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Reasons UK debt unlike Greek

The UK will not suffer the same fate as Greece because of significant differences in the way its debt is structured, a currency trader says.

By Jonathan Boyd, Editor-in-Chief
Friday April 30, 2010

Mark Bolsom, head of UK trading desk at foreign exchange firm Travelex says he does not see a Greek style crisis hitting the UK, despite ongoing fears over a downgrade to the AAA credit rating on the country's debt.

He says the UK's control over its own currency gives policymakers the option of devaluing the currency to boost exports - an option Greece does not have. He points to the UK's stock of debt as being older, which reduces the pressure to raise new debt, even compared to key eurozone members France and Germany.

Finally, he says there is a key difference in attitude towards taxation. Citing a World Bank report, Bolsom says up to a third of the Greek economy is never touched by a tax return, balance sheet or other form of written record, all factors that are making it more difficult for Greece to make fiscal promises to lenders.

However, in another view the organisers of a summit of business leaders in Zermatt, Switzerland in June are warning policymakers must avoid letting Europe becoming the "Lehman Brothers of the sovereign debt world".

One of the speakers expected at the event is Colin Melvin, chief executive of Hermes Equity Ownership Services, which is owned by the BT pension scheme, and has around $100bn in assets under advice.

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