Sunday, April 25, 2010

How You Can Help

[Better than salty cheese?]

Some Unworthy Sentiments

According to the NY Times --

The European Union, specifically the Eurozone, is on the verge of an economic crisis. The Greek government has been running budget deficits that proportionally dwarf ours. The current rate of government budget deficit is 13.6% of gross domestic product, that is of the whole economy. Which means that the Greek government has been falling headlong into debt. Debt which it can no longer finance because the main lenders, France, Germany, and Switzerland won't lend them any more.

Greece is on the verge of default. It is generally thought that a default, euphemistically called a "restructuring" would have calamitous effects on other credit markets. Unlike th US, which can print dollars, Greece cannot print Euros since they are the currency of the entire Eurozone, not just of Greece. The Eurozone includes all of Western Europe plus Austria, Slovakia, and Greece. It excludes the UK, Scandinavia, and Eastern Europe.

If Greece defaults it will be the first time ever that sovereign (government) debt in Euros has gone down the toilet. It would make lenders less willing to lend, and the interest rates at which they are willing to lend, higher.

Which would in turn put the governments of Portugal and Spain at risk because they are also deeply in debt. They might not be able to service their debt if interest rates rise and lenders become reluctant. They might default too.

If they do default, especially Spain which has a much larger economy than the other two, all euro-denominated assets everywhere would plunge in value as would the euro itelf.

How can you help? When somebody, like Greece, is hanging on by their fingertips, that is the very best time to kick their fingers loose. I recommend boycotting feta cheese, ouzo, retsina, kalamata olives and anything else Greek you can think of. Go someplace other than Greece on your vacation. Forget Spanish and Portuguese imports too. No sangrilla, port, or sherry for now.

Why would we do such a dastardly thing? Three reasons. Remember all the help the EU gave us when the dollar was in a tailspin against the Euro last year? I don't either. They did absolutely zippitydoodah to help us when our economy was falling into difficulties. Instead they offered pious hypocritical advice. We should return the favor.

Second is that Greece has been the most persistently anti-American country in Europe, followed by guess who? Spain.

The third reason is simpler. Take a dollar out of your purse and look at it. The very dollar you are holding was worth 66 eurocents a few short months ago. Because of the uncertainty in credit and exchange markets caused by the prospect of Greek default, the dollar you are looking at is now worth 75 eurocents. And that is without anything having happened yet, just on fears it might.

If you do your part, however small, to screw Greece and Spain, and they go into default, that very greenback you have in your hand right now could be worth as much as, or more than a euro by next year or even this fall.

Contrary to what you may read, that does not mean that the sky wil fall. What it will mean is that those fancy cholesterol-bomb French cheeses will become affordable again, and most of all that vacations in Paris, Tuscany, Vienna, the Algarve, the Austrian Alps, the Greek Isles, the Costa Brava, will all become affordable again.

That's worth doing without a little feta for a while isn't it?

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