Germany denies mulling eurozone 'elite bonds'

28th November 2011, Comments 0 comments

Germany denied on Monday a report it was considering "elite bonds" to pool the debt only of eurozone countries with a top AAA credit rating as a response to its crippling debt crisis.

"There is no plan for 'Triple A bonds' or 'elite bonds' as stated in the article," a finance ministry spokesman said in a statement following a report earlier Monday in the daily Die Welt.

"We are working intensively on a stability union," the spokesman added, referring to Berlin's drive for EU member countries to sign on to tougher fiscal discipline.

The conservative daily had reported that Berlin was looking at a scheme of issuing joint bonds from the six countries with the highest credit rating -- Germany, France, Finland, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Austria.

These bonds would be aimed at erecting a "credible firewall to calm financial markets" and, under strict conditions, could be used to come to the aid of debt-mired major economies such as Italy and Spain, Die Welt said.

They would have an interest rate of between 2.0 and 2.5 percent and the revenues generated could be made available to the eurozone bail-out fund, the report said.

But the finance ministry said they wanted to achieve their goal of a stability union "by means of treaty changes in which we suggest that member states' budgets respect firm debt limits."

"This is the way to win back the confidence of the markets and send the right signal to the financial investors of the world that the euro is and remains a stable currency, in which it pays to invest," the statement said.

"All that has nothing to do with 'Triple A' or 'Elite Bonds'," added Berlin.

Berlin also remains opposed to a wider scheme formally advanced by the European Commission last week, for "eurobonds" covering the entire eurozone.

And Germany is also against allowing the European Central Bank more room for manoeuvre in its controversial programme of buying the bonds of debt-wracked countries.

However, a report on Sunday in the "Welt am Sonntag" weekly suggested that treaty changes tightening up fiscal policy in the 17-nation zone could give the ECB more freedom to intervene on the bond markets.

The hope is that the ECB could bring more firepower to bear on the bond markets and bring down the yield, or interest rate, that countries have to pay on their debts.

But Berlin is concerned that allowing the ECB to print money for this purpose would lead to inflation.

According to its founding treaty, the ECB's sole function is to keep inflation at a level "close to but below" two percent.

© 2011 AFP

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