FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Speculating on Greece defaulting is a sure way to lose money, European Central Bank President Jean-Claude Trichet was quoted as saying in remarks released on Wednesday.
“Such a speculation would be a sure-fire way of losing money given the decisions taken last Thursday,” Trichet told French magazine Le Point, according to a transcript of the interview provided by the ECB.
Euro zone leaders agreed on a second, 109 billion euro ($158 billion) package for debt-stricken Greece last Thursday.
Contrasting statements by euro zone politicians to domestic audiences have underlined the fragility of last week’s deal to rescue Greece and have unsettled financial markets already on edge because of the U.S. debt impasse.
European leaders hailed the bailout agreement as a sign of renewed determination to stem the euro zone debt crisis, but a solid majority of analysts in a Reuters poll released on Thursday — 31 out of 50 — did not view it as a turning point in the crisis.
Trichet called the decisions taken as important for the financial stability of the euro zone. But he said Greece must work hard to balance its economy.
“What matters above everything else — and it is absolutely essential — is that Greece regains control of its economic balances, that Greece itself implements the measures for restoring its budget, government accounts and competitiveness as quickly and as rigorously as possible,” he told Le Point.
Policymakers had “not for a minute” considered Greece leaving the euro, he said.
Turning to international comparisons of the debt situation, Trichet said “the euro area is in a far better situation” than Japan or the United States.
“The euro area as a whole is faced with fewer problems than the United States or Japan, but it must take tremendous steps to strengthen its governance,” he said.
On the issue of ratings agencies, he said the “patently oligopolistic” way in which they work is “certainly not optimal in terms of market organization.”
“This configuration is structurally ‘pro-cyclical’, in other words it fuels the creation of bubbles during cyclical upturns and exacerbates the busts during cyclical downturns,” he said. “These failings must be addressed.”
Reporting by Sakari Suoninen and Paul Carrel; Editing by Susan Fenton