Greece Gets Hint of Leeway From Euro Officials [Bloomberg]


By James G. Neuger and Josiane Kremer

European governments hinted at giving Greece extra time to meet budget-cut targets, as long as the financially stricken country’s feuding politicians put together a ruling coalition committed to austerity.

Calling talk of a Greek pullout from the euro “nonsense” and “propaganda,” Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said only a “fully functioning” Greek government would be entitled to tinker with the conditions attached to 240 billion euros ($308 billion) of rescue aid.

“The government would have to stand by the program,” Juncker told reporters after chairing a meeting of euro-area finance ministers in Brussels late yesterday. “If there are dramatic changes in circumstances, we wouldn’t close ourselves off to a debate over extending the deadlines.”

Greece’s post-election impasse multiplied the signs of stress in European markets yesterday. The euro fell for the 10th time in 11 days and stocks surrendered a two-day gain. Bond yields in recession-wracked Spain, the next potential candidate for financial support, touched a five-month high.

“The euro breakup story is gathering steam again,” Marchel Alexandrovich, a senior European economist at Jefferies International in London, said in a research note. “If Greece were to ever exit the euro, no amount of reassuring comments will convince investors that other countries won’t soon follow.”

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