“A large part of the Greek debt is hidden on the balance sheets of the Greek banks,” said Theodore Pelagidis, an economist at the University of Piraeus and the co-author of “Understanding the Crisis in Greece,” a scathing account of Greece’s economic implosion. “So you cannot just say ‘Let’s restructure.’ It is not so easy.”
Goldman estimates that requiring a lender to give up 40 percent on holdings of Greek sovereign debt would result in a loss of 5.3 billion euros for the National Bank of Greece, the country’s largest bank. While that bank, which is in the process of raising fresh cash, probably has the capital to survive such a loss, Greece’s other banks may not be so lucky.
As for Portugal, its domestic debt burden is divided more proportionally among foreign and domestic banks, compared with Greece. Still, two out of the three largest holders of its debt are Portuguese, Caixa Geral de Depósitos and Banco BPI, with 11 billion euros combined.
The No. 2 holder, behind Caixa Geral de Depósitos, is the Spanish giant, Santander, according to Goldman, with 4.9 billion euros.
The article is here. The problem, of course, is this: if the government stops payment on some of the debt, they then will have to bail out their domestic banks.