Greece’s Slippery Slope


I have a nice few comments in this week’s Up & Down Wall Street column by Alan Abelson. Here’s the excerpt:

“WHILE WORLD EQUITY MARKETS, most definitely including ours, took heart from the happy if temporary ending to this cliff-hanging episode, permitting Greece to escape the ignominy of defaulting on its sovereign debt, the response among professional economic and market kibitzers was not universally sanguine. Among the grumpiest was the irrepressible and inevitably iconoclastic Barry Ritholtz. From his perch at Fusion IQ, he notes the immediate tendency to “blame the profligate Greeks.”

Barry has no illusions about the state of the Greek economy, citing, among other absurdities, the government’s obscene spending, overly generous pension plans and similar sins. Too much of its populace, he thunders, are “tax scofflaws.” In short, he agrees, Greece is a mess.

But, hey, he claims, as even a casual visitor can attest, none of Greece’s financial shortcomings are a secret. So why the big surprise and feigned outrage that profligacy is among its weaknesses? For here as elsewhere, Barry firmly contends, the blame for lending to insolvent borrowers, be they individuals, institutions or countries, first and always belong to the lenders. If they can’t independently determine who is creditworthy and who is not, for heaven’s sake, what, he asks, is their role? They might as well “leave piles of money around,” he snorts, “and ask borrowers to self-regulate their appropriate credit limits.”

“Grumpiest? Irrepressible? Inevitably iconoclastic?”

Yeah, I can live with that.


Greece’s Slippery Slope
Barron’s Up and Down Wall Street | July 2, 2011

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