The euro zone’s contagion calendar
Today (Nov 15th): Is the bailout on or off? Well, that depends on what you mean by “bailout” – according to Brian Cowen, it’s a “pejorative term”. He prefers to say that the Government is “engaging constructively with partners”. Fine Gael finance spokesman Michael Noonan, however, believes the Government is “fighting a rearguard action for appearances purposes”. Bond markets chipped in by taking the pressure off Irish bond yields – not, however, a sign that the crisis has been averted, but instead likely to reflect investor expectations of a rescue as early as…
Tomorrow (Nov 16th): Could Ireland run out of its metaphorical road? European finance ministers including Brian Lenihan will meet in Brussels in what is set to be a critical meeting for Ireland – the market speculation is that Cowen’s constructive engagement could turn into something a little more concrete once this meeting wraps up. The Cabinet is also due to meet “very early” tomorrow morning to discuss the four-year plan. Meanwhile, Greece is due to hold a debt auction of 26-week bills.
Wednesday (Nov 17th): The EU finance ministers’ shindig continues, mindful perhaps of the words of German chancellor Angela Merkel. “If the euro fails, then Europe fails.”
Thursday (Nov 18th): Spain, which fears contagion from the Irish and Portuguese debt crises, is due to hold a debt auction of 10-year and 30-year bonds, while Greece, which has been there and bought the bailout T-shirt, will announce its 2011 budget.
Early next week (Nov 22nd-24th): According to comments today by Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern, this is when the Government will set out its four-year budget plan, which bailout or no bailout, is on track to take €15 billion out of the economy through spending cuts and tax increases.
Nov 25th: Voters get a chance to vent their feelings through the long-lost therapy of democracy in the Donegal South West byelection.
Nov 26th: Portugal takes its final vote in parliament on its 2011 austerity budget. Portuguese finance minister Fernando Teixeira dos Santos, who was quoted in the Financial Times saying there was a high risk Lisbon would have to seek aid, yesterday clarified that such a request was “not imminent”, while at the same time he not-so-subtly urged Ireland to get the hint and dip into the European Financial Stability Facility. (There’s plenty to go round.)
Dec 7th: Brian Lenihan is scheduled to stand up in the Dáil to announce details of Budget 2011, for which he has pencilled in €6 billion worth of cuts. The standard smiling budget briefcase photo op seems doubtful at this stage.
July 2011: Government ministers have repeatedly said that Ireland is funded up until mid-2011. If by some strange turn of events no bailout (sorry, Brian) occurs before this month, the National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) will have to return to capital markets in an attempt to raise fresh funds if it wants to keep the lights on.