Friday, 26 March 2010

is that a bail out?

It appears that the Greeks have been given a deal by the EU, where Germany have agreed to a package rumoured to be up to €25bn of support if the IMF comes in on the deal. Now it appears to the Raven from looking at the IMF website and doing his maths that the IMF will be able to lend €10bn at a blended rate of 2.7% (below where Germany could borrow). One would imagine that the Germans would be canny enough to argue that they (and France) should lend the remaining capital at a higher rate, say 4%? which would give Greece an average cost on €25bn of 3.48%.

The Raven thinks this is a ridiculous plan, which only serves to increase moral hazard and does nothing to either clear up the problem or to really stop the risk of contagion.

First lets but €25bn in context, thats pretty much the debt that Greece needs to roll over in the coming two months, and is ~8% of the total government debt.

Secondly it doesn't solve what really is becoming a solvency issue. Greece has moaned very loudly that is having to pay 6%, one has to wonder really whether they are good for the money they've borrowed already if they can't deal with a 6% interest rate. Its entirely irrelevant what what interest rate other EU governments have to pay on theirs.

The Economist had some numbers this morning that highlighted that the percent of GDP that would be taken up with interest payments will grow from 5% to 8.4% from 2009 tp 2014. They also highlight that government debt will be ~ 350bn which as a % of today's GDP is 147%. As a long term investor the Raven really doesn't think that the Greeks will ever be able to pay that back or grow their economy quickly enough to shrink that number relatively.

The structure of this "support" from the EU appears to be that they will step in when Greece can't borrow from the market. Surely Sarkozy can see that this encourages speculation? The real question is if this package is big enough and scary enough to make the market feel that Greek paper is safe and that you'll be bailed out if you buy it, in which case Sarko won't be firing his bazooka just yet.

Personally the Raven thinks this announcement will cause a small rally in Greek paper, but the market will come back and push the hand of the EU, either on Greece or another one of the UPIIGS.

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