European Central Bank
The costs and consequences of Greece exiting the Eurozone may well dwarf the financial losses triggered by Greece's default.
"The head of Germany's Bundesbank ripped into the European Central Bank on Thursday, saying emergency funding for Greek banks broke the taboo of financing governments and it was not up to central banks to decide who was or wasn't in the euro zone," Reuters reports.
While the US economy was crushed by harsh snow in Q1, with its GDP set to be revised to nearly -1.0% (yes, we know the real reason was the collapse in Chinese end demand and the soaring dollar but don't tell the Fed), Europe must have had a very balmy winter, because as Eurostat reported earlier today, Europe grew (and considering Europe estimates the "benefit" for prostitution and illegal drugs to the economy, we use the term loosely) 0.4% in the first quarter, a 1.6% annualized growth rate, in line with expectations, up from 0.3% last quarter and a year ago, and tied for the highest GDP print in 4 years.
The troika wants the Syriza government to execute things that run counter to their election promises. No matter how many people point out the failures of austerity measures as they are currently being implemented in various countries, the troika insists on more austerity. Even as they know full well Syriza can’t give them that because of its mandate. Let alone its morals. It’s a power game. It’s a political game. It always was. But still it has invariably been presented by both the international-press and the troika as an economic problem.
With a deal between Greece and its creditors seen as exceedingly unlikey at Monday's Eurogroup meeting, officials and analysts alike debate the logistics of default and a return to the drachma while Greeks may be called upon to choose between austerity or preparing for the possible introduction of a parallel currency and the economic malaise that will invariably follow.
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Earlier we detailed reports that The IMF was preparing a contingency plan in the event of a Greek default, and furthermore that Andrea Merkel was under increasing pressure to "let Greece go," and now, as Eurogroup ministers begin to gather for today's crucial 'deal-or-no-deal' meeting, Die Welt reports The