Greece Is in a Pickle
And just in case you were wondering what a soft restructuring actually is, Joseph Cotterill at FT Alphaville explains.
Beyond the gobbledygook restructuring talk is a simple story of incentives and the outlook for the Greek economy in the face of default. Over at Economonitor.com, Edward Hugh inquires just this as ‘after default, what next?’
Put another way, if the most valid argument against going back to the Drachma always was that this would imply default, now that default is coming, why not allow Greece to devalue?
His point is well taken, in my view. The problem is that Greece’s manufacturing sector is NOT competitive, nor will it be under even the most severe fiscal austerity measures…not to mention that the fiscal austerity measures make their problems worse by deepening the domestic recession. They need a currency devaluation in order to gain any sort of competitiveness back.
According to the Surveillance of Intra-Euro-Area Competitiveness and Imbalances (.pdf here), Greece faces the following:
In view of Greece’s weakened competitiveness in the euro area and its persistent current account deficit, adjustment in the context of the euro area would be facilitated by relative price and cost adjustments and a shift of resources from the nontradable to the tradable sector.
This is difficult to do without devaluation. And it’s not going to improve with a lower stock of debt (through restructuring)!
According to Eurostat, the 4-quarter MA (Angry Bear blog calculations) of Greece’s export base as a share of GDP has improved by just 0.6% of GDP from its low, while Ireland’s export base as a share of GDP has improved a large 22% of GDP.
Again – how’s the economy to grow after default? Greece needs a devaluation to shift resources from the nontradable to the tradable sector. (from the EU report)
This post originally appeared at Angry Bear and is reproduced with permission.
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