When Will Greece Exit the Euro?

Greece and its debt issues are back in the news. A new government refuses to continue austerity measures that have resulted in a twenty-five percent unemployment rate and an unemployment rate of sixty percent to seventy percent among youths. By comparison unemployment before austerity measures stood at 3.7 percent. The problem is the extent of Greek government debt denominated in Euros. When a nation runs out of money it commonly puts its financial house in order and devalues its currency thus reducing its debt burden. Greece cannot do this because it is part of the European Union. One alternative is for Greece to leave the EU or at least change its currency back to the Drachma. When will Greece exit the Euro? Here are a few thoughts on the subject.

Just a Matter of Time

Bloomberg quotes former Fed chairman, Alan Greenspan, as believing that it just a matter of time before Greece leaves the Euro.

Greece’s exit from the euro is just a matter of time because no one wants to risk lending money to the country any more, according to Alan Greenspan.

Hours before Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was due to set out plans on how to keep his government paying its bills, the former Federal Reserve chairman said the nation’s crisis can’t be resolved as long as it remains in the single currency.

“I don’t see that it helps them to be in the euro and I certainly don’t see that it helps the rest of the euro zone,” Greenspan said in a radio interview with the BBC on Sunday. “I think it’s just a matter of time before everyone recognizes that parting is the best strategy.”

Mr. Greenspan offers a common sense opinion. Greece needs to use the old approach to excessive sovereign debt. The question remains when will Greece exit the Euro?

David versus Goliath

Greece has a substantially smaller economy that the rest of the Euro Zone combined. And Greece has the misfortune of being one of the Southern tier European nations who are viewed by the Northern tier as being lazy and spendthrifts. Thus Germans and others are tired of bailing out Greece and would like their money back, thank you very much. Now it comes down to a game of chicken according to Reuters who writes about the Euro Zone Greece faceoff.

Greece and its euro zone partners engaged in brinkmanship on Monday, with leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras insisting his country would not extend its reform-linked bailout and Germany saying it would get no more money without such a program.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned Greeks not to expect the euro zone to bow to Tsipras’ demands in a growing confrontation which spooked financial markets and prompted U.S. and Canadian pleas for calm and compromise.

Escalating the rhetoric, Greece’s finance minister said the euro zone could collapse “like a house of cards” if Athens were forced out.

It is unlikely that the Euro would suffer immediate damage if Greece leaves the monetary union. But it could be seen as a precursor to further dissolution of the EU. The clock in running on Greek debt and if the Greek Prime Minister who is making the rounds trying to fix the issue cannot get debt relief he may well go home and take Greek off the Euro and even out of the EU. That could be a matter of weeks or even days.

Getting Ready Just in Case

All things are possible including a Greek exit from the Eurozone. BBC News reports that the UK is making plans.

Attended by the head of the Treasury, Nick Macpherson, the Treasury’s director of financial stability, Lowrie Kahn, and the Bank of England’s international director Phil Evans, David Cameron asked for information on the impact on Greece and the rest of the eurozone of Greece leaving the eurozone.

David Cameron heard that Greek people would see their savings wiped out, inflation would take off, and there would be a massive devaluation,

He was also told that Greek companies and banks would face acute financial difficulties because of the mismatch between the “hard” euros they would owe to those outside Greece which would have to be serviced out of “soft” or “devaluing” new drachmas.

Things, it seems could go from bad to worse when Greece exits the Eurozone. On the other hand if you are one of the sixty to seventy percent of youth without work in Greece you may not see the difference.