Avoid 'bad history' in Greece, top economists warn

LONDON - World-renowned economists warned EU leaders against "creating bad history" in their bailout standoff with Greece, in a letter published Tuesday in Britain's Financial Times newspaper.

US Nobel Prize winner Joseph Stiglitz and leading French economist Thomas Piketty were among 19 signatories demanding "a fresh start" for Greece.

"We call on European leaders to avoid creating bad history!" the letter began, calling on leaders to enable Greece to make the 1.5 billion euro (S$2.25 billion) payment to the IMF due later Tuesday.

Greece's bailout programme expires at 2200 GMT with the huge debt repayment to the IMF due also due today, and Athens has said it will not be able to make the deadline, placing it on course towards default.

The letter called for "a fresh start, bearing in mind, first, that the contractionary austerity policy demanded of Greece has been discredited by the IMF's own research department; and second, that Syriza's leaders are committed to undertaking far-reaching reforms in the Greek state - if they can get the latitude to do so."

The letter was also signed by former Italian Prime Minister Massimo D'Alema, now president of the Foundation of European Progressive Studies, as well as professors from some of the world's top schools of economics.

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