EU Said to Have Reservations on Greek Debt Sustainability

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Greek Economy Surprises With 0.8% GDP Surge in 2Q

European institutions voiced “serious concerns” about Greece’s ability to repay its debt as Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras prepared for a renewed showdown with party rebels in parliament to try to pass a third bailout.

Greece’s obligations will peak at 201 percent of gross domestic product next year, before dropping to 160 percent in 2022 under a new rescue program, according to European institution projections in a document obtained by Bloomberg. That exceeds the 120 percent level sought in the past by the International Monetary Fund before putting its own money on the line.

Greek lawmakers are expected to vote on legislation by Friday morning that’s required to unlock as much as 86 billion euros ($96 billion) of aid before a 3.2 billion-euro payment comes due to the European Central Bank on Aug. 20. The parliamentary action is necessary to assuage Greece’s lenders and would pave the way for euro-area finance ministers, who meet in Brussels on Friday, to come to a political agreement on the rescue package.

“I’m carefully optimistic that we’ll find a deal and there’ll be no need for a default on Aug. 20,” Finnish Finance Minister Alexander Stubb said in an interview Thursday on Bloomberg Television.

The European Commission’s press office didn’t respond to requests for comment on the debt analysis.

IMF Participation

The Athens Stock Exchange Index fell 0.7 percent on Thursday and is down 27 percent from this year’s high in February. The yield on Greece’s 2.1 billion euros of 3.375 percent notes due 2017 dropped 120 basis points to 13.8 percent. That’s down from a 2015 closing high of 61.1 percent in July.

Debt sustainability “is one of the most important open issues,” according to a German Finance Ministry checklist of the bailout terms agreed by the Greek government and creditor delegates Tuesday. Also still to be resolved in Germany’s view is whether the IMF will “fully subscribe” to the conditions and whether a planned privatization fund can handle bank recapitalization, according to a separate document obtained by Bloomberg.

IMF regulations bar the fund from lending to countries with “unsustainable” obligations. In negotiating Greece’s second bailout in 2012, the IMF pushed for a debt level of 120 percent of GDP by 2020. It eventually settled for 124 percent.

Opposition Support

While the European estimates “point to serious concerns regarding the sustainability of Greece’s public debt,” the document said that problem can be solved with a combination of maturity extensions and grace periods for repayment dates, precluding the need for a nominal haircut.

Tsipras will have to rely on votes from opposition parties to approve the deal with creditors, as lawmakers from the so-called Left Platform of his Syriza party refuse to support continued austerity. They accuse him of betraying his pledges and the Greek people’s mandate.

Former Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis, who leads the Left Platform, announced the creation of an anti-bailout movement on the Iskra.gr website Thursday. Tsipras, whose majority declined by at least 30 lawmakers during the last two parliamentary votes in July, has scheduled a party congress for September.

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