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Greek debt writedown probable, ECB's Coene says

Resolving Greece's problems will probably require a writedown of at least part of its debt, and Spain urgently needs to seek a bailout, European Central Bank Governing Council member Luc Coene was quoted as saying.

Coene made the comments at a debate at the University of Ghent, Belgian daily De Standaard reported on Thursday.

On Greece, Coene appeared to share the position of the International Monetary Fund, which believes that some Greek debt must be written down to make the burden manageable.

Germany, the biggest contributor to eurozone bailout funds, has repeatedly rejected the idea of eurozone governments writing down their holdings of Greek debt, saying it would be illegal.

Banks, insurers and other private sector investors holding about 206 billion euros of Greek bonds took a 53.5 percent reduction on the nominal value of their securities earlier this year.

Greece's total debt it forecast to rise to nearly 190 percent of gross domestic product next year, meaning it is highly unlikely to fall back to 120 percent of GDP by 2020, the level the IMF has said is the maximum sustainable in the long term.

Coene also expressed concern about Spain, whose 10-year debt yields have pushed back to around 6 percent in recent days.

"Spain urgently needs to call on the emergency aid, Coene said, according to De Standaard, adding that if financial markets again became unsettled then it was not clear what further ammunition the European Central Bank would have.

Having covered its public funding needs for 2012, Madrid has resisted pressure to call for a bailout, which would likely trigger ECB purchases of Spanish debt. [Reuters]

ekathimerini.com , Thursday November 15, 2012 (10:35)  
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