European Debt Crisis Worsens: Now Hungary Warns of Greek-Style Crisis

Hungary Warns of Greek-Style Crisis (New York Times):

PRAGUE — Fears that the debt crisis could migrate to central Europe were stirred Friday after a senior Hungarian government official said the previous government had manipulated budget figures and lied about the state of the economy, but most financial experts dismissed the remarks as a ham-handed negotiating ploy.

The official, Peter Szijjarto, a spokesman for Prime Minister Viktor Orban, was quoted by Bloomberg News and other news agencies as saying that the Hungarian economy was in a “very grave situation.” He even raised the specter of a default, saying such speculation “isn’t an exaggeration.”

His comments followed similar warnings on Thursday by Lajos Kosa, a vice president of the governing center-right Fidesz party, and other officials that Hungary was in danger of suffering a Greek-style crisis, with budget deficits — officially 4 percent of gross domestic product in 2009 — possibly reaching 7.5 percent of G.D.P. this year.

After the comments, the Hungarian currency slid and the yield on benchmark 10-year Hungarian bonds surged, to close at 8.1 percent from 7.4 percent on Thursday. The Budapest Stock Exchange Index closed down 3.4 percent, having fallen as much as 7.1 percent earlier in the day.

For all the alarmism by senior government officials in recent days, however, economists said the country was nowhere near the crisis level of Greece and emphasized that the comments appeared to have been politically motivated to tarnish the previous Socialist government and to give Mr. Orban a stronger negotiating position with the I.M.F.

Sovereign Credit-Default Swaps Surge on Hungarian Debt Crisis

St. Stephen’s Basilica stands above the rooftops in Budapest. (Bloomberg)

June 4 (Bloomberg) — Credit-default swaps on sovereign bonds surged to a record on speculation Europe’s debt crisis is worsening after Hungary said it’s in a “very grave situation” because a previous government lied about the economy.

The cost of insuring against losses on Hungarian sovereign debt rose 63 basis points to 371, according to CMA DataVision at 3:30 p.m. in London, after earlier reaching 416 basis points. Swaps on France, Austria, Belgium and Germany also rose, sending the Markit iTraxx SovX Western Europe Index of contracts on 15 governments as high as a record 174.4 basis points.

Hungary’s bonds fell after a spokesman for Prime Minister Viktor Orban said talk of a default is “not an exaggeration” because a previous administration “manipulated” figures. The country was bailed out with a 20 billion-euro ($24 billion) aid package from the European Union and International Monetary Fund in 2008.

“The comments out of Hungary have really spooked the market,” said Rajeev Shah, a credit strategist at BNP Paribas SA in London. “Investors are interpreting it as bad sign for trying to tackle Europe’s debt crisis.”

The euro dropped below $1.21 for the first time since April 2006, stocks tumbled and the cost of insuring against corporate default rose on speculation Hungary will weaken the EU’s willingness to rescue the region’s indebted nations.

Credit markets were also roiled after data showed U.S. employers hired fewer workers in May than forecast, signaling slowing economic growth.

‘Something Serious’

Swaps on Spanish government debt were up 22 basis points at 278, after earlier reaching a record 295.5, according to CMA. Contracts on Portugal were 26 basis points wider at 364.8, while Ireland was up 32 basis points at 292, and Italy climbed 30 basis points to an all-time high of 264, before retreating to 253. Contracts on Greece were 57 basis points higher at 783, down from 798 earlier.

The Markit iTraxx Crossover Index of swaps linked to 50 companies with mostly high-yield credit ratings jumped 27 basis point to 584, according to Markit Group Ltd.

“Are we on the brink of something more serious?” Deutsche Bank AG strategist Jim Reid wrote in a note to clients today. “We’ve little doubt that the authorities have no appetite for imminent peripheral defaults but we do see the situation getting worse before it gets better. This leaves markets vulnerable until there is more certainty surrounding the structure of the peripheral funding bail-out.”

Credit-default swaps pay the buyer face value in exchange for the underlying securities or the cash equivalent should a borrower fail to adhere to its debt agreements. A basis point on a contract protecting $10 million of debt from default for five years is equivalent to $1,000 a year.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kate Haywood in London at

Last Updated: June 4, 2010 10:57 EDT
By Kate Haywood

Source: Bloomberg

1 thought on “European Debt Crisis Worsens: Now Hungary Warns of Greek-Style Crisis”

  1. The role Of Neo-Liberalism, in widening the income gap between the rich and the poor.

    June 5, 2010 by

    The role of Neo-Liberalism, in widening the income gap between the rich and the poor.

