Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Zombie Greece?

... that's the mental image I got reading Matthew Lynn of Bloomberg's commentary on Greece that comes to the same conclusion I have over the last few weeks. Here's some snippets.

This version of the rescue package isn’t going to work any better than the last one did. All it does is buy more time. The only real solution to Greece’s problems is Irish-style austerity. One way or another, it’s going to happen. The sooner they make a start on it, the better for everyone ...

The issue facing Greece is simple. It isn’t that the bond markets won’t lend the country money on reasonable terms. It is that the markets have looked at the Greek economy, decided it is in deep trouble, and resolved not to lend it any more money. Not even 45 billion euros can solve that.

Greece has a budget deficit of almost 13 percent of gross domestic product. It has borrowed too much money for too long. Worse, rather than using that money to invest in improving the efficiency of its economy, it has blown it on lavish public spending and generous welfare benefits ...

The only realistic solution is the Irish one. An over-indebted country has to accept that once the money runs out, it must cut spending. If necessary, living standards must fall. Once that hit has been taken, you can start growing again. But it can’t be avoided.
So they spent lavishly on social programs and now they might* see living standards fall to pay back the debt? Now that's compassion!

* - Might? What might? They will see living standards fall. That's what happens when you have to get on the beans and rice budget to pay off debt.

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