Bloomberg News

Greek Euro Exit Wouldn’t Have Impact of Lehman, Ligi Says

May 17, 2012

A Greek exit from the euro area wouldn’t have the same impact on financial markets as the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in 2008, Estonian Finance Minister Juergen Ligi said.

“Lehman was something where everything fell apart, there was real panic,” Ligi told reporters in the Estonian capital Tallinn today. “We’ve been getting used to the idea” of a Greek exit “for a while,” he said. “There has been a massive writedown of Greek debt from balance sheets. Firewalls have been built.”

European stocks dropped for a fourth day after the European Central Bank said it will temporarily stop lending to some Greek banks to limit its risk as President Mario Draghi signaled the ECB won’t compromise on key principles to keep Greece in the euro area.

Greece abandoning the euro “isn’t a scenario that European finance ministers would discuss or would want to be discussed,” Ligi said, adding that the consequences of a Greek exit “aren’t known.” European governments need to agree on “clear messages” for Greece to avoid another inconclusive election on June 17, he said.

Estonia, together with Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania, suffered most in the 27-member EU as the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the end of a debt-fueled property bubble, shut off inflows of credit and closed export markets, slashing economic output by a fifth in two years.

To contact the reporter on this story: Ott Ummelas in Tallinn at oummelas@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net


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