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Eurobonds in controversy over its rescue power on debt crisis

By Maria Spiliopoulou (Xinhua)

08:21, June 11, 2012

ATHENS, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Greek political leaders and analyst appear ambivalent this summer over the issuance of eurobonds as an effective way to tackle the Greek and European sovereign debt crisis, noting that certain factors, such as interest rates, could determine whether they would resolve the crisis or provide breathing space.

As the Greek crisis has spread fears that other countries could struggle to sell their bonds without support from Brussels, the latest EU summit examined the issue a few days ago.

At its aftermath, Greek socialist PASOK party leader and former Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos characteristically told Greek media that the "interest rate is a key in determining whether they would be more beneficial" than the bailout deals Greece has signed since 2010 with European partners and International Monetary Fund.

Greece has spoken out in favor of the issuance of eurobonds from late 2009, when the Greek debt crisis that threatens the country with a disorderly default that could destabilize the entire euro zone area started.

But, with the terms of the issuance of such bonds still unspecified and Germany leading opposition to the issuance of debt by all 17 members of the European common currency bloc due to fears that "healthy" economies could be drawn deeper into the crisis, scepticism over its possible positive and negative effects on Greece and internationally runs deep.

"A truly united Europe that collectively borrows and distributes funds according to the need will reduce the borrowing costs to the economies in need, such as Greece, and the risks for international investors..This is the way to leave behind fiscal problems that challenge its structure and for euro to survive," argued in a recent article Periklis Gogas, Professor of Macroeconomics at the University of Thrace.

But, even proponents of the eurobonds acknowledge that the bonds themselves cannot outright resolve the Greek and European debt crisis, if political leaders will not address comprehensively the structural weaknesses of national economies and the euro zone.

In the best case in the short-term future, eurobonds will provide some breathing space rather than unlock the crisis, experts such as Theodore Lianos, Professor of Political Economy at the Athens University of Economics and Business, stated.

It is difficult to estimate the effects of the issuance of eurobonds on Greece, if there are no data on the final terms of their issuance, such as interest rates and time limits, he explained over the past weekend.

If, for instance, there is a condition that the total sovereign debt of eurozone member states can not surpass the 60 percent of their GDP, then the eurobonds issuance would essentially amount to a reinstatement of the pressure for fiscal discipline that is met with strong reactions by Greek citizens and political leaders, since the harsh austerity recipe has fuelled deep recession over the past two years.

"In the case of a redistribution of the debt burden, the Eurobonds issuance could temporally provide some relieve to Greek economy.. But it will not bring growth. Growth demands deep structural reforms that only we can enforce," Lianos stressed.

The Greek Professor seems to share the wide-spread scepticism across Europe whether the collectivizing of debt will keep the pressure on ailing European economies to put their public finances in order.

Depending on the final formula European leaders will adopt, the eurobonds could cut borrowing costs for most members of the 17-nation monetary union, easing immediate budgetary crises for Greece and other economies, along fears over a catastrophic default within the euro zone.

In the worst case scenario on the other hand, a wrong sort of eurobonds could increase the debt load and damage the credit standing of strong economies as well, increasing anxiety over the economic future of more European economies and the euro, some experts warn.

Anyway, the eurobonds themselves without a comprehensive strategy, will not solve the Greek or wider European debt crisis and the structural flaws of national economies and the euro zone, proponents and sceptics agree.


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