Monday, April 12, 2010

Further fascinating attempts to square the circle

I'm just waiting for the "angels on the head of a pin" debate to really take off.  If a tree falls in the woods, is it really a bailout?

From the NYT:

Under the plan, Greece would receive loans at about 5 percent interest, significantly lower than the rate of 7.5 percent that the markets were demanding last week, though not as low as Greece had wanted.

Mr. Peruzzo said he expected the interest rate on Greek bonds to drop sharply when markets opened Monday. The rate of 5 percent "is now the benchmark," he said. "This is a step of clarification the markets are waiting for."

Yeah, for about 5 minutes or until the Greeks decide it's time to ask the Germans to bend over for round two (you know they secretly love it).

The Greek finance minister, George Papaconstantinou, said his country would try to avoid drawing on the European Union and I.M.F. money. "The aim is for us to continue borrowing as normal from the markets, and we believe we will be able to do this now," he said.

He added: "The Greek government has not asked for the activation of this mechanism despite the fact that it is immediately available."

Hmmm ... where have I heard that one before?

And here's the biggest howler:

The loan rates are "nonconcessional," or close enough to market rates that they do not constitute a bailout, Mr. Juncker said.

If Greece is not being given any concessions, how exactly is this going to help their budget situation?  Do we really think that the 2.5% less interest they will pay on the15% of their total debt they need to issue this year will solve all their problems, even if they do get the don't-call-it-a-bailout?  They will or they won't put their fiscal house in order.  I'm guessing they won't, and this loan will be necessary and politically very unpopular both in Germany and Greece.  We'll see what happens then.

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