Public debt of almost all peripheral eurozone countries continues to skyrocket, says Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, international business editor for The Telegraph.
Nations like Portugal, Italy and Ireland are caught in a downward cycle — as they cut government spending through austerity measures, unemployment increased and tax revenues dropped, causing debt ratios to rise.
For instance, Portugal's debt passed 127 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter, 15 percentage points higher than a year ago. Italy's debt is 130 percent of GDP, up from 123.8 percent last year, and Ireland's is at 125 percent, up from about 107 percent.
At some point, southern Europe will realize the rhetoric from the northern countries is "contemptible deception," Evans-Pritchard notes.
Northern eurozone nations still refuse to accept their share of the blame for capital and trade imbalances and accept that their excess savings flooded peripheral countries.
However, southern Europe could turn the tables by forming a creditor cartel, he argues.
If united, they could give the creditor nations an ultimatum. Change the European Union's policy, agree to a reflation strategy and accept your share of the costs. If they don't agree, they'll repudiate their debts. The creditor countries will have to compromise or the debtor nations will act to protect their societies against mass unemployment.
"The current batch of Club Med leaders," he says, "are too embedded in the EU Project to embrace such an idea and are still seemingly persuaded that recovery is nigh, so they allow themselves to be picked on one by one by the creditors’ cartel."
The current path is implausible, he warns, saying markets are unlikely to tolerate debts approaching 140 percent.
"Given the debt dynamics, if debt levels remain where they are and growth remains where it is," said former head of the International Monetary Fund’s team in Ireland, Ashoka Mody, according to the Telegraph. "There is never going to be a reduction in the debt ratio in the foreseeable future. Moving away from austerity at this stage is a sensible course of action."
The eurozone debt crisis will probably return to the front pages, as Portugal, Greece and Cyprus may need more financing aid. Portugal, for example, needs 14 billion euros in 2013 and 15 billion euros in 2014 to repay maturing debt, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"These are a couple of cans that are perhaps too heavy to kick down the road," Gabriel Sterne, senior economist at Exotix investment banks, told The Journal, noting that Cyprus and Greece will need more help.
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