James Saft is a Reuters columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.
The plan to rescue the euro zone faces only three hurdles; democracy, reality, and supply and demand.If they can overcome those, it is going to work perfectly, and, amazingly, they just might.
Democracy reared its rather large head when the Greek government decided suddenly that it wanted a sign-off from its voters and moved to put the plan to a plebiscite.
While it is hard to argue with the idea of a people getting a chance to vote directly on a plan that will mean tough times for the better part of the next decade, the move jeopardizes not only the confidence on which the entire rescue relies but also the next infusion of much-needed cash Greece is slated to get in November.
If the Greeks vote against the plan it means a full-fledged, badly controlled sovereign default, with all that implies for euro zone banks. Is that something the Greeks will vote for, even if it means ejection from the euro zone? Just the specter of the vote makes it far harder for euro zone officials to put the rest of their plan into effect, a number of whose planks are already looking shaky.
Democracy, or whatever alternative term you would prefer to use, is also doing the rescue no favors in Italy, where Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi is under pressure to step aside for a government of national unity. There is also precious little faith that Italy will produce credible fiscal and structural reforms. All of this is reflected most starkly in the reality of the bond market. Italian 10-year bond yields now stand at about 6.16 percent, a level that is unsustainable, considerably higher than before the grand plan was announced, and a threat in and of itself to the rest of the plan’s moving pieces.