Breaking: Greece Threatens To Leave Eurozone, Reintroduce Own Currency

    • And cue panic and furious denials:
  • French finance ministry official cannot neither confirm or deny Spiegel report of emergency Eurozone meeting
  • Austrian Finance Minister spokesman says Eurozone breakup "absolutely unthinkable"
  • German government source says theres no plan for Greece to leave the Eurozone
  • Senior Greek government official denies report that Greece raises possibility of leaving Eurozone

Full google translated Spiegel Article:

Greece is considering withdrawal from the Euro-zone

The debt crisis in Greece is getting worse. The government of the country considered to information from SPIEGEL ONLINE, leaving the euro zone. The finance ministers of the monetary union and representatives of the EU Commission will meet on Friday evening secret to a crisis meeting.

Berlin - The economic problems of Greece are huge, almost daily protests against the civil government. Now Prime Minister Georgios Papandreou, apparently sees no other way: According to information from SPIEGEL ONLINE considered his government to abandon the euro and reintroduce its own currency.

Alarmed by the efforts of the European Commission on Friday evening an emergency meeting in Luxembourg has loaded. Apart from the possible withdrawal of Greece from the monetary union and a speedy rescheduling of the country is on the agenda. A year after the outbreak of the crisis in Greece this means for the European Monetary Union an existential turning point - regardless of what option they choose.

Because of the tense situation has been prescribed for the meeting in Luxembourg the highest confidentiality, only the Finance Minister and one close associate may. For Germany participate Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble (CDU) and Financial Secretary Joerg Asmussen.

Schäuble wants to hold the Greeks in all circumstances from € outlet. An internal presentation of his ministry, which he took to Luxembourg, warns of the consequences. "It will be a significant depreciation of the new domestic currency against the euro," it states. Was estimated using an exchange rate loss of up to 50 percent can be expected. This debt is growing dramatically in Greece. Schäuble experts expect that the national debt would increase following the devaluation of around 200 percent of gross domestic product. "A restructuring was inevitable," they warn. In plain language: Greece would be bankrupt.

Massive implications for the economy in Europe

While controversy is whether a Euro-Greece's exit would be legally possible at all - in the opinion of legal experts would have to leave the country for the same time the European Union as a whole. It is doubtful whether the other members of the Monetary Union of the government in Athens would preclude a unilateral withdrawal from the euro area actually.

This reveals that the measure had been estimated by the officials Schäuble massive impact on economic life in Europe. "The currency change would trigger a capital flight," they write. Greece may be forced to introduce capital controls. "This would be the fundamental freedoms of the single European market not to bring into line." Moreover, the country would be cut off for many years by the capital market.

Furthermore, would the withdrawal of a country from the monetary union, "damage the trust in the functioning of the euro zone difficult," it said. International investors have to expect that emissions in the future further € members wanted. "This would lead to contagion effects in the euro zone."

The German taxpayer would step dearly

Had a severe impact on the swerving of Greece still ailing banking sector, especially at home. By the currency cut "all of the equity would be eaten up the banking system, the country's banks would be instantly insolvent." But the banks in other countries would suffer. "German and foreign banks would have expected a substantial loss to their demands," says the paper.

The European Central Bank (ECB) would be affected. It would have "a substantial portion of their assets to write off as uncollectible. Among the loans to banks without counting the stocks added to Greek government bonds, which the ECB has bought in recent months. Their volume estimate Schäuble officials to at least 40 billion euros. "Germany would contribute according to its ECB capital share of 27 percent most of the losses."

The bottom line is an exit followed by Greece would bankrupt the country euro-zone countries and their taxpayers are even more expensive. Together with the International Monetary Fund, they have the land grant assistance amounting to 110 billion euros - around half of which was already paid. "The euro-zone countries would have to surrender to the bankruptcy of the country on some of their claims."

