Bust: Greece, the Euro and the Sovereign Debt Crisis

Overview

In 2001, Greece saw its application for membership into the Eurozone accepted, and the country sat down to the greatest free lunch in economic history. However, the coming years of global economic prosperity would lead to unrestrained spending, cheap borrowing, and a failure to implement financial reform, leaving the country massively exposed to a financial crisis—which duly struck.

In Bust: Greece, the Euro, and the Sovereign Debt Crisis, Bloomberg columnist Matthew Lynn ...

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Bust: Greece, the Euro and the Sovereign Debt Crisis

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Overview

In 2001, Greece saw its application for membership into the Eurozone accepted, and the country sat down to the greatest free lunch in economic history. However, the coming years of global economic prosperity would lead to unrestrained spending, cheap borrowing, and a failure to implement financial reform, leaving the country massively exposed to a financial crisis—which duly struck.

In Bust: Greece, the Euro, and the Sovereign Debt Crisis, Bloomberg columnist Matthew Lynn explores Greece's spectacular rise and fall from grace and the global repercussions of its financial disaster. Page by page, he provides a thrilling account of the Greek financial crisis, drawing out its origins, how it escalated, and its implications for a fragile global economy. Along the way, Lynn looks at how the Greek contagion has spread like wildfire throughout Europe and explores how government ineptitude as well as financial speculators compounded the problem.

Blending financial history, politics, and current affairs, Lynn skillfully tells the story of how one nation rode the wave of economic prosperity and brought a continent, a currency, and, potentially, the global financial system to its knees. Lively, engaging, and thought provoking, Bust reminds us just how interconnected the world really is.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Lynn’s book is fast-paced, entertaining and perceptive about the causes of the crisis. He explains how Greece cheated its way into the eurozone in 2001 by supplying the European Union authorities with data that understated the Greek budget deficit by an average of 2.1 percentage points in every year from 1997."
—Financial Times

‘…Lynn blends financial history, politics and current affairs to tell the story of government deceit, unfettered spending, and cheap borrowing.’
—Finance & Management Faculty, October 2010.

‘The more interesting the book, the less likely you are to put it down, and I just wanted to read from beginning to end.’
—Fool.co.uk, MoneyTalk, December 2010.

‘…thrilling account of the Greek financial crisis…lively, engaging, and thought provoking…Bust, reminds us just how interconnected the world really is.’
—Hereisthecity.com, December 2010.

‘…fast-paced, entertaining and perceptive.’ (FT.com, January 2011).

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780470976111
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 2/15/2011
  • Series: Bloomberg (UK) Series , #1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

MATTHEW LYNN is an experienced financial writer and commentator. He is a business and economics commentator for Bloomberg Television, a columnist for Bloomberg News, as well as MoneyWeek in the UK, and a regular contributor to the Spectator magazine in London. Before that, Lynn worked for the Sunday Times in London for ten years as a business writer and columnist. As Matt Lynn, he is also the author of the Death Force series of military thrillers published by Hodder Headline.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: May Day in Athens 1

Chapter 1 Now We Are Ten 9

Chapter 2 How to Blag Your Way into a Single Currency 33

Chapter 3 At Club Med the Party Never Ends 57

Chapter 4 The Story of the Swabian Housewife 75

Chapter 5 Fixing a Debt Crisis with Debt 93

Chapter 6 Burying Your Head in the Greek Sand 111

Chapter 7 The Debts Fall Due 127

Chapter 8 The Trillion-Dollar Weekend 149

Chapter 9 Contagion 183

Chapter 10 The Debt-Deflation Death Spiral 205

Chapter 11 How to Break Up a Single Currency 223

Chapter 12 The Global Economy after the Single Currency 243

Notes 263

Acknowledgments 273

About the Author 274

Index 275

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 22, 2011

    I Also Recommend:

    Useful study of a busted currency

    This is the most useful book on the euro's disastrous effects. The way that governments dealt with the credit crunch (printing money and lending at 1 per cent) paved the way to the present crisis, caused by the euro. The euro has turned the EU into a debt union, a union of deflation and disaster. Greece joined the euro in 2001, and was at once allowed to borrow whatever it wanted. Indebtedness doubled to 230 per cent of GDP by 2008. Goldman Sachs arranged swaps that disguised the extent of Greece's debts. Greece has 300 billion euros of debt. Spain had a huge property bubble, the world's second biggest trade deficit (foreign debts were 95 per cent of GDP by 2009), and families owed 130 per cent of their disposable income. Since the euro was launched, Spain's debt levels have doubled to 366 per cent of GDP. Ireland's debt relative to GDP more than doubled to more than 700 per cent of GDP; the financial sector's debt alone was 410 per cent of GDP. France, Germany and Britain have a combined exposure to Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain of $1.2 trillion. In May 2010, the EU put together a 750 billion euro package to save the euro - 440 billion to a special fund which would sell debt directly to markets and use that cash to buy government bonds of high-deficit countries; 60 billion from the EU budget - the European Stabilisation Mechanism - whereby the Commission can issue bonds, using the EU's 140 billion annual budget as collateral; and 250 billion from the IMF. Britain is liable for 8 billion euros (corresponding to our 13.6 per cent share of the EU budget), if any country that has received these loans defaults on them. The bailouts are illegal: Article 104b of the Maastricht Treaty says, "A Member State shall not be liable for or assume the commitments of central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law or public undertakings of another state." So no EU member state should be liable for another country's debts. The bailouts also tore up the European Central Bank's mandate. Greece is caught in a deflationary hole. Lynn notes, "the cuts in public expenditure kept depressing demand and pushing up unemployment. That in turn would depress tax revenues even further, making the debt burden even harder to control." The cuts are increasing the debt, so that soon it will be paying 30 per cent of its national income to the banks, which is unsustainable. Fitch's report on Greece said, "even if the program is successful, the sovereign stands to be even more exposed to market risk than it was before." Cutting debt sounds better than cutting growth. Default is going to happen, but the Greek people have to choose to get out of the euro.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 25, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Timely analysis of what went wrong with Greece, the euro and the EU

    For a relatively small country, Greece has made outsized contributions to the world: mythic legends and heroes, great art and architecture, illuminating philosophers and thinkers, and the very word "democracy." Yet the nation that invented the Greek tragedy is living its own version of one today, dealing with fatal flaws that threaten to spread its suffering to the rest of Europe and beyond. Journalist Matthew Lynn dissects the origins of Greece's debt crisis and relates how the dream of a united Europe has led to what he predicts is the euro's imminent downfall. His dry, witty, clever writing style provides some relief around the all-too-real events he recounts and the dramatic prospects he predicts. getAbstract recommends this modern-day tale of unfolding human tragedy that's going to need a deus ex machina to bring catharsis and resolution.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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