As Greece Has Less Than Two Months Of Cash Left, An Insolvent ECB Sees A Widening Rift With Germany
Today's EUR trading session which begins in about 4 hours, may be rather violent. While on one hand we have bond-negative news out of Spain, the biggest news once again comes out of the Swiss journal NZZ, which citing greek newspaper Kahtimerini, discloses that insolvent Greece has less than two months of cash left, or enough to last it until July 18, unless a new installment in the bailout tranche is approved for the country by the now headless IMF, and the suddenly insolvent ECB. Insolvent, because as Spiegel will report in its headline article tomorrow, and as we have noted many times before, the bank is "suddenly" finding itself lending out money collateralized by now virtually D-rated bonds: something not even Trichet will be able to spin off to the increasingly malevolent media. Per Dow Jones: "Skeleton risks amounting to several hundreds of billions of euros are on the balance sheet of the European Central Bank, magazine Der Spiegel writes in a preview of its edition to be published Monday. Those risks arise because banks, above all from Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain, have provided as collateral asset-backed securities that are unfit for central bank loans as their debt rating is low or non-existent, the magazine says." Alas, the European central bank's dirty laundry is being exposed just as a rift between the bank and Germany: its most solvent backer, is starting to develop. Also from Dow Jones: "German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble cautioned in an interview published Sunday that there shouldn't be a conflict with the European Central Bank over a possible restructuring of Greek debt. "If in the end it should come to an extension of bonds, of course, we need the approval of the IMF and above all of the ECB. Under no circumstances should it come to a conflict with the ECB," Schaeuble told Bild am Sonntag. "I advise all of us to use restraint in public debates about this question." Several ECB officials have rejected a restructuring of Greek debt and have warned of possible catastrophic consequences, while European finance ministers are slowly warming up to the possibility of some kind of restructuring as a last resort." Thus the crunch time for Europe's latest kick the can down the road round, once again centered on a bankrupt Greece, may be coming fast, and this time with a rather furious Germany.
If experts from the EU, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European Central Bank (ECB) do not give the go ahead for the next installment of the bailout package totaling 12 billion euros by the end of June give, then Greece will become insolvent on July 18, as the conservative Journal "Kathimerini" reported.
In the coming days Athens will fast track an aggressive privatization program. According to media reports, real estate should be taxed higher than before.
Further cuts in wages and pensions in the public sector and pensions are no longer excluded. In addition, state-run enterprises are privatized and will sell real estate, they said. The new savings program should be approved by parliament in early June.
Prime Minister Giorgos Papandreou noted in an interview with the Sunday edition of the newspaper "Ethnos" denying any form of debt restructuring. This would be no debate. Greece will repay all his debts, he said.
The head of the Euro Group, Jean-Claude Juncker, has proposed the privatization of state property Greece after the German model of trust. I would appreciate it if our Greek friends would start following the example of the German Treuhand privatization agency, a non-governmental, "Juncker said in an interview with the magazine" Der Spiegel ". This institution should be staffed with foreign experts. "The European Union will support the privatization program in the future as closely as we would conduct themselves," Juncker announced.
The potential revenue he estimated at "significantly more than the 50 billion proposed by the Greek government." The EU is also expected from Greece, "that the two major political groupings in the country put aside their petty disputes," said the euro-group leader: "Government and opposition parties should jointly declare that they are committed to the reform agreements with the EU . 'Only when Greece had consolidated its budget, one could initiate a "soft debt restructuring." Then we can consider to extend the maturities of public and private loans and interest rates lower, "said Juncker.
And regarding the €50 billion privatization prgoram by the Greek government, Alex Gloy of Lighthouse Investment Management asks:
Re: EUR 50bn privatization by Greek government – has anybody dared to ask:
- Who exactly is going to purchase those state-owned assets? Domestic buyers? Those are busy trying to get their Euros out of the country (‘s banks) before it’s too late. Foreigners? Which foreigner would fork over dear Euros now only to find a Drachma-denominated (and quickly depreciating) asset shortly afterwards?
- Who would invest in a country whose entire banking system is hanging on a thread (which the ECB is threatening to cut)?
- Why buy assets that could be nationalized when a populist / communist government takes over after Greeks are (rightly) enraged about suffering endless austerity?
- Why not ask Deutsche Telekom what they think about their 30% stake in OTE (Hellenic Telecom), bought for EUR 3.8bn (at EUR 27.50-29 per share, now: EUR 7.60). Buyer’s remorse came at the end of 2011. Deutsche Telekom hat to write off EUR 1.3bn on their Greek (and Romanian) investment. DTE management must hate themselves for having given the Greek government a put option for additional 10% stake until end of 2011. Why hasn’t the Greek government exercised yet? Don’t they need the cash? Only explanation: the Germans are twisting some Greek arms to try to make that put option “expire”. Full deal structure here.
All great questions, most of which bring even further credibility to the Andrew Lilico-proposed next steps for Greece.
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