The chances of Greece leaving the euro area are now 50-50 and the country could go “down the drain,” billionaire investor George Soros said.
“It’s now a lose-lose game and the best that can happen is actually muddling through,” Soros, 84, said in a Bloomberg Television interview due to air Tuesday. “Greece is a long-festering problem that was mishandled from the beginning by all parties.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government needs to persuade its creditors to sign off on a package of economic measures to free up long-withheld aid payments that will keep the country afloat. Since his January election victory, the leader has tried to shape an alternative to the austerity program set out in the nation’s bailout agreement, spurring concern that it may be forced out of the euro.
The negotiations between Tsipras’s SYRIZA government and the institutions helping finance the Greek economy — the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — could result in a “breakdown,” leading to the country leaving the common currency area, Soros said in the interview at his London home.
“You can keep on pushing it back indefinitely,” making interest payments without writing down debt, Soros said. “But in the meantime there will be no primary surplus because Greece is going down the drain.”
“Right now we are at the cusp and I can see both possibilities,” he said.