Monday, September 19, 2011

In Our Stars?

Default, dear Brutus, is not in our stars but ourselves.................with apologies to WS

How disorderly must Greek default be? Nin-Hai Tseng in Fortune:

The opportunity for debt-troubled Europe to avoid a disaster is shrinking. Fast. Over the weekend, Greek leaders struggled to agree to a set of radical budget cuts as the country approaches an October deadline to qualify for $11 billion in aid without which it will certainly default on its growing debt.

As the bailout of Greece spirals into a costly mess, officials have raised the idea of an "orderly default." Germany's economy minister Philipp Roesler publicly introduced the concept and, needless to say, the mere mention of bankruptcy was anything but calming for global investors.
...
But for Greece, economists believe austerity measures attached to its rescue package will slow economic growth and weaken the country's competitiveness for years to come. What's more, orderly defaults in industrialized nations are essentially unprecedented, which partly explains why investors are so spooked by what's happening in the eurozone.

"One of the founding pillars is this concept that the debt of industrialized countries is risk free," says Jacob Funk Kirkegaard of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. "Markets are asking if it turns out there's risk in Greece maybe there are other countries in the industrialized world that face the same issues."

The article points out that orderly defaults are not exactly unprecedented among nations.

The question for Europe, of course, is contagion.