The stage is set for the Greek tragedy to spread
As Greece erupts with protesters storming the Acropolis and the Parthenon, the stage is set for the economic tragedy to spread. Greece is sitting at the epicentre of a storm of increasing debt woes spiralling across Europe. On the morning of writing this week’s blog, the Euro has stooped to an a one year low against the US Dollar and a nine month low against Sterling. This is great news for those buying Euros who can currently achieve the best rates of exchange seen for months. If you are a Euro-buyer it makes sense to consider fixing the rate which can be discussed with your broker. However, the Euro’s fall is also symptomatic of increased fears that other nations may follow in Greece’s wake. To start with Greece-worldwide traders and investors do not have faith that the 110-billion Euro rescue package from the EU and IMF which was formalised over the weekend will actually save the nation. The problem is that in order to secure the loan, Greece have been tied to agreeing to a range of severely unpopular budget cuts and tax rises. Protesters have taken to the streets with both public and private sector strikes taking place. Schools, hospitals and airports are paralyzed. This does not bode well for any kind of clear-cut implementation of the rescue package. Like all tragedies, the doom is escalating with a force of its own. Economic experts are predicting that more debt crisis management will be required across the Euro-zone. On Tuesday, Spanish Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero stepped into the spotlight to fervently deny rumours that Spain will be the next to seek financial rescue, as ‘complete insanity’. However, Spain and Portugal had their debt rating downgraded last week by Standard and Poor’s. This had an immediate affect as investors offloaded Spanish stocks and bonds and today Moody’s placed Portugal’s sovereign debt on review for a possible downgrade. Investors are suggesting that Ireland and Italy could be the next in line. Are the UK and the Pound safe? Last week it was revealed that the total UK Government borrowing for the last financial year was £163.4 billion. Whilst Sterling is benefiting from the current weakness in the Euro, our general election is set against the backdrop of an economic meltdown in Europe. This must act as something of a distant warning - protecting the UK’s AAA credit rating will be an absolute priority for the new Government. As the credit rating is dependent on the perceived ability of the Government to enforce its deficit reduction plans, who the Government will be and with what level of parliamentary majority (if any) could be very significant; there lies an unpredictable week ahead.