Blaming It All on Greece

 | Oct 03, 2011 | 9:45 AM EDT  | Comments
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Europe's crisis has a lot of moving parts. So it helps that everyone is happy to sing from the same hymn sheet.

In Greece, the Troika is in town just in time for it to announce it will miss its deficit targets through the end of 2012. That's enough reason for, at least for the markets writers, for Europe's main indices to slump and take a dent out of futures.

But it's easy to get lost in Greek problems. Like the quote in "Gladiator" when Comitus warns against listening to a senator and waking up only able to say "Republic, Republic." Everyone wakes up saying "Greece, Greece" when shares swoon (that's currently my ringtone).

Let's look at how banks are getting hammered in Europe. Part of that is Dexia, on downgrade watch from Moody's. Yes, it's got lots of Greek debt exposure, but what's really taking it to the ratings agency woodshed is frozen interbank lending, hardly confined to the eurozone periphery.  

Nor is Greece really responsible for the inability of the EU to figure out how to deal with a situation they should have considered when admitting Greece to the euro. The day Greece reveals its budget shortfalls, the richer EU nations question whether they really want to pay out as much in subsidies previously pledged.

And then there's the disparate rhetoric. Nouriel Roubini says the eurozone needs a bazooka-sized deployment of $2.7 trillion. The ECB's Christian Noyer said the EFSF won't increase, but he's open to any ideas that could make it bigger. That's like saying you're open to anything that can actually turn your crossbow into an RPG.

But today's absurd quote has to go to UK Chancellor George Osborne, who took the Classical theme from Greece to Rome as well (in a very unfortunate Pontius Pilate way).

"The single biggest boost to the British economy that can take place this autumn isn't anything that I can announce, it is the resolution of the eurozone crisis."

Hey, he's done all he can. If you need him, he'll be in the bar.

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