BlackRock’s Koesterich: Greece vote raises chances of euro exit

Published 06/07/2015 in Economy & Finance

NEW YORK Greece’s sound rejection of a bailout at a referendum on Sunday increased the chances it may leave the euro zone, but Athens and its creditors could still reach a deal, said a top strategist for BlackRock Inc, the world’s largest asset manager.

“It does raise the odds of an exit,” Russ Koesterich, BlackRock global chief investment strategist, told Reuters. “There is room for compromise,” he added.

As investors mull the future of Greece as a member of the euro zone, they have also been mindful whether Beijing is doing enough to stem the dramatic 30 percent drop in the Chinese stock market in the last three weeks.

Chinese stocks rose on Monday after the Chinese government implemented a series of support measures over the weekend.

Koesterich and others have doubts on the longer-term impacts on Beijing’s latest moves to prop up stock prices.

“There is more downside potential,” Koesterich said.

It is far from certain whether Greece could clinch more cash ahead of a debt payment to the European Central Bank later this month following the referendum outcome that flew in the face of what Koesterich and many other investors had expected.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, whose brash style has been partly blamed for the tension debt talks, resigned on Monday, a day before an emergency meeting of Greek and other euro zone leaders aimed to move closer to a deal.

Koesterich downplayed a parallel of a “Grexit,” a term traders have used to refer to a Greek departure from the euro zone, to the collapse of Lehman Brothers during the global credit crisis back in late 2008.

“It’s not like a Lehman bankruptcy,” Koesterich said. “Europe is in better condition to deal with Greece than three years ago.”

The ECB has the tools to contain spillover from a Grexit including speeding up bond purchases for its 1.1 trillion euro quantitative easing program in a bid to stem the rise in risk premiums on Greek and other peripheral sovereign debt, he said.

While Koesterich has confidence in the ECB’s ability to limit turbulence from a Grexit, he sees a trickier situation for Beijing in finding ways to support the stock market without reigniting excessive speculation that had caused equity values to more than double over the past year.

“It’s a difficult balancing act for the Chinese authority,” he said.

(Reporting by Richard Leong– Editing by Chizu Nomiyama)

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