Friday, March 26, 2010

Europeans Agree on "the Check Is in the Mail" Bailout for Greece

The EU has announced it is backing a deal under which they and the International Monetary Fund would jointly bail out Greece should the country's debt troubles intensify.

One is tempted to say this is a "the check is in the mail" bailout, with everyone hoping that a check really doesn't have to be put in the mail.

Putting Greece on an IMF austerity program would be similar to putting  Paris Hilton on a $200 a week budget. It might be fun to watch, but you have to shake your head in wonderment that any one is proposing such with a straight face.

As far as this being a long-term solution, it isn't by a long shot, especially given that this is not just a Greek tragedy but PIIGS in mud. It leaves many questions unanswered. Where is the money going to come from to actually bailout Greece, if required? Are  we talking higher fees for IMF members? Does this mean the other PIIGS will be backstopped in similar fashion?

The best outcome, which the EU and the IMF, you can be sure, are hoping for is that this "agreement" will calm the waters and no further action  will be required. Call this the Alice in Wonderland option.

The more likely scenario is that somebody, maybe many, will print money to bailout Greece, i.e.  eurozone money printing and money printing by IMF members. I can't help but think we also will begin to hear growing chatter about the importance of a key role for the SDR.

If you start to hear talk about the SDR, you may want to employ a slightly altered version of that drinking game where you down a shot everytime you hear someone say a particular word. Every time you hear an official say SDR, go out and buy yourself a gold coin.

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