Central bankers make Greek euro exit plans

Central bankers across Europe have started discussing the possibility of a Greek exit from the euro area and how to handle the fallout, Swedish Riksbank Deputy Governor Per Jansson said on Friday.

?I would be very careful in speculating that it would be a painless process without complications,? Jansson said in an interview in Stockholm. ?Of course at meetings abroad that we are at, the question is discussed. I hope and believe that they will stay in the eurozone.?

Planning for a Greek exit is intensifying after Sunday?s elections saw anti-bailout parties surge in popularity and left the country in political stalemate.

European Central Bank officials decided earlier this year to deal with any Greek exit on an ad-hoc basis rather than devising a templated set of responses because the fallout would be so unpredictable, said three euro region central bank officials. That may change as the Greek crisis worsens, the officials said.

The Frankfurt-based central bank continues to assume Greece will stay within the euro, a spokesperson said yesterday on condition of anonymity, in line with ECB policy.

ECB Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen nevertheless questioned that assumption this week when he warned that Greece must comply with bailout deals ?if it wants to remain a member of the eurozone.?

If Greece did leave the euro, central banks could open currency swap lines to avoid funding problems in major exchange rates, Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists led by Laurence Boone said in a report dated Thursday. There would be a high chance the ECB would cut its key interest rate to 0.5 percent from 1 percent, buy Spanish and Italian debt in unlimited amounts and offer banks more long-term cash, they said. [Bloomberg]