Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras may be alienating the International Monetary Fund just when he needs it most.
The IMF has questioned whether the goal of reaching a fiscal surplus of 3.5 percent of gross domestic product, agreed to in last year’s euro-area bailout of Greece, is realistic. In the transcript of a conference call published by WikiLeaks on Saturday, the fund’s European Department director, Poul Thomsen, suggests the IMF would accept a revised goal of 1.5 percent. Thomsen has said euro-area countries would have to offer more debt relief if the target is loosened.
That scenario would take some fiscal pressure off Greece while setting the stage for a new IMF loan. Yet instead of seizing on that negotiating room, Tsipras added to tensions: He suggested fund officials weren’t negotiating in good faith, highlighting a different part of the transcript that he said shows the IMF considering a plan to cause a credit event in Greece. IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde dismissed that accusation as “ridiculous” and said her staff has her full confidence.