ECONOMY

Greek bonds could be issued in dollars

The Finance Ministry is planning to turn to the markets of the USA and Far East to secure the problem-free execution of the new and sizable loan program required for 2010 that could total as much as 55 billion euros. Sources suggest that the ministry has brought the procedures required to the final stage so that it can start, as of early January (depending on market conditions), to issue bonds in US dollars, thereby attracting more investors. At present, state debt in euros represents 99.6 percent of total debt, while just 0.4 percent, that is 1.4 billion euros, concerns currencies outside the eurozone. Finance Minister Giorgos Papaconstantinou has repeatedly stated in the last few weeks that the government’s intention is to to expand its «clientele,» and it is now examining alternative borrowing solutions. As soon as the dollar bonds are issued, they will be transferred into euros through swap contracts so as to avoid any currency exchange risks. This move will, of course, have an additional cost, which is why such moves have to be made with great caution and during periods when costs can be minimized. Ten years ago, in 1999, some 34.1 percent of Greece’s borrowing was in US dollars. One year later, this was suddenly brought down to just 4.85 percent as Greece began receiving treatment on an equal footing in the European Union due to its then prospective entry to the eurozone.