Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Business
  2. Economics
18 June 2012updated 27 Sep 2015 5:35am

The Greek elections saved the world for about 48 minutes

Fundamental failings remain.

By Alex Hern

The half-life of a European success is getting shorter and shorter. Last week’s bailout of Spain (euphamistically referred to by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy as “what happened on Saturday”) saved the world for 48 hours, with everyone thinking all was good at Saturday lunchtime and realising that it was still messed-up by Monday. The results of the Greek elections look to have saved the world for 48 minutes.

The headlines (mostly written before the election was even declared, to be fair) declare Europe to have survived “a close call” and been granted “a stay of execution” as “Greece gives Europe a chance“, and this morning economics correspondents are still filing pieces claiming Greek result buys Europe time.

For a while it looked like they may have been right. Spanish 10 year yields opened at 6.84, before falling in the first few minutes of the day to 6.817. Italian yields also dropped slightly, and the country’s main stock index, the FTSE MIB was up over 1 per cent over Friday’s close.

But by 8:49, the MIB was down to where it had been on Friday, and is now 1 per cent down. And by 9:14, the Spanish 10 year yields had rocketed up, not just to where they were, but to a new high of 7.12 (chart via FT alphaville):

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

The problem is, as we wrote this morning, that the election of New Democracy does nothing to solve the underlying crisis in Greece – nor does it take Spain off the hook. Both countries are in the throes of a full-blown (though strangely slo-mo) banking crisis, and Greece is additionally suffering under an austerity program which is unlikely to be sustainable, either politically or economically, while its relationship with the European Union remains unchanged.

Except for the replacement of PASOK with SYRIZA in the Greek two-party system, the victory for ND represented a return to the status quo. And, regardless of your opinion of the possible replacement for it, the status quo was kind of crap.