The imminent end of Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti’s government threatens to open a new front in Europe’s crisis fight before a year-end summit, as Greece wraps up a six-month effort to secure a new bailout payment.
European Union leaders, gathering in Oslo today to collect the Nobel Peace Prize, were set to check an item off their to-do list with the completion of a 10 billion-euro ($13 billion) Greek debt buyback. At the same time, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi’s pledge to topple Monti with his German-skeptic, anti-austerity message may rattle investors.
Greece is using bailout funds to repurchase bonds with a face value of about 30 billion euros in a move that EU leaders said puts the nation on the path to debt sustainability. In Italy, where 10-year bond yields widened last week for the first time in nearly a month, Monti said Dec. 8 he will resign due to parliamentary opposition from Berlusconi and his allies, who’d previously backed the government.
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