
from Summit Notebook:
Jim O'Neill, the new Goldman Sachs Asset Management chairman who is famous for coining the term BRICs for the world's new emerging economic giants, reckons he knows why Germany might not be rushing to bail out all the euro zone debt that is under pressure. Europe is not as important to Berlin as it was.
Speaking at the Reuters 2011 Investment Outlook Summit being held in London and New York, O'Neill pointed out that in the not very distant future Germany will have more trade with China than it does with France.
If people stop commenting on the financial crisis, does it still exist?
A month ago, Europe was in the throes of fretting about Greece’s debt problems and whether they were going to spill over to Portugal and Spain, bringing down the euro and a decade of monetary union with it. At the same time there was intense anxiety about impending results from stress tests on nearly 100 European banks.
Every day — and sometimes several times a day – European Union officials, ministers, leaders or central bank governors would say something about the crisis, providing more fodder for frazzled financial markets to make another round of cliff-hanging calls over whether things were getting better or worse.
Whichever way you look at it, Germany is in a bit of a quandry.
For the past 11 years, since the launch of the euro single currency, Europe’s biggest economy has enjoyed steady current account surpluses as it has exported its manufactured goods around the world, while keeping labour costs down and productivity steady at home.
Its economic growth may not have been stunning in recent years, but it has experienced none of the huge budget-deficit and debt problems of its euro zone partners, particularly those in southern Europe such as Spain, Greece, Portugal and Italy. And it has none of the nagging competitiveness issues that all those countries also face.
Credit rating agencies cannot win.
They were blamed for carelessness before the crisis, handing out over-generous ratings on the packets of mortgage-backed securities that subsequently unravelled, sending the global economy into a spin and leading to Lehman Brothers collapse. Now they are being criticised again, this time for being too cautious, by dishing out rating downgrades to countries in Europe being sucked into Greece’s debt crisis.
Standard & Poor’s recently downgraded Spain’s rating one notch to AA, warning that the outlook was bleak for the euro zone’s fourth biggest economy. Struggling Greece has also been marked down — to junk status — and now hovers close to Pakistan and Venezuela in the credit stakes. Portugal is another country to be singled out for downgrades from the leading ratings companies.
from Emily Flitter:
Quelling the European debt crisis will take more than just a bailout package for Greece, says one expert in financial contagion. Other countries with shaky fiscal profiles need to get their finances in order--and fast.
Lasse Pedersen, a professor of finance at New York University's Stern School of Business, has made a close study of liquidity spirals in financial markets, and he sees parallels between his work and the European crisis.
After five months of struggling to stay afloat in the quicksand of a debt crisis, Greece has finally asked the European Union and the IMF to throw it a lifeline.
Some might think that’s the end of it — Greece now has access to up to 45 billion euros in special funds, it can finance its deficit and refinance its debts at better rates, and speculators (who have metaphorically been stepping on Greece’s head while it thrashes around in the quicksand) have to beat a retreat.
The 16 countries that share the euro single currency have agreed they will help Greece out if it needs. So far so good. But only now is the nitty-gritty of how member states will go about paying for their contributions being hammered out. And suddenly things are getting a little complicated.
Italy announced on Tuesday it would have to issue government bonds — known as BTPs – to raise funds for its part in any Greek assistance.
The surge in the spread of Greek bond yields over German ones since European leaders issued a promise of emergency loans to Greece last month indicates financial markets do not believe the pledge of euro zone support is anything more than a bluff.
And they are itching to call it.
Euro zone leaders have been betting that a promise of loans to Greece and strong words of political support will be enough to calm markets and allow Athens to borrow at more reasonable rates, therefore rendering any real aid — the dreaded bailout — unnecessary.
The Greek debt crisis appears to be entering a new phase, in which the country is no longer just waiting to get needed help but getting concerned that others -- including euro zone powerhouse Germany -- may actually be making it hard for them to recover.
First, there is Prime Minister George Papandreou (right in photo). His concern is that speculators are pushing the cost of borrowing so high that it is undermining the plans he has put in place for deficit reduction. Papandreou is known for being a mild-mannered sort, so any kind of irritability is worth noting.