The most important story out of Europe today is that Greece has been given an extension to reach its austerity and budget goals. The region’s finance ministers did not have any options. Greece was not going to meet earlier goals. Without an extension, default was a certainty, along with whatever fallout might accompany it. The ministers had to make a decision quickly because Greece needs the next installment of its loans to pay basic expenses and cover debt service. CNNMoney reports:
Eurozone finance ministers have agreed to give Greece two more years to meet fiscal targets attached to a second sovereign bailout, but will not release the next installment of rescue funding for at least another week.
The Eurogroup, which brings together finance ministers from the 17 eurozone nations and European Central Bank President Mario Draghi, said new austerity measures and a 2013 budget adopted by the Greek parliament within the last week demonstrated the resolve of the recession-ravaged nation to get its debt-cutting efforts back on track.
Greece was forced to seek a second bailout from the so-called troika of EU, ECB and International Monetary Fund in March as it buckled under the weight of debt now projected to hit 190% of gross domestic product next year.
But payments were suspended after months of political turmoil left Athens way off its reform and fiscal targets set by the troika.
Douglas A. McIntyre