Confusion Reigns Over Greece Bailout Extension
Associate Editor, CNBC
Confusion reigned on Thursday, a day after Greece's finance minister told the parliament that Greece had received an extension on its bailout, with the European Central Bank and Germany denying a deal had been done.
Greece is locked in discussions with its international Troika of lenders – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), European Commission and the ECB – to extend the deadline it has been given to implement a range of austerity measures as part of its 130 billion euro ($169 billion) bailout.
A two-year extension that Greece is seeking would cost around 13 to 15 billion euros, according to a number of reports.
The country is running out of money and needs the next tranche of aid without which much of the country would cease to function.
Top officials have denied that an extension has been formally granted.
In Berlin, ECB President Mario Draghi insisted that there had been no agreement and negotiations were on-going with "progress being made." The denial was a rebuttal of Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras' claim in parliament that the country had won an extension.
(Read more: Greece Gets Two More Years to Meet bailout Targets)
A finance ministry spokesperson also told CNBC, Greece had been granted a two-year reprieve.
The IMF declined to comment on the situation when contacted by CNBC saying negotiations were on-going.
To further complicate the situation Germany's Handelsblatt reported that Greece is to receive another bailout to the tune of 20 billion euros and said the aid had been approved at a November 12 meeting of euro zone finance ministers.
There have been no official confirmations or denials of this report.
Greece has been mired by public discontent over austerity measures, some of which have taken a violent turn in recent months. (Read more: Up to 50% of Greek Workforce Strikes; Tipping Point Nears)
The country is also crippled by political weakness as fragile coalitions – the latest headed by Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and an alliance with PASOK socialists and the Left Democratic Party - struggle to maintain support for the bailout program amid rising unemployment and a deepening recession.
Figures for the second quarter show that Greece's economy shrank by 6.2 percent year-on-year while unemployment has topped 25 percent.
The bailout agreement terms include harsh labor reforms which have caused consternation within the ruling coalition, with some factions vehemently opposed to the changes.
A renewed austerity package is expected to be put to vote in the Greek parliament next week, once concessions are won.
According to critics, the euro zone bailout programs have simply buried the crux of the problem and have not dealt with the structural issues that Europe's peripheral economies face.
Anthony Fry, Chairman at Espirito Santo Investment Bank, U.K. told CNBC that Greece was "not going to plan" but other peripheral economies had worked hard to follow the rules and change key factors for their ailing economies.
"You have to ask how long you can continue with austerity before you inject money into economies to grow. Unless you're prepared to condemn a whole series of countries to a hundred years or so of poverty, which I don't think is deliverable politically you have to change the mood music," Fry said.
While the specter of ejection from the single currency bloc appears to have faded for Greece, a number of commentators stand by their forecasts that Greece's days within the bloc are numbered.
Ben May, European economist at Capital Economics, told CNBC.com that a Greek exit that will most likely occur next year.
"A Greek exit is a matter of when, not if, and that is likely to be followed by another smaller peripheral country such as Portugal. Once that happens, policymakers would put measures into place to safeguard the bigger economies of Italy and Spain," he said.
- By CNBC's Shai Ahmed, Follow her on Twitter @shaicnbc