Thor vs. Zeus or why there is no rush for Germany to bail out Greece

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28 April 2010
Nicolas Michellod
A lesson learned from the financial crisis is that the life insurance and wealth management industries are heavily dependant on the general state of the economy. Therefore it is important for insurers to understand what exogenous and endogenous factors can impact their business: The current challenge faced by the EURO zone and the EURO currency following the Greek unsustainable financial situation is an interesting example of a single event influencing insurers. At the very beginning of the Greek crisis, nobody would have expected it to last so long. According to financial experts, the EURO zone countries had not interest in letting the situation worsen. But interestingly, Greece is still in danger and so far, nothing concrete has been decided by any of the parties potentially involved in a rescue plan and notably Germany. According to me, there is a good reason for that. Germany has always been complaining about the strength of the EURO currency. Indeed, a strong European currency penalizes German exports and therefore the whole German economy. It is important to recall that Germany counts more than any other European countries on exports to grow its economy. In consequence, Germany has an interest in letting the Greek situation worsen and letting the European currency get weaker and weaker. Of course this is a dangerous game but Germany seems to have all the necessary cards in hand and by the end of the game, there will certainly be a plan to save Greece from bankruptcy. It is a war of a new age, whose main characters are barbarian and mythological gods: Thor vs. Zeus! But it is more importantly a political battle, whose objective is to determine what is the long-term vision of the European construction. In the meantime, insurers will have to analyze how the Greek case may impact their business and notably their asset allocation strategy and adapt...

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