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June 25, 2017

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Grexit may occur in 'next half year'

STOCKHOLM, Sweden--Greece is likely to leave the eurozone and could do so in the next six months, Sweden's finance minister said on Saturday.

"Since they can't really carry out the necessary measures and their competitiveness is so fundamentally bad, it's hard to see how they can get the situation under control without boosting their competitiveness through a substantially weaker currency," Finance Minister Anders Borg said.

"I think one must conclude that it's most likely that they leave (the eurozone) ... One should not rule out the possibility that it happens during the next half year," he told reporters in a conference call from the sidelines of an International Monetary Fund meeting in Tokyo.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, said on Saturday that Greece seemed to be making headway with reforms and should continue to be given more chances.

Athens has been haggling for weeks with the European Commission, ECB and International Monetary Fund over a further two-year austerity package to secure its next aid tranche, and has asked for more time to implement painful reforms.

Borg said any write-down in eurozone country loans to Greece would be risky.

"I find it very hard to believe it's possible to substantially write down the loans that Greece has been granted without causing great uncertainty," he said.

"It will be very difficult to go back to voters in Finland, Germany, France or the Netherlands and say 'we lent money, it was safe' and suddenly two or three years later the loans are written off."

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