ECB must include Greece in bond-buying plan, Hardouvelis says

Greece’s finance minister urged the European Central Bank not to exclude it from a quantitative easing program, expected to be announced later on Thursday, telling German business daily Handelsblatt that no one needed it as much as his country.

“I hope that Greece will not be excluded as no country needs quantitative easing as much as Greece,” Gikas Hardouvelis told the paper.

“We are the country with most deflation, the highest debt ratio and the highest domestic interest rates,” he added.

“In theory… we are the ideal recipient of the program.”

He also said the monetary policy should allow national central banks in countries with problems “more free credit” and that the ECB’s money-printing program should not be linked to political developments, such as Greece’s election on Sunday.

The ECB is poised to announce a closely-watched plan to buy government bonds later on Thursday to reinvigorate the flagging euro zone economy and ward off deflation.

Hardouvelis also said Greece’s European partners should be a bit flexible on Greece’s 2015 budget goals and said that there was only a very small chance that Greece would leave the euro zone after the election as its people didn’t want to. [Reuters]