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Why Greece has to make its payments

A demonstrator holds a Greek flag amid tear gas during clashes between protesters and riot police near the Greek parliament in Athens on February 12, 2012. The Greek government has had to agree to big budget cuts in order to get a round of bailout money.

Jeremy Hobson: For more on the Greek story and its impact on the financial markets, we're joined now by our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore. Good morning, Heidi.

Heidi Moore: Good morning Jeremy.

Hobson: Well let's talk about this bailout, because we keep saying it's Greece that's getting bailed out -- but really, won't Greece just take all this money that they get and give it directly to its lenders, the European banks?

Moore: That's right. Greece has been a huge burden on the financial system. It's borrowed an enormous amount of money from banks, hedge funds and other investors and that's how it's kept its economy going -- but those investors will want their money back.

So on March 20th, Greece is facing a big payment: 14 billion euros. And this bailout is just purely to let Greece make that payment. If Greece doesn't make the payment, the banks and the hedge funds will lose money, and of course, that could start a financial crisis.

Hobson: OK, so we see what's in it for the banks and hedge funds. What's in it for Greece, then, to take this money and make these payments?

Moore: Sure. That's like asking: what's in it for me to pay my credit card bill. Well, what's in it for me is that financial companies will lend me more money in the future, and that I won't have to pay an enormous interest rate. So, in this case, the market is ready to charge Greece 33 percent interest. The next time that country wants to raise money, it won't be able to afford it.

Hobson: Marketplace New York bureau chief Heidi Moore. Heidi, thanks.

Moore: Thank you.

About the author

Heidi N. Moore is The Guardian's U.S. finance and economics editor. She was formerly the New York bureau chief and Wall Street correspondent for Marketplace.
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