Saturday, October 29, 2011

THE ECONOMIST on the euro debt deal:
But is it a good deal? This was, after all, the third “comprehensive solution” devised by the euro zone so far this year. With each “unprecedented” effort, the problem has only worsened (see chart 1). Sadly, this latest deal promises to be no more enduring. At best, it will buy time before the next round of panic. At worst, it may push the euro zone into catastrophe. “This is certainly no summit to end all summits,” said Sony Kapoor, managing director of Re-Define, an economic think-tank in Brussels. “Once again, good economics has fallen victim to bad politics.”

The package consists of three connected parts: reducing Greece’s debt to a sustainable level by a “voluntary” agreement with private creditors to accept the loss of half the value of the bonds, in exchange for safer debt; recapitalising Europe’s banks to the tune of €106 billion ($146 billion) to help them absorb the losses on Greek and other distressed debts; and creating a €1 trillion firewall to prevent the spread of panic to vulnerable, bigger but still-solvent states, above all Italy, the euro-zone country with the second-biggest debt burden. In the word of one well-placed source, “the more zeroes the better”. The trouble is, the more zeroes are added, the more holes are likely to be found in the plan.