Earlier today, while the European markets were caught in the latest myopic buying frenzy resulting from the hope that an imminent termination of Yanis Varoufakis may mean a Greek debt deal is imminent, the Central Union of Municipalities and Communities of Greece (“KEDE”) held a meeting in which it said that while it “declares it support for the national negotiating effort“, it would not transfer any funds to the Bank of Greece.
On Friday, Greece’s embattled FinMin Yanis Varoufakis added to his highlight reel of “kerfuffles” when he put on a performance at the negotiating table in Riga that prompted his peers to describe him as an amateurish time-wasting, gambler. As talks with creditors drag on under the constant threat of a Greek default and a disorderly euro exit, it appears Varoufakis’ antics may have finally gone too far, for as Reuters reports, PM Tsipras looks to have effectively replaced the FinMin as lead negotiator.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Monday reshuffled his team handling talks with European and IMF lenders, after his finance minister was sharply criticized for his performance at a euro zone meeting last week…
Tsipras and senior aides expressed support for Yanis Varoufakis and agreed the finance minister would supervise a new team negotiating a reforms deal with lenders, but appointed deputy Foreign Minister Euclid Tsakalotos as coordinator of the group, a government official said.
The appointment suggested Tsakalatos, an Oxford-educated economist and professor who is soft-spoken and well-liked by officials representing creditors, would have a more active role in face-to-face talks from now on.
Last week, the Greek government issued a decree which called for local governments to transfer excess cash to the central bank so that Athens would be able to pay pensions, salaries, and the IMF. The move is expected to raise as much as €2 billion to help keep the country afloat while the country’s “amateurish, time-wasting gambler” of a FinMin feebly attempts to find some kind of middle ground with his EU counterparts and as PM Tsipras pulls out all the stops including the old EU Summit sideline end-around with Merkel and the wild card energy gas pipeline advance from Gazprom (which may portend the dreaded “Russian pivot”).
If the “temporary” local government reserve sweep constitutes what we have branded “soft” capital controls, we now have the first evidence that the “hard” variety may have arrived because as Kathimerini reports, Greek debtors are having their deposits seized in lieu of payment. Continue reading »
The BND realized as early as 2008 that some of the selectors were not permitted according to its internal rules, or covered by a 2002 US-Germany anti-terrorism “Memorandum of Agreement” on intelligence cooperation. And yet it did nothing to check the NSA’s requests systematically. It was only in the summer of 2013, after Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive NSA and GCHQ surveillance, that the BND finally started an inquiry into all the selectors that had been processed. Continue reading »
When it comes to the topic of Greece, most pundits focus on two items: i) when will Greece finally run out of confiscated cash, and ii) will Greece fold to the Troika (and agree to another bailout(s) with even more austerity) or to Russia (and agree to the passage of the Russian Turkish Stream pipeline, potentially exiting NATO and becoming the most important European satellite of the USSR 2.0) once that moment arrives.
And yet what everyone appears to be forgetting is a nuanced clause buried deep in the term sheet of the second Greek bailout: a bailout whose terms will be ultimately reneged upon if and when Greece defaults on its debt to the Troika (either in or out of the Eurozone). Recall that as per our report from February 2012, in addition to losing its sovereignty years ago, Greece also lost something far more important. It’s gold:
Ms. Katseli, an economist who was labor minister in the government of George Papandreou until she left in a cabinet reshuffle last June, was also upset that Greece’s lenders will have the right to seize the gold reserves in the Bank of Greece under the terms of the new deal.Continue reading »
It has been a very disturbing 24 hours for Greece.
It all started during yesterday’s surprisingly short, just one hour long Eurozone finmin meeting in Riga, where Yanis Varoufakis not only got the most “hostile” reception yet being called “a time-waster, gambler, and amateur“, but for the first time one minister openly said that maybe it was time governments prepared for the plan B of a Greek default. This happened after Jeroen Dijsselbloem slammed the door on Varoufakis’ proposal for early cash after partial reforms.
“A comprehensive and detailed list of reforms is needed,” Dijsselbloem told a news conference following a meeting in Riga. “A comprehensive deal is necessary before any disbursement can take place … We are all aware that time is running out.”Continue reading »
If you didn’t know any better you might think “Grimbo” was a new Sesame Street character. Far from being the name of something that brings smiles to the faces of young children however, it’s actually the latest one-word take on the likely outcome of Greece’s protracted, painful negotiations with creditors, which will continue tomorrow in Riga where progress is, according to pretty much everyone that will be involved, unlikely. The new term follows in the footsteps of the classic (but now tired) “Grexit” and its underrated predecessor “Graccident,” and refers to two of the four outcomes Citi imagines are possible in the unfolding Greek drama. Here, via Citi, are the scenarios that would constitute Grimbo: Continue reading »
Russia’s biggest gas utility, Gazprom, was hit with an antitrust case by European Union regulators for “abusing” its dominant position and overcharging customers for gas supplies. The investigation against the Gazprom has been ongoing for 2 years.
“We find that it (Gazprom) may have built artificial barriers preventing gas from flowing from certain Central Eastern European countries to others, hindering cross-border competition,” European Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said in a statement. Vestager said there is no political element to the case. Continue reading »
“Draghi was then vice chairman and managing director of Goldman Sachs International and a member of the firm-wide management committee (2002–2005). A controversy existed on his duties while employed at Goldman Sachs. Pascal Canfin (MEP) assertedDraghi was involved in swaps for European governments, namely Greece, trying to disguise their countries’ economic status.”
