Greek Debt Woes Rising

8 Apr

From the Associated Press:

European stock markets fell Wednesday amid mounting concerns about Greece’s debt crisis while U.S. shares drifted lower as the Dow Jones industrial average fell short of breaking above 11,000.

Once again, Greece took center stage as investors continued to fret about the country’s ability to pay off its debts — the ten-year spread between Greek and Germany bond yields stood at 4 percentage points, having earlier hit 4.12 percent, its highest level since the euro was introduced in 1999. The spread is also way up on the 3 percent level when the EU agreed on an aid program that would involve the International Monetary Fund.

“All of this puts a question mark over longer term debt sustainability as well as the threat of contagion elsewhere in the eurozone,” said Neil Mackinnon, global macro strategist at VTB Capital.

With fiscal retrenchment due in Greece, as well as Portugal and Spain, there are also mounting concerns that the debt crisis will weigh on eurozone economic growth for a long time yet, particularly as lower demand for German goods could squeeze the eurozone’s biggest economy.

“This does not look like a sensible strategy and will likely end up in economic slump for the eurozone generally alongside the risk of deflation,” said Mackinnon.

Worries about the strength of the eurozone economy were stoked further on Wednesday with the news that economic growth ground to a halt in the last three months of 2009 as output stagnated in Germany and contracted once again in Italy.

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