Currency swaps at an unrealistic exhange rate are cancelled out at the time of repurchase but can conceal borrowing by the seller throughout the period in which they operate. Greece sold dollars short at an over-valued rate in terms of euros, they got a billion dollars more in euros than those dollars were worth, they paid the billion dollars back on re-purchase but within the two transactions Greece had borrowed a billion off the books. Greek indebtedness is a billion more than it looked, thus keeping closer to the bounds of the Growth and Stability pact, improving the credit ratings, expectations, general financial credibility.
Greece did this because they wanted to indulge in government expenditures uncovered by government income.
The United Kingdom is bound by the Growth and Stability pact, by credit ratings, expectations, general financial credibility. Yes it can devalue, and goodness how it has. But devaluation has not stopped failure to meet any of those factors squarely. Has the United Kingdom under Gordon Brown's chancellorship and prime ministership engaged in Greek practices?
Getting stuff off the balance sheet might be considered the hall mark of Brown's regime both before and after 2007. Selling government buildings to a public financial holding and leasing them back; forms of PFI; taking on contingent liabilities such as government guarantees; securitising future government revenues for immediate realisation....
Greece was disgraced by its keeping of official economic statistics and the threats of its debt position made more severe. Brown might have to make a confession and a good act of contrition on his trip to Brussels tomorrow, not do the pointy finger at fellow sinners.
Patten, the last life peer to Chair the BBC
26 minutes ago