Europe | - Part 5

It Would Help if This Guy Wasn’t So Fat

I’ve been meaning to comment on this for a week or two now (ever since the ninth or tenth escalation – I’ve lost track – of the Greek debt crisis began last month), but, since Reuters was kind enough to provide the photo below in this story from earlier today, it seemed like a good time to offer a few thoughts on obesity and bailouts.

Of course, I know nothing about Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos in general or about what kind of a job he’s been doing in trying to keep the Greek government from defaulting on its debt and plunging all the world into another Lehman-style financial market meltdown, but, in a world where perceptions are very important, it seems it would help things along a bit if the top finance official of a spendthrift nation being bailed out after years of profligacy they kept hidden from the rest of the world wasn’t morbidly obese.

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Misery in Greece. Misery in Germany?

Tales of woe are emerging from Greece at an accelerating pace – government workers who become suicidal after learning that they’re being downsized and the proliferation of soup kitchens – but, should the nation default on its debt, some of that misery could spread elsewhere, according to the graphic below from this Spiegel story, even to Germany.

Also see this related collection of photos from Spiegel and this New York Times Magazine story from yesterday about the rapidly changing Greek lifestyle. It’s not all good.

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Moody’s Downgrades Italy, Spain, Warns U.K.

Just when you thought it was safe to buy stocks again – after the Greek austerity deal was approved over the weekend amid rioting in the streets of Athens – another credit rating agency seems intent on spoiling all the fun. Following a similar move by Standard & Poor’s last month, Moody’s cut credit ratings for Italy, Spain, Portugal and three other smaller European nations and said they may strip the U.K. and France of their triple-A rating.

It seems that European policy makers are not moving fast enough for the credit rating agency, Moody’s chief credit officer Alistair Wilson noting, “We do not think they have done enough to reassure the market that we are on a stable path. What will guide long-term ratings is the clarity and the performance of policy makers and the macro picture”.

Greeks Accept Austerity, Athens Burns

The Greek Parliament approved more austerity measures required to facilitate the next round of $170 billion in bailout money from their EU/ECB/IMF overlords as citizens set buildings on fire and battled some of the 4,000 riot police deployed in Athens.

Bond holders will take haircuts of 70 percent on the money they foolishly lent to the Greek government and, for the time being at least, a messy Greek debt default has been averted.

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