Saturday, November 10, 2012

Little alternative to official sector involvement

letter to the Editor by Desmond Lachman

Financial Times

November 10, 2012

Sir, Your editorial “The self-defeating Greek rescue policy” (November 3) did a very useful service in emphasising how unsustainable its public finances are and how desperately Athens needs debt restructuring to help extricate the country from its destructive downward economic spiral. However, it exaggerates the contribution that a further squeeze of privately held Greek sovereign debt can make in that process.

Earlier this year, with International Monetary Fund and EU backing, the Greek government wrote down the present value of its privately held government debt by 74 per cent. As a result, Greece’s privately held debt at present amounts to only €60bn, or about one-sixth of the Greek government’s overall debt. This very much limits the contribution that even a successful private sector debt buyback programme can make to reducing Greece’s public debt ratio from its currently expected peak of 189 per cent of gross domestic product in 2013 to the IMF-EU’s unambitious target of about 120 per cent by 2020.


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