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Greece Default Risk Is ‘Substantial,’ Pimco’s Bosomworth Says

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Greece Default Risk Is ‘Substantial'
Greece still faces a “substantial” default risk as insolvency prevents the nation from repaying its debt. Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Sept. 6 (Bloomberg) -- Greece still faces a “substantial” default risk as insolvency prevents the nation from repaying its debt when its bailout program expires in three years, Pacific Investment Management Co. fund manager Andrew Bosomworth said.

“Greece is insolvent,” Bosomworth, Munich-based head of portfolio management at Pimco, which oversees the world’s largest bond fund, said in a telephone interview today. “I see it as being quite a substantial risk that Greece eventually defaults or restructures.”

In a best-case scenario, Greece’s government debt will swell to 150 percent of gross domestic product, Bosomworth said. The European Union-led rescue package assumes the Athens-based government will tap investors for 82 billion euros ($106 billion) during the life of the bailout program, “and that’s I think going to be very difficult,” he said.

“Debt servicing as a share of government revenue will increase substantially, particularly if current yield levels do not decline,” Bosomworth said.

The extra yield that investors demand to hold Greek 10-year bonds over German equivalents is now 902 basis points, compared with 785 basis points at the end of June. Greek 10-year debt yielded 11.24 percent today. The Spanish spread is at 173 basis points, Portugal’s is at 331 basis points and Ireland’s is at 340 basis points.

Greek Yields

The premiums investors charge to hold Spanish and Irish debt over German bunds are wider than before the EU announced its rescue package on May 10.

If the interest rates of other southern European countries “stay where they are, they are going to have some problems as well,” Bosomworth said. “You have the contagion risk and until we know precisely how this contagion risk will be contained, it is a pretty risky strategy staying in the other countries as well.”

The euro slumped 21 percent from a November 2009 peak through a June trough this year as the threat of contagion from Greece’s financial crisis prompted investors to sell other euro-region assets. The country ran up a budget deficit of 13.6 percent of GDP last year on debt of 115.1 percent of total output, the European Commission estimated in May. Greece’s debt will swell to 124.9 percent this year, the commission said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Josiane Kremer in Oslo at Jkremer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Tasneem Brogger at tbrogger@bloomberg.net

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