I will be on RT Television today talking about the euro crisis at 6 and again at 7PM ET. The likelihood of a hard restructuring in Greece will be a main point of conversation. The following blurb from Bloomberg tells you what markets think:
Greece’s chance of default in the next five years has soared to 98 percent as Prime Minister George Papandreou fails to reassure international investors that his country can survive the euro-region crisis.
“Everyone’s pricing in a pretty near-term default and I think it’ll be a hard event,” said Peter Tchir, founder of hedge fund TF Market Advisors in New York. “Clearly this austerity plan is not working.”
A few month ago, I wrote that:
Internal devaluation and austerity is not a solution. They are politically unsustainable. It is obvious to most that defaults are coming. For Greece, sovereign default is a foregone conclusion. For Ireland, by dint of its socialisation of bank losses onto taxpayers, sovereign default is a real possibility. In Spain, bank losses have not been socialised and so the sovereign remains relatively healthy. However, Spanish banks have been slow to recognize losses and that means many contingent liabilities keep the market for Spanish government bonds in a state of stress. Portugal is well above the Maastricht 3/60 hurdles and contagion has spread to Belgium, Italy and France. Meanwhile, the public in countries like Slovakia and Finland want no part of future bailouts, while the public in countries like Greece and Spain are fed up with double digit unemployment and the prospect of a decade more.
-The European Sovereign Debt Crisis, Dec 2010
I think David Blanchflower is right; the Europeans have run out of options. For Greece, the day of reckoning is close at hand.