Greek crisis: not as tragic as subprime

February 12, 2010

Markets are all over the Greek debt crisis this week and this will surely continue next week, but a stand-back analysis shows that the situation is not catastrophic and not as contagious as the U.S. subprime crisis when it comes to the impact on global markets.

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Christopher Probyn, chief economist at State Street Global Advisors, says the Greek crisis involves only tens of billions of dollars, as opposed to $3 trillion in the subprime saga.

Goldman Sachs says the ramifications of an outright default in Europe would be considerable yet far smaller than subprime.

The bank says European banks’ exposure to sovereign debt is half that of U.S. banks to mortgages in mid-2007. To replicate the hit to banks’ balance sheets to the same degree as the U.S. mortgage crisis, assuming German debt is essentially risk free and a 65 percent recovery rate in the event of default, nearly half non-German euro zone government debt would have to default.

“To us, that seems a very tall order,” GS said in a note to clients.

2 comments

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“only tens of billions of dollars”

Kinda bugs me to read that.

Posted by Fishrl | Report as abusive

Some 10 GUSDs would actually be “only”, given that the GNI of Greece is around 300 GUSD. The real number, however, is 300 GUSD, which is a whole different ballgame.

Posted by clacke | Report as abusive