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Euro Ministers Set to Clear Greek Rescue Plan

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Euro-area finance ministers are set to clear a second rescue for Greece today to avoid what Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti described as a potential “brutal outcome” for the Greek economy.

Euro finance chiefs, gathering in Brussels today before a summit of the 27-nation European Union, will review Greece’s progress on meeting the conditions of the 130 billion-euro ($173 billion) aid package, which they approved last week. That will clear the way for a payment before a March 20 Greek bond redemption, Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker said.

Speaking to lawmakers at the European Parliament in Brussels yesterday, Juncker urged holders of Greek bonds to take up a debt-swap intended to cut Greece’s debt load and said there is “no alternative” to budget cuts by the Greek government.

If leaders “had not come to an agreement on the second package, this might have brought a brutal outcome for Greece,” Monti said in an interview yesterday in Rome. That would have led to “contagion effects flowing to Spain, Italy, in spite of the good progress being made by these countries.”

Europe’s debt woes have eased this week after 1 trillion euros of emergency cash from the European Central Bank helps push the yield on Italy’s 10-year bonds -- and their risk premium to German securities -- to the lowest in six months. Yields on Italian two-year notes fell under 2 percent for the first time since October 2010.

Euro-area finance ministers probably will officially complete the second Greek rescue package today, an official told reporters on condition of anonymity.

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