Other than the obvious that Greece needs more help, nothing really new came out of the “emergency” meeting of European finance ministers on Friday. The Germans on one hand want an extension of the maturity of Greek debt which is a technical default but would prevent the writedown of Greek paper on European banks as the principal would be paid back but just on a longer payback schedule. The Greeks, the ECB and some others on the other hand still don’t want any kind of restructuring but we know that’s wishful thinking at this point. Either way, it will still take time for some agreement to take place. While we wait, yields are also spiking again in Ireland and Portugal and higher in the all important Spain and S&P downgraded Greece’s sovereign credit rating to B from BB-. Greek stocks are down 1.1% to match the lowest level since 1997 and the rest of Europe is trading lower led by the banking sector. Economically in the region, Germany remains the powerhouse as March exports rose 7.3%, well above expectations of up 1.1%.
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