No debt deal could mean Plan B for Greece: an exit from the euro zone and the launch of a new currency. But, as David Pollard reports, there’s more to a new currency than simply printing money – and the potential cost could impose an enormous burden on a struggling economy.
A new Greek currency won’t look like this. But the prospect of one does present a messy picture. And more likely after Sunday’s referendum. (SOUNDBITE) (English) GERMAN POLITICAL ECONOMIST HENRIK ENDERLEIN FROM THE HERTIE SCHOOL OF GOVERNANCE IN BERLIN SAYING: ”This situation is extremely dangerous for the euro area. The probability, from my perspective, that Grexit will occur is roughly 80 percent. So there is only a minor chance that we can convince the German parliamentarians that they need to vote another round of support for the Greek population.
” Henrik Enderlein is among many economists who see deep pain ahead. First, it might cost 25 billion euros just to launch a currency. With the creditors who’ve paid to keep Greece in the euro zone – the IMF and the EU – called upon for the funds to help it leave. Put that aside, and you still have hardship for a population already in economic siege. And an extra problem: virtually no foreign currency reserves. Richard Hunter is Head of Equities at Hargreaves Lansdown. SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD HUNTER, HARGREAVES LANSDOWN, SAYING: ”There will come a point when it won’t be able to pay its bills. So that immediately puts a question mark over pensions. This is quite apart from the fact of the difficulty that Greek businesses are finding in terms of importing goods and equally importantly, medicines.” Quite apart too from the fact that a new drachma – if so called – could struggle just for recognition. Computer codes, access to international settlements systems and legal issues relating to financial contracts all potential obstacles.
SOUNDBITE (English) RICHARD HUNTER, HARGREAVES LANSDOWN, SAYING: ”In terms of its value outside of Greece, that would be negligible to nil. It wouldn’t make it any easier for Greece to go to the international markets to borrow money, and there would have be some sort of floor put on the drachma as a currency.” The list goes on with predictions of two to three more years of recession, a massive increase in unemployment, sky-rocketing inflation. Those potentially the best-case scenarios. The doomsayers see troops deployed amid social breakdown – and border controls to stop Greeks smuggling euros out to stash elsewhere. There is an argument for
a Grexit: it will make Greece’s economy more competitive and ultimately lead to its recovery. That is if the cure doesn’t finish it off first.