Greece, in a squeeze, expects protests

ATHENS, Greece, Sept. 10 (UPI) -- Destabilizing fiscal problems in Greece are the result of miscalculations by countries offering aid and by the struggling Greek government, an investor said.

"Everyone is turning the screw. There is a gradual loss of confidence across Europe in Greece's ability to deliver on its reforms," said David Lea, an analyst at Control Risks, The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.


A steady drumbeat of underestimated problems and overestimated solutions has kept the possibility of a Greek default in the forefront of many investor calculations for more than two years, the Journal reported.

Eurozone members took months to develop a strategy for helping Greece, and the first bailout program -- put together by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund -- was based on expectations that proved too optimistic. With Greece about to miss critical fiscal targets required in the $150 billion bailout assembled 16 months ago, a second bailout of similar size was assembled in July.

With the European Union's cumbersome system, the second bailout -- with funds needed sooner rather than later -- has yet to be ratified by several EU countries.

Auditors sent to Athens to see if Greece would meet targets required to receive its next tranche in the first bailout pulled back last month on growing concern the country would again fall short on various pledges.


Some would say Greece is already in default, as one of the key stipulations for the bailout included having creditors holding 90 percent of the volume of Greek bonds that would mature through 2020 agree to defer about $200 billion in payments.

So far, investors representing only 75 percent of the targeted bonds have agreed to the deal, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said this week.

That means Greece did not meet targets to stay solvent and has so far had trouble hitting targets that define its default.

A deputy managing director for the Institute of International Finance, Hung Tran, said he was confident the 90 percent target would be reached following meetings with investors in September.

In the meantime, Greece is bracing for another wave of national strikes, while Prime Minister George Papandreou holds onto a slim majority in Parliament and is contemplating a new round of austerity measures, including the possibility of mass layoffs of government workers.

More than 5,000 police have been assembled to control what is expected to be a mass protest at a speech Papandreou is to give Saturday in Thessaloniki.

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