Greece's bond yields hit four-week lows after eurozone grants debt relief

Ivan Schwartz
June 24, 2018

Greece's political leadership warmly welcomed on Friday Eurogroup's "historic decision" on the Greek debt, which opens the way for the exit from the bailouts era this summer after eight years of debt crisis.

To make sure Greece can choose the best moment to tap markets again, the euro zone also wants to provide Athens with a cash buffer of around 20 billion euros that would keep it independent of market borrowing for 18 to 24 months.

Eurogroup President Mario Centeno said "after eight long years, the Greek bailout has been completed".

These measures will be linked to Greece's performance after the end of its bailout, and will be disbursed in slices over the next four years as long as the country doesn't stray from its pre-agreed reforms and budget path.

Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said the debt relief deal makes Greece's debt sustainable, allowing the country to return to debt markets.

Greece had already gotten some 275 billion euros in financial support from its global creditors over the past eight years.

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Europe, the Middle East and Africa accounted for little over 21 percent of its global retail sales in the last quarter. Automakers' stocks took a hit following Friday's news, with Ford and General Motors selling off sharply.

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"We will continue to look at whether the reforms are sticking", Dutch Finance Minister Wopke Hoekstra said on Friday. The additional debt relief measures announced today will mitigate Greece's medium-term refinancing risks and improve its medium-term debt prospects, both of which are very welcome results.

But while the news undoubtedly bolstered Greek government bonds, it also seemed to contribute to buying of other Southern European debt, which has had a rough ride in recent weeks on concerns over Italian and German politics.

Opposite the hardliners were France and the European Central Bank, which argued that reduced debt was crucial in order for Greece to gain the trust of the markets.

Greece will maintain a primary surplus of 3.5 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) until 2022 and, thereafter stick to EU budget rules, which would mean a primary surplus of 2.2 percent of GDP on average in the period from 2023 to 2060, according to European Commission estimates. But investors charged high rates to lend Greece the money.

The reform-pushing International Monetary Fund played an active role in the two first Greek bailouts but took only an observer role in the third in the belief that Greece's debt mountain was unsustainable in the long term.

After the bailout, Athens will remain on a tight leash through post-programme monitoring that officials said would be stricter for Greece than for Portugal, Ireland and Cyprus after their respective bailouts.

Other reports by GizPress

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