Expatica countries
Index Last Var.(%)
BEL 20 3083.51 0.32
DAX 9605.08 0.17
IBEX 30 10058.5 -1.04
CAC 40 4387.61 -0.20
FTSE 100 6806.86 -0.05
AEX 397.5 -0.20
DJIA 16272.65 0.46
Nasdaq 4318.933 0.63
FTSE MIB 20298.33 -0.11
TSX Composite 14214.35 0.18
ASX 5415.4 -0.10
Hang seng 22836.96 0.04
Straits Times 3110.78 0.45
ISEQ 20 836.3 0.23
EUR / USD 1.37976 0.67
EUR / GBP 0.82571 0.59
USD / GBP 0.598544 -0.10
Gold 1329.6 -0.13
Oil 108.9 -0.76
Silver 21.28 0.08
You are here: Home News Spanish News A 'how-to' guide for Greeks escaping the euro
Enlarge font Decrease font Text size

20/05/2012A 'how-to' guide for Greeks escaping the euro

Once a taboo, Greece's exit from the eurozone is now regarded as a realistic option that will require deft handling to avoid bank runs and economic calamity.

Rule Number 1, analysts say: Don't Panic.

Getting back together with an ancient flame like the drachma has its risks, economists advise: the moment the currency is reintroduced to Greeks its value would plunge.

The value of Greeks' savings, once converted to drachma, could plummet by 50 percent, according to some studies.

It's a prospect already striking fear into people.

Since 2009, some 16 billion euros ($20 billion) have been deposited abroad and that trend is accelerating. On Monday alone, Greeks withdrew 700 million euros from their banks.

"The panic has already begun," said Pedro Videla, professor at the IESE Business School in Madrid who believes a return to the drachma is "very probable".

"As the country is already disintegrating socially and politically, I would bet on it leaving the euro very soon," he said.

His solution? "Over a weekend, we block all the accounts, we close all the banks, and no-one can withdraw money."

Giuliano Noci, professor at Italy's Milan Polytechnic, agreed that Greece would have to stop a flight of capital with draconian measures such as blocking bank accounts.

"It is in a kind of economic war," he said.

A second strategy, announcing a return to the drachma in advance, would sow panic, analysts warned.

German's Ifo Institute research centre advises taking a third option: leave bank accounts denominated in euros and allow people to spend euros, so as to avoid money rushing out of the country.

But at the same time, government workers would be paid in drachma, which would also be the currency for all dealings with the state.

That would give the drachma a critical mass of 60 percent of all transactions and make it an indispensable part of daily life.

Erik Nielsen, analyst at Unicredit, calls for keeping the euro as a currency until formal arrangements for Greece's exit from the eurozone and European Union are launched.

"The best scenario would be one of a rapidly shrinking state, people move towards a cash society, and life actually moves on until some sort of new stability emerges," he said.

But that leaves the question of where to find so many drachma, now that the old notes and coins have been destroyed.

One idea, said IESE Business School's Videla, would be to stamp all the euro notes with the words "This is a drachma, not a euro" or to snip a corner from the notes to differentiate them.

The problem, said Federico Steinberg of the Elcano Royal Institute, a Spanish economic research body, is that very few companies in the world produce official coins and notes.

Even if the Greek mint decided to drop printing 10-euro and 20-euro notes in favour of printing drachma, it would still take several months to print enough for the country, he said.

"The transition would be pretty chaotic and you could see informal, alternative currencies appear, or a partial return to barter," Steinberg said.

"It would be like going back to prehistoric times financially but that is what happened to Argentina in 2001 and after a few months the situation stabilised," he said.

With a new, weaker currency in place, it would be time to take advantage: Greece would be a bargain for tourists and exports would be extremely competitive, boosting gross domestic product (GDP).

But "foreign debt as a percentage of GDP would explode because it would be denominated in foreign currency and inflation would explode, too", said Paula Goncalves Carvalho, analyst at Portuguese bank BPI.

Greece is not self-sufficient in many essentials, she said, meaning import costs would surge.

One way to ensure Greece's competitiveness is not cancelled out by inflation would be to stop paying foreign debts, said the IESE's Videla, even if that would banish it from the international financial markets for years.

In the end, said Milan Polytechnic's Noci, a Greek exit need not be a catastrophe.

"The examples of payment default and enormous currency devaluations in Argentina, Indonesia, South Korea and Russia clearly show that this type of process, if well managed, is not a disaster," he said.


© 2012 AFP

0 reactions to this article

0 reactions to this article

Discussion Forums

Business and Personal Finance in Spain

Expatica's Midweek Currency Update

Business and Personal Finance in Spain

Monday's Currency Update

Business and Personal Finance in Spain

Weekly currency crunch

Business and Personal Finance in Spain

Expatica End of Week Currency Roundup

Business and Personal Finance in Spain

Expatica's Midweek Currency Update

participate in the forums

Inside Expatica
Editor's Guide: Getting Started in Spain

Editor's Guide: Getting Started in Spain

Expatica's Getting Started section will provide practical information on how you can open a bank account, exchange your driving licence, improve your Spanish, and more.

Groups and Clubs in Madrid

Groups and Clubs in Madrid

Here's a guide to an extensive list of groups and clubs in Madrid for expats, from sports groups to social and family gatherings.

Groups and Clubs around Spain

Groups and Clubs around Spain

A brief introduction to our Tax section for Spain, from help with inheritance tax to accounting advice.

Groups and Clubs in Barcelona

Groups and Clubs in Barcelona

Here's a short introduction to our Banking section for those living in Spain, from what to ask the experts to opening a Spanish bank account.