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Notwithstanding the mandate (?) the G8 – or more likely the G7  leaders – expressed concern over the consequences of a continuing debt crisis in Europe especially in Greece.  Apparently President Obama raised concern over the decline of the euro and the possible impact on US exports.

The Greek debt crisis highlights two features of the current global governance system.  First – and possibly rather obviously – the debt crisis in Greece reminds us how integrated the global economy is.  Debt in Greece impacts interest rate spreads in other European  countries namely the other PIIGS – Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain raising concern over their own significant debt loads.  And with American concerns over exports there is a corresponding concern in Europe over the sustainability of the debt load in the United States.

The second – maybe less obvious feature of the crisis – seems to suggest the opposite of this tight interdependence  – where should the locus of  debt resolution lie. The Europeans have involved the IMF in the debt crisis.  The IMF has much experience in dealing with debt and the threat of sovereign default.  But the IMF should not be drawn in to guarantee Greek debt.  For the nub of the Greek debt problem is the unwillingness of the Europeans – principally the French and the Germans – to reschedule Greek debt.   The problem is political.  The  Europeans have put off resolving the rescheduling of the Greek debt. Dealing with this problem requires the institutions holding the debt – mainly French and German banks – to take a “haircut”.  Thus the Greek debt issue is principally a European one.  Neither the G8 states – nor the G20 states – or the IFIs, need to be dragged into financially supporting this European debt problem.

Let’s not turn the IFIs and others into the Irish government saving the Irish banks from rescheduling.

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