Thursday, November 25, 2010

Greece, Ireland, and Then?

New York Times
September 24, 2010

In May, the International Monetary Fund and the European Union thought they had solved Europe’s financial troubles. They crafted a $150 billion bailout for Greece, part of a $1 trillion rescue fund for vulnerable countries using the euro. With defenses like that, no investor would bet against Europe’s financial stability.

Six months later, Greece is still tottering, and the Irish financial crisis shows that their deterrent was neither as persuasive nor as effective as they thought.

The bailout recipe for Greece, and now Ireland, has a fundamental problem: It fails to acknowledge that these deeply indebted countries will not recover until they reduce their crushing public debt, which in both cases is on its way to hit a staggering 150 percent of gross domestic product within three or four years. Ireland’s total foreign debt, public and private, amounts to 10 times its G.D.P.


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