The Corner

Could Greece Quit the Euro?

Veronique, you write that it is “highly unlikely” that Greece would exit the Euro. I think that’s right (it would in fact be a lot neater if Germany and some of its neighbors were to quit the common currency), but you then add that “even if Greece exited the euro zone, the Greek debt (public and private alike) would remain in euros.” That’s true, but so far as I am aware, a large slice of Greek government debt is governed by Greek law (as, I’d guess, is much of its private-sector debt). There is (ultimately) nothing in theory to stop Greece legislating that those debts be redenominated into New Drachmas. That’s not to say that this would be an easy process. There would, for example, likely be major problems at the level of EU law. Such a move would also imply draconian capital controls, and, as the quid quo pro of that, capital inflows would (at least initially) collapse.

 

All very unlikely, as you say, but if I were a cautious Greek, I’d be thinking about opening a second bank account somewhere in the ‘hard’ eurozone. I hear that Austria can be nice at this time of year.

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