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In the mid-to-late 1980s, no one was as unstoppable as Mike Tyson. He became an iconic figure of boxing practically overnight, and in his career would amass more than $300 million in earnings. But what became of Mike Tyson? After spending more than six years in prison, after multiple attempts by his friends and colleagues to get him back on his feet, his career spiraled out of control. He wound up bankrupt and a shadow of his former self just years after holding the heavyweight title.
What does this have to do with Greece? Well ... everything!
Financially assaulting the EU
The two might as well be looking in a mirror at one another. Sure, Greece isn't an economic powerhouse, but the country was consistently outpacing its eurozone rivals in GDP growth from 1996 through 2006. Then in 2007 Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall and never quite recovered.
Struggling under $490 billion in overall debt, Greece is stuck between a rock and a hard place. It's attempting to turn around its swooning economy and please its eurozone partners at the same time. Greece, which accepted a $158 billion bailout package last year, was soon to begin repaying the first portion of these European Central Bank loans, but that now seems like a dream. As bond rates in the troubled EU country continue to bubble higher, it appears Greece may have bit off more than it can chew.
Ten-year bond rates now stand at a staggering 15.4%, while two-year bond rates are at a blistering 25%. In other words, either Greece raises money by putting itself into a deeper hole than it's already in, or it seeks further financial help from the ECB.
It appears, though, that any further help from the ECB won't come without an earful from the other EU countries, most of which are reluctant to lend Greece another penny. Greece may be forced into accepting further austerity measures if more money is needed, further crippling any chance of an economic recovery and one-two punching this country closer to bankruptcy.
Checking the scorecard
Standard & Poor's downgraded Greece's debt further into junk status yesterday on debt worries, while ratings agencies Fitch and Moody's warned of possible downgrades.
Instead of Greece setting the example, it appears that it's on the fast track to bankruptcy. As if the pressure on companies situated within struggling euro nations wasn't enough, they just got exacerbated even more yesterday by this news. National Bank of Greece (NYSE: NBG ) , Allied Irish Banks (NYSE: AIB ) and Bank of Ireland (NYSE: IRE ) continue to face uncertain futures as this crisis unfolds.
The 10 count
As I see it, there are only two feasible solutions: Either Greece is booted out of the EU, upon which the lending countries will likely lose all of their investment, or Greece partially defaults on its debt, stays within the eurozone, and continues to bite the hand or ear that feeds it. There's really no easy fix to this, and the likelihood of these problems dragging out for years is growing. Someone get Greece an "easy button" from Staples, will ya?
What's your solution to the Greece mess? Give us your thoughts in the poll below and then scroll down to elaborate on your choice in the comments box.