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Policy Brief 13-3

Debt Restructuring and Economic Prospects in Greece

by William R. Cline, Peterson Institute for International Economics

February 2013


Severe recession in 2010–12 drove the need for sovereign debt reduction in Greece, despite a massive cut in government spending. The 2012 restructuring cut privately-held debt by about 50 percent, but much debt was exempt (IMF, euro area governments, ECB), and new borrowing was needed to recapitalize banks. In December an official sector package of lower interest rates, buybacks, and remittance of ECB profits on Greek bonds boosted total relief by about one third. Nonetheless, even under favorable conditions the ratio of debt to GDP is unlikely to be much below 120 percent by 2020, limiting market access for a country that has restructured with deep haircuts. Although Greek borrowing needs are now covered for several years, more relief from the official sector thus seems likely to be needed in the future.

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