The financial fate of Greece — and, by association, the entire European Union — continues to grip the world. While anti-austerity protests roil on Greek streets, EU countries debate whether to forward more bailout money to the Mediterranean nation, which is on the cusp of debt default.
As part of the discussion, European governments are talking about fast-tracking the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which would be a permanent emergency fund for their economies. Here are 10 important voices weighing in on the crisis.
"What we can't do is destroy the confidence of all investors mid-course and get a situation where they say that if we've [allowed a default] for Greece, we will also do it for Spain, for Belgium, or any other country. Then not a single person would put their money in Europe anymore."
Jim Flaherty, Canadian finance minister
"This problem in Europe needs to be overwhelmed [with a massive bailout] as the Americans overwhelmed their problem. And they need to overwhelm the problem in order to get ahead of the markets. They have procedural concerns, that doesn't change the reality that the sooner the better, that uncertainty and delay are the enemies."
Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, in a document distributed to the IMF steering committee
"The fund's credibility, and hence effectiveness, rests on its perceived capacity to cope with worst-case scenarios.
Our lending capacity of almost $400 billion looks comfortable today, but pales in comparison with the potential financing needs of vulnerable countries and crisis bystanders."
Terence Corcoran, editor and columnist for Financial Post
"European taxpayers are … going to bear the cost of covering Greece’s debt. The central bank is already absorbing Greek debt that is unlikely to be repaid. Taxpayers in Canada and elsewhere will also pay some of the costs to the extent the International Monetary Fund covers Greek obligations.
"The possibility of any option other than default is out of the question, given the scale of Greece’s fiscal mess. Allowing Greece to exit the euro and operate its own currency is a solution that history suggests would be a disaster in itself."
"[European policymakers will] probably find a way to provide more credit to countries in trouble, which may or may not stave off imminent disaster. But they don’t seem at all ready to acknowledge a crucial fact — namely, that without more expansionary fiscal and monetary policies in Europe’s stronger economies, all of their rescue attempts will fail."
David Cameron, British prime minister, speaking during a visit to Canada’s parliament in Ottawa
"Eurozone countries must act swiftly to resolve the crisis. They must implement what they have agreed. They must demonstrate they have the political will to do what is necessary to ensure the stability of the system. One way or another, they have to find a fundamental and lasting solution to the heart of the problem — the high level of indebtedness in many Euro countries."
George Soros, billionaire hedge-fund manager and philanthropist, in an essay for the New York Review of Books
"The German public still thinks that it has a choice about whether to support the euro or to abandon it. That is a mistake. The euro exists and the assets and liabilities of the financial system are so intermingled on the basis of a common currency that a breakdown of the euro would cause a meltdown beyond the capacity of the authorities to contain."
"There is no alternative but to give birth to the missing ingredient: a European treasury with the power to tax and therefore to borrow."
Aleksey Kudrin, Russian finance minister
"We are not going to buy bonds of risky countries, mostly we are going to invest in the bonds of the European Union, the European Financial Stability Facility. Therefore our money could come in support – through the guarantees for the eurozone. And in this case we are not taking the risk on the 'bad' countries, because we invest in the eurozone countries as a whole."
Evangelos Venizelos, Greek finance minister
"People, justifiably, think the crisis is what we’re living now: cuts in wages, pensions and incomes, fewer prospects for the young. Unfortunately this isn’t the crisis. This is an attempt, a difficult attempt, to protect ourselves and avert a crisis. Because the crisis is Argentina: the complete collapse of the economy, institutions, the social fabric and the productive base of the country."
Yu Yongding, former adviser to China's central bank
"We should not buy European bonds and there should be conditions for us to buy."
We should reduce our holding of dollar-denominated assets in foreign exchange reserves. We have too much of such assets."