ECONOMY

Eurogroup prepares to sign off on Greek bailout

Euro-area finance ministers seeking to step past the largest sovereign debt restructuring in history will attempt to gain a foothold this week as they grapple with implementing the latest Greek bailout.

Ministers from the 17 nations that share the euro will gather in Brussels today to sign off on the 130 billion-euro ($170 billion) second package for Greece after bondholders agreed last week to take a loss on the country?s debt. They?ll also focus on Spain?s budget-cutting efforts and Portugal?s aid program, underscoring their desire to prevent contagion.

The debt swap seeks to wipe more than 100 billion euros off Greece?s books and contain an economic collapse in the country as European overseers work to hold Greek leaders to their commitments. The difficulties the government in Athens will confront in meeting creditors? demands have prompted speculation of still further assistance.

?Nobody can now exclude that Greece at a single moment may need a third bailout,? German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was cited as saying in an interview published today in Belgian newspaper De Morgen. ?I have all confidence that the measures that we have taken and that Greece must now implement – – no simple exercise — will bring the country on the road to recovery.?

European stocks and the euro dropped today before the finance minister meeting, which is due to begin at 5 p.m. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index (SXXP) retreated 0.4 percent, while the euro declined 0.2 percent to $1.3100 as of 9:18 a.m. in Berlin.

The single currency slid on March 9 after Greece pushed through the swap and said it would force some investors to participate. That triggered a ?restructuring credit event? and will lead to the settlement of about $3 billion in credit- default swap contracts, according to the New York-based International Swaps