Euro Finance Chiefs Weighing Greek Debt Relief

Posted June 21st, 2012 at 10:10 am (UTC-5)
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Finance chiefs from Europe's currency bloc are in Luxembourg to start weighing whether to ease the terms of Greece's latest bailout.

Some European officials have acknowledged debt-ridden Greece will need more leeway to advance its economy, now in the fifth year of a recession, and achieve a budget surplus. But finance ministers from Germany, the Netherlands and Finland are likely to balk Thursday at relenting on austerity measures Athens pledged to adopt as it secured a $168 billion rescue package earlier this year. It was Greece's second bailout in two years.

The new coalition government in Athens says its goal is to boost the country's economic growth and revise the bailout terms, but not so much as to jeopardize the country's membership in the 17-nation eurozone.

Whatever the finance chiefs decide, the ultimate decision on Greek debt relief is likely to rest with the eurozone heads of state, who hold a summit next week in Brussels.

Spain is set to formally ask the finance chiefs to approve the $125 billion rescue of Spanish banks, a plan euro leaders preliminarily approved two weeks ago. Financial analysts fear that Madrid could eventually follow Greece, Ireland and Portugal in needing a bailout. Spain again sold bonds to investors on Thursday, but its borrowing costs more than doubled from a comparable sale in March.

Meanwhile, a new survey showed European manufacturing is continuing to contract, down to its lowest point in three years.