Tag Archives: details

The Second Greek Bailout: the Details

The leaders of the eurozone have approved the second bailout of Greece that is supposed to finally overcome the debt crisis in this country. The total official financing will amount to an estimated 109 billion euro. The European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) will be used, but the maturity of the loans will be extended from the current 7.5 years to a minimum of 15 years and up to 30 years with a grace period of 10 years. Lending rates will be around 3,5%, close to the costs of borrowing for the EFSF. The maturities of existing loans from the first Greek bailout will be extended. The private sector will contribute with up to 37 billion euro. Financial institutions will be offered a set of optional forms of contribution, including the buy-back of Greek debt, the extension of bond maturities and the rollover of existing debts. Greek banks will be recapitalized “if needed”.

The EFSF and the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) will be allowed to:

  • act on the basis of a precautionary programme;
  • finance recapitalisation of financial institutions through loans to governments including in non programme countries ;
  • intervene in the secondary markets on the basis of an ECB analysis recognizing the existence of exceptional financial market circumstances and risks to financial stability.

The EFSF lending rates and maturities for Greece will also be applied for Portugal and Ireland.

So will the new bailout be effective? It’s hard to say. The economic commentators are somewhat sceptical. Felix Salmon notes that this deal is not enough on its own to bring Greece into solvency. He believes that this is not a one-off event and that the same instruments will have to be used for Portugal and/or Ireland.

It’s clear that the deal will alleviate fears for a financial meltdown in the eurozone. However, the deal does not efficiently address the growth problem for Greece (and by extension for Portugal, Ireland, Spain, etc.). The fundamental problem of the eurozone persists. Until we manage macroeconomic imbalances and structural impediments to growth, we will not be able to overcome the reasons for the current debt crisis.

 

 

The Irish Bailout: the Details and the Bigger Picture

The details of the Irish bailout are now set:

EU countries and the International Monetary Fund will provide up to €85bn in total, which may be drawn down over a period of up to 7½ years. About €50bn is aimed at bolstering Ireland’s public finances while it implements a €15bn austerity package over the next four years. Of the remaining €35bn, €10bn will be used to recapitalise Ireland’s stricken banks, while another €25bn will be a contingency fund to help support the banking system if necessary. The Irish government itself will contribute €17.5bn towards the bank contingency fund, while the IMF will put €22.5bn towards the overall package. This will also include three bilateral loans from the UK, Sweden and Denmark, with the British contribution being around €3.8bn. Ireland will pay average interest of 5.8 percent on the loans.

More importantly, the Council agreed on speedy introduction of a permanent European Stability Mechanism (ESM). An ESM loan will enjoy preferred creditor status, junior only to the IMF loan. The most important feature are the so-called collective action clauses (CACs). These clauses allow a large majority of bondholders to agree a debt restructuring that is legally binding on all bondholders. CACs are meant to ease the process of debt restructuring. The CACS will be introduced in mid-2013.

The proposal for ESM is supported by the president of the ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet. The president of the European Council, Herman van Rompuy, will present proposals for amendment of the Treaties in December.

There is, however, a problem. The financial markets seem unconvinced. As Eurointelligence notes, the problem is that the market demand for peripheral debt is weak, and from 2013 demand for peripheral bonds may dry up completely due to the bail-in rules. And the 6% interest on bailout loans may be too high for Ireland to stay solvent.

There are some ideas how to handle this. Wolfgang Münchau proposes to separate national debt from financial debt and to turn all outstanding sovereign bonds, existing and new, into a common European treasury bond. He does admit that his proposal is not actually feasible, though.

So a more practical approach is to see whether, after all, the EU rescue system can survive the waves of uncertainty. Spiegel International does just that, and notes that of all the possible next bailouts, one is a no-brainer. If Spain falls, so does the euro.

 

 

The Greek Bailout: the Details

The Greek bailout is here, and we have the details:

The financial package makes available € 110 billion to help Greece meet its financing needs, with euro area Member States ready to contribute for their part € 80 billion, and the rest provided by the IMF. The first disbursements will be made available before the payment obligations of the Greek government fall due on 19 May.

Euro area financial support will be provided under strong policy conditionality, on the basis of a programme which has been negotiated with the Greek authorities by the Commission and the IMF, in liaison with the ECB.

The programme will include the following measures:

  • Greece is subject to a check by IMF/EU each quarter;
  • 5pc point reduction in fiscal deficit in 2010;
  • Goal is to drive deficit down to 3% of GDP by end-2014;
  • Debt-to-GDP ratio is forecast to grow from 115% to 140% (but these are the Maastricht numbers. Add some 10pc point to get the total debt);
  • Individual measures include, another increase in VAT from 21 to 23% (plus increase for smaller VAT rates), 10% increase in excise taxes on fuel, cigarettes and drinks, a windfall tax, a property tax, near abolition of 13 and 14th month pay in the public sector, cut of Christmas and Easter bonuses, cuts in pensions, reducing early retirement.

The shortcomings of the plan according to Eurointelligence:

  • No public sector layoffs, or change of status of public sector job;
  • No complete removal of 13/14th month salary in public sector;
  • No removal of 13/14th month salary in private sector, meaning more unemployment;
  • No immediate privatisation of state companies;
  • No change to rule that caps dismissals to 4% of workforce, and no change to firing costs;
  • No anti tax-evasion mechanism.

I would also recommend reading an interview with one of my favourite philosophers, Jürgen Habermas, on the Greek bailout, the institutional challenges, and the German intransigence.