(multimedia at bottom of article) Europe’s financial crisis lurched into a perilous new phase as dire predictions emerged of a collapse in Greece’s economy, with a run on its banks bringing an inevitable end to its membership of the euro.
As leaders in Athens accepted the need for a new general election to end a national stalemate, the International Monetary Fund said Europe’s leaders should prepare for the possibility of a Greek departure from the single currency.
Christine Lagarde, head of the IMF, warned she was “technically prepared for anything” and said the utmost effort must be made to ensure any Greek exit was orderly. The effect was likely to be “quite messy” with risks to growth, trade and financial markets. “It is something that would be extremely expensive and would pose great risks but it is part of options that we must technically consider,” she said.
Raising tensions still further, Germany warned Greek voters that the wrong result in next month’s election will force their country out of the single currency.
Greece’s president warned, perhaps most alarmingly, that its banks risk running out of money, posing a “threat to our national existence”.
The escalating turmoil sharpened fears in financial markets, with European shares and the euro itself falling again. On the stock markets, the Eurostoxx 600 fell 0.7 per cent to a year-low; Germany’s Dax dropped 0.8 per cent and Spain’s Ibex was down 1.6 per cent. In London the FTSE100 slid 0.5 per cent. Following this month’s inconclusive election, Greek parties yesterday failed again to agree a new government. A new election, most likely to be held in mid-June, could see more gains for parties that want to reject the austerity measures that are a condition of international efforts to bail out the debt-crippled state.
Telegraph has the full article