In what seems like a coincidental retaliation for Greece’s pivot to Russia (and following Greece’s initiation of capital controls), the supposedly independent European Central Bank has decided suddenly that – after dishing out €74 billion of emergency liquidity to the Greek National Bank to fund its banks – as The NY Times reports,the value of the collateral that Greek banks post at their own central bank to secure these loans be reduced by as much as 50%, and the haircut scould increase if negotiations with Europe remain at an impasse. As we detailed earlier, this is about as worst-case-scenario for Greece as is ‘diplomatically’ possible currently, and highlights an increasingly hard line by The ECB toward The Greeks as the move will leave banks hard-pressed to survive.
As we laid out earlier, according to Bloomberg, the ECB staff proposal lays out three options to reduce central-bank risk: “the scenarios envisage returning haircuts to the level before late last year, when the ECB eased its collateral requirements for Greece; to set them at 75 percent; or to set them at 90 percent. The latter two options could be applied if Greece is in an “orderly default” under a formal ECB program or a “disorderly default,” CNBC said, without further elaborating on those terms.” Continue reading »
Just days after Russia lifts sanctions on Iran and prepares to send its S-300 missile defense system, it appears Washington has retaliated. As TASS reports, Poland – on Russia’s doorstep – has decided to buy the US Patriot air-defense system (made by Raytheon) for a total cost of around $9bn: “The US proposal has been found to be more profitable from the viewpoint of Poland’s security and implementation of commitments within NATO framework.” Washington, keen to ensure Warsaw signed up with Raytheon, has decided to loan Poland a battery of Patriots until the deal is signed.
It appears that Herr Schaeuble will be left in the cold disappointed as following comments from the Greek energy minister that a deal is coming “soon,” it is being reported that:
*RUSSIA MAY SIGN GAS LINK ACCORD W/ GREECE TODAY: ROSSIYA 24 *GREECE MAY GET LOANS USING RUSSIA GAS TRANSIT GUARANTEE: MILLER
According to Gazprom’s CEO comments on Greek TV, following his meeting with Greek PM Tsipras, Russia will guarantee 47BCM/YR of gas via Greece with the link to be built by a Russian-European group at a cost of around €2 billion.
Earlier today, following weeks of speculation, Greece finally launched the first shot across the bow of capital controls, when it decreed that due to an “extremely urgent and unforeseen need” (ironically the need was quite foreseen since about 2010, but that is a different story), it would be “obliged” to transfer – as in confiscate – “idle cash reserves”located across the country’s local governments (i.e., various cities and municipalities) to the Greek central bank.
Several hours later the decree which was posted in the government gazette has finally percolated among the population, and the response to what even ordinary Greeks realize is now the endgame, is less than exuberant. Continue reading »
The citizens of Italy have now set the standard for organized protests against the climate engineering nightmare in our skies. This April 18th demonstration in Bologna, Italy sets the stage for the upcoming March Against Geoengineering planned for April 25 in various locations around the world. Those who do not have organized anti-geoengineering protests in your area should try to attend one of the countless Earth Day events that have also been organized for April 25th. The human race faces countless challenges that are converging from every direction, but of all the threats currently descending on us the most dire and immediate of all is climate engineering. We have the power to expose and stop the ongoing geoengineering insanity if we work together in this all important battle, make your voice heard. We extend our most sincere gratitude to “Reclaim The Planet” (http://riprendiamociilpianeta.it) for organizing this outstanding event. Our gratitude also goes to all the citizens who helped with the demonstration in Bologna that is featured in this 4 minute video.
Dane Wigington Continue reading »
Somewhat ironically, given that April 20th is Hitler’s brithday, one of Greece’s most important political trials against current and former MPs and members of neo-nazi Golden Dawn started this morning.Party leader Nikos Michaloliakos and 68 other defenders stand trial on felony charges for having established a criminal organization, having committed several racists attacks and murder and the procession of weapons. The trial takes place in a special courtroom built inside high security prison Korydallos in western Athens. Several antifascists groups and Golden Dawn supporters gathered outside the prisonand violence broke out leading to the decision, two hours after the trial began, to adjourn until May 7th 2015 for “procedural reasons.”
With Greece teetering on the edge of insolvency and forced to raid pension and most other public funds, ahead of another month of heavy IMF repayments which has prompted even the ECB to speculate Greece should introduce a parallel “IOU” currency, a white knight has appeared out of nowhere for Greece, one who may offer $5 billion in urgently needed cash. The white knight is none other than Vladimir Putin. “Just because Greece is debt-ridden, this does not mean it is bound hand
and foot, and has no independent foreign policy,” Putin said previously.
According to Spiegel, citing a senior figure in the ruling Syriza party, Greece is poised to sign a gas deal with Russia as early as Tuesday which could bring up to €5 billion into the depleted Greek coffers.
As we first reported yesterday, one of the proposed measures to be implemented in Greece just before, or during its default and/or exit from the Eurozone, in addition to pervasive capital controls of course, is the implementation of a parallel “currency”, or as explained yesterday, a government paying its citizens with IOUs. Continue reading »