Greek debt talks to resume

@CNNMoneyInvest January 16, 2012: 2:03 PM ET
Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is going back to the table to hammer out a solution over Greek debt.

Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos is going back to the table to hammer out a solution over Greek debt.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Greek debt talks are set to resume this week as the country at the heart of Europe's financial crisis struggles to get another round of bailout funds.

The group representing private sector investors and banks hit the "pause" button Friday on discussions about how writedowns of Greek debt should be handled.

Over the weekend Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said talks would resume this week. Officials from the Institute of International Finance confirmed the plan but said it would depend on "developments in the next few days."

IIF officials and the Greek government have been trying to reach a consensus on a plan to voluntarily reduce the value of Greek bonds by 50% as part of a deal announced in October. The deal would amount to €100 billion and help reduce the nation's debt load to 120% of economic output by 2020.

The private sector's role in restructuring Greece's debt, and its willingness to accept the bond haircuts, are key conditions of the planned second bailout package for Greece from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund.

"Talks surrounding Greece's second bailout package will take center stage this week as the EU continues to push for a 50% haircut, but the group may be unable to reach a deal as European policy makers struggle to find a common ground," said DailyFX Currency Analyst David Song.

Greece to see debt relief soon

Officials from the European Commission, ECB and IMF -- known as the troika -- are returning to Athens this week to review Greece's finances. Initial meetings will focus on technical details, while the broader meetings will take place Friday.

Finance ministers from eurozone nations are scheduled to meet Jan. 23-24 to address the next steps needed to address the overarching crisis.

Greece has been kept afloat by bailouts from its European neighbors, which has helped the country avoid default.

The nation has also been trying to push through austerity reforms that have been deeply unpopular with the public, having sparked violent protests in Athens in the recent past. The austerity measures include increased taxes on certain goods and scaling back socialist benefits, like increasing the age of retirement in order to become eligible for state-funded pensions.

An inability by Greece to fix its fiscal problems could spread beyond Greek shores.

"Threats of a Greek default could trigger another sell-off in the euro as investor confidence deteriorates," said Song. "As the rising risk for contagion casts a dour outlook for the region, it seems as though the European Central Bank will have little choice but to act as the lender of last resort. This may cause us to see a growing rift within the Governing Council as its ballooning balance sheet comes scrutiny."

The euro has been trading at a 17-month low, falling to $1.26 against the U.S. dollar Monday. The beleaguered currency is down 10% from late October, when it was trading around $1.41.

-- CNNMoney staff writer Ben Rooney contributed to this report. To top of page

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