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Greece waits for ‘right moment’ for bond market return

By on July 20, 2017

By Derek Gatopoulos 

ATHENS — Greece says it is still waiting for the “right moment” to re-enter the bond market, playing down expectations of an issue by the end of the week.

Government spokesman Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said Thursday that the government was still following “developments and trends” in the bond market, and gave no other details.

He made the remarks as the governing board of the International Monetary Fund was to discuss the Greek program and whether it could provide an additional 2 billion euros ($2.3 billion) in bailout funding.

Greece had been widely expected to test the markets sometime this week, but the move may have been complicated by the IMF’s wish to stop the overall level of Greek debt from rising any further.

Protester gather to take part in protest by tourism and catering workers in central Athens, Thursday, July 20, 2017. (Petros Giannakouris/AP)

“Virtually all IMF programs have debt ceilings associated with them,” Fund spokesman William Murray told reporters in Washington at a briefing Thursday.

Greece lost market access due to high interest rates in 2010 and briefly returned with a 2014 bond issue, only to seek a third successive bailout the following year.

The current rescue program, funded by other eurozone nations and monitored with help from the IMF, ends in one year. The government has indicated it plans to test the market several times before then.

Eurozone lenders and the IMF remain at odds over the amount of relief — more time to pay back loans and at more generous interest rates — Greece needs to make its national debt sustainable.

In Frankfurt, Germany, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, said Greece had made “serious progress” with cost-cutting reforms in recent months, but said the timing of a market return was a national decision.

“The Greek government has decided to tap the market, of course it is up to the Greek government to decide about this,” Draghi said.

At nearly 180 percent of its annual output, Greece is the country with the highest debt in the world relative to the size of its economy, after Japan.

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