Greece's 'game theory meets harsh reality': Ross

Syriza will soon face reality: Wilbur Ross
Syriza will soon face reality: Wilbur Ross   

Greece's government is not about to "commit economic suicide" over its reforms-for-rescue negotiations with its international creditors, distressed asset investor and billionaire Wilbur Ross told CNBC, saying that Greece had woken up to a "harsh reality."

"This is game theory meets harsh reality," Ross, who has investments in Greece, told CNBC on Friday, a day after Greece submitted last-ditch proposals to its creditors in an attempt to get a new bailout deal before a Sunday deadline.

Game theory is a mathematical study of decision-making and strategy in social situations and can help explain how two parties interact in decision making. Greece – and particularly, the government's former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis -- has been accused of using game theory in negotiations with its international creditors over the last five months, not least of all by calling a referendum on the country's bailout program two weeks ago.

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Despite the majority of Greeks voting against the bailout and the substantially more austerity that a program would entail, the Greek government submitted new reform plans to creditors on Thursday, detailing tax rises and an overhaul of the Greek pension system, as lenders demand in a last bid to avoid bankruptcy and an exit from the euro zone.

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Against such a backdrop, Ross was optimistic that the Greek government, led by the leftwing Syriza party and Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, would do whatever they could to get a deal now.

"At the end of the day, people do not commit economic suicide – that's not a patriotic act to bankrupt your country. So I think that at the end of the day, Mr Tsipras and even a lot of the people from Syriza will come round and face reality – this is game theory meets harsh reality," he said.

"I don't think that five and a half months was very well spent, it was mostly spent in game theory, I think now, for the first time, they're into negotiations and that's why I'm optimistic that we'll come to a proper conclusion."

'Wake-up call'

Jean-Paul Pelissier | Reuters

Ross is one of a group of investors who pumped 1.3 billion euros ($1.47 billion) into Greece's Eurobank Ergasias in 2014. Greece's banking system is near collapse right now, however, operating under capital controls and only being kept afloat by emergency liquidity assistance from the European Central Bank (ECB).

With money, food and key products running out in Greece – even the newspapers are running out of paper to print on – Greeks who voted "no" against the bailout were starting to realize what that vote meant, Ross said.

"(A 'no' vote) means no cash, no food, no pharmaceuticals, no fun, no vacations, no nothing. I think this week has been a wake-up call for them (the people)…they've see what life is really like outside the cocoon and they're seeing that it's worse than any austerity the EU has tried to put on them."

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Referring to his own investment in Greece, Ross conceded that Greece's banking system – and his own investment -- was at risk.

"If the Greek government really went bankrupt and repudiated all of its debts, it would be very bad for the banks but that's not going to happen, that's not the direction they're heading in at all. I think what we're going to see is a rescheduling of the existing official debt."

"But when you're in a distressed investing situation it's a binary thing, either you're right or you're wrong or you win or you lose, and occasionally you lose."

- CNBC's Dhara Ranasinghe contributed reporting to this story.

- By CNBC's Holly Ellyatt, follow us on Twitter @HollyEllyatt. Follow us on Twitter: @CNBCWorld