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12 Aug, 2015

Germany benefits massively from Greek crisis: study

BERLIN, Aug. 10 (Xinhua) — Germany received significant benefits from the Greek crisis in recent years, saving more than 100 billion euros (about 109.7 billion U.S. dollars) in interest payments on its debts, a study found on Monday.

Investors look for safe haven investments when facing uncertainties, said Halle Institute for Economic Research (IWH). Germany, the biggest economy in Europe, benefited from debt crisis in the euro zone as the interests it had to pay investors for its bonds reduced when “bad news” happened.

“Any time there was bad news about Greece, yields on German government bonds fell, and any time there was good news about Greece, German government bond yields rose,” IWH said in a report, adding that other countries like the United States, the Netherlands or France also benefited from such effect, but their gains were “significantly smaller.”

According to the institute, German bond rates declined by 300 basis points during the last five years, saving Germany interest payments of more than 3 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP).

“The balanced budget in Germany is largely the result of lower interest payments due to the European debt crisis,” it said, “a significant part of this reduction is directly attributable to the Greek crisis.”

Germany, the biggest contributor to the 240-billion-euro bailouts to Greece since 2010, was reluctant to offer its southern European neighbor a third relief worth up to 86 billion euros, fearing of throwing more taxpayers’ money to a “bottomless pit.”

Its Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble openly expressed his doubts whether Greece could reduce its mountainous debt to a controllable level without a temporary exit from the euro zone. A recent poll also found 71 percent of German people believed that Greece could not avert a bankruptcy even with the third bailout.

According to IWH’s study, however, Germany would come out ahead even if Greece didn’t repay a single cent.

“In case Greece defaults on its debts and there is no recourse to any of the collateral, the maximal uncertain and future costs of bailing out Greece to Germany are smaller than the benefits already accrued to the German budget,” it said, “when discussing the costs to the German tax payer of saving Greece, these benefits should not be overlooked.”