Is Greece Beginning To Consider A "Strategic" Default?

And why not - after all it's all the rage among those waiting in line for iPads so they can be first to buy "The Steve Jobs Guide for Deadbeat Dummies Trying To Learn To Read Good." Now that Obama has given his blessing to an entire generation of Americans to tear up contracts (very appropriate coming from a contract law professor), the follow up to moral hazard is resulting in not just individuals and companies, but entire nations simply opting out of paying their dues. Evans-Pritchard reports that after today's ludicrous rates on 3 and 6 month Bills the tide may be turning in Greece, with both parties in the country finally realizing its creditors will do everything in their power to bleed it dry, at "usurious" rates. With economic growth negative for a decade and debt interests quite certainly positive, the marginal difference will destroy not only economic output, but sink Greece ever more in debt, as existing creditors fund capital shortfalls at maturity (or default) by ever increasing interest rates. Greece has the option to stop funneling domestic capital to Germany later (inevitable) or sooner (if it finally makes the right decision).

From the Telegraph:

There are still questions that need to be answered on the EU deal," said Julian Callow from Barclays Capital. "Greece has a Herculean task ahead. The economy is contracting yet fiscal tightening has hardly begun. We expect growth of minus 4.3pc this year, and minus 1.9pc in 2011 which will be difficult for debt dynamics."

Opposition politicians in Athens have begun to question whether it is in the country's interests to accept harsh wage deflation in order to pay foreign creditors. "This is usury: we need restructuring of debts," said the Righti-wing LAOS party.

Such views are gaining support in parts of the ruling PASOK party, raising the risk that it will splinter as further austerity is imposed. Diplomats see a direct parallel with Oskar Lafontaine's Linke movement drawn from the Left-wing of Germany's Social Democrats.

Not only will a delay in defaulting do nothing for the economy except bleed it to death slowly, but ever more frequent risk flare episodes culminating in bank runs will intensify the deposit outflows and impair the banking system beyond repair (for depositors to keep their money in Greek banks, they need to be compensated for the risks: double digit rates sound about right), thus dooming any hope for an economic recovery. Evans-Pritchard's conclusion: a dead-end Greece may be on the road to the same societal splintering that post-Weimar Germany experienced, and culminated in some very tragic consequences.


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