Friday, 14 January 2011

You read it here first...

The Economist has come round to my conclusion of last spring, namely that the Greek sovereign debt case is a no-hoper... I hate to say "I told you so", but the simple debt dynamics of Greece are just too grim [see "Greece and 1+1 of debt dynamics"].

Meanwhile, the forex market is celebrating the "success" of the Portuguese and Spanish debt auctions. The Euro shot up against the dollar since Tuesday. It is true - the auctions didn't go as bad as feared. Yields still up by a 100 bp, and close to 7% for Portugal's 10 year bond. You can apply the same logic that I used for Portugal. Current debt stock is not as bad as Greece's, at 85% of GDP, but the Economist calculates that they need a swing in the primary balance of 8%. That's a very big number. Foreign bondholders will get scared long before any Portuguese politician can deliver on this. With fully 2/3 or debt held abroad, I agree with Paul Krugman, who observed in the NYTimes that with a few more successes like the last one, Portugal will be bust for sure.

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