Greece made to sweat over new loan agreement

Eurozone finance ministers were locked in discussions late Monday as they attempted to reach a deal on a new bailout for Greece, amid concerns about the country’s debt sustainability and objections from at least one of the countries involved about the conditions under which any more loans should be dispersed. Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos expressed optimism going into the Eurogroup talks in Brussels, suggesting that Greece had met the requirements demanded by its eurozone partners. He was accompanied by Prime Minister Lucas Papademos. Papademos was there to run parallel talks with officials from the Institute of International Finance as Greece sought to tie up a debt restructuring deal with its bondholders. Hopes that the bailout deal would be concluded last night took a knock when Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees De Jager expressed skepticism about whether Greece had met all the conditions. He also suggested that the permanent presence of the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and European Commission -- or troika -- should be set up in Athens with powers over Greece’s economic policy. De Jager added that any new loans should not go to Greece but into an escrow account, where they could used to pay off debt first. Any extra funds would only be given to Athens if it met all the conditions. Meanwhile, debt sustainability analysis conducted by the troika and seen by Reuters suggested Greece would need additional relief to cut its debts to 120 percent of GDP by 2020. Greek banks would need as much as 50 billion euros in recapitalization funds, rather than 30 billion, the analysis suggests. The troika’s report suggested that a restructuring of Greek debt by eurozone central banks would cut Greek debt by 3.5 percent of gross domestic product, while if the European Central Bank were to forgo its profit on Greek bonds purchased on the secondary market, debt would be reduced by another 5.5 percent of GDP. The troika suggested that these actions along with other steps could bring Greece’s debt down to 120 percent of GDP by 2020, which was the target that the eurozone was aiming for. However, the analysis showed that Greek debt could reach as high as 160 percent of GDP in 2020 if the recession deepens and structural reforms are not carried out. The troika expressed reservations about whether Athens would be able to conduct reforms at the pace required by its lenders.

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