Voting underway in Greece but euro finished whatever the outcome
It all appears to be on a knife-edge but whichever party wins, the euro's dead man walking anyway
So, here we are. The vote that could change the world. In a sense, that statement is not too sweeping.
If the anti-bailout parties led by Syriza do well in Greece today -- as the opinion polls suggest they might -- the Germans may threaten to push the country out of the eurozone.
That in turn could lead to a domino effect pulling Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy out too. Amid the chaos, their banking systems could collapse, taking everyone else's with them.
That's the catastrophe scenario, and it's not fantastical. But there are others.
The anti-bailout grouping could win, but then succeed in getting Germany to cut a deal for a less stringent austerity programme. This would postpone the inevitable collapse of the euro, but it wouldn't prevent it.
Another scenario envisages no overall winner, which would raise more questions than it can answer, but might well take us back to the first scenario of a quick euro exit followed by a broader meltdown.
Finally, it's still possible that the EU's preferred outcome comes to pass and Greece elects parties such as New Democracy that will stick with the terms of the bailout, austerity and all. Like the second scenario that might postpone things somewhat.
The point to bear in mind is that, in the end, it won't matter.
The euro was flawed from day one, giving countries either the wrong interest rate -- encouraging massive housing booms followed by even bigger busts in Ireland and Spain for example -- or a wrongly valued currency -- making countries such as Italy and Greece, for example, permanently uncompetitive.
There are lots of other issues that flow from this, but in a nutshell that's been the problem and it only needed an external shock to expose the whole house of cards for what it always was.
One way or another and at one time or another, the euro is finished. All the Greeks are doing today is voting on whether the inevitable happens sooner or whether it happens later.
(NB: Voting ends in Greece at 16:00 GMT, followed by exit polls.)
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