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O’Neill Says Europe Must Solve Greek Crisis as Risks Increase

Goldman Sachs Asset Management Chairman Jim O’Neill said European officials must fix Greece’s debt crisis soon or risk the country’s leaders seeking their own solution.

“Somebody needs to do something pretty soon because the consequences of it are slowly getting worse,” O’Neill said in an interview with Ryan Chilcote on Bloomberg Television in St. Petersburg today. “The Greeks might say, ‘You know what, we’re sick of you guys treating us like kids, we’re going to just do what we want to do.’”

Speculation that a government shakeup in Greece will disrupt the passage of austerity measures and a delay by European Union leaders in agreeing a solution to the crisis have unsettled markets. While France and the European Central Bank favor a “voluntary” rollover of Greek debt by investors, Germany is pushing for bondholders to shoulder part of the cost of a new Greek aid package.

“I don’t know why the European policy makers can’t just bite the bullet and get on with it and stop all these games going on,” O’Neill said. “The longer it drags on, the worse the risk to other countries is getting.”

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy are slated to meet today in Berlin to resolve their differences, after an emergency session of finance ministers in Brussels on June 14 failed to do so.

Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou today named Evangelos Venizelos, the defense minister, to the post of finance minister as part of a Cabinet reshuffle. He replaces George Papaconstantinou in a move that comes after weeks of public protests against austerity measures that brought tens of thousands of Greeks into the streets.

O’Neill said “it’s the choice of the Greeks” whether to default on their debt.

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