Irish And Greek Bailouts Won’t Work!

James Saft
James Saft writing on his blog discusses the strange bailouts of Ireland and Greece. “What’s strange?” They are unsustainable. They are disastrous. They are a bandaid that won’t hold. This essay uses the word, bizarre. That is correct.

James Pilant

From Reuters

So let’s recap, because this is truly bizarre: Lenders to Ireland or the other troubled states won’t take a hit now but if they stick around until 2013 then they will take losses along with the taxpayers. Oh yeah, and the current round of bailouts are aimed at seeing Ireland and Greece through the next couple of years, at which point it will become extremely dangerous to lend to them, as their economies will have shrunk, their debt burdens bloomed and private lenders will be on the hook.

To add to this, the European Stability Mechanism, the name of the new fund, will be senior to all creditors except the International Monetary Fund, meaning that in the event of a bankruptcy it would be paid first. Ratings agency Fitch looked at this provision and quite rightly said that it might lead to lower ratings on shaky euro zone sovereigns.

The only way you could make this policy mix work was if you could find a very rich lender with no ability to conceptualize the future. Hmm, let’s see a rich entity with limited ability to fully imagine a future state – it must be the European Union!

Few private lenders will stick around, they will sell their bonds and the only buyers will be the EU or ECB, which itself as it understands this predicament is hugely unwilling to play along.

Germany and France are both so unwilling to both have principles and pay for them that they are refusing to act on proposals for common European bonds and are expected to resist moves to increase the size of the European Financial Stability Fund, the vehicle now being used for bailouts.

Okay, do you get it? These aren’t solutions. They are designed to tide things over until someone new is in office to take responsibility. And especially, they are designed to appear as decisive action when they are nothing of the kind.

It is important that both Greece and Ireland elect new governments charged with challenging these horrendous plans that smack only of disaster. Those countries deserve better, and their citizens should demand better terms. These are sovereign nations not American homeowners subject to the whims of banks.

Let democracies exert the power of the people, the one and only thing that banks fear.

James Pilant