BUSINESS

QE remains a long shot for Greece

YIANNIS PAPADOYIANNIS

TAGS: Banking, Finance

Greece is nowhere near a swift inclusion in the European Central Bank’s quantitative easing (QE) program, according to senior officials at domestic banks.

They argue that the issue of the national debt, and securing its sustainability in a way that would satisfy the International Monetary Fund too, constitutes a particularly complex problem that may well be too hard to resolve by next month’s Eurogroup.

They therefore consider Greece’s entry into the ECB’s bond-buying program this summer unlikely – instead expecting it to happen after the German election in the fall, either by the end of 2017 or in early 2018. Some go as far as expressing concern as to whether Greece will make it in at all before the program ends.

While there are more and more voices within the ECB speaking in favor of concluding the program earlier, Greece would like enjoy its benefits for more than two years. Greek banks are hoping a formula will be found at the next Eurogroup, on June 15, that will allow the disbursement of the next bailout tranche while putting off any decisions on the debt.

The most optimistic observers note there is a chance of Greece entering QE between July and September and next month’s Eurogroup will be crucial to this end.

The ECB argues that Greece’s inclusion in the bond-buying program requires the safeguarding of the debt’s sustainability. In this context political statements or a mere reference to a series of measures will not suffice, as they will have to constitute legally binding pledges, which is highly unlikely before the German election.

Goldman Sachs stated in an analysis that this country is not likely to fulfill the terms the ECB has set to join QE before the reduction of the monthly rate of bond purchases is activated. It also highlighted the high rate of bad loans as a point of concern that might also delay the decision for Greece to enjoy the benefits of QE.

Similarly, Citi estimates that without an agreement on the easing of the debt, both inclusion in QE and a return to the bond markets would be quite difficult for Greece.

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