11.07.2011
By Terry Flanagan

Buy Side Nonchalant on Greece

Greece, Smeece…but the country’s potential departure from the Euro can trigger a domino effect, said portfolio manager.

The Greece debt crisis has been plaguing the Eurozone for more than a year now, but only recently, has the country endured talks of getting off the universal Euro currency.

For Ed Cowart, co-portfolio manager of equity income and value strategies at Eagle Asset Management, Greece leaving the Euro would not be too impactful for the U.S., or rest of Europe.

“We trade with Greece so minimally, and the country itself is so small at just 11 million people or so,” he told Markets Media. “The danger remains to be that if Greece can’t take it anymore and decides to get off the Euro and go back to the Drachma, then maybe Italy will say that they want to go back to the Lira. With all this austerity ahead, maybe then the Spanish, and the Irish will also have to leave the Euro.

Cowart’s main concerns, as is the case with many other buy side market participants, is that Greece’s problems extend farther to the rest of the PIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Greece, Spain) nations.

“The hope is that Greece is kept subdued,” Cowart said. “All we can do is cross our fingers, and hope it works out for the best,” noting there’s not much of a strategy to prevent Greece’s next move.

Ultimately, there is uncertainty regarding what would happen if Greece actually left the Euro, as Cowart noted, “There is official mechanism for a country leaving the Eurozone.”

Perhaps the most concerning aspect surrounding Europe’s crisis is the similarities, and dissimilarities to the global financial meltdown perpetuated by the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers back in 2008.

“People are calling Greece’s situation, ‘Europe’s Lehman,’ but I disagree with that,” Cowart saidre. “The problem with Lehman is that no one knew what was happening but my view of this (Greek) crisis is that it can be defined. We know what is needed to be recapitalized, and the scope of the deficit.”

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