No Bank Tax in Second Greek Deal

Reuters
July 21, 2011

Germany and France have ruled out a bank tax after reaching a common position on a second bailout of Greece to prevent the country’s debt crisis spreading through Europe, EU sources said on Thursday.

The accord came after seven hours of talks late into Wednesday night between German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy in Berlin, sources in both governments said.

European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet joined Merkel and Sarkozy for part of their talks and one source said their agreement, kept secret to avoid offending other euro group leaders at a summit on Thursday, had his blessing.

“You should assume that there will not be a banking tax,” the source told Reuters.

Another source involved in preparatory talks for the emergency summit of the 17-nation currency area confirmed that the banking tax proposal, raised last week, had been dropped.

While few details of the Franco-German deal emerged, the sources said it would include private sector involvement that should not cause either a default or selective default of Greek debt, a red line for the ECB.

The risk premium investors demand to hold peripheral euro zone government bonds rather than benchmark German Bunds fell on Thursday on news of the Franco-German agreement.

“There are huge expectations something will be done… the big disappointment could come from how quickly they can implement things. They can agree principles but implementation will take a long while,” said Peter Schaffrik, a strategist at RBC Capital Markets.

The 115 billion euro second Greek rescue package would involve both more official funding from the euro zone rescue fund and the IMF and a contribution by private sector bondholders on which two senior bankers will make a presentation to leaders on Thursday, the sources said.

Baudoin Prot of BNP Paribas, the French bank with the biggest exposure to Greek debt, and Deutsche Bank chief executive Josef Ackermann, chairman of the International Institute of Finance, a banking lobby that has led talks among bankers, will attend, banking sources said.

The leaders are due to meet at 1100 GMT but the start could well be delayed as euro zone sherpas work to thrash out details of an agreement, officials said.

The aim is to make Greece’s debt more sustainable and prevent fears of a disorderly default from poisoning access to the bond market for bigger states such as Italy and Spain.

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