Global financial markets are going completely bananas. Again. Financial experts worldwide are calling on leaders for some direct action to bring certainty to the struggling Greek and southern European economies. So what does all this mean for us? Australian treasurer Wayne Swan has described it as a dangerous new phase, while other economists have urged the RBA to take immediate action to avoid being caught up in the recessionary sweep. Eager to find out what all that actually means, The Punch asked Saul Eslake, senior economist at the Grattan Institute to give us the low down.
1. How much could the current crisis affect Australia? How worried should we be?
The current ‘crisis’ reflects (first) the increasing likelihood (as markets see it) that Greece will default on its debts, resulting in losses that may render some banks who hold large amounts of Greek government debt insolvent, and that in the aftermath of a Greek default other countries (Portugal, perhaps Spain or even Italy, the latter two being much larger than Greece) will be more likely to default; and (second) the increasing likelihood that Europe and/or the US may slip into a second recession, in which case governments and central banks would have very little capacity to respond in the normal way (by cutting interest rates or doing fiscal stimulus).
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