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Stock exchange decline and spread-index increase in anticipation of the new IMF measures

19 April 2010 / 15:04:06  GRReporter
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With proposals for new and more stringent financial constraints arrived in Athens the mission of the International Monetary Fund, which flew from Madrid because of the volcanic cloud over Europe. However, most likely the Greek Government will not only talk to them but it will wait for representatives of the European Commission and European Central Bank, who are expected in Athens not earlier than Wednesday because of the disturbed air traffic over the old continent. Meanwhile, Prime Minister George Papandreou called an emergency cabinet meeting to discuss the decisions of Eurogroup/Ecofin, who met this weekend in the Spanish capital, and the new measures, which his government should undertake in 2011. 

The new measures, which not only the IMF urges, but eurozone countries as well, were already announced publicly and in general they are:

- New income decrease for public employees for the period 2012-2013 and decrease in the total number of employees in the public sector, mainly through discontinuation of temporary employment contracts; 

- Acceleration of pension reform in particular by increasing the retirement age and reducing pensions; 

- Reduction of salaries in the private sector by eliminating the 13th and 14th salary and a more flexible framework of labor relations law; 

- Opening of closed professions; 

- Closure or privatization of unprofitable state enterprises. 

The discussion of the new measures has been recognized by the President of Eurozone, Jean-Claude Juncker, provided that they are not urgent. "Eurozone will meet its responsibility, there will be European money when there is a need for them," he added. Greek Finance Minister George Papakonstantinou explained that European countries will need one to two weeks to activate the European mechanism for assistance in the event that Greece asks for it. Financial Times estimated that in the next 5 years the country will need €50 billion just to pay the old bonds and to service the interest on loans. According to newspaper the Greek GDP this year will fall by 3 to 5 per cent and will need some kind of revaluation of government debt. 

All these news stressed out the international markets, the 10-year bonds spread-index reached 468 points in midday before it "calmed down" at 445 points. The Athens Stock Exchange suffered large losses because the index closed with 2.89 per cent decline. “Investors no longer believe that the Greek economy can be reformed radically. The intervention of IMF is no longer sufficient and European financial aid will only postpone the time for painful reforms. Only very radical steps such as removal of Greece from the eurozone would have a real healing effect on its economy," said financial analyst for GRReporter. 

It is expected that tomorrow Greece will issue bonds on the market with 13 weeks due payment accounting for €15 billion, but observers did not exclude the possibility that the country will try and sell that amount - about €2 billion. So the troubled economy will be able to patch up its financial holes for April, but for May it will need another €8 billion.

Tags: IMF Greece Economy Brussels European commission Ecofin
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