This is Sara Sjolin at MarketWatch.com:
Greece’s Athex Composite tanked almost 13% Tuesday — the biggest drop for the index on record, according to FactSet. The renewed jitters came after the government, in a surprise move late Monday, said it would bring forward presidential elections to Dec. 17, potentially, setting the scene for snap elections in early 2015.
Here’s why that’s important: Far-left party Syriza currently is leading the early polls and it seems likely they would win a snap election. This is how to think about Syriza:
- The party has been calling for an end to austerity in Greece
- Has been campaigning for market-unfriendly measures
- Is firmly against the international bailout program that helped the country avoid a default during the depths of its financial crisis.
How bad is Greece’s Tuesday collapse? It’s worse than the 9.7% drop the market saw Oct. 24, 2010, at the peak of Greek debt worries. The drop also eclipses the 10% fall Greek markets saw in 1989 during a bout of political turmoil.
…With Greece’s problems once again in the limelight, investors all across Europe. the Stoxx Europe 600 index slumped 2.3%, while Germany’s DAX 30 index fell 2.2% and France’s CAC 40 index gave up 2.5%.
Greek government bond yields jumped 75 basis point to 7.90%, according to electronic trading platform Tradeweb.
So once again political news slips in to the financial section of the news. As Scott Sumner once expressed it about his studies of the Great Depression:
“And the worst part was the way political news kept slipping into the financial section. Nazis make ominous gains in the 1932 German elections, Spanish Civil War, etc, etc. In the 1930s the readers didn’t know what came next—but I did.”
I must admit that the similarities between the continued euro crisis and the situation during the 1930s worries me a great deal and my regular readers well-know that I to a large extent blame the deepening political troubles in Europe on the deep economic crisis caused mainly by extremely tight monetary conditions in the euro zone.
Just to remind everybody how bad it is in Greece. Take a look graph below comparing the real GDP lose in Austria during Great Depression and Greece during the present crisis (Year 0 is 1929 for Austria and 2008 for Greece.)
I used Austria as a comparison because the country had massive banking crisis (in 1931), had one of the deepest depressions of all of the European economies during the Great Depression and maintained the Gold Standard the longest.
Given the scale of the crisis in Greece it is hardly surprising that extremist parties like Syriza and Golden Dawn are very popular parties. After all Austria disintegrated politically during the 1930s and eventually ceased to exist as an independent nation in 1938.