Greece's Papandreou asks for a vote of confidence - no, really

The man who has presided over the most spectacularly inept western government in recent memory is asking the Greek parliament for a vote of confidence in his latest bid to pass "austerity measures" demanded by the EU in exchange for more bailout money.

Financial Times:

Mr Papandreou on Friday unveiled a cabinet dominated by tough socialist personalities, including Evangelos Venizelos, a former political rival, as finance minister, to push through a four-year package of new tax hikes and spending cuts agreed with international lenders.

"'I ask for a vote of confidence because we are at a critical juncture...the debt and deficits are national problems that have brought Greece into a state of (diminished sovereignty) that may have protected us from bankruptcy, but which we need to get out of," Mr Papandreou told parliament.

Mr Venizelos was due to join the meeting of eurozone finance ministers starting in Luxembourg at 6pm local time and expected to continue into Monday.

Markets were buoyed on Friday after prospects for agreement among European leaders on a deal improved markedly when Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, backed down from her demand that the package include measures to coerce private holders of Greek debt into swapping their bonds for new bonds that would not be repaid for 7 years.

This bailout package is worth 120 billion Euros - on top of the more than 135 billion Euros already earmarked. Greece is in danger of becoming a permanent ward of the EU - if it's not already. There is no guarantee that this package of reforms will be passed by parliament, and even if it is, implementing them will prove a big challenge.

Next stop for the bankers: Ireland or Portugal who are both seeking to have the terms of their bailout deal altered.