Tuesday, July 14, 2015

14/7/15: IMF Update on Greek Debt Sustainability

Predictably... following yet another leak... the IMF has been forced to publish its update to the 'preliminary' Greek debt sustainability note from early July. Here it is in its full glory or, rather, ugliness: http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/scr/2015/cr15186.pdf?hootPostID=2cd94f17236d717acd9949448d794045.

As discussed in my earlier post here: http://trueeconomics.blogspot.ie/2015/07/14715-brave-new-world-of-imf-debt.html, Greek debt to GDP ratio is now expected to "The financing need through end-2018 is now estimated at Euro 85 billion and debt is expected to peak at close to 200 percent of GDP in the next two years, provided that there is an early agreement on a program."

Which means that "Greece’s debt can now only be made sustainable through debt relief measures that go far beyond what Europe has been willing to consider so far."

Under the current programme (running from November 2012 through March 2016) the IMF projected "debt of 124 percent of GDP by 2020 and “substantially below” 110 percent of GDP by 2022", specifically, the projected debt at 2022 was 105%. Now, the Fund estimates 2022 debt at 142% of GDP.

Furthermore, "Greece cannot return to markets anytime soon at interest rates that it can afford from a medium-term perspective."

Worse, on the current path "Gross financing needs would rise to levels well above what they were at the last review (and above the 15 percent of GDP threshold deemed safe) and continue rising in the long term."

And IMF pours cold water over its own dream-a-little target of 3.5% primary surpluses for Greece. "Greece is expected to maintain primary surpluses for the next several decades of 3.5 percent of GDP. Few countries have managed to do so." Note the word decades! Now, IMF rejoins Planet Reality raising "doubts about the assumption that such targets can be sustained for prolonged periods."

In short - as I said earlier, politics not economics drive Eurogroup decision making on Greece. The IMF is now facing a stark choice: either engage with the euro area leadership in structuring writedowns (potentially also extending maturities of its own loans to Greece) or walk away from the Troika set up (and still extend maturities on its own loans to Greece).

Little compassion for the Fund, though - they made this bed themselves. Now's time to sleep in it...

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