Samaras now has two to three weeks left to put together an austerity package worth about €14 billion ($17.5 billion) for the next two years. But politicians in Berlin and Brussels doubt whether his new course will produce results quickly enough.
The troika will spend the entire month of September auditing the books in Athens. Meanwhile, staff at the European Council in Brussels are assuming that the summit of European Union leaders on Oct. 18-19 will be a showdown over Greece.
The IMF is taking a particularly hard line in the negotiations. The fund's envoys feel that Greece's debts are not sustainable and are threatening to withdraw from the aid program altogether. The only alternative is for the public creditors, in particular the European Central Bank (ECB), to write off a portion of Greece's debt.
The German government faces a dilemma. Chancellor Angela Merkel had made IMF participation a condition of any Greek bailout, but if public-sector creditors agreed to a debt haircut, it would cost Germany many billions of euros.
For Merkel, that is out of the question, as is a third aid package or extending the current program by two years, as Samaras has requested. Both of the latter two options would cost additional money, and that, the chancellor fears, is something members of her own party and its coalition partners would refuse to support in the Bundestag. The scenario of a Greek withdrawal from the euro is looming.
--Der Spiegel, Aug. 27th, 2012
Once again, we are invited to witness another Greek cliff-hanger: Will Athens be bailed out (again), or will she default? The financial media are filled with speculation that, this time, Greece will be cut off. This is understandable, given that Greece has failed to implement any of the austerity or reform measures that she has repeatedly agreed to.
Germany's economy minister has rejected calls for Greece to get more time to implement economic reforms, saying that Athens needs to respect the bailout deal reached with its international creditors. "What the Greeks have asked for, half a year or two years, that's not doable," said Roesler, who is also the vice chancellor in Angela Merkel's coalition government. He added that "time is always money" and all parties had agreed that additional funds for Greece weren't up for debate. (AP, 8/27/12)
There is a lot of pressure on Merkel to toss the Greeks out. The Dutch and Finns are angry and making dire noises. Elements of Merkel’s coalition are hostile to rewarding Greek defiance. Merkel’s own finance minister said last week:
"More time generally means more money, and that very soon means a new bailout programme. That would not be the right way to solve the fundamental problems of the euro zone."