by Ian Traynor
October 12, 2012
The eurozone and the International Monetary Fund are locked in their worst showdown of Europe's three-year sovereign debt crisis, engaged in a dangerous game of brinkmanship over how to respond to a Greek bailout that is threatening to go off the rails.
The IMF, it is understood in Brussels, is insisting that Greece's eurozone creditors and the European Central Bank write down or write off up to €30bn (£24bn) in Greek debt to close a funding gap in the Greek rescue plan which may need to be extended by two years.
The showdown between the eurozone and the IMF is being described as eyeball-to-eyeball, a shouting match, and a contest to see who will blink first. It is expected to come to a head next month. The IMF is demanding that the eurozone and the ECB resort to a new policy of Official Sector Involvement (OSI), meaning a writedown or writeoff of Greek debt to its official creditors - a move that the ECB and the German government are resisting fiercely.
Greece needs a cash payout from its previously agreed bailout of more than €30bn next month, without which it will go bankrupt and be unable to pay public workers or pensioners.