ECONOMY

Shots fired over future of debt

A day after Greece’s successful treasury bills sale and a drop in borrowing costs thanks to the intervention of the European Central Bank (ECB), talk on whether Greece will default on its debt continued yesterday. On the one hand, renowned US-based economist Nouriel Roubini repeated that Greece will restructure its debt, while on the other, Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said that there is no possibility of this happening in Greece, or in any other eurozone state. Deputy Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis stepped in yesterday to say that Roubini is not always right and his forecasts will miss the mark. He added that all economists commenting on the debt should be particularly mindful of the interests they may be supporting. Essentially, Sachinidis hinted that investors whose position may favor a possible restructuring of the Greek debt could be behind such comments. Amid all this, the spread of 10-year Greek government bonds over German bunds narrowed yesterday. During the day, the spread shrank to 840 basis points, from 900 bps on Tuesday. Portugal’s successful auction of its 10-year bond yesterday helped boost sentiment toward Greek debt, as did Rehn’s comments. The most important reason behind the narrowing of the spread, however, is the purchase of Greek government paper by the ECB for three straight days. Yesterday, the ECB bought Greek debt on the secondary market worth 65 million euros. Since Monday, the total amount purchased by the ECB has reached 233 million euros at a time when daily turnover on the market has rarely exceeded the 5-million-euro mark. Ahead of the Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings on Monday and Tuesday, Roubini said that Greece must restructure its debt. In the best-case scenario, Greece’s debt will be 160 percent of gross domestic product in two years, he added.