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Economist: Bailing out Greece

An extreme necessity

April 23, 2010


In this online publication, The Economist looks at Greece's request for aid from the euro zone and the IMF, concluding that it will likely only provide temporary relief. 

Greece's prime minister, George Papandreou, faced the television cameras on Friday 23rd April to anounce that his government would draw on emergency aid to tide it over for the rest of the year. Mr Papandreou decribed the rather embarassing request to to other euro zone members and the IMF as "an extreme necessity." This followed a week in which yields on Greek bonds reached an alarming 8.9%. That in part reflected an announcement by Eurostat, the European statistics agency, that Greece's budget deficit reached 13.6% of GDP in 2009, even worse than it had previously thought. The agency added that the number might be revised up again, owing to the poor quality of the available data. Moody's, a credit-rating agency, responded by giving the latest of many downgrades by agencies to Greece's sovereign bonds.

The interest rate for emergency aid from other members of the euro zone will be 3.5 percentage points above the benchmark "risk-free" rates for euro loans. That works out at around 5% for a fixed-rate loan, which is less than markets were asking of Greece before the deal was struck but still steep. Portugal and Ireland, the next-riskiest borrowers in the euro area, pay less than half as much for three-year money. Germany pays a mere 1.3%.

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