News / Europe

Greek Debt Crisis Still Unresolved

A woman makes a transaction at an ATM of a Eurobank branch in Athens September 23, 2011.
A woman makes a transaction at an ATM of a Eurobank branch in Athens September 23, 2011.

European finance officials are still grappling with the Greek debt crisis after returning home from inconclusive talks at the International Monetary Fund in Washington over the weekend.

The United States and other nations are pressing European leaders to drastically increase the size of the continent's $594 billion bailout fund, perhaps by several trillion dollars. But there is growing opposition in Germany, with Europe's strongest economy, and other northern European states to massive new assistance for Greece and other debt-ridden governments.

The issue may not be resolved until early November, when officials from 20 leading and emerging economies are set to meet in France.

But Greece says it will run out of money in October to operate its government, and could default on its bailout loans from last year unless international creditors hand it another $11 billion portion of the bailout. Several Greek news accounts in the last few days said that under one plan, the Athens government could default in an orderly fashion, with bondholders taking a 50 percent loss on their investments.

Greek lawmakers have adopted a wide variety of spending cuts and tax increases, austerity measures that have proved highly unpopular. On Monday, transport workers staged a second strike in the last few days, snarling Athens traffic, and are planning a two-day work stoppage later in the week.

Greek police held their own protest, hanging a giant black banner from the top of a popular landmark, Mount Lycabettus that read, "Pay Day, Day of Mourning."  On Sunday, police fired tear gas at protestors at Syntagma Square in central Athens.

Aside from spending cuts and tax increases, the Greek government is seeking to sell rights to some of its state-owned assets to cut its deficits.

On Monday, the government said it likely will announce extensions of private leases this week for the operation of the Athens airport and a sports betting monopoly and the sale of video lottery licenses.

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