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'Grimbo': The new thing to worry about in Greece

After the famous "Grexit" and the less utilized "Graccident," neologisms for the Greek situation emerge daily within the analyst community. Worth mentioning is "Grimbo" — a contraction of Greece and limbo, a situation in which Greece would default but would remain in the euro zone. Also notable is a rampant form of "Grexhaustion."

Two weeks ago, at the Eurogroup meeting in Riga, Greece was supposed to deliver a comprehensive, detailed list of reforms. This would have finally unblocked the last 7.2 billion euros (US$8.09 billion) of the second Greece bailout program and avoided serious trouble before the end of June. But it was already clear a couple of days before the meeting that this deadline wouldn't be met.


Blue-domed church in Santorini, Greece
Artie Photography | Moment | Getty Images

The deadline for this famous list has been postponed yet again. Greece had already committed to submit a reform list by Feb. 24, and then by March 30. Both times, submissions were insufficiently detailed or credible, and new deadlines were set. The delaying game continues. Now the list is due for the next Eurogroup meeting on Monday — incidentally one day before 776 million euro payment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which — like a Lannister on "Game of Thrones" – always gets its money back.

Read MoreGreece deal: Seriously, what's holding it up?

The more a deadline is postponed, the deadlier the line should become. In Greece's case, the biggest fear is that the country is running out of cash. But this story has been with us for the past three months. Indeed, on Feb. 4, Bloomberg was already writing in a headline that "Greece may run out of cash as early as end of March." Then on April 2, Fortune headlined an article, "Greece says it will run out of cash by April 9." Before the Riga summit, German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concern that "everything must be done to keep Greece from running out of cash before an agreement is found." But the IMF seemed more relaxed. Its European department director, Poul Thomsen, affirmed last week that "Greece will probably run out of money by June," expressing consensus among euro zone and Greek officials.

Beyond politicians stating the obvious, developments show that the Greek government is indeed running out of cash and that it has to scrape together every last euro cent to honor its financial obligations. On April 20, the government signed a legal decree giving it access to the cash holdings of state bodies, like municipalities, hospitals and universities, which might help it to pay state employees and retirees an estimated 1.7 billion euros. We therefore now estimate the likelihood of Greece defaulting on parts of its debt between 50 percent and 60 percent over the coming weeks. However, Greece leaving the euro zone is still not our central scenario. Our subjective probability of such an event happening over the next 12 months remains 20–30 percent.

Read MoreEurogroup: No Greek deal by Monday, but it will get done

Given the high likelihood of default, the question of plan B has now been raised. "There is no plan B. There must not be a plan B," said Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner of Economic Affairs, on television last before the Riga meeting. And Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who has been somewhat demoted by his own government since then, echoed him: "Any mention of a plan B is profoundly anti-European." However, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who leads the Eurogroup, affirmed after the meeting, "In that context, plan B has been mentioned." To which the Slovenian Finance Minister, Dušan Mramor, specified, "A plan B can be anything." Perhaps the wisest words in that confusion came from the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble: "Questions about whether there are B-plans if the world ends or everything turns out differently than one wants, despite best efforts, shouldn't really be put to politicians in positions of responsibility."

As mentioned, analysts are still inventing neologisms to describe this situation. My own favorite is "Grhamlet" because — as did the tragic Danish prince — it signals procrastination and delayed decisions. But contrary to Hamlet, my fear is that "this be madness," with no method in it.


Commentary by Andreas Hoefert, chief economist at UBS Wealth Management, which oversees $1 trillion in invested assets for wealthy individuals globally. Follow UBS on Twitter @UBSamericas.