Friday, September 16, 2011

Will Greece Leave the Eurozone?

By Con George-Kotzabasis

In any crisis of serious proportions consensus between the major political parties is the sine qua non for its resolution. This certainly applies presently in Greece. But the dimensions of the crisis are so Gulliverian that only a titanic struggle of will and resolution by its politicians, guided by wisdom, will at least diminish the scale of the crisis. Regrettably, however, there is a dearth of politicians in Greece of the status of Gulliver and an abundance of Lilliputians. Therefore, a different consensus is materializing among eminent economists, that Greece perforce will have to traverse a different course than that imposed by the ECB and IMF.

Deepak Lal, a former president of the Mont Pelerine Society and a prominent exponent of the Austrian school of economics, predicts a Greek default and an exit from the Euro. To avoid a Greek debt default that would lead to a Eurozone banking crisis, a stabilization program has been imposed on Greece by the ECB and IMF. But unlike other similar stabilization programs, Lal argues, two vital elements are missing: a large devaluation and a restructuring of the country’s debt. “The former is precluded by the fixed exchange rate of the Euro, the latter by the external holdings of Greek sovereign debt by European banks.” The alternative program therefore is to impose a large internal devaluation instigating a precipitous fall in domestic wages and prices through a massive deflation. It is impossible however to believe that Greek politics will allow the country to follow such a course, especially when Greece is likely to be left with a debt-GDP ratio of 150%. Hence, Deepak Lal predicts that a Greek default and an exit from the Euro is the most likely path that Greece will follow.