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Wednesday, May 23, 2012 9:57 AM

Flight to Safety: German 2-Year Bonds Yield Hits Zero; Eurozone Officials Tell Countries to Prepare for Greece Exit

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The once taboo subject of a Greek departure from the eurozone cracked in the past couple of weeks, primarily with threats to Greece.

Today the exit discussion dam broke wide open as Eurozone tells members to make contingencies for "Grexit"

Euro zone officials have told members of the currency area to prepare contingency plans in case Greece decides to quit the bloc, an eventuality which Germany's central bank said would be "manageable".

Three officials told Reuters that the instruction was agreed on Monday by a teleconference of the Eurogroup Working Group (EWG) - experts who work on behalf of the bloc's finance ministers.

"The EWG agreed that each euro zone country should prepare a contingency plan, individually, for the potential consequences of a Greek exit from the euro," said one euro zone official familiar with what was discussed.

For the first time in more than two years of debt-crisis meetings, the leaders of France and Germany have not huddled beforehand to agree positions, marking a significant shift in the Franco-German axis which has traditionally driven European policymaking.

Instead, new French President Francois Hollande met Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy in Paris to discuss policy, before the pair travel to Brussels for the 1800 GMT summit.

A German two-year debt auction gave a stark illustration of how money is dashing for safe havens. Investors snapped up the 4.5 billion euros of paper on offer even though it came with a zero coupon - offering no return at all.

One proposal on the table is for the euro zone's rescue funds to be allowed to recapitalize banks directly, rather than having to lend to countries for on-lending to the banks.

But that is another idea with which Germany is uncomfortable, even though Merkel said on Tuesday a way should be found to dismantle banks across borders, a possible nod to a pan-euro-zone bank restructuring scheme
Here is one for the surprising candor and honesty department:

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said "The hard truth is that there are no magic solutions to solving this crisis. We will all have to keep our spending in check, pay off our debts and swiftly introduce healthy reforms. This is what will kickstart growth."

The one major thing missing is that bondholders, not taxpayers need to take a substantial hit. Only after equity holders and bondholders are 100% wiped out should any public funds come into play.


Reader Donn replies "public pensioners should take a haircut before taxpayers in general", an idea of considerable merit.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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