We're Not In Wonderland Anymore, Alice... And The True Greek Debt/GDP Ratio Of 421.7%
From Mark Grant
We're Not In Wonderland Anymore, Alice!
"You may call it ‘nonsense’ if you like," she said, "but I've heard nonsense, compared with which that would be as sensible as a dictionary!"
-The Red Queen
Greece Through the Looking Glass
With all of the talk of Greece leaving the Eurozone and forfeiting the Euro as its currency; what if it does not? That, my friends, is now the question. The current estimation of Greece’s GDP is $308.3 billion. All of the debt of Greece, direct, derivatives and guaranteed is $1.3 trillion giving the country an actual debt to GDP ratio of 421.67%. You may recall all of the talk, all of the pandering words spit out by the IMF and the European Union that the new austerity measures would take the Greek debt to 120%; all nonsensical and a nonfactual expression of a very fantastic and fairy tale imagination. If someone has actually stepped through the looking glass I suspect it is Christine Lagarde. Perhaps she is Alice’s granddaughter? In my estimation she must have eaten some of the cake because her reputation has dwindled as she and Greece fell down the rabbit’s hole.
“There comes a pause, for human strength will not endure to dance without cessation; and everyone must reach the point at length of absolute prostration.”
Since those false exclamations the economy of Greece has, in fact, shrunk like a grape in the process of becoming a raisin. Austerity has had an effect of the Greek economy, that much is true; it has caused it to whither like an autumn vine on a dead oak tree. Not only is the economy in decline by -9.6% but the expenditures are exceeding the budget by $2.5 billion each and every month; it is a sinkhole, a vast expanse of quicksand where anything and everything is going down. With a population of 10,768,000 the people of Greece could not pay the debt they have accumulated if they stood on their tiptoes and spat Euros at the sun. The current situation is, without doubt, an impossible contrivance that could have been avoided, was not avoided, and there is no way to climb the wall of this financial cliff without, in one way or another, blowing up the wall.
"The time has come", the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes — and ships — and sealing wax —
Of cabbages — and Kings —
And why the Sea is boiling hot —
And whether pigs have wings."
The pig could be bright blue, her lipstick could be of the shiniest shimmering red, her wings could put those of the Angels to shame and still she could not fly. If Greece decides to say in the Eurozone then the question will shift to whether Europe will allow her to remain. After the elections Greece will be required to cut another $30 billion from its expenditures. This will cause a decline of about $50 billion in its revenues which will take its GDP down to around $260 billion and the debt to GDP ratio will be a whopping 500%; say it ain’t so but it will be just that number if no new debt is added which is an impossibility at this point so that the calculation will be even worse. Then the burden has shifted from the European banks and insurance companies as they handed the Greek debts to the ECB, the EIB and the IMF so that the very institutions that could have back-stopped Greece are already full of Greek debt and therefore dead in the water.
“I know they're talking nonsense,” Alice thought to herself: “and it's foolish to cry about it.” So she brushed away her tears, and went on as cheerfully as she could.
I have always said that Greece will not depart until the money spigot is turned off. Therefore Greece will hang around as long as she can but the moment is coming and coming soon when Germany and the rest will say that since Greece is not keeping its part of the bargain that it cannot play any longer in the sand box. They may demand repatriation through the Bank for International Settlements. They may try and keep the Greek assets pledged at the ECB as an offset to the sovereign and municipal debt which will never get paid back but it will not just be consequences but carnage when this point is reached as even the ECB itself will have to be recapitalized by the other nations in Europe as the Greek default overwhelms its equity capital. The Greek banks, one way or another, are history and their debt will only be useful as certificates to be hung on some office walls as a reminder of lessons that should have been learned and were not. Greece is now a “dead man walking” and the execution chamber is primed and ready. The only remaining questions, really, are who is going to flip the switch and at what time.
"The horror of that moment," the King went on, "I shall never, never forget!"
"You will, though," the Queen said, "if you don't make a memorandum of it."
Make a memorandum of what is passing before your eyes and do not forget it!