Conservative Pro-bailout Party Wins Greek Vote, Uncertainty Follows
Although the country, who heads into its fifth year of recession, narrowly avoided a euro break-up, the impact on the European and global economies still has investors worried.
Sunday's election forced voters to either stay in the euro or reject the bailout and exit the union. The New Democracy party won just under 30 percent of the vote and now takes on the task of finding partners to form a new government. NPR reports that conservative leader Antonis Samaras has already ruled out Alexis Tsipras, the Syriza leader who finished a close second.
Leading up to the race, the two candidates were shown to be neck-and-neck in the race. As Neon Tommy previously reported, Samaras upholds Greece's bailout commitments but would seek to have them diluted through a two-year extension. Tsipras pledged to scrap Greece's bailout deals altogether and make drastic changes through nationalizing banks and restoring reduced pensions.
Tsipras' radical viewpoints had European leaders and global markets worried after the leftist party gained momentum over the past few weeks. Despite a win by Samaras, Reuters reports market confidence is waning over the uncertainty over what changes he will establish and how this will impact the rest of the euro zone.
"Undoubtedly the outcome is better than it could have been, but all of the issues about renegotiations, fragile coalitions and uncertainty about growth programs are still there," said Andrew Milligan, head of global strategy at Standard Life Investments in Edinburgh.
The win by Samaras sent Greek stocks and bonds higher. Bloomberg reports that the Athens Stock Exchange Index rose 2.6 percent to 573.01 after gaining as much as 7.2 percent. The FTSE/Athex Banks Index climbed 5.3 percent to close its ninth day of gains.
But initial relief over the election results was short-lived. By midmorning, the focus shifted back to Spain's bankruptcy problems and major indexes fell from Friday's close, reports the NY Times. Analysts have attributed Spain's increasing borrowing costs to investor skepticism over the euro zone's inability to address fundamental issues.
The Associated Press reported how the broader scope of Europe's financial burdens overshadowed any optimism and relief to come out of the election. The market saw a mixed bag of trading, with safe investments on the rise while riskier ones dropped:
The Dow Jones industrial average was down 16 points at 12,751 in the first hour of trading. Hewlett-Packard fell 38 cents to $21.25, the biggest drop among the 30 stocks in the Dow.
The Standard & Poor's 500 index inched up half a point to 1,343. The Nasdaq composite rose 12 to 2,885.
European stocks were mixed. Benchmark indexes plunged 2.6 percent in Spain and Italy. Germany's market edged up 0.5 percent Britain's rose 0.2 percent.
The yield on the 10-year Treasury note fell to 1.58 percent from 1.63 percent earlier Monday as demand increased for low-risk assets.
The yield on Spanish 10-year bonds jumped to 7.15 percent, a new high since Spain joined the euro. Only a week ago, Europe unveiled a massive bailout of Spain's banks intended to reassure investors about the nation's finances.
Greece, Ireland and Portugal needed bailouts after their borrowing costs rose above 7 percent. It looks like tiny Cyprus will need a bailout as well.
In order to receive its bailout, Greece accepted austerity measures including tax hikes and severe spending cuts across the board from health care to pension, a move that outraged many Greeks. In response, Greeks have staged strikes and protests, some violent.
Yet despite taking steps in the right direction to help rebuild the broken economy, the country faces even more challenges on the road ahead.
Following uncertainty over whether Germany would ease demands on Greece, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that "no departures can be made from the reform measures" and expects the country to stick to its commitments in order to receive rescue loans from international creditors. The Washington Post said that markets expect the country to receive more time to make budget cuts to avoid forfeiting aid.
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