If one had asked any Greek exactly one year ago, that the full of promises SYRIZA party would come to power to finish off the crisis-stricken Greek economy and drain his personal wealth, with his blessing, he would have called them a lunatic.
Yet, a year later, the SYRIZA-ANEL coalition has legislated measures and reforms that would have made even the most strict neoliberal wince. Pension cuts, tax hikes, taxation of nonexistent incomes, monitoring personal wealth, capital controls, privatizing state properties, home auctions, raising retirement age, are some of the measures and reforms that the self-proclaimed leftist ruling party is forcing on the shoulders of Greek people. Continue reading »
Anyone who thought Greece’s third bailout program was a done deal or that, at the very least, the market would get a few months of respite before having to grapple with daily Grexit headlines again, got a rude awakening late last week when reports of a secret plot (hatched by ex-Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis along with several Left Platform co-conspirators) to storm the Greek mint and seize the country’s currency reserves underscored the deep divisions within Syriza and betrayed the extent to which passing a third set of prior actions and sealing the deal on an ESM program would prove to be anything but simple.
Just days after Lafazanis’ plan leaked last week, Kathimerini claimed it had transcripts from a conference call between former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and international hedge fund managers during which Varoufakis described yet another secret ploy to return the country to the drachma by way of establishing a parallel payments system set up using surreptitiously obtained tax filer ID numbers. Later, the full audio recording was released. Continue reading »
Back in May we outlined the cost to the Greek economy of each day without a deal between Athens and creditors.
At the time, a report from the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Enterprises showed that 60 businesses closed and 613 jobs were lost for each business day that the crisis persisted without a resolution.
Since then, things have deteriorated further and indeed, with the imposition of capital controls, businesses found that supplier credit was difficult to come by, leading to the very real possibility that Greece would soon face a shortage of imported goods, something many Greeks clearly anticipated in the wake of the referendum call as evidenced by the lines at gas stations and empty shelves at grocery stores.
On Friday, we brought you the shocking story of the rebellion that never was in Greece.
According to FT, Former Greek Energy Minister and maverick among mavericks Panayotis Lafazanis convened a “secret” meeting at the Oscar Hotel in Athens on July 14 at which he attempted to convince Syriza hardliners (including, in FT’s words, “supporters of the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez [and some] old-fashioned communists”) to storm the Greek mint, seize the country’s currency reserves, and, if necessary, arrest central bank governor Yannis Stournaras.
Obviously, the plan was never implemented, but if the story is even partly true it betrays the degree to which Greece teetered on the edge of social upheaval and even civil war in the days that followed PM Alexis Tsipras’ decision to concede to creditors’ demands and abandon not only Syriza’s election mandate but the very referendum outcome he had himself campaigned for just days prior. Continue reading »
Earlier this week, in an FT op-ed, Eurointelligence’s Wolfgang Münchau said that in his estimation, an EMU exit remains the most likely outcome for Greece. The reason, Münchau explained, is that “[Greek PM Alexis] Tsipras ended up with another very lousy bailout deal. And this one suffers from the same fundamental flaws as its predecessors.” Münchau went on to describe, in vivid detail, how he believes a Grexit would unfold:
My own most likely Grexit scenario is a different one yet again. Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, hinted at this in his interview with the Financial Times last week when he said that he felt “something revolutionary” in the air. He is on to something. The most probable scenario for me is Grexit through insurrection.
Whether he knew it when he penned those words or not, Münchau’s vision for Greece nearly unfolded just over a week ago when, according to FT, Syriza’s Left Platform (led by outspoken former Energy Minister Panayotis Lafazanis) met in at the Oscar hotel in a “shabby” downtown district of Athens and plotted to ransack the Greek mint, seize the country’s currency reserves, and arrest central bank chief Yannis Stournaras. Continue reading »
The Greek “deal” has already been dubbed “a new Versailles Treaty” for good reason: for Greece, the agreement which effectively abdicates sovereignty to Germany, is precisely that.
And while few if any in Greece – and certainly its parliament – have carefully read the actual contents of the Summit statement, and instead are rushing to pass the deal with hopes that just approving its contents may lead to the ECB blessing a prompt reopening of banks so Greeks can resume withdrawing their frozen deposits before the public realizes it was betrayed by its rulers, one person who has read it is the former finance minister Yanis Varoufakis.
