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Stormy September awaits euro zone

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - 02:29

Sep.04 - The euro zone is entering one of the most nail-biting months since the debt crisis began, with several key dates which could determine the bloc's future. Julian Satterthwaite reports.

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Europe enjoyed an August break from the crisis, but it will be a different story this month. Here's why. Early September sees the troika of inspectors from the EU, ECB and IMF return to Athens. Their verdict may not be known until October, but it will be crucial in determining whether Greece gets the next tranche of aid. If it's a thumbs down then Athens could face an immediate payments crisis and rapid exit from the euro zone. The sixth of the month brings us the ECB meeting. All eyes on what president Mario Draghi does to support his summertime pledge to save the euro. Resumed bond-buying is confidently expected, but what conditions will be attached? Also keep an eye out for further nonstandard measures including a yield cap, and negative deposit rate. On September 12 the German constitutional court will rule on the legality of Berlin's involvement in the euro zone's permanent bailout fund. A negative verdict would leave the European Stability Mechanism dead in the water. A YES will mean enough countries have ratified the ESM for it to start operations. Keep an eye on the Netherlands that day too. A general election could hand power to parties firmly opposed to any more aid for southern Europe. Then in the middle of the month it's off to Cyprus for the latest make-or-break summit. Finance ministers expected to thrash out conditions for any Spanish bailout, and sign off on the ECB's plans. Any sign of dissent between national governments and the bank and alarm bells will start to ring. Then it's the turn of French lawmakers to have their say. Parliament votes on the EU fiscal pact on September 19, and the omens here look more positive. With a majority in both houses, president Francois Hollande should be able to push through ratification of the deal. But the key day of the month remains unknown - will Spain ask for a bailout, and if so, when? Reuters reports suggest talks are already underway, though Madrid may request bond purchases rather than a full bailout. Either way, a decision probably has to be made in September ahead of the 20 billion euros of bond redemptions due in October. Any one of these events could sink hopes for an end to the crisis. After a tranquil summer, Europe could face a stormy autumn. Julian Satterthwaite, Reuters

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Stormy September awaits euro zone

Tuesday, September 04, 2012 - 02:29