World News Brief, Wednesday November 14

Greece avoids default by selling sort-term treasury bills; Dalai Lama asks Japanese lawmakers to investigate spate of self-immolations; Hillary Clinton in Australia for defense talks; UK wary of giving aid to Rwanda; Angela Merkel visits Portugal, reception cold; and more 

Top of the Agenda: Greece Raises Funds to Avoid Default

Greece avoided default on Tuesday after raising $5.15 billion from the sale of short-term treasury bills that will go toward making a $6.4 billion debt repayment due later this week (AP). The debate over Greece's troubled public finances has intensified rifts between eurozone finance ministers, who on Monday postponed agreement on Greece's long-delayed $39.7 billion aid payment for yet another week after a public spat (FT) between the International Monetary Fund and EU creditors roiled negotiations. Jean-Claude Juncker, chair of the eurogroup of finance ministers, announced that Greece's debt reduction target would be moved to 2022 from 2020, prompting IMF chief Christine Lagarde to vehemently defend the IMF's original timeline. Officials will meet again on November 20.


"A silver lining in the dark cloud is a recent suggestion by EU finance ministers and the IMF that Greece be allowed to reduce debt by purchasing it at a discount in the secondary market. Lower debt, and reduced debt service, would improve debt-related ratios and stimulate faster economic growth. But the finance ministers could not agree on how the buyback would be financed. This is where global financial markets can help without putting the burden on European taxpayers," writes Komal Sri-Kumar for the Financial Times.

"Either way it is clear that Greece's debt will at the very least need to be rescheduled, for example by lengthening maturities or lowering interest rates. The IMF seems to be holding out for outright forgiveness of debt now held mostly by the official lenders, hence the euro-jargon of Official Sector Involvement (OSI). This is politically explosive in Germany and other creditor nations, because it would mean admitting that money lent to Greece had been lost forever," writes the Economist.

"If you take forecasts from the European Commission seriously, Greece enjoys one formidable advantage over Spain: Its economy is running well below capacity, while the Spanish economy, despite an unemployment rate around 25%, is operating relatively close to full steam," writes Matthew Dalton for the Wall Street Journal.



Dalai Lama Turns to Japan

The Dalai Lama urged Japanese lawmakers on Tuesday to visit Tibet for an investigation into the spate of self-immolations (AFP) spreading across the region. Nine Tibetans have set themselves on fire in the past week to protest Chinese rule, an act China has blamed on the Dalai Lama.

AUSTRALIA: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Australia (SydneyMorningHerald) Tuesday for a round of annual defense talks aimed at boosting military and political cooperation between the two countries. The visit will will likely be her last to Australia in her current post.

This CFR Analysis Brief discusses the U.S.-Australia alliance.



UK wary of giving aid to Rwanda

Angela Merkel visits Portugal



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