Friday, January 30, 2015

Does a Grexit turn into a Greek Tragedy?

It looks like Greece will once again become a pawn on the international chess board as BRICS/Russia and the EU/US keep moving pieces around. The elections in Greece are over and the market reaction was mostly a yawn. But the action is really just starting up. Will we get a Grexit that turns into a Greek tragedy? 

First the facts

The election of the anti-austerity party in Greece sets up some drama this spring. The party was elected by promising voters that it would stand up to the EU/ECB/IMF combine. This has led to a lot of speculation by some that Greece might threaten to leave the EU and abandon the Euro as its currency (the so called Grexit). 

Others take the view that the newly elected leadership in Greece will have to roll back some of the promises made during the election campaign when faced with the reality of the impact of losing the aid package currently keeping the nation afloat. They suggest that reality might lead to a Greek tragedy if it did exit the EU and the Euro.

As usual, there are big and powerful players lurking in the background looking to use Greece to gain advantage in the bigger global chess match now underway. The EU/US want to keep Greece in their fold and intend to use the debt Greece owes them as leverage to keep the status quo. If it were just Greece vs. this powerful group, I think we know who would be likely to prevail.

But now enter BRICS/Russia stage left. It seems they might see an opportunity to get a foot in the door in Europe by offering Greece "alternative options" (a popular phrase these days). This might be a dandy way to get the new BRICS bank off to a rousing start in 2015. Perhaps Greece might consider a helping hand from this new $100 billion funded bank if things don't work out with their western partners?

It seems like this may be latest move on the chess board. Greece gets an opportunity to avoid the Greek tragegy if it does do a Grexit. In exchange, BRICS/Russia get their foot in the door in Europe. Other EU nations not much better off than Greece (Spain, Portugal, et al) might be willing to listen to a competing (BRICS/Russia) offer if Greece gets one they like. You can hear BRICS/Russia whispering "check" even now as they eye some bigger pieces on the board.

But don't count EU/ECB/IMF/US out. They have been playing chess for a long time too. It's still early in the game with lots of potential moves out there on the board. It should be interesting watching them play out in 2015. In this case, it might be one time when the pawn actually has some leverage in the game. We'll track it and see what happens.

Update: CNBC - Greece says it will not cooperate with EU/ECB/IMF

Also: Bloomberg - Greece's Predicament

And this: RT - Russia might bailout Greece

Looks like the games have begun!

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