The catastrophe isn’t default, it was always bankers extend and pretend.
Unwelcome crises are part of life. What’s unnatural isn’t crisis, it’s pretending that life should be nothing but a smooth, uninterrupted rise in consumption.
Yes, I’m talking about Greece and the EU. The situation is somewhat analogous to finding out your total cholesterol is over 300. Gee, I thought I was eating well, and was in pretty good shape… alas, that was all wishful thinking; normal is 180. At 300, you’re at serious risk of long-term health problems.
So the European Central Bank injects 120 billion euros of “medicine” to cure you, and a year later your cholesterol readings are 395. Hmm. The “medicine” didn’t work; instead, it actively prolonged and deepened the crisis.
Humans need time to accept new realities, and to make necessary adjustments. People lose their wealth, they adjust. They lose their successful careers, they adjust. They face health crises, they adjust. This kind of wrenching adjustment is not abnormal, it is utterly normal.
Cholesterol at 300 is a crisis. We need to drop that 120 points down to 180. Everything about our lifestyle has to change to deal with this reality. So we go through a period of adjustment to the new reality. Sometimes the adjustment period is wrenching. People have to give up much of their lifestyle. But denying reality doesn’t help, and bemoaning the pain don’t help, either; both of these responses actively hinder the adjustment.
I was interviewed Saturday evening by guest hosts Paul Vigna and Ina Parker on the John Batchelor WABC radio program, and the topic was (unsurprisingly) Greece. Both Paul and Ina asked good questions, and so my primary aim was not to ramble too long or incoherently. (Who knows if I succeeded or not.)
One of their questions spoke directly to the central issue: “If Greece defaults, what happens next?”
I answered that Greece goes through a re-set, a painful but brief period of adjustment, and with the bad debt gone, then the economy would be cleared for new businesses to take root.
The Eurozone debt “crisis” is nothing but another credit cycle, in which debt expands beyond the carrying capacity of consumers and economies. Debt then contracts as uncollectable debt is written down; borrowers go bankrupt and their remaining assets are auctioned off (if they put up collateral; if not, then tough luck, lenders, you blew it and will have to suck the entire loss). Insolvent lenders are also declared bankrupt and dissolved.
There is absolutely nothing unusual about this cycle. Impaired debt is renounced and the system is purged of bad debt. Once the economy has been cleared of garbage, so to speak, then everyone can stop pretending and start dealing with reality. Businesses will be able to start up in a transparent and open market.
Effectively The Unions Abandon Obama!
The world does not end. Life goes on. We were threatened and bullied in 2008 that the insolvency of the U.S. financial sector would trigger the end of civilization, but it was just another lie: life goes on.
The “doom and gloom” view (of which I am proponent, I suppose) is typically categorized by the Mainstream Media as a stubbornly negative insistence that “the world will end.” While there is certainly a contingent who espouse that, in my view “doom and gloom” is not predicting the end of the world–it’s just predicting the end of the Status Quo.
That’s a key difference.
The Status Quo in Euroland is unsustainable. Last year’s “fix” fixed nothing; it only deepened the pain and stole a year from those who could have used that time to make needed adjustments to reality.
It would be better for all involved if Greece defaulted on 100% of its debt and left the euro currency. Imports would instantly become very expensive in the new currency and so Greece would have a chance to build a balanced, productive economy that wasn’t dependent on debt. All the banks who made the predatory loans to Greece would go bankrupt–good riddance to them all. If the European Central Bank also goes under, so much the better.
Regardless of the shrill cries that civilization will end if lenders go belly up, life goes on. “Extend and pretend” only prolongs and deepens a crisis. “Doom and gloom” is the recognition that new conditions apply and the old way is unsustainable. Nobody likes hearing that, but it is the only way forward.
Here Is What Happens After Greece Defaults
When it comes to the topic of Greece, by now everyone is sick of prevaricating European politicians who even they admit are lying openly to the media, and tired of conflicted investment banks trying to make the situation appear more palatable if only they dress it in some verbally appropriate if totally ridiculous phrase (which just so happens contracts to SLiME). The truth is Greece will fold like a lawn chair: whether it’s tomorrow (which would be smartest for everyone involved) or in 1 years, when the bailout money runs out, is irrelevant. The question then is what will happen after the threshold of nevernever land is finally breached, and Kickthecandowntheroad world once again reverts to the ugly confines of reality. Luckily, the Telegraph’s Andrew Lilico presents what is arguably the most realistic list of the consequences of crossing the senior bondholder Styx compiled to date.
What happens when Greece defaults. Here are a few things:
- Every bank in Greece will instantly go insolvent.
- The Greek government will nationalise every bank in Greece.
- The Greek government will forbid withdrawals from Greek banks.
- To prevent Greek depositors from rioting on the streets, Argentina-2002-style (when the Argentinian president had to flee by helicopter from the roof of the presidential palace to evade a mob of such depositors), the Greek government will declare a curfew, perhaps even general martial law.
- Greece will redenominate all its debts into “New Drachmas” or whatever it calls the new currency (this is a classic ploy of countries defaulting)
- The New Drachma will devalue by some 30-70 per cent (probably around 50 per cent, though perhaps more), effectively defaulting 0n 50 per cent or more of all Greek euro-denominated debts.
- The Irish will, within a few days, walk away from the debts of its banking system.
- The Portuguese government will wait to see whether there is chaos in Greece before deciding whether to default in turn.
- A number of French and German banks will make sufficient losses that they no longer meet regulatory capital adequacy requirements.
- The European Central Bank will become insolvent, given its very high exposure to Greek government debt, and to Greek banking sector and Irish banking sector debt.
- The French and German governments will meet to decide whether (a) to recapitalise the ECB, or (b) to allow the ECB to print money to restore its solvency. (Because the ECB has relatively little foreign currency-denominated exposure, it could in principle print its way out, but this is forbidden by its founding charter. On the other hand, the EU Treaty explicitly, and in terms, forbids the form of bailouts used for Greece, Portugal and Ireland, but a little thing like their being blatantly illegal hasn’t prevented that from happening, so it’s not intrinsically obvious that its being illegal for the ECB to print its way out will prove much of a hurdle.)
- They will recapitalise, and recapitalise their own banks, but declare an end to all bailouts.
- There will be carnage in the market for Spanish banking sector bonds, as bondholders anticipate imposed debt-equity swaps.
- This assumption will prove justified, as the Spaniards choose to over-ride the structure of current bond contracts in the Spanish banking sector, recapitalising a number of banks via debt-equity swaps.
- Bondholders will take the Spanish Banking Sector to the European Court of Human Rights (and probably other courts, also), claiming violations of property rights. These cases won’t be heard for years. By the time they are finally heard, no-one will care.
- Attention will turn to the British banks. Then we shall see…
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 05/21/2011 19:49 -0400
- Europe Now Doubts That Greece Can Embrace Reform – Rachel Donadio and Niki Kitsantonis via NYTimes.com (underpaidgenius.com)
- DealBook: Talks on Greek Debt Are Halted (dealbook.nytimes.com)
- Greek debt deal hits setback as talks suspended (jhaines6.wordpress.com)
- Greece – Has The Barber Retired? (zerohedge.com)
- Report: Greece Likely to Default (myfoxphoenix.com)
- Greek People Stuck With Stinking Debt (forbes.com)
- Watch the Greeks, not the agencies (economist.com)