Wednesday, 22 June 2011

How Exposed are We to a Greek Default?

I've only got time for a quick note, but here's a conundrum:

The BBC keep reiterating that our exposure to a Greek default would be in the region of £9Bn. Which is true, if you only count the money we've guaranteed as part of the bailout plan.

Channel 4 have it a bit more accurately. They mention a figure of £366Bn which includes not just the bailout cash, but also the liabilities of our banks by way of loans and credit default swaps. Yes our old friends credit default swaps rear their ugly heads again. They were one of the prime movers in the crash of 2008. They are a sort of insurance against default on a loan and the city of London bought into them big time. Hence the big exposure to a Greek default. If they do default, the city investors will lose billions.

Just how big is £366Bn? Its around a quarter of our GDP: a not insignificant number.

Anyone want to dig out our true exposure to a Portuguese and Irish default? I bet its a huge chunk of GDP.

If all of that falls, we're toast. If Greece fails, we catch a huge cold. So commentators may glibly say let Greece default, but the engine of the economy will falter substantially as a result.

Its interesting to note the difference in figures between the BBC and Channel 4 though. Maybe the BBC needs to stop being a youth employment scheme and get some decent journalists on the ranks that can actually do some journalism.