Greece races for rescue plan, meets finance chiefs
Greece met top world finance officials on Saturday as the debt-stricken euro zone country raced to get emergency funding ahead of pressing financing deadlines.
The talks, on the sidelines of annual International Monetary Fund and World Bank meetings, came a day after Greece bowed to market pressure and asked to tap a 45 billion-euro ($60.5 billion) rescue package put together by the European Union and the IMF.
Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou met International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn and U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who stressed the need for a quick response to the crisis.
"Secretary Geithner encouraged them to move quickly to put in place a package of strong reforms and substantial concrete financial support," the Treasury Department said in a statement.
Fears in the market that Greece could default and that budget problems could deepen in other euro-zone economies like Portugal and Spain, have cast a shadow over the Washington IMF meetings.
The global economy has staged an unexpectedly robust rebound in the past year which, under normal circumstances, would have been cause for celebration after nearly two years of economic crisis.
Papaconstantinou also met European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet and Olli Rehn, the European Union's Economic and Monetary Affairs Commissioner.
Rehn said on Friday that financing for Greece should be ready in early May. It would be the first financial rescue of a member of the euro zone. Time is pressing with an 8.5 billion euro bond due to mature on May 19.
EU and IMF experts are in Athens to talk about policies that would make up a rescue package.
Greece has said the European Commission could potentially offer a bridge loan to fill a gap if the aid is not approved in time to cover its funding needs.
One of the obstacles to getting aid to Greece is that any money from Germany requires parliamentary approval, a political challenge because of the strong public opposition to aid for Greece ahead of a key regional election on May 9.
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble has invited parliamentary leaders for talks on Monday to try to speed up the process.
With the Greek crisis roiling markets around the world, finance chiefs warned about the unfinished business of repairing the global economy.
"The world remains a dangerous place," Strauss-Kahn said in remarks to the IMF's policy-steering International Finance and Monetary Committee (IMFC). "I urge all of us to recommit to seeing our collective goals to the finish line before reform fatigue sets in."
The IMF is worried about overconfidence among the world's leading economic. Officials on Friday said the fund warned the G20 group of economies that their economic projections, submitted to the IMF, were overly optimistic.
The Fund is evaluating whether national policies contribute to a shared goal of rebalancing the global economy.
Strauss-Kahn reminded ministers that they need to resolve those imbalances -- surpluses in Asia and large deficits in countries such as the United States -- and tackle debt levels in advanced economies and the need for more bank regulation.
"There is a real risk that we repeat the mistakes of the past, especially if the recovery takes hold and good intentions are forgotten," Rehn said in a statement to the IMFC.