And not only that: just hours before what may be the most critical vote in Greek history, he has released an annotated version of what the Euro Summit statement really means for Greece.
In his words: The Euro Summit statement (or Terms of Greece’s Surrender – as it will go down in history) follows, annotated by yours truly. The original text is untouched with my notes confined to square brackets (and in red). Read and weep… [For a pdf copy click here.]
Months ago we said the following about the future of Greek politics:
It is becoming increasingly clear that the Syriza show will ultimately have to be canceled in Greece (or at least recast) if the country intends to find a long-term solution that allows for stable relations with European creditors although it may be time for Greeks to ask themselves if binding their fate to Europe is in their best interests given that some EU officials seem to be perfectly fine with inflicting untold economic pain upon everyday Greeks if it means usurping the ‘radical leftists.’
At the risk of overstating the case, that assessment has now proven to be almost entirely accurate. Continue reading »
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has signed up to an agreement that transforms Greece into a de facto colony of the European Union and places the country under the dictates of Germany.
What remains of the Greek economy, above all its most valuable assets, is to be pillaged so that Athens can continue to pay back loans from the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
Greece is to be placed under the direct control of EU officials. The function of Greece’s parliament will be to rubber-stamp the transfer of real authority to Brussels and Berlin. It has until Wednesday to pass a series of laws implementing the demands of German imperialism and the EU. Continue reading »
I was going to write up on the uselessness of Angela Merkel, given that she said on this week that “giving in to Greece could ‘blow apart’ the euro”, and it’s the 180º other way around; it’s the consistent refusal to allow any leniency towards the Greeks that is blowing the currency union to smithereens.
Merkel’s been such an abject failure, the fullblown lack of leadership, the addiction to her right wing backbenchers, no opinion that seems to be remotely her own. But I don’t think the topic by itself makes much sense anymore for an article. It’s high time to take a step back and oversee the entire failing euro and EU system.
Greece is stuck in Germany’s own internal squabbles, and that more than anything illustrates how broken the system is. It was never supposed to be like that. No European leader in their right mind would ever have signed up for that. Continue reading »
As we said earlier today, following today’s dramatic referendum result the Greeks may have burned all symbolic bridges with the Eurozone. However, there still is one key link: the insolvent Greek banks’ reliance on the ECB’s goodwill via the ELA. While we have explained countless times that even a modest ELA collateral haircut would lead to prompt depositor bail-ins, here is DB’s George Saravelos with a simplified version of the potential worst case for Greece in the coming days: Continue reading »
“Another great article, how the Greek vote against the greedy guts gives great challenges to the EU leaders, not just the greedy cow running Germany……Merkel (of course), along with the head of the IMF, and a few others, all will be needing new jobs. This is a huge slap in their faces, well deserved, but the economic pain their investors are now experiencing will get them out of office very quickly. Good riddance.”
Victory by Syriza party of 60% to 40% in polarising referendum presents nightmare for eurozone elites, particularly Germany’s Angela Merkel
No vote supporters hold a banner during celebrations in Athens as results begin to indicate a clear victory against eurozone austerity measures. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters
Greece delivered a landslide no vote to the eurozone’s terms for the country remaining in the single currency on Sunday night, unleashing a seismic political shift that could derail the European project. The verdict confronts the EU’s leadership with one of its most severe crises of confidence and leaves Greece facing potential financial collapse and exit from the euro.
In a polarising referendum called by the radical leftist government of Alexis Tsipras at only eight days notice, Greeks voted by more than 60% to 40% in support of the prime minister, spurning the extra austerity demanded mainly by Germany and the International Monetary Fund in return for an extension of bailout funds. Continue reading »
Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, is thought to have offered concessions on VAT and pensions in return for some form of eventual debt relief
The Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, and European leaders were attempting to stitch together a last-minute Greek bailout deal on Sunday following a frantic round of phone calls to discuss an outline agreement.
The high-level diplomacy comes as eurozone finance ministers and their government leaders prepare for a key summit in Brussels on Monday that could determine whether or not Greece remains a member of the group. Continue reading »
Caught between a recalcitrant Left Platform and exasperated creditors, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras must decide how he wants history to remember his tenure as Prime Minister. Either he will be the leader who allowed Greece to crash out of the euro on its way to a redomination-driven economic collapse, or he will go down as the fiery advocate for change who caved under pressure and allowed the troika to stamp out democracy in the place where it was born.
