Ireland's $90 billion question: Does it need a bailout?
Ireland is set to host EU and IMF officials Thursday in ongoing talks about a bailout for the debt-stricken nation.
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“I’m reasonably optimistic. The EU is an institution that will walk to the precipice, look down, and say ‘We’re not going to jump,'" he says.Skip to next paragraph
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Still, he says unforeseen market reactions can always cause problems. “I think the emerging mid-term picture is fine. The question is whether you can get there from here. Ireland feels it is in the jaws of the market, and in crisis.”
Is a bailout inevitable?
The situation highlights differences in the eurozone between nations like Finland, Poland, Germany, and Sweden that have bounced back from the global economic crisis and states like Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Greece that have not.
Analysts are fairly sure Ireland will take some kind of package – a bailout by the EU stability fund offers much lower interest rates than Ireland can find in the market, where it is now paying around 8 percent.
EU finance chief Olli Rehn appeared to put a spike in efforts by Ireland to seek bailout money directly for its banks that would come with fewer restrictions. He told reporters any loan to Ireland would be channeled through its government.
As Ireland negotiates with the IMF and the EU in coming days, Greek officials are seeking to restructure their $110 billion loan package from last spring. Portugal, which suffers from a different mixture of consumer, public, and bank debt, is expressing concern over difficulties borrowing money.
Germany is also under fire from “peripheral” EU states like Greece, Portugal, and Ireland, who argue that it's insistence on strict austerity measures for natioal governments is pushing their economies to the brink.
British Finance Minister George Osborne weighed in at a meeting of 27 EU finance minister today, saying Britain, which earlier counseled Ireland not to enter the eurozone, “stands ready” to assist: “Ireland is our closest neighbor. And it's in Britain's national interest that the Irish economy is successful and we have a stable banking system.” British and German investors own about $288 billion in Irish debt.
For Ms. Ayani, the main question is whether an Irish or a Portuguese bailout will be enough, “once it is back to business with the markets. I’m worried we are just filling holes for today and that in a few weeks we will see the same problems.”