By LANDON THOMAS Jr.
Published: September 19, 2011
Slower economic growth throughout Europe, and probably in the United States. Huge losses by major European banks. Declining stock markets worldwide. A tightening of credit, making it harder for many borrowers to get loans.
As concerns grow that Greece may default on its government debt, economists are starting to map out possible outcomes. While no one knows for certain what will happen, it’s a given that financial crises always have unexpected consequences, and many predict there will be collateral damage.
Because of these fears, Greece is working frantically in concert with other European nations to avoid default, by embracing further austerity measures it has promised in return for more European bailout money to help pay its debts.
But some economists believe default may be inevitable — and that it may actually be better for Greece and, despite a short-term shock to the system, perhaps eventually for Europe as well. They are beginning to wonder whether the consequences of a default or a more radical debt restructuring, dire as they may be, would be no worse for Greece than the miserable path it is currently on.
A default would relieve Greece of paying off a mountain of debt that it cannot afford, no matter how much it continues to cut government spending, which already has caused its economy to shrink.