The writing was already on the wall after several EU officials expressed reservations about the feasibility of striking any sort of compromise with Greece’s negotiating team in Brussels on Sunday, and now it’s official. Talks have once again ended with no deal as the Greeks are standing their ground on pension cuts and VAT hikes.
#BREAKING Greece bailout talks end with no deal, ‘significant gaps’ remain : EU
Over the weekend, in a surprisingly close vote showing just how deeply the ruling Greek Syriza party has splintered, the hard line “Left Platform” a faction within Syriza, proposed that Greece stop paying its creditors if they continue with “blackmailing tactics” and instead seek “an alternative plan” for the debt-racked country. Its motion called for the government to default on the IMF loans rather than compromise to creditor demands, among which a change to value-added tax rates, further liberalization of the labor market and changes to the pension system, including further cuts to pensions and wages. According to the NYT, which reported the vote first, the proposal was narrowly rejected, with 95 people voting against and 75 in favor.
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 »
Germany owes Greece no less than €278.7 billion in World War II reparations, Athens said, referring to the destruction wrought upon the nation during the Nazi occupation. The sum exceeds Greece’s total debt of €240 billion to the EU.
“According to our calculations, the debt linked to German reparations is €278.7 billion euros, including €10.3 billion for the so-called forced loan. All the other amounts are related to allowances for individuals or infrastructure,” said the country’s deputy finance minister, Dimitris Mardas.
The figure was calculated by a parliamentary committee and the Greek supreme court. The numbers have previously varied between €269 billion and €332 billion.
Mardas added that at the 1946 Paris Conference the amount of reparations was set at $341.2 billion. Continue reading »
With Greece digging around in the couch cushions to try and scrape up €2 billion by Friday in order to make payments to the IMF, the ECB, and Goldman, and with celebrity FinMin Yanis Varoufakis doing his absolute best to sink the entire ship with a series of epic PR faux pas, one is left to wonder just where Athens will turn when Berlin and Brussels finally reach the end of their ropes with what increasingly looks like gross incompetence in the Aegean. We may have gotten the answer to that question today via Reuters:
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras will visit Moscow on April 8 after being invited to talks by Russian President Vladimir Putin, a Greek government official said on Tuesday.
Greece’s government has previously said Putin had invited Tsipras to visit Moscow on May 9 and it was not immediately clear if that trip had been changed. It would be Tsipras’s first official visit to Moscow since being elected in January.
There you have it. As Syriza faces the unenviable proposition of either completely giving up on its campaign promises or plunging the Greek economy and banking system into a drachma death spiral, it appears as though Athens is playing the one card it has left, which is threatening to effectively surrender itself to the Kremlin. As Reuters notes, this wouldn’t be the first time Greece has (maybe) inadvertently created speculation around the possibility that Moscow could end up being the White (or Red) Knight: Continue reading »
There was one reaction by the Eurogroup following the (delayed) submission of the Greek 7-point reform proposal – which includes the brilliant idea to use foreign tourists as wired, part-time tax spies – in advance of the latest Monday finmin meeting: laughter.
Financial Times reports that the reaction from eurozone officials to the tourist plan was received with humor. They thought the proposal was hilarious and even laughed when they read it. “It’s quite hilarious, if it were not so tragic, that this is what a government in an industrialised country comes up with,” said one eurozone official involved in the talks.
There will be little laughter in cash-strapped Greece, however, if the Sunday Times is correct in its report that the “Eurogroup finance ministers are to reject radical reform proposals from Greece at a meeting in Brussels tomorrow.” Continue reading »
Greek short-term default risk jumped over 300bps today putting the odds of a restructuring at 50-50 within the next year as the warnings we issued last week with regard Greece’s imminent default on its IMF loan loom. Seeking to reassure its lenders (and avoid yet more capital flight), Reuters reports the Greek government said it was “exploring solutions,” including delaying payments to suppliers or try to raise up to 3 billion euros by borrowing from state entities such as pension funds. Continue reading »
As we noted earlier today, there was some confusion over the plight of the Greek reform proposal document, which initially was said to have been delayed until today, only for the Troika, pardon, Institutions, to flip around and say they had actually received it before midnight on Monday. How could the two be possible? Courtesy of Yannis Koutsomitis, who had the simple but profound idea of looking at the properties tab in the leaked Varoufakis draft of the agreed to proposals, we now know.
