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Euro zone, IMF at odds over Greek loans

Monday, Nov 26, 2012 - 02:12

Nov. 26 - Greece's lenders are meeting in Brussels to discuss how to release the next tranche of aid for the country, but fundamental disagreements on how to right its economy still need to be solved. Joel Flynn reports.

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Greek actors bring the theatre to a subway in Athens with a scene from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. But the country's economic future is more of a tragedy. Euro zone finance ministers and the IMF are meeting in Brussels to try and unfreeze Greece's second bailout package. It's their third attempt in as many weeks. The main sticking point - agreeing a longer- term growth strategy SOUNDBITE: German Finance Minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, saying (German): "It's not a German problem, it's a problem that in the euro zone everyone is saying that the construction of rescue funds does not allow for a debt cut. The European Central Bank says the same, that it is not prepared to do so." Greek debt could hit 190% of GDP next year. Officials need to cut it by 70% in the next decade. All sides are worried the need for emergency funding may never end. Thomas Costerg is an economist with Standard Chartered. SOUNDBITE: Standard Chartered Economist, Thomas Costerg, saying (English): "The divergences between the IMF and the euro area governments are still huge. The IMF insists on debt sustainability, but that's something still unclear for euro area governments. You have Germany saying that any debt write-down would be illegal, so that's quite a strong statement going into this meeting." Options being discussed include: Reducing interest on already extended bilateral loans from 150 basis points. Deferring interest payments on loans from the bailout fund by 10 years. And asking the European Central Bank to forego profits on its Greek bond portfolio. But can sustainability be achieved without some of Athens' loans being written off? Angus Campbell is from London Capital Group. SOUNDBITE: London Capital Group Head of Market Analysis, Angus Campbell, saying (English): "The political will is there, and it's a question of now trying to find all these different formulas, and ways of refinancing their debt in order to ensure that they don't default, and those are the discussions that we're seeing at the moment, so it is possible, but it could be a long and painful road." Questions about how to fix the Greek economy have been asked dozens of times in recent years. But disagreements over the answer appear to be as strong as ever.

Euro zone, IMF at odds over Greek loans

Monday, Nov 26, 2012 - 02:12

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