- Reuters/Pascal Lauener
Greece just received some short-term relief from the eurozone.
In exchange for successfully implementing tough economic reforms and budget constraints, the country will be given some short-term help in the form of smoothing its repayment schedule for EFSF debt and waiving an interest rate increase that was scheduled for 2017. “We agreed the primary surplus (which excludes debt-servicing payments) goes up to 3.5 percent of GDP in 2018 and beyond for the medium term,” Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem told reporters on Monday.
But the deal stopped short of granting Greece the one thing that would really help it get a handle on its heaping debt load. Debt forgiveness. And the market seems to be taking note. Greece’s 3-year yield is higher by almost 60 basis points since news of the agreement crossed the wires on Monday. The heavy selling in government bonds has run the yield back above 7.00% for the first time in three weeks.
- Business Insider/Andy Kiersz, data from Bloomberg
That idea of debt relief has been supported by President Barrack Obama, who during his recent trip to the country suggested it should be given “meaningful debt relief.”
Additionally, IMF head Christine Lagarde has made similar claims. In May she stated “For us to support Greece with a new IMF arrangement, it is essential the financing and debt relief from Greece’s European partners are based on fiscal targets that are realistic because they are supported by credible measures to reach them.”
Capital Economics agrees. Specifically, the firm points to the deal not going far enough to help Greece because “the amount of debt and its average maturity will be unchanged.”
While nearly everyone seems to be on the same page, there’s always Germany there to spoil the party. Speaking to Bild am Sonntag on Sunday, German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said, “Athens must finally implement the needed reforms. If Greece wants to stay in the euro, there is no way around it – in fact completely regardless of the debt level.”
And that might be the real solution. While a “Grexit” would create the fear of the unknown, and pave the way for other debt riddled nations to potentially leave the euro, it would allow Greece to do what it needs most. Devalue its currency and make things cheap enough for foreign investors to want to put their money to work in the country while at the same time spurring exports and inflation.