After Greece, Portugal

By: John Rubino | Tue, Jul 5, 2011
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Now that Greece has been kicked down the road, it's time for the other PIIGS countries to start lining up for similar deals. Portugal looks to be next, after its most recent deficit report:

Portugal's 1Q Budget Deficit Higher Than Expected

LISBON (Dow Jones) - Portugal's budget deficit for the first quarter of the year came in higher than suggested by the previous government, forcing the new one to step up efforts to control the country's accounts.

Portugal's statistics agency said the deficit for the first quarter was at 8.7% of gross domestic product. Although it was an improvement from 9.2% of GDP in the fourth quarter, it is still much higher than the 5.9% Portugal must reach by the end of the year under a EUR78 billion bailout program.

"This needs to be corrected fast," a government official familiar with the matter said.

Two government officials told Dow Jones Newswires Tuesday that the new administration will accelerate some measures to address the budget gap, including on tax increases. Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho is expected to announce the measures in parliament Thursday.

Under terms of the bailout agreed with the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank last month, Portugal must cut its budget deficit to 3% of GDP by 2013.

The goal is challenging, particularly because the country faces a recession over the next two years.

Nonetheless, Passos Coelho, who took over the post of prime minister last week, has been quick to show how willing his government is to fulfill all the requirements imposed by the troika under deadline.

Portugal's bailout success will be key to the euro zone, which is currently struggling to shake off problems in bailed-out Greece.

Like Portugal, Greece was told to cuts its budget deficit sharply in exchange for financial aid. So far it hasn't been able to meet the targets.

Portugal, a country of nearly 11 million, is Western Europe's poorest, with growth that has trailed its neighbors over the past decade, something economists blame on an uncompetitive and rigid labor market. The unemployment rate has risen above 12% this year.

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John Rubino

Author: John Rubino

John Rubino

John Rubino

John Rubino edits and has authored or co-authored five books, including The Money Bubble: What To Do Before It Pops, Clean Money: Picking Winners in the Green Tech Boom, The Collapse of the Dollar and How to Profit From It, and How to Profit from the Coming Real Estate Bust. After earning a Finance MBA from New York University, he spent the 1980s on Wall Street, as a currency trader, equity analyst and junk bond analyst. During the 1990s he was a featured columnist with and a frequent contributor to Individual Investor, Online Investor, and Consumers Digest, among many other publications. He now writes for CFA Magazine.

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