Tags: Greece | woes | quarantined | contagion

WSJ: Greece’s Woes Quarantined for Now

By    |   Friday, 17 February 2012 08:12 AM EST

Since the Greek debt crisis broke out in 2010, contagion has represented the biggest worry in the financial community. The fear was that the crisis would spread to other troubled European economies, then stronger European economies, then the world as a whole.

But it hasn’t quite played out that way, The Wall Street Journal reports. That’s not to say that Europe’s economies are in strong shape. GDP in the eurozone fell an annualized 1.3 percent in the fourth quarter.

But bond markets in Italy and Spain, a crucial barometer of whether the woes are spreading, have stabilized.

Late last year, the yield on Italy’s 10-year government bonds topped 7 percent.

But even amid the current machinations to complete a second bailout for Greece, the yield stood at 5.81 percent Thursday.

"The market generally has digested the Greek issue and sees it as a non-systemic issue at this point," Bill Street, global head of active fixed income at State Street Global Advisors, tells The Journal.

The European Central Bank's generous provision of loans to the continent’s banks helped ease the worries, as did the fact that no real meltdown has yet occurred.

To be sure, the chance of disaster hasn’t disappeared, and Italian bond yields, while far below the danger zone of last year, stand at a two-week high.

“A risk-off mode is coming back to the surface,” Matteo Regesta, senior interest-rate strategist at BNP Paribas, tells Bloomberg.

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Friday, 17 February 2012 08:12 AM
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