IMF Warns Countries Of Debt Risks

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned that many wealthy countries are amassing risky debt burdens, which could spark a market-wide panic.

In a three-paper report published on Wednesday, the IMF said a number of countries are running dangerously close to their “debt limit,” a development that could prompt markets to massively raise interest rates on government debt.

Analyzing 23 advanced economies, the fund has declared Greece, Italy, Portugal and Japan to be most at risk of exhausting debt capacities, while countries such as the US, Britain, Spain, Ireland and Iceland have been named as those who fell into the second block of threatened countries.

According to the IMF, the risk of one of these countries being forced to restructure their debt is being “significantly overestimated” by the markets.

“The current risk of default in Europe is overestimated,” IMF economist Paolo Mauro said.

The IMF estimates show that Greece’s debt would equal about 150% of the GDP by 2013 despite severe government cutbacks.

Meanwhile, Greece and other advanced European countries are very unlikely to default, IMF economists said, disputing market analysts who have warned that the IMF bailout has only delayed a day of reckoning.

“Once countries endure pain of adjustment, they persevere,” rather than default, Mauro concluded.




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