Michael Lewis sees messy end for Greece

Tue Oct 4, 2011 4:19pm EDT
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By Mark Egan

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Greece will default on its debts, Ireland could too and Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou and German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be forced out as Europe's financial crisis plays out, author Michael Lewis predicted on Tuesday.

The writer who began his career exposing the culture of excess at Salomon Brothers in "Liar's Poker" is promoting his latest book "Boomerang: Travels in the New Third World," published this week by W.W. Norton.

The book details three years of research and reporting on Iceland, Ireland, Greece, Germany and California, revealing aspects of the global economy's woes and the national characteristics behind them. It follows his bestseller "The Big Short" about the U.S. subprime mortgage meltdown.

"Greece is defaulting, right? They are restructuring. Whatever you want to call it, Greece is defaulting," Lewis told Reuters in an interview. "The only question is how."

"I don't think Merkel is going to survive in Germany and I don't think Papandreou is going to survive in Greece -- they have so alienated their populations," he said.

Lewis believes efforts by European leaders to bail out Greece again and stave off contagion in Ireland, Portugal, Italy and even Spain only put off the inevitable.

While Lewis cautions that no one knows exactly how matters will play out, his predictions are closely watched given his position as one of America's best selling and most respected business journalists.

Keen to temper his forecasts, he added, "Nobody can tell you what is going to happen because it is too complicated."   Continued...

<p>High-school students clash with riot police during a protest march against economic austerity and planned education reforms in Athens October 3, 2011. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis</p>