Citi's Buiter Goes All Maya On The GRexit
While Citi's Willem Buiter believes that the new coalition in Greece removes the very short-term risk of GRexit, as he notes in an Op-Ed in the FT today that "minimum demands for relaxation of fiscal austerity by the new government will not exceed the maximum fiscal austerity concessions Germany is willing to make", he does think the TROIKA "unlikely to tolerate another failure to comply on all fronts by the December assessment" leading to an end-2012 Armageddon a la the Maya. The "willful non-compliance" with the conditionality of the TROIKA program also brings doubt on the willingness of core eurozone nations to "take on significant exposures to Spain and Italy unless it can be established unambiguously that a willfully and persistently non-compliant program beneficiary will be denied further funding". His succinct summation of the "onion-like unpeeling and unraveling" of the Euro's endgame is perfectly described as: "The greatest fear of the core nations is not the collapse of the euro area but the creation of an open-ended, uncapped transfer union without a surrender of national sovereignty to the supra-national European level" as he sees material risk of "procrastination and policy paralysis".
...we consider it highly unlikely that Greece will comply sufficiently with even ‘lite’ fiscal austerity conditionality, let alone with structural reform conditionality, including privatisation targets, which are unlikely to be relaxed. Political opposition to both austerity and reform now are stronger in Greece than ever before. So is resistance to bailouts in the core. The troika – the European Commission, European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – may forgive a Greek failure in the September progress assessment, but is unlikely to tolerate another failure to comply on all fronts by the December assessment.
Grexit may well be triggered by a troika review declaring Greece wilfully non-compliant with the conditionality of its programme, stopping the disbursements to the Greek sovereign.
There is now a material risk, if procrastination and policy paralysis prevail, that the end game for the euro could be an onion-like unpeeling and unravelling. Survival to fight another crisis will require at least the following: an enhanced sovereign liquidity facility, banking union and sovereign debt and bank debt restructuring, with only limited sovereign debt mutualisation.
The end game for the euro area, if the political will to keep it alive is strong enough, is likely to be a 16-member area, with banking union and the minimal fiscal Europe necessary to operate a monetary union when there is no full fiscal union.
Minimal fiscal Europe will consist of a larger European Stability Mechanism, the permanent liquidity fund, and a sovereign debt restructuring mechanism (SDRM). The ESM will be given eligible counterparty status for repurchase agreements with the eurosystem, subject to joint and several guarantees by the euro area member states. There will be some ex-post mutualisation of sovereign debt. Sovereign debt restructuring through the SDRM will recur.
Banking union aims to sever the poisonous umbilical cord between sovereigns and the banks in their jurisdictions. A roadmap to banking union will likely be announced at the EU summit on June 28-29. It better be a credible path. In any case, implementation is the hard part, and time is of the essence.