The Greek Finance Ministry said Wednesday that the government had reached out to international banks “for an imminent five-year bond issue.” The officials gave no details about the size and time of the offering, but Greek news media said it could be €2.5 billion, or $3.45 billion, and the offering could begin as early as Thursday.
“The transaction is to be priced and to take place in the immediate future,” the Finance Ministry statement said.
The bond offering comes as more than 20,000 people took to the streets of Athens protesting their economic plight and the strict fiscal austerity measures imposed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' government.
Protestors were heard chanting: "EU, IMF take the bailout and get out of here!"
“This is our answer to the dead-end policies that have squeezed workers and made Greek people miserable,” the private workers’ union G.S.E.E. said in a statement. “We are striking and fighting to put an end to austerity.”
The announcement also coincides with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's visit to Greece. Germany had been central to the bailout package provided to Greece four years ago, as the country teetered toward bankruptcy. It was tough love from Germany that led to many of the austerity measures imposed in Greece.
“The chancellor has repeatedly said publicly how much she admires the path taken by the Greeks and how aware she is that this was a difficult path for many people in Greece, but one that is now showing results,” said Steffen Seibert, the spokesman for Merkel.
The financial crisis meant that Greeks lost nearly a third of their disposable income and led to a protracted recession and very high employment rate of 27.5 percent.
In the past few months other euro zone countries, including Ireland and Portugal, have returned to the bond market, marking a symbolic turnaround for the region. Buyers showed no hesitancy in purchasing bonds in the two countries, with yields falling considerably since the height of the crisis.
[The New York Times]