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Big economic worries remain surrounding Greece

People walk past the Bank of Greece headquarters in Athens on March 7, 2012. Greece toughened its stance to push creditors to accept a debt swap and take heavy losses, just one day before the deadline on Thursday for completion of the deal to avert default.

Jeremy Hobson: Let's talk about the economy and what's being seen as the biggest threat to it at this moment. There is a possibility that Greece's private creditors won't accept big losses on their investments by a deadline tomorrow night. Their debt forgiveness was a key part of a deal agreed to last month to keep Greece out of default.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us live from our European Desk in London with more. Hi Stephen.

Stephen Beard: Hello Jeremy.

Hobson: I thought this was a done deal, and that Greece's private lenders had agreed to it?

Beard: It's never a done deal when it comes to the Greek debt crisis, Jeremy, no. The broad outline of a deal was agreed between the Greek government and this body called the International Finance Institute. It represents most of Greece's private sector creditors, but the creditors themselves have to agree on the debt swap before it can go ahead. And it seems that a number of them are still holding out.

Hobson: But why are they holding out, though, Stephen? Aren't they worried about the consequences that are being talking about right now -- default, banking crisis, real trouble in Europe?

Beard: Well, some of the big banks, like Societe Generale of France, have signed up to the deal. But it's believed that a bunch of hedges funds are refusing. Now one theory is that these investors hold the so-called credit default swaps -- insurance policies that will pay out in full if Greece defaults -- so it may be in their narrow self-interest to see it default, however much damage that does to the euro and financial markets generally. I suspect thought, Jeremy, we won't really know what's going on until tomorrow's deadline for the debt swap deal has passed.

Hobson: We'll have to keep waiting to see. And Stephen, before I let you go -- are you and your fellow Brits following the Super Tuesday results?

Beard: Avidly. It's leading the news here.

Hobson: Marketplace's Stephen Beard in London, thanks a lot.

Beard: OK Jeremy.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.
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