Monday, October 3, 2011

Strange things happen with Greece's foreign debt

Despite all the foreign money which has been pumped into Greece (65 billion EUR under Plan I; about 100 billion EUR funding from the ECB), the country's foreign debt has declined from 406 billion EUR at Q3/2010 to 404 billion EUR at Q2/2011. How can that be? This would suggest that all the money which entered the country (and 2 billion EUR more) left the country as repayment of foreign debt. If that was so, who financed the budget deficit?

From Q1/2011 to Q2/2011, the foreign debt of the government declined from 201 billion EUR to 179 billion EUR (all in bonds). During the same period, the foreign debt of the Central Bank increased from 76 billion EUR to 97 billion EUR. Could it be that the ECB lent the Central Bank 21 billion EUR so that the Central Bank could buy 21 billion Greek bonds from the ECB?

Two items stand out for their predictability in the present confusion. First, the ECB continues to fund 20-25% of the Greek banking sector and, secondly, domestic deposits continue their downward trend at a rate of about 25 billion EUR per year. No need to worry about the latter because the system still has about 200 billion EUR of domestic deposits. At the present rate, there will be domestic deposits for another 8 years. After that, the entire Greek banking sector will be funded by the ECB and all Greek deposits will be in Switzerland and countries like that.

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