World Economy

IMF Will Stay Out of Greek Bailout

Christine Lagarde (R) and Wolfgang SchaeubleChristine Lagarde (R) and Wolfgang Schaeuble

The International Monetary Fund will not join the Greek bailout program but will likely accept a special advisory status with limited powers that keeps it at the table, two senior sources with direct knowledge of the proposals said.

The IMF has been holding out for more than a year over the terms under which it would participate in any new program, arguing that the financial targets set in the European bailout are unrealistic without major debt relief, Reuters reported.

But the fund is increasingly resigned to European resistance to debt relief for Greece and it is now in talks to accept a newly created role that would let it play a part with limited formality, the sources said.

“It will be more than an advisor but the role will not have the strict conditionality, like the compliance and economic health checks every three months,” one of the sources said.

Talks between Greece, its European creditors and the IMF have been at an impasse since German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble insisted on the IMF taking part but rejected calls from IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde for a big debt restructuring.

“This way Lagarde can go to the board and say, hey, ‘I’m not violating our rules’ and Schaeuble, whose government is facing an election next fall, can say, ‘see, I have the IMF on board’,” the source said.

The exact nature of the IMF’s role has not been decided but it would have more powers than a simple advisor and would for example be responsible for drawing up certain proposed agreements and negotiating documents, coordinating with the Greek and European Union sides.

“They won’t put money into the program but it won’t be just technical assistance; they will probably take a special advisory role to be created especially for the Greek bailout,” the second source said.

“Talks this week made it clear that the IMF just can’t come on board formally. They will remain part of the troika and be at all the talks,” the source added.

Greek and IMF officials held talks at the Funds’ fall meetings in Washington this week, discussing this special status, which was supported by the Greek side. Despite the change in the IMF’s role, Greek officials believe it will aid them having a body that supports debt restructuring at the table.


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