As it turns out, the reason why not only the Troika received an agreed to version of the Greek reform proposals “before midnight on Monday”, but rushed these through with a favorable agreement today, is that, drumroll, the European Commission drafted the entire letter!
All Yanis Varoufakis had to do was agree to the letter that the Troika had previously written and agreed in advance was agreeable to it, and send it back. The skeptics are encouraged to play around the original pdf “leak” found here. Continue reading »
In an article uploaded on the website of his Movement for Active Citizens, Keep Talking Greece notes Manolis Glezos – the historic member of the Greek left (best known for his participation in the World War II resistance) – expresses his deep disappointment about the way Syriza handles with the negotiations and calls for party members to decide if they accept this situation. Continue reading »
When it comes to the ongoing Greek question, I see a lot of people eagerly jump to conclusions, after the ‘debt deal’, that I don’t think are justified; certainly not yet. The overall conviction in the press seems to be that Syriza has given in on just about all fronts, and Germany and Dijsselbloem are the big winners.
But since that may well be the exact position Syriza wants ‘the other side’ to be in, where they think they have prevailed, one will have to try and think a few steps ahead before judging the situation. There’s far more grey area here than many pundits seem to assume, easily 50 shades of it. Continue reading »
As anti-austerity protests continue to build in numbers across Europe (and not just in Spain where Podemos now holds a commanding poll lead over the status quo) KeepTalkingGreece reports that Greek parliamentary spokesman for Syriza, Nikos Filis notes “The wave of protests indicates a new beginning… And it scares the dominant forces in Europe. Because Syriza virus can spread and in their communities.” And we suspect that is indeed the Eurogroup’s greatest fear…
Greek default risk has surged in recent days and today as it becomes clear what Syriza expects from Europe, short-term CDS are at post-crisis highs with 5Y CDS implying a 76% probability of default (based on standard recovery assumptions – which may be a little high in this case). Given the domestic bank dominance in the buying of domestic government debt, Greek banks are getting hammered as everyone’s favorite hedge fund trade is an utter bloodbath. Greek stocks overall are down and GGBs are tumbling once again – back at 16 month lows (given back all the ECBQE hope bounce). Perhaps not surprising moves, given new Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis reality-exposing comments yesterday, “the problem with the bailout is that it wasn’t really a bailout… it was an extend and pretend, it was a vicious cycle, a debt-deflationary trap, which destroyed our social economy.”
In the two days after Syriza’s dramatic victory in the local Greek election, global investors assumed this loud cry against European policies would mean… more of the same, and as a result not much changed in the risk assessment of Greek assets. Then, overnight, following the previous report that not only does Syriza mean business but it is actively pivoting away from Europe (and toward Russia?), and everyone started paying attention, with a waterfall of selling engulfing not only the Greek stock market but also its bonds, which are crashing in the process sending the 3 Year yield to 16.4%, the highest since the restructuring, and the 10 Year either below or above 10%, depending on which data source is used (Bloomberg has them slightly below, others reporting 10-year bond yields up 50 basis points at 10.30%).
Ten days ago, before the smashing success of Greece’s anti-austerity party, Syriza, we noted that Russia gave Greece a modest proposal: turn your back on Europe, whom you despise so much anyway, and we will assist your farmers by lifting the food import ban.
UPDATE: Greek Government official admits electoral defeat by Syriza
As AP reports,
A senior official in Greece’s governing conservatives has conceded defeat to the radical left Syriza party in Sunday’s national elections.
“We lost,” Health Minister Makis Voridis told private Mega TV. “The extent of that result is not yet clear.”
Voridis, the conservative party’s parliamentary spokesman, says the government’s austerity policies, implemented to secure vital international bailouts, “make sense” but were cut short before they could bear fruit.
An exit poll on state Nerit TV projects Syriza winning by a wide margin.
The first Greek exit polls are out and here they are:
According to the initial exit polls, in first place, with some 35.5%-39.5% of the vote is Syriza, a huge lead over the second placing New Democracy which has 23-27% of the vote – far more than polls had indicated previously – and a spot which essentially assures Tsipras’ party an absolute majority in parliament and the ability to take as hardline an approach as he wishes.