European Bailout Fund Must Double: Wellink

Larger safety net necessary for private sector participation, ECB official says

The bailout fund created last year by the European Union (EU) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) must double, to 1.5 trillion euros ($2.15 trillion), if politicians want the private sector to take part in a second Greek bailout package, according to a governing council member at the European Central Bank (ECB).

Reuters reported that, in the Dutch newspaper Het Financieele Dagblad on Thursday, Nout Wellink asserted that such an action was necessary if the private sector were to participate in rescuing Greece because there were so many uncertainties involved in the inclusion of private bondholders, and the risks could ensnare Ireland and Portugal.

Wellink, who is also the outgoing president of the Dutch central bank, said in the report, "If you take these risks, you need to build a safety net. If it goes wrong, you've got a lot to answer for. If ratings agencies see a rollover [of Greek debt] as a partial default, contagion to other peripheral euro zone countries will occur."

Wellink also said that private investors should be prepared to take action; in the report he said, referring to the ECB's purchase of state bonds, "people should also be prepared to do things the ECB has previously done."

He added, "I am open to every variant that does not have consequences in the market, but I know we're skating on very thin ice. If you're at risk of falling through the ice, then you need to have a very big safety net. It should go to 1,500 billion euros and there should be more flexibility in how the money can be spent."

After the report, the euro dropped to a three-week low of $1.4113.

Wellink also said, "The ECB is strongly opposed to involuntary contribution from investors. The more risks you take, you must be prepared to create a bigger safety net to prevent contagion. Where the border is between voluntary and involuntary, nobody actually knows. But if you seek the edges, you need to be aware that you then have the obligation to directly jump in when there are problems."

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