Ratings agency Standard & Poor's forecast Tuesday that after its June 17 election, Greece will have one-in-three chance of abandoning the euro in the coming months.
The agency based its outlook on the high chance that Greeks would revolt against the austerity measures and reforms imposed in exchange for a hefty European Union-International Monetary Fund bailout. S&P warned Greeks that if they would reject the deal, Athens could face suspension of external financial support.
"Such an outcome would, in our view, seriously damage Greece's economy and fiscal position in the medium term and most likely lead to another Greek sovereign default," News.com.au quoted S&P.
It would be the second time in six weeks that Greeks would vote after the May 6 election yielded an inconclusive vote with the parties that backed the EU-IMF debt deal being rejected by voters.
But S&P said other weak euro zone members like Spain would not likely follow a Greek exit because they have witnessed the economic hardship Greeks are suffering and their European partners would offer additional support to discourage them from following Greece's footsteps.
The S&P report came out a day before the finance ministers of the Group of Seven will hold emergency teleconference talks on the eurozone debt.
S&P also said Australian banks are now in a better position to handle a Greek default or sovereign downgrade compared to 2008 when the collapse of U.S. investment bank Lehman Brothers brought on the global financial crisis.
Sharad Jain, S&P director of Corporate and Government Rating, said Australian banks would face fewer problems compared to 2008 because of the reduction of their dependence on offshore borrowing.
"If the sovereign rating is under pressure it could mean some funding pressure for the banks. It could be reflected in increased costs of offshore borrowings or more restricted access to offshore borrowings," he told Dow Jones.
Even if Greece were to default, Jain said it would be unlikely for the Australian banks to use government rating to help them raise funds due to the slower domestic credit growth and more diversified funding base.
Fitch Director Tim Roche said last week that while the big four Australian bans have been working to reduce their $100-billion a year reliance on offshore funding, it remains a key vulnerability on their credit ratings. Analysts believe that the big lenders have sufficient funding through September, but beyond that they would need to borrow again from the international funding markets.
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