Is Pandora’s Box about to be Opened?
The current situation or standoff can only be described as a dire situation. I suspect that no economist in his right mind would ever argue that austerity is the proper way to exit a recession. Of course, there are other reasons for austerity, including political reasons, which I outlined here: The Political Economics of Europe’s Resurrection. But a collision course with Europe can lead to default, Argentinization and a return to the drachma. My take on that remains what I argued before, on September 22, 2011:
“If Greece exits the Euro either on its own accord, in order to return to the drachma and devalue it, or due to eventual pressure from its partners, the Greek debt that was issued in Euros will cost multiple times in drachmas. Greece will then default with a bang. The impact on the Greek banks holding Greek debt and their access to capital is also quite uncertain then. Not to mention that a return to the drachma would be political suicide for any government. Entry into the Euro zone was sold as one of Greece’s biggest achievements that, unlike the drachma, offered stability and membership to an elite club of economically advanced countries.
The second part of the answer has to do with Greece’s longer-term prospects within the Euro zone, once default (to any degree of severity) has occurred and enough time has passed so that Greece has regained access to credit markets. Is it to the net benefit of Greece to be in the Euro zone in the long run? Well, did Greece benefit from being in the zone before the crisis erupted? Greece arguably enjoyed lower interest rates for its sovereign debt and more access to credit than it would have faced otherwise. This affluence of credit in fact led to Greece’s current troubles. On the down side, entering a currency union in which the joint currency appreciated about 40% because of the strength of Greece’s Northern European partners did have a significant effect on Greek exports…In all, if market forces drive the Euro down in the long run, which should happen once the US economy really turns around, I am inclined to vote for Greece staying in the Euro zone.”
Finally, there is a more imminent problem we all worry about immensely, that we may not want to raise publicly…