Friday, August 26, 2011

Finland vs Greece vs Europe

No, it's not a football match I'm going to write about, even though Greece would have a much bigger chance succeeding there. Finland has gained much attention recently since their prime minister announced that Finland has gotten monetary collateral for supporting Greece. This means that Finland agreed to support the second bail-out package to Greece only if Greece would deposit equal amount of money as a collateral for Finland. If Greece would go bankrupt, Finland would keep the money.

For Finland this is mainly a domestic political campaign. Finnish voters are turning anti-euro and the government had to do something in order to win some votes back. For Greece, guaranteeing collateral was one way of securing the votes of all countries, including Finland.
Other countries in the eurozone though are (rightfully so) upset because if one country gets collateral, why shouldn't others? This would eventually lead to a situation where all the money borrowed to Greece would be deposited somewhere as collateral and there would be no money left for Greece to cover its costs. Is there any solution for this?

Seeking collateral for the money borrowed to Greece would be a good idea since this would discipline Greece as well. What could be used as a collateral though? One possibility could be natural resources. In 1992 my home country Estonia successfully carried out a monetary reform which substituted Russian ruble with Estonian krona. Estonia initially used our national forest and gold reserves as collateral for the krona. So let's look at Greece's natural resources and other reserves (from CIA World Fact Book):
  • 991 million cubic meters of natural gas with a market value of around 138 billion USD (Bloomberg)
  • 6,37 billion USD in gold reserves
  • 10  million barrels of oil with a market value of around with a market value of around 1,1 billion USD (Bloomberg)
In addition to that Greece has deposits of bauxite, asbestos, nickel, magnesite and marble. So Greece just might have enough natural resources to at least partially put out a collateral for money received from other eurozone countries and the IMF. As a matter of fact natural gas, gold and oil reserves add about up to the total amount of the most recent bail-out package of 110 billion euros.

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