Greek debt talks: European economic daily round-up

The World

The Greek debt talks continued today. The sticking point remains the rate of interest bondholders will be paid on new issues of Greek sovereign debt. The idea is they will exchange their current bonds for new ones that are at least 50 percent less in face value. (Friday I saw speculation that they might be worth between 65 and 70 percent less.)

When you take that big a haircut now, you want something sweet to look forward to down the road. The Greek government doesn't want to give what's left of its future away to high interest rates on these new bonds. We'll see.

IMF chief Christine Lagarde was in Berlin today en route to Davos and spoke of the Greek situation at the European Council on Foreign Relations.  Later she gave an interview to the BBC whose headline was this:

"2012 must be a year of healing. But as Hippocrates put it long ago: 'Healing is a matter of time, but it is sometimes also a matter of opportunity.'

"And today, it has to be an opportunity of our own making. Otherwise, we could easily slide into a 1930s moment.

"A moment where trust and co-operation break down and countries turn inward. A moment, ultimately, leading to a downward spiral that could engulf the entire world.

The European stock markets did their own talking today in response to Lagarde and finished fractionally up on the day. The euro recovered its mojo and closed above $1.30 for the first time in several weeks.

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