Analysts have suggested that we may be close to another global financial crisis. Among them was Ann Pettifor of Prime Economics, who claimed that while policymakers have tried rewriting the banking rulebook and rethinking monetary policy since 2008, little has been done to help countries that can’t repay their debts.In her book, “The Coming First World Debt Crisis,” she said: “Brazil’s already in great trouble with the strength of the dollar; I dread to think what’s happening in South Africa; then there’s Malaysia. We’re back to where we were, and that for me is really frightening.” Greece has been the latest country to grace the media headlines. Its last cash injection from international creditors was in August 2014, so the final €7.2bn instalment from its two €240bn bailouts is crucial. If not paid on time, the country would risk a “forced default”. This, according to Dimitrios Kousenidis of Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, would make a Grexit inevitable. In fact, it seems such a likely possibility that William Hill has stopped betting on it. Suspecting that Greece could be leaving the single currency, the euro has been pushed down to a one-month low. It fell by 0.85 a cent against the dollar. This could have been caused by prime minister Alexis Tsiprashas, who declared the government would not accept a “humiliating” agreement, threatening to default on the loan. Read more about the euro:
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RBS stocks were down by 5.5p at 349.6, while Barclays fell 2.2p at 267.5p and Lloyds dropped 0.8p at 87.1p.
Michael Hewson, chief market analyst at CMC Markets UK, explained that uncertainty in Spain is also one of the main reasons why EU leaders are “playing hardball” with Greece, as any concessions granted to the Greeks are likely to play badly elsewhere in Europe where hard decisions have been made.
The EU has worked hard to cordon off the banking difficulties of one member state from the other 27, according to the BBC. However, the IMF has warned that “risks and vulnerabilities [of contagion] remain”.
Britain took its own measures against such possibilities. Since 2010, as head of the Treasury Nick Macpherson imposed a greater austerity than necessary, the UK’s public sector deficit was halved to five per cent of national income.
The UK government stepping up contingency planning in February 2015 to prepare for a Greek exit from the eurozone.
George Osborne is concerned that the eurozone is heading for a new crisis if Greece is forced to default on its debts. He claimed that the consequences of not reaching an agreement would cause “real ructions” and “instability in financial markets in Europe”.“This standoff between Greece and the eurozone is increasing the risks every day to the British economy,” he said. This instability could hurt Britain’s exports as the eurozone is one of the UK’s biggest trading partner. The EEF group, which represents manufacturers, has urged Britain to “get on with it” and hold a referendum in order to avoid a long period of damaging uncertainty. Beyond export, analysts are concerned about a possible drop in business confidence as lenders and investors have yet to forget the 2012 eurozone crisis. Further highlighting the shares in UK banks now falling, banks are worried about contagion across the financial system. Furthermore, as London is a major financial centre, a Greek exit would cost jobs and tax takings for the exchequer. Osborne said: “It’s why we’re stepping up the contingency planning here at home. We’ve got to make sure we don’t at this critical time, when Britain is also facing a critical choice to add to the instability abroad with instability at home.” According to Economics editor Robert Peston, these measures are the reason why the UK cannot become “contaminated” by Greece’s situation. However, Britain itself is doing no better when it comes to members of the currency union.
The conservative government promised a referendum on whether the UK should remain a member of the EU. This isn’t likely to take place until 2017, but it has started causing ripples of worry, especially since the EU could potentially be losing Greece as well.By Shané Schutte
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