But there are important distinctions to be drawn between the current impasse and previous ones. If Greek equities, Greek bonds and Greek GDP disappeared, it would certainly be a tragedy, but not of epic and globally destructive proportions.
And it is more likely that Greece will default precisely because it is now bearable.
It is bearable because the IMF and the European Central Bank now own pretty much every bond on which the Greek government can default. There other holders, but not many of them. By now, each knows the risks.
It is bearable because, while Europe’s equity markets as a whole amount to EUR €10 trillion, our broad-based equity index for the region, the S&P Greece BMI, comprises just 39 stocks with a combined free-float market capitalization of EUR €19.7 billion – about two one-thousandths of the former.
It is bearable because the GDP of Greece is now less than 1.5% of Europe’s – an amount otherwise sufficient to distinguish a great quarter of growth from a one of mild disappointment.
Today’s QOTD is from Tim Edwards, the senior director of index investment strategy at SPDJI. It puts the risks in perspective as the Greece situation bumps into yet another “do or die” deadline at two minutes to midnight.
Are there contagion risks? Sure. But if you’re a government or a financial institution and you haven’t spent the last five years preparing for and mitigating the risks of Greece, you’re probably an asshole and you deserve to go down for the count. Greece is like a black swan that lives next door and waves hello every morning from the driveway.