IMF Sets Debt Relief as a Condition for Greek Bailout

The fund has been pushing for a restructuring as a condition of giving its support to Greece's latest bailout package.
Matthew HellerMay 23, 2016

The International Monetary Fund has outlined a framework for Greece to reduce its debt to sustainable levels that stops short of writing down outstanding loans.

The IMF has been pushing debt relief for Greece as a condition for lending its support to the country’s three-year, 86 billion euro bailout that the euro zone approved last year. Without debt relief, the fund said in a new sustainability analysis, Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio will reach 294% in 2060 and gross financing needs (GFN) — the money it would need to service its debt pile – will take up 67% of GDP.

The debt now amounts to 180% of GDP, which the IMF believes is unsustainable. According to the fund’s analysis, that burden can be reduced with a package of restructuring measures including delaying all payments until after 2040, stretching loan maturities out until as late as 2080, and locking in interest rates of no more than 1.5% for more than 30 years.

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“The reduction in interest rate is critical to allow for a debt reduction of 30% of GDP by 2040 and 70% by 2060, and for a reduction in GFN by 4% by 2040 and 14% by 2060,” the IMF said.

Euro zone finance ministers are meeting Tuesday to discuss how to ease Greece’s debt burden. Greek lawmakers on Sunday approved tax increases the government hopes will help unlock bailout funds it needs to pay off 3.5 billion euros in debt that matures in July.

As The Wall Street Journal reports, the IMF has been at odds with euro zone governments led by Germany, which “is insisting that the IMF must rejoin the Greek bailout program as a lender if Europe is to disburse any more aid loans to Athens.”

“German officials, although keen on IMF involvement, are seeking to delay any loan restructuring until the end of the current Greek bailout program in 2018,” the WSJ noted.

The IMF opposes a delay. “There are many options possible on how to get to a debt relief package and those discussions have now begun and we welcome them,” a fund spokesman said last week.