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Todd Harrison: Why Greek elections should matter to you

Todd Harrison

Todd Harrison

Greece will hold fresh elections this Sunday - a "do-over" vote after elections on May 6 failed to reach consensus on a coalition government. As the Aegean outcome has global implications, we would be wise to educate ourselves on why this matters to stateside investors.

Syriza, the radical left party, won 52 of the 300 total seats in the first election, putting them in a position to negotiate the new government as PASOK, the incumbent party, lost the majority. Syriza is staunchly opposed to the current terms of the proposed bailout. Alexis Tsipras, the party's leader, aims to renegotiate terms of a bailout that has thus far provided 240 billion-euro ($303 billion U.S.) to Greece.

The monies, which are necessary for Greece to honor its obligations and avoid default, are contingent on harsh austerity measures, including pension and wage cuts. As Greece is widely expected to run out of cash in mid-July, most observers anticipate that they'll seek another bailout from the EU - or restructure their debt yet again.

If this happens, Portugal and Ireland, the other countries that received bailouts from the EU, will likely attempt to restructure their deals as well.

This is on the heels of last weekend's proposed 100 billion-euro ($126 billion U.S.) bailout of Spain, which has altogether different terms. It's the definition of Moral Hazard, akin to when Hank Paulson chose to save Bear Stearns and let Lehman fail.

While renegotiated deal structures would benefit these countries, they would add stress to an already fragile financial system in Europe. And in an interconnected finance-based global economy - $70 trillion in G-10 debt is the tip of an iceberg of $700 trillion in derivatives tying the world together - the actions of a few Greek citizens may send shock waves around the world.


Todd Harrison is the author of "The Other Side of Wall Street" and the founder and CEO of Minyanville, an Emmy Award-winning financial media platform. Read him daily at www.minyanville.com

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