Sunday, June 21, 2015

analysis | It's all Greek to me. Capital controls explained

The government of Greece is considering drastic measures such as the use of capital controls to stabilize its economy should the country default on its debts and begin to leave the European Union. As bailout negotiations between Greece and Eurozone leaders continue to stall, financial analysts and experts are considering the once untenable idea of capital controls.

The term saw airplay in headlines as recently as December 2014, when Russia considered (but ultimately did not implement) capital controls after the Russian Rouble tumbled in value, sparking a crisis so large that multinationals like Apple temporarily ceased its sales in the country. Capital controls were used to great effect in Cyprus when it experienced a financial crisis in 2013. Now, capital controls have become a part of the Greek "doomsday" scenario if it were to leave the European Union and its common currency.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

opinion | The geopolitical case for Greece

As the Greek debt crisis reaches its peak, headlines from around Europe and the world scream for the swift departure of Greece from the European Union. Whispers of a breakup have even been heard in the German Bundestag, where it was once an inconsiderable option.

There is undoubtedly a strong case for a Greek Exit. Greece currently owes €1.5bn in loans to the International Monetary Fund by the end of June, with an additional €3.5bn due to the European Central Bank in July. With default on the horizon, the country remains in financial limbo; bank runs and capital controls are now considered realities to plan for rather than purely academic exercises.

While the markets have held mostly steady, analysts believe most of it is attributed to confidence in an 11th hour deal, (which ironically reduces the impetus to act). But if Grexit really became reality the EU would not come crashing down overnight, and the world will not be plunged into a crisis. The financial repercussions are unlikely to reverberate beyond Brussels. Some are even hoping (perhaps naïvely) that a Grexit is the crisis to end all crises, that once Greece leaves, stability in the Eurozone will be restored and it will never face another squabble among its members.

But the decision must not be made solely on cost.

As counterintuitive as it may sound, the decision for keeping Greece inside the Eurozone should not be viewed as a purely economic decision, but as a geopolitical one.