Eurozone Finance Chiefs Set to Approve Greek Bailout

Posted March 12th, 2012 at 9:10 am (UTC-5)
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Finance ministers in the 17-nation euro currency bloc are set to approve Greece's new $172 billion bailout, even as they grapple with concerns about Spain missing its deficit target this year.

Greece last week secured agreements with private creditors to eliminate $142 billion of the debt it owed them. That cleared the way for the finance chiefs meeting in Brussels Monday to give their assent to the Athens government's second international bailout in two years. Greece says it needs the bailout to avert a default on its financial obligations later this month.

With Greece repaying its remaining debt over an extended period, the lenders will lose about three-quarters of their original investments on the country's bonds.

Greece's new bonds started trading at heavily discounted levels on Monday, about a quarter of face value. That signaled that investors remain wary of the debt-ridden country's financial state and worry that it might not be able to carry out the sharp austerity measures the country has agreed to in order to win approval for the debt relief and bailout.

Meanwhile, the finance ministers planned to seek explanations from Spain, the eurozone's fourth largest economy, about why its deficit is expected to reach 5.8 percent of the country's economic output this year. That is well above the 3 percent figure it had agreed upon with European leaders.

Meanwhile, Italy, with the eurozone's third biggest economy, confirmed that its economy has fallen into a recession, declining seven-tenths of a percent in the last three months of 2011, after a smaller slide in the third quarter. The Italian economy has shrunken with the government's adoption of austerity measures to cope with its mounting debts.