Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Expelling Greece from the Eurozone....

A very upsetting article in Project Syndicate on Greece, its debt and its governments. Even if the author is harsh he does, unfortunately, speak the truth.

The mentality and the practices he describes are so prevalent and so engrained even among the younger that it makes you wonder if there is any hope.

.....Moreover, the Greek government turned out to be untrustworthy. In 2004, Greece admitted that it had lied about the size of its deficit ever since 2000 – precisely the years used to assess Greece’s application to join the euro zone. In other words, Greece qualified only by cheating. In November 2009, it appeared that the Greek government lied once again, this time about the deficit in 2008 and the projected deficit for 2009.

....Ten years later, it seems as if time has stood still down south. Both the Greek and Italian public debt remain almost unchanged, despite the fact that both countries have benefited the most from the euro, as their long-term interest rates declined to German levels following its adoption. That alone yielded a windfall of tens of billions of euros per year. But it barely made a dent in their national debts, which can mean only one thing: massive squandering. That is evident from their credit ratings. Greece boasts by far the lowest credit rating in the euro zone. Standard & Poor’s has put the already low A- rating under review for a possible downgrade. Fitch Ratings has cut the Greek rating to BBB+, the third-lowest investment grade. Indeed, those scores mean that Greece is much less creditworthy than for example Botswana and Malaysia, which are rated A+ .

....A member of the euro zone cannot be expelled under current rules, allowing countries like Greece to lie, manipulate, blackmail, and collect more and more EU funds. In the long term, this will be disastrous for greater European cooperation, because public support will whither.

Europe should therefore consider bearing the high short-term costs of changing the rules of the game. If expelling even one member could establish a more credible mechanism for guaranteeing fiscal discipline in the euro zone than the SGP and financial fines have proven to be, the price would be more than worth it.

The full article is found here.

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