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Deal Reached On Greek Debt, Markets Rise In Relief

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There's some good news this morning about the country that's come to symbolize Europe's financial problems and the efforts of leaders to shore up their common economy:

-- "After two false starts in as many weeks, international lenders on Tuesday finally reached a deal to overhaul Greece's faltering bailout program, sending European equity markets higher in morning trading." (The Financial Times)

-- "In the early hours of Tuesday, Greece's euro partners and the International Monetary Fund agreed to release vital loan payments totaling some $57 billion and introduce a series of measures designed to reduce the country's massive debts to a more manageable level within a decade. These include reducing the interest rates Greece has to pay on the loans and a still-vague bond buyback program." (The Associated Press)

Reuters adds that the deal is "a breakthrough" that should keep Greece's "near-bankrupt economy afloat."

The AP cautions, though, that "though the deal avoids an imminent bankruptcy of Greece, the country still has to implement wide-ranging cuts and reforms in the months and years ahead. Many in the markets think that will be too much for a country that's about to enter its sixth year of recession and a society struggling to cope with rising poverty levels and an unemployment rate of 25 percent."

And correspondent Joanna Kakissis, who is in Athens, tells us that "the ink was barely dry on the agreement when Greek opposition politicians criticized it as a 'half-baked solution' that will keep Greece chained to years of austerity and recession." There have been many protests in Greece in recent months over the austerity measures being taken there.

According to the FT, "the centerpiece of the agreement is the change in interest rates on Greek bailout loans. Bilateral loans provided to Athens under its first bailout would be cut 100 basis points, to just 50 points above interbank rates."

There's a "Europgroup statement" with more details of the deal posted here.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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