Wednesday, December 31, 2014

How Scary Can Greece Get?

by Mark Gilbert


December 31, 2014

With Greeks getting the opportunity to vote on their economic future, let the scaremongering begin. European Union leaders will utter menacing words about the euro-exiting consequences of straying from the path of fiscal righteousness. The threat of financial Armageddon will be bandied about. As is often the case, one of the most useful ways to distinguish signal from noise is to follow the money.

Here's a chart suggesting the Greeks themselves knew all along that the euro crisis wasn't over. It uses official figures from the Bank of Greece to track how much money is on deposit with banks in the country. And it shows that most of the money that fled at the start of the emergency never came back:

When there's a run on a bank -- think of the perennial Christmas movie, ``It's a Wonderful Life'' -- there's a rush to get your money out before your neighbor, in case the bank shuts its doors. When there's a run on a sovereign nation, there's a rush to get money out of the country before the government either imposes capital controls that will lock the cash behind its borders or decides to confiscate some or all of it.


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