Tuesday, June 5, 2012

A Financial Story IPE Folks Should Love

. Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Because it reinforces our priors:
Its membership in the euro currency union hanging in the balance, Greece continues to receive billions of euros in emergency assistance from a so-called troika of lenders overseeing its bailout.

But almost none of the money is going to the Greek government to pay for vital public services. Instead, it is flowing directly back into the troika’s pockets. ...
If that seems to make little sense economically, it has a certain logic in the politics of euro-finance. After all, the money dispensed by the troika — the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission — comes from European taxpayers, many of whom are increasingly wary of the political disarray that has afflicted Athens and clouded the future of the euro zone.
More here. I have said for awhile now that the story in the eurozone is that the north would keep the south liquid until the north's banks were sufficiently capitalized to handle a default, at which point the money would stop flowing. I thought that would be sometime in 2013 (I think I wrote a post saying that, but can't find it now), but now I think it could be this year.

Why should IPE folks like this story? Because this is the type of tale we tell all the time: "bailout" funds are used to bail out the donor, not the recipient. Just like "aid" funds to the developing world are often tied to certain types of disbursement and are thus a form of subsidy for corporations in the developed world.

There are parallels here (of course) to the Latin American debt crises of the 1980s, where much of the debt was owed to commercial banks in the U.S. The U.S. Treasury pushed for IMF intervention, mostly so U.S. banks could get their money back without the federal government having to officially bail them out. (The story is even more nuanced -- Congress understood what was happening and demanded new regulations of the banking sector, which led to the creation of the first Basel accord -- as Thomas argues here.)


A Financial Story IPE Folks Should Love
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