And the original version of the article in native English:

The debt crisis in Greece has taken on a dramatic new twist. Sources with information about the government's actions have informed SPIEGEL ONLINE that Athens is considering withdrawing from the euro zone. The common currency area's finance ministers and representatives of the European Commission are holding a secret crisis meeting in Luxembourg on Friday night.

Greece's economic problems are massive, with protests against the government being held almost daily. Now Prime Minister George Papandreou apparently feels he has no other option: SPIEGEL ONLINE has obtained information from German government sources knowledgeable of the situation in Athens indicating that Papandreou's government is considering abandoning the euro and reintroducing its own currency.


Alarmed by Athens' intentions, the European Commission has called a crisis meeting in Luxembourg on Friday night. In addition to Greece's possible exit from the currency union, a speedy restructuring of the country's debt also features on the agenda. One year after the Greek crisis broke out, the development represents a potentially existential turning point for the European monetary union -- regardless which variant is ultimately decided upon for dealing with Greece's massive troubles.

Given the tense situation, the meeting in Luxembourg has been declared highly confidential, with only the euro-zone finance ministers and senior staff members permitted to attend. Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and Jörg Asmussen, an influential state secretary in the Finance Ministry, are attending on Germany's behalf.

'Considerable Devaluation'

Sources told SPIEGEL ONLINE that Schäuble intends to seek to prevent Greece from leaving the euro zone if at all possible. He will take with him to the meeting in Luxembourg an internal paper prepared by the experts at his ministry warning of the possible dire consequences if Athens were to drop the euro.

"It would lead to a considerable devaluation of the domestic currency against the euro," the paper states. According to German Finance Ministry estimates, the currency could lose as much as 50 percent of its value, leading to a drastic increase in Greek national debt. Schäuble's staff have calculated that Greece's national deficit would rise to 200 percent of gross domestic product after such a devaluation. "A debt restructuring would be inevitable," his experts warn in the paper. In other words: Greece would go bankrupt.

It remains unclear whether it would even be legally possible for Greece to depart from the euro zone. Legal experts believe it would also be necessary for the country to split from the European Union entirely in order to abandon the common currency. At the same time, it is questionable whether other members of the currency union would actually refuse to accept a unilateral exit from the euro zone by the government in Athens.

What is certain, according to the assessment of the German Finance Ministry, is that the measure would have a disastrous impact on the European economy.

"The currency conversion would lead to capital flight," they write. And Greece might see itself as forced to implement controls on the transfer of capital to stop the flight of funds out of the country. "This could not be reconciled with the fundamental freedoms instilled in the European internal market," the paper states. In addition, the country would also be cut off from capital markets for years to come.

In addition, the withdrawal of a country from the common currency union would "seriously damage faith in the functioning of the euro zone," the document continues. International investors would be forced to consider the possibility that further euro-zone members could withdraw in the future. "That would lead to contagion in the euro zone," the paper continues.

Banks at Risk

Moreover, should Athens turn its back on the common currency zone, it would have serious implications for the already wobbly banking sector, particularly in Greece itself. The change in currency "would consume the entire capital base of the banking system and the country's banks would be abruptly insolvent." Banks outside of Greece would suffer as well. "Credit institutions in Germany and elsewhere would be confronted with considerable losses on their outstanding debts," the paper reads.


The European Central Bank (ECB) would also feel the effects. The Frankfurt-based institution would be forced to "write down a significant portion of its claims as irrecoverable." In addition to its exposure to the banks, the ECB also owns large amounts of Greek state bonds, which it has purchased in recent months. Officials at the Finance Ministry estimate the total to be worth at least €40 billion ($58 billion) "Given its 27 percent share of ECB capital, Germany would bear the majority of the losses," the paper reads.

In short, a Greek withdrawal from the euro zone and an ensuing national default would be expensive for euro-zone countries and their taxpayers. Together with the International Monetary Fund, the EU member states have already pledged €110 billion in aid to Athens -- half of which has already been paid out.

"Should the country become insolvent," the paper reads, "euro-zone countries would have to renounce a portion of their claims."