Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Portugal’s Debt Efforts May Be Warning for Greece

New York Times
February 14, 2012

As debt-plagued Greece struggles to meet Europe’s strict terms for receiving its next round of bailout money, the lesson of Portugal might bear watching.

Unlike Greece, Portugal is a debtor nation that has done everything that the European Union and the International Monetary Fund have asked it to, in exchange for the 78 billion euro (about $103 billion) bailout Lisbon received last May.

And yet, by the broadest measure of a country’s ability to repay its debts, Portugal is going deeper into the hole.

The ratio of Portugal’s debt to its overall economy, or gross domestic product, was 107 percent when it received the bailout. But the ratio has grown since then, and by next year is expected to reach 118 percent.

That’s not necessarily because Portugal’s overall debt is growing, but because its economy is shrinking. And economists say the same vicious circle could be taking hold elsewhere in Europe.

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