- German finance minister cites progress on close-at-hand tasks
- Analyst report puts chance of eventual `Grexit' at 60 percent
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cast doubt on whether Greece’s bailout will succeed, while citing progress on the more immediate task of concluding a review of Greek compliance with the aid program that’s needed to unlock more funds.
“We can make it, I’m not that pessimistic, we’ve made progress,” Schaeuble said during a panel discussion in Berlin late Wednesday. The Greek government’s willingness to accept European Union help in coping with an influx of refugees is reason for optimism that the country will take more advice in other areas as well, he said.
Asked whether the bailout, Greece’s third since 2010, will succeed, Schaeuble said: “I’m not sure it will work.” He reiterated his argument that it’s difficult for the country to recover economically since, as a member of the euro area, it lacks the option of currency devaluation.
Delays in the latest bailout review have weighed on Greek markets. Greek bonds delivered the worst returns of all sovereign securities tracked by Bloomberg’s World Bond Indexes this year. Yields on two-year notes rose 30 basis points to 12.6 percent at 10:35 a.m. in Athens. Stocks opened lower on Thursday, with the benchmark Athens Stock Exchange dropping 0.2 percent. The gauge has declined almost 8 percent this year.
Euro-area finance ministers are scheduled to discuss Greece’s progress in meeting creditor demands at a meeting on Friday. In that group, Schaeuble is Greece’s most influential critic and confronted Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government with a choice between economic overhauls or leaving the currency union during bailout talks last year.
Greece’s chances of leaving the euro area are about 60 percent, the Economist Intelligence Unit said in a report published Thursday.
“It is questionable whether any Greek government, of any political complexion, could implement the measures required under the third bail-out program,” according to the report, which said a Greek exit “would represent a huge political failure for the bloc, with potentially destabilizing consequences.”
Bailout auditors from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund are continuing negotiations with the Greek government in Athens on Thursday, before the finance ministers meet in Amsterdam on Friday. Several rounds of talks over the past three months have failed to bridge differences in multiple policy areas, including income taxes, changes in the pension system and the management of non-performing loans.