Saturday, February 27, 2010

"Armageddon was yesterday. Today we have a serious problem."

The gods must be crazy. How could tiny Greece, better known for turpentine wine and sheep cheese than for high finance, threaten the global banking system over the past two months?

And more importantly, what does the sudden blowup of debt worries on the southern tier of Europe mean for the United States, not long after we thought developed-world governments had successfully attacked this problem with the central-banking equivalent of carpet-bombing?

For answers to these questions, I turned to international-finance expert Satyajit Das, who has been our Homer over the past few years (and I don't mean Simpson) -- a guide to the epic myths told by bankers to politicians that prosperity was achievable by distilling money from math.

Das, who is based in Australia, observes first that the entire world has indulged in an economic experiment over the past decade, in which rising levels of debt have been used to promote high growth. The policy, a change from the old-fashioned capitalist virtue of earning the money used to expand, had the unintended consequence of vastly increasing risk in ways that were not fully understood by bankers, companies or regulators until it was too late.

Europe's Sovereign Debt Threat

We are now witnessing this experiment come to an end, Das says, slowly, erratically and painfully -- in Greece now and in many other countries, among them Portugal, Japan and the United States, later.
Read the rest here.

1 comment:

Visibilium said...

Greece's habitual profligacy left it without the flexibility to deal with the downturn.

The comparison with the US is inapt, although Obama may maneuver the US into the same position as Greece in the coming years.