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ECB’s Asmussen Says IMF May Have Role in Bond-Aid Conditions

European Central Bank Executive Board Member Joerg Asmussen
European Central Bank Executive Board Member Joerg Asmussen said, “As an external policeman, the IMF has a lot of leverage.” Photographer: Hannelore Foerster/Bloomberg

European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said the International Monetary Fund should be involved in setting conditions for countries applying for bond-buying aid from Europe’s bailout fund.

“In my opinion, the IMF will be also involved in the design of the economic adjustment process,” Asmussen said during a speech yesterday in Potsdam, Germany. “As an external policeman, the IMF has a lot of leverage.”

The Frankfurt-based ECB is working to design a bond-buying plan that will help countries lower their borrowing costs if they accept economic-reform conditions and Europe’s bailout fund, the European Financial Stability Facility, buys their debt on the primary market. Three Spanish regions including Catalonia this week claimed more than half of an 18 billion-euro ($23 billion) domestic rescue fund, increasing pressure on Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy to seek external aid.

“The ECB can only act in parallel with the EFSF,” Asmussen said. “In my opinion, this means states should apply for primary bond-market intervention from the EFSF before the ECB can intervene.”

Spain and Italy, the countries currently most vulnerable to contagion from the crisis that began in Greece almost three years ago, have yet to decide whether to seek help.

ECB President Mario Draghi may announce details of the program, which faces resistance from Germany’s Bundesbank, when the ECB’s Governing Council meets on Sept. 6.

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