Greek deal or not, the euro is now a different beast

Wed Jun 24, 2015 3:05am EDT
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By Mike Dolan

LONDON (Reuters) - By invoking a Greek euro exit as a possible outcome of failed bailout negotiations, European governments have effectively rewritten a key tenet of the shared currency - and maybe even for the better.

Deal or no deal on staving off Greek default or 'Grexit', euro governments have talked openly for the first time of how Greece could slide uncontrollably out of the currency bloc if it failed to agree bailout terms and meet debt payments.

Of course, all insisted that keeping Greece in the bloc was still 'Plan A' at least. But the signaling was clear for all who wanted to hear: failure to reach a deal could reverse the 'irrevocably fixed exchange rates' of European Union Treaties into something that was, after all, revocable.

The message was certainly clear to Greek depositors, who have withdrawn tens of billions of euros from banks this year and more than 4 billion euros last week alone.

And while German Chancellor Angela Merkel has studiously avoided talking of a Greek exit, her hawkish finance minister Wolfgang Schaueble made clear on a number of occasions that this was still a potential, if undesirable, outcome.

"We can't rule it out," he said in March, when asked if Greece could accidentally slide out of the euro.

Closer to the EU centerground, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, a founding father of the euro, said Grexit was not on the table but that he couldn't "pull a rabbit out of a hat" to prevent it.

Smaller countries bailed out along with Greece five years ago spoke likewise. Irish finance minister Michael Noonan said euro leaders had gone as far as they could to prevent Grexit. "The option now is to prepare for Plan B."   Continued...

A picture illustration shows the Euro currency logo reflected in a person's eye, in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, March 13, 2015.  REUTERS/Dado Ruvic