Thursday, April 08, 2010

The beginning of the end?

Those who know far better than I have suggested that when the spread between German and Greek bonds reached 450, we would be at crisis point.

According to The Times, that point has been reached and exceeded, when it widened by more than 40 basis points to 456 basis points (bps) today. The two-year Greek government bond yield surged more than 100 bps to almost 8 percent.

The further surge in bond yields, we are told, prompted a leading rating agency to urge Greek policymakers to appeal to the European Union and IMF for cash.

For the rank amateur like myself, this is a foreign language. And no amount of quick studying or pontificating is going to make me into an expert. But the translation seems to boil down to two simple words ... like "belly up".

Quite what the effects of a collapse of the Greek financial system might be – when, rather than if it happens - but they must surely be profound, and not limited to the eurozone. The UK has considerable exposure here, and cannot help but be caught in the fallout.

In and amongst the flood of electioneering, it would be useful to have one or other politician spell out, in simple terms, our level of risk, the likely outcome of current developments, the range of implications for the British economy, and the measures that could or should be taken to mitigate the risk.

That, probably, is too much to ask – but it strikes me that is is far more important than the current political preoccupations.