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JANE BURGERMEISTER REPORT: ‘Greek default is inevitable, says Mario Blejer’

Greek default is inevitable, says Mario Blejer

Jane Burgermeister | June 10, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Categories: Uncategorized | URL:

June 10, 2011, 12:01 a.m. EDT

Greek default is inevitable

By Mario Blejer, former central bank governor of Argentina

LONDON (MarketWatch) — The European Central Bank, with its staunch opposition to sovereign debt restructuring in Europe, is making a bad situation worse. By threatening to withdraw support for banks in countries such as Greece if they restructure their debts, the ECB is practically inciting runs on banks.

The argument that Greek state paper could no longer be used as collateral in such cases hardly justifies such a potentially destabilizing step. The ECB is effectively the lender of last resort to such banks. If depositors believe it is about to pull out, then they will withdraw money from the banks — and we will face a self-fuelling downward spiral.

The debt problem of peripheral Europe is structural. It cannot be solved by piling debt on debt. There is an analogy to a Ponzi scheme, under which more money is continually paid in to keep the pyramid-like edifice from collapsing. The debt/GDP ratio increases over time because new loans are given to pay old debt and to finance the remaining fiscal gaps.

In addition, the share of the debt in official hands continues to increase and eventually taxpayers bear the complete cost of the adjustment. This may, however, take time and, since the pyramid is unstable, the construction could break down at any moment –— a source of increasing uncertainty.

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June 10, 2011 - Posted by | Internationally significant information, Jane Burgermeister Report

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