Contagion Defined

I have not really preferred the word “contagion.” When an effect happens, even in the monetary system, it has a cause. This is generally not merely that a similar thing is happening across a nearby border. The word contagion has connotations that because something is happening in Country X, then that by itself means it will somehow happen in Country B. I just do not think it works this way.

But something is going on in Europe today that I think fits the word “contagion” perfectly. It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Greek banks will collapse. The Greek government is too weak to prop them up much longer, and the Eurocrats are growing tired of throwing money into a bottomless pit. In addition, the Greek banks (like the others in Europe) were used to prop up the Greek government by buying Greek government bonds.

In Greece today there is a game dynamic that goes something like this. The first to withdraw their money from the banks gets out whole. Those who wait too long will lose something between part and all of their money, depending on how the government and other actors move the planchette on the ouija board.

It is perfectly safe to withdraw a year early. Waiting until a minute too late could result in total losses. And of course a run on the bank will accelerate failure.

Contagion. n. When people in Portugal, Ireland, Italy, and Spain come to the same realization.