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A.Samaras Addresses Economist Conference

A. Samaras: "It is obvious that the crisis is not only Greece's"

30. April 2010. | 09:24 09:32

Source: ANA

Addressing the Economist conference, ND President Antonis Samaras underlined that this year's conference is taking place under truly dramatic circumstances.

Addressing the Economist conference, ND President Antonis Samaras underlined that this year's conference is taking place under truly dramatic circumstances.

"It is obvious that the crisis is not only Greece's. It is obvious that Greece proved to be the 'weak part' of a much wider crisis, which Europe has just started to suspect."

Samaras touched on four questions, the Greek dimension of the crisis, the European dimension of the crisis and why Greece became the weakest part. He also focused on what Greece can do to survive the crisis and on the first conclusions to be drawn.

"Which are the reasons behind a country's borrowing crisis? Three causes are required for such a crisis:

  1. Firstly, a growing debt and a growing deficit. This is the fiscal prerequisite. The first to raise concern among international creditors is a growing debt self-nourished by a growing deficit. A necessary prerequisite, yet not capable.
  2. Secondly, there has to be a plunge in competitiveness. A high deficit and a high debt are not enough to make a country's creditors wary. Its competitiveness has to show signs of critical and ongoing deterioration. It is then when doubt is cast on the country's ability to serve its debt in the future.
  3. Thirdly, the government should appear incapable of managing its finances and making the necessary structural moves to address the problem. International creditors do not lose their patience that easily, especially when it comes to a eurozone nation. Huge deficits, huge debts and low competitiveness do not cause concern, unless creditors believe that the government can carry out the structural moves in good time.

But when this trust is lost, then the disastrous domino effect we have been witnessing for the past few months comes into being. We really wish that no other country has to live through this.

There is not a single cause. At least three to four reasons are required for a borrowing crisis in a country like Greece to break out.

And there is the proof:

There are eurozone countries, like Italy, which have higher debt than Greece's. But they have not been plunged in a borrowing crisis.

There are member-states, like Ireland, whose deficit is higher than that of Greece. After the recent revision, Greece ranks second with its deficit standing ay 13.6%, as opposed to Ireland whose deficit amounts to 14.3%. However, Ireland does not suffer from a borrowing crisis.

On the other hand, there are countries that defaulted when the correlation between their debt and GDP was much lower. Take Argentina for example. When it defaulted in 2002, its debt stood at 50% of its GDP. According to the EU standards, it would have been a 'healthy' economy. But it defaulted. Why?

Because there is not a debt or deficit threshold that automatically leads to a borrowing crisis.

Japan, on the other hand, has high competitiveness and that's how it can deal with it enormous debt that stands at 200% of its GDP.

Argentina saw its competitiveness collapsing and ran up against yet another problem, with its debt levels being considered really low elsewhere.

Italy and Ireland have similar structural problems, yet they have convinced markets they are wisely addressing them and therefore no concerns have been raised."


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