French Economy Minister Christine Lagarde said on Saturday that she does not expect Euro zone finance ministers to make any decision on financial help for Greece when they meet next week.
I'm certainly not expecting any decision being made, or any button being pressed, or any button being selected to be pressed, because it's totally premature, she told reporters at a press briefing at the Lycee Francais in New York.
Finance ministers from the 16 countries using the euro, the Eurogroup, meet on Monday in Brussels to discuss the Greek debt crisis and the country's progress in introducing austerity measures necessary to regain the confidence of markets.
Lagarde said Greece has delivered enormously with the steps it has taken to address its fiscal crisis.
Lagarde told The Wall Street Journal on Friday that Greece's efforts to clean up its finances have so far ruled out the need for a bailout from the European Union. She told the paper that Greece had over-delivered by coming up with spending cuts equal to 2 percent of gross domestic product where she had expected cuts worth 1.5 percent.
A European Union source told Reuters that Euro zone finance ministers are likely to agree on Monday on the principles and parameters of financial help to Greece, if it is required, but leave out any sums until Athens asks for them.
British newspaper The Guardian reported that aid to be made available to Greece could reach 25 billion euros. Greece's borrowing needs for the whole of 2010 total 53.2 billion ($73.2 billion) euros.
HEDGE FUND REGULATION
Asked about international differences on hedge fund regulation, Lagarde told reporters that this is clearly a source of controversy and challenges.
The European Union wants foreign investors -- such as New York hedge funds based in London -- to be more closely supervised as well as face stricter regulatory standards set in Europe.
But the United States says this could make it difficult or impossible for a U.S. hedge fund to do business in the 27-country bloc or pursue wealthy local investors there.
Lagarde dismissed the idea that the rules would be discriminatory.
If any non-EU fund wants to operate it can certainly do so as long as it registers and complies with the requirements, Lagarde said.
Lagarde said that she welcomes investigations into credit default swaps on sovereign debt, instruments that some blame for exacerbating the Greek debt crisis.
She said she is not dead against all CDS but added that some sovereign debt derivatives are just ludicrous and ridiculous.
It needs to be looked at. Currencies and financial stability are public goods ... . There should be a different treatment applied to that CDS.
She said she was delighted when Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said last month that U.S. regulators are probing how Wall Street firms like Goldman Sachs
(Reporting by Kristina Cooke; Editing by Xavier Briand)