ECB directors must tackle mounting eurozone tensions: analysts

FRANKFURT, (AFP) – European Central Bank policymakers will confront mounting eurozone financial tensions at a meeting Thursday in the face of a brewing crisis brought on by Greece’s spectacular public deficit and debt. That the ECB’s main interest rate will stay unchanged at a record low of one percent is considered a done deal for most, if not all, of 2010, analysts say.

Although headlines are being grabbed by Athens and its deficit of 12.7 percent of gross domestic product and debt of roughly 113 percent of GDP, other eurozone countries have serious problems too.

Italy, whose economy represents a much bigger portion of the 16-nation eurozone, has debt equivalent to 115 percent of output, also nearly twice the accepted eurozone limit of 60 percent.

Portugal’s public deficit last year was 9.3 percent of GDP meanwhile, more than three times the eurozone ceiling of 3.0 percent, and Spain has estimated its shortfall at 11.4 percent.

On Friday, the Spanish government unveiled an austerity plan to save 50 billion euros (70 billion dollars) over three years, while Ireland has also drafted a a drastic fiscal programme that includes public sector pay cuts.

Analysts do not expect any country to leave th