Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Portugal Could Require $107 Billion Bailout from EU-IMF

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Portugal Could Require $107 Billion Bailout from EU-IMF

Article excerpt

The collapse of Portugal's government raised the likelihood of a bailout and set back efforts to beef up a financial rescue package for troubled European economies.

European leaders today postponed the approval of a beefed-up financial rescue package to allow some members to get their internal politics in order, bringing the euro zone's path to economic recovery into greater question.

Finland and Germany are facing critical elections in the next few weeks and their leaders are finding it increasingly hard to continue bailing out fellow European Union members. But the headline obstacle for EU chiefs to approve the "grand bargain" was yesterday's collapse of the Portuguese government over unpopular austerity measures, which brought it a step closer to joining the ranks of Greece and Ireland in requesting funds.

A bailout for Portugal would likely be on the order of $107 billion, Eurogroup chief Jean-Claude Juncker told journalists in Brussels on the sidelines of the two-day summit that continues Friday. The EU and International Monetary Fund (IMF) have already lent $120 billion to Ireland and $156 billion to Greece.

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Portugal's collapse, and the EU's inability to find quick solutions to mounting problems, sent jitters across world markets.

EU leaders were expected to produce concrete measures to build confidence that the worst of the European debt crisis is over, including by increasing the effective lending capacity of the temporary bailout fund to $624 billion. That would be enough even to rescue Spain, the EU's indebted fourth-largest economy. The amount would remain in place until a permanent EU rescue fund of $993 billion is created by 2013.

But after today's meeting failed to formalize the package, analysts say, it appears all but certain that Europe is merely buying time before more countries need a bailout and at least one of them inevitably defaults on its debt, Greece being the prime candidate.

"I think a default in unavoidable. …

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