Germany clashes with ECB over Greek debt

Germany is urging Greece to extend the maturity of its debt by seven years, clashing with the European Central Bank’s view that forcing investors to take a loss could damage the eurozone.

Wolfgang Schaeuble, Germany’s finance minister, said in an open letter to European authorities “any additional financial support for Greece has to involve a fair burden sharing between taxpayers and private investors,” the Telegraph reports.

He said if there is no further funding for Greece by July, there is a real risk of the first disorderly default in the eurozone.

However, ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet said forcing investors to take a hit on Greek public debt could not only affect the country’s banks but would impact the rest of the eurozone.

Although a voluntary roll-over of Greek debt is a possibility, Schaeuble wants a bond swap which leads to a “prolongation of the outstanding Greek sovereign bonds by seven years,” the Telegraph reports.

This bond swap, however, would be dubbed a credit event by ratings agencies and would class Greece as defaulting, meaning the ECB could not accept Greek bonds as collateral, placing further pressure on the country’s banks.

David Walker

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