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News : EU Economy Last Updated: Jul 7, 2011 - 8:44 AM

God is a US ratings agency
By Finfacts Team
Jul 6, 2011 - 6:29 AM

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Angela Merkel, German chancellor, chatting with Wen Jiabao, Chinese premier, during his visit to Germany, June 27, 2011

God is a US ratings agency: Greece's lenders must ensure they do not lose the ability to make their own judgements in the face of rating agency warnings, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday.

"I trust above all the judgement of the three institutions," overseeing the bailout, she told a press conference, referring to the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank.

Standard & Poor's warned on Monday that banks' plans to extend maturities of Greek debt could be seen as default.

The governments of the euro countries must finally overcome their undue fear of the rating agencies, the German left-liberal daily Süddeutsche Zeitung urged on Tuesday: "God must be a US rating agency. There's no other explanation for why seventeen democratically elected governments bite their nails in fear when one of these agencies says what it thinks about Greece. ... The American God named Standard & Poor's has let the Europeans know that it does not want banks, insurance companies and pension funds involved in the Greek bailout. ... Instead of continuing to transfer taxpayers' money through Athens to the financial sector, the euro governments must pluck up their courage. A debt haircut and a major development programme would be a real help to Hellas - and reduce the American gods to what they are: capitalist entrepreneurs."

The only chance for the Euro countries in crisis to recover is for them to be expelled from the monetary union, the Belgian business paper L'Echo concludes: "It's a fact that the single currency is impeding the recovery of the debt-stricken countries because it prevents them from devaluing their currencies to boost competitiveness. Adjusting their currencies like this allows struggling countries to give their economies a kick-start. We shouldn't insist on keeping these exhausted states in the Eurozone at all costs. The priority should be to get their orderly exit from the monetary union underway. ... The Greeks are paying the price for 20 years of mismanagement, lax tax policies and fraud. The country will undoubtedly go bankrupt, and it must revert to the drachma."

The only way out of the Greek crisis is a pan-European debt and tax community, writes the Italian business paper Il Sole 24 Ore. "Technically it is possible to save Greece. 2014 would have to be the year not just when the budget is balanced but also when a community of debt is formed. The first step would be to convert all of the debts of the individual Eurozone countries into common debts. ... Then the European Central Bank would have to be banned by law from accepting any new issues of bonds by individual countries. It would only be allowed to accept pan-European bonds. ... Once these steps have been taken the strengthened Eurozone could transfer other costs incurred by national budgets and covered by taxes to a European level to gradually turn the national tax burden into a European one."

Translations courtesy of euro|topics  -- a service provided by the German Federal Agency for Civic Education. 

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