No sweet debt deals

The lion’s share of Greece’s debt is held by European Union member states and the International Monetary Fund. A writedown of the European part of the debt would require the approval of the parliaments in the countries that contributed toward the bailout. Otherwise, Athens could take a unilateral decision to seek a write-off.

The former is impossible, so the only choice for Athens would be to cease payments, which would however lead to Greece being expelled from the eurozone. No one in the single currency bloc would accept Greece’s debt slate being wiped clean simply because Athens said so.

As far as the debt to the IMF is concerned, the only two countries that have defaulted are severely underdeveloped. It is unlikely if not impossible that the Fund would agree to grant Greece any particular favors. A unilateral decision to cease debt repayments, meanwhile, would turn Greece into an international pariah.

The frenzy, especially in the ranks of the opposition, about how good a deal Greece can clinch needs to be brought under control.

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