Thursday, January 26, 2012

26/1/2012: IMF's latest statement on Greece

Here's an interesting statement:

Given widespread press speculation and rumors regarding IMF views, the following can be attributed to an IMF spokesman, William Murray:

"To ensure debt sustainability for Greece, it is essential that a new program be supported by a combination of private sector involvement and official sector support that will bring debt to 120 percent of GDP by 2020. The Fund has no view on the relative contribution of private sector involvement and official sector support in achieving this target. In line with this view, the IMF has not asked the ECB to play any specific role."

So IMF is making a pre-emptive announcement of 'neutrality' on the issue of the day - who'll be blamed when Greek PSI talks eventually end up in the courts and Greek debt/GDP ratio shoots past 150% mark.

And here's IMF own December 2011 report on Greece (available here)"

Page 13:
"The previous July 21 financing package [agreed for Greece] would not work. Public debt would peak at 187 percent of GDP in 2013 and fall to 152 percent of GDP by 2020. Net external debt would peak at 128 percent of GDP in 2012 and fall to 96 percent of GDP by 2020. These already weak downward trajectories would not be robust to shocks.

The precise outcome of the PSI exercise has an important bearing on public debt dynamics and how robust any improvement would be (the external debt sustainability analysis shows a similar pattern):

  • With near-universal participation in a debt exchange targeting a 50 percent face value haircut and offering a low coupon, and European support at an interest rate of about 4 percent, debt could be brought to 120 percent of GDP by 2020 (the maximum level considered sustainable for a market access country). The trajectory would also be less susceptible to shocks (including to the official sector funding cost), although a longer period of time would be required to bring debt-to-GDP below 120.
  • However, with low participation in the debt exchange and a significant amount of hold outs to be amortized with European support—a real risk under a purely voluntary approach (i.e., an approach not involving any measures to induce higher participation levels)—debt could stick above 145 percent of GDP in 2020. Moreover, the trajectory would no longer be robust to the usual range of shocks.  

Thus, securing a sustainable debt position will depend on whether PSI negotiations deliver the targeted €100 billion in debt reduction, in particular on the ability of the features of the exchange to deliver near-universal participation."

So in other words, why issue pre-emptive statements now? Because a month ago IMF has already washed its hands on Greece, basically saying that, 'look, if all goes really well, things might get to sustainable scenario (assuming Greece delivers on all structural reforms and privatizations and there are no slippages in growth and external balances, etc), but we don;t quite believe they will...'

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