Thursday, June 25, 2015

Here’s who is most exposed to a Greek default

Two of Greece’s biggest creditors.

If Greece were to default, who would be left holding the bag?
Investors are almost giddy over signs Greece and its international creditors are moving toward a last-minute deal that would allow the country to avoid a default that many fear could otherwise propel the country toward a eurozone exit.
But even when things looked bleak, markets remained relatively calm—unlike at the height of the eurozone debt crisis in 2011 and 2012. Part of that might simply be down to Greek fatigue, but it also reflects the fact that eurozone banks and other private-sector participants are much less exposed to Greece than in the past. Here’s a look at some figures and charts that show who is now exposed to Greek debt.
Danske Bank
As the chart above from Copenhagen-based Danske Bank shows, as of March Greece’s outstanding debt stood at 312.7 billion euros ($349.6 billion). Of that, €231.2 billion is in the form of loans, with €205 billion belonging to the institutions, or the “official” sector (as opposed to the private sector). The institutions include the International Monetary Fund, the eurozone’s European Financial Stability Facility and bilateral loans from eurozone countries.
The fact that so much of Greece’s debt is seen in the hands of official creditors is one reason analysts say investors have remained relatively sanguine throughout the latest chapter of the drama.
“The private sector “has almost no direct exposure to Greece anymore,” wrote strategists at J.P. Morgan Cazenove, in a Monday note urging clients to get back into German stocks.
Meanwhile, eurozone banks have cut their exposure and their leverage levels, they noted.
“Eurozone banks show total €5b billion leverage, which contrasts with the system’s €32 billion balance sheet. Regional activity momentum, credit backdrop and the level of the euro are significantly more constructive now versus the ’11 & ’12 episodes,” they wrote.
Here’s Danske Bank with a graphic showing how European banks have cut their exposure to Greece (though exposure has ticked up since bottoming in 2012), with an accompanying chart showing how contagion from Greece to other peripheral bond markets has been much more limited this time around:
Indeed, it is a far cry from 2012 when fears over relatively tiny Greece sparked contagion across the periphery of the eurozone. That drove borrowing costs for Spain, the eurozone’s fourth -largest economy, and Italy, its third-largest, to dangerous levels. Bailouts for one or both of those countries would likely have strained Europe’s resources to the breaking point, potentially bringing the entire euro project to a humiliating end.
That is what prompted ECB President Mario Draghi in the summer of 2012 to pledge to do “whatever it takes” within the bank’s mandate to preserve the euro, eventually setting up the Outright Monetary Transaction, or OMT, program. Though never-used, the existence of the backstop helped calm contagion fears.
Now, the ECB is engaged in outright bond-buying via its quantitative easing program in an effort to fend off deflation in the eurozone.
As long as QE remains in place “concerns over debt sustainability for key euro sovereigns will be limited,” said Antonio Roldan Mones, London-based analyst at Eurasia Group, a risk consulting firm.
So no worries then? Not so fast. Skeptics still fear the potential for unforeseen consequences in the event of a Greek default or a Greek exit.
See: Investors risk complacency over Greece.
The euro EURUSD, -0.1428%  fell versus the dollar Tuesday but is up 1.7 % since the beginning of the month.
Financial markets “appear to have become more relaxed—we would say complacent—about the potential fallout” from a Greek default or exit, said Julian Jessop, economist at Capital Economics, in a note dated Tuesday.

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