    “One of the most pronounced effects of Neo liberalism is to create wealth inequality within national borders and between states. Within a decade of adopting free market policies, the class divide in the US and UK became significant.” Professor G. William Domhoff. UC @ Santa Cruz.
    It is just another indictment of Neo liberalism and its multi-faceted destructive policies encumbered upon people of the world. It is very fascinating to note, that the income gap between the poor and the rich has more pronouncedly been evident in the US and UK, the joint creators of Neo liberalism.
    This enormous income gap between the rich and the poor in the US has concentrated more power in the hands of the rich and has created a feeling of helplessness on the majority of American citizens who have been marginalized by Neo liberal policies.
    Consequently, sooner or later, the question will arise, whose country is it anyway? It is obvious that the widening of the income gap in the US is close to the breaking point. It is not if, but when it breaks, no one can forecast how it might end. It is just that the Corporations are blinded by greed, and our representatives are muzzled by big business.
    Writing on the subject of Neo liberalism’s impact on social cohesion, David Coburn, from the University of Toronto writes: “While it has been asserted that neo-liberalism produces a lowered sense of community it might also be argued that the rise of neo-liberalism is itself a signifier of the decline of more widespread feelings of social solidarity. The political rise of neo-liberalism is freighted with a more individualistic view of society and, perhaps, itself reflects a decline in the notion of we are all in the same boat. Not only do neo-liberal policies undermine the social infrastructure underlying social cohesion but neo-liberal movements themselves are partial causes of the decline of a sense of social cohesion.”
    It is absolutely frightening, what Neo liberalism is doing to societies. It is corroding the very fiber that societies are built upon. Neo liberalism is cancerous. It is undermining our Democratic system. When a government becomes a by stander when millions are practically becoming paupers, while the few are amassing billions, then, the people have no protector. Laws, Rules and Regulations are in the books only to protect the interest of the rich.
    In a wonderful article entitled, “Skewed Wealth Distribution and the Roots of the Economic Crisis”, David Barber, a Professor at the University of Tennessee, wrote:

    “And what is true in the United States of the unequal distribution of wealth, and of the consequences of that unequal distribution, is true again on a world scale. This super-poor mass of humanity, from whose soil is ripped vast amounts of mineral and agricultural wealth, and out of whose labor the world’s manufactured goods increasingly come, are almost wholly excluded from participating in the world’s market economy”. So, what is to be done?
    While a number of social scientists have forwarded divergent solutions for anarcho-capitalism to save itself, Professor Michael Rustin at the University of East London suggests the following points are “made necessary by the implosion of the neo-liberal system in the current financial crisis, and are needed to construct a new post-neo-liberal phase of democratic capitalism”.
    The five points he has put forward are the following:

    (1) A more active role for governments in regulating markets, and especially global financial markets

    (2) Constitutional reforms which enhance democratic processes and civil liberties, and create more representative and pluralist systems

    (3) Policies, which reduce inequalities, and give greater weight to social justice and social inclusion.

    (4) The enhancement of the capacities of international institutions, and especially the EU, to maintain economic stability and growth

    (5) Programmes to address the problems of climate change.

    Very sensible, are they not? But Wait!!! We have to see which governments have any backbones left in them to try and regulate the market, and do away with thirty years of destruction of the people that started with Reagan and Thatcher.

    As I am ready to post this article, I hear a news story that stated that “Hungary might default on its debt”. What is the world coming to. Wasn’t Hungary the darling of the West? Didn’t it do everything that it was asked to? It privatized everything. It reduced government employment. It cut welfare as it was told to do by “free Market Reform” advisors. Hungary did everything a good and obedient follower of Neo liberalism is supposed to do. Yet, it is threatening to “default” on its debt in spite of a $24 billion IMF and EU loan few months back. This is the fruit of Neo Liberalism.

    Do you wonder, which devoted and submissive follower of Neo liberalism will bite the dust, next?

    Professor Mekonen Haddis.


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