By Austen Sherman and Sara Eisen – Jan 24, 2012 9:53 PM GMT+0000
Whether or not Greece is able to reach an agreement on the restructuring of its debt, the country is set to “implode” as the economy contracts, according to Johns Hopkins University’s Steve Hanke.
“The game is completely over,” Hanke, professor of applied economics, said at the Bloomberg Sovereign Debt Crisis Conference in New York hosted by Bloomberg Link. “All the calculations are nonsense and have been since day one. Since the crisis began the money supply has been shrinking and the economy is going to implode, no matter what they do in the short run.”
Money supply is shrinking at an annual rate of about 16 percent in Greece, meaning there won’t be growth needed to support debt payments, Hanke said. Greece is pursuing talks on a debt swap with private creditors that would lower Greece’s debt to 120 percent of gross domestic product by 2020. European governments have sought to fill a deeper-than-expected gap in Greece’s finances by having investors accept a lower interest rate on exchanged bonds.
The International Monetary Fund cut its forecast for global growth today and warned that the European debt crisis threatens to derail the world economy. The fund, in an update of its World Economic Outlook report, lowered its estimate for global growth this year to 3.3 percent from a September forecast of 4 percent.
To avoid a 1930s-style worldwide depression, IMF Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde yesterday called on other countries to play their part. The IMF, which co-finances loans to Greece, Ireland and Portugal, identified a potential global financing need of $1 trillion in coming years and is seeking $500 billion in new lending resources from its member countries to address potential loan demand.
“The World Bank said hope for the best, plan for the worst,” Axel Merk, president of Merk Investments LLC in Palo Alto, California, said at the conference. “That is exactly what central banks are doing. Monetary policy is going to be accommodating.”
Now isn’t time to consider whether the 17 nations that participate in the European Monetary Union need to expel weaker members such as Greece, according to Kit Juckes, head of currency strategy at Societe Generale SA in London.
“Europe has to choose. My best guess is they will make a choice that doesn’t have all these countries in it,” Juckes said at the conference. “The dumbest choice is to make that decision under pressure.”
The euro has depreciated 3.5 percent in the past six month against nine developed-nation counterparts, according to Bloomberg Correlation-Weighted Currency Indexes. The yen has gained 6.6 percent and the dollar has risen 7.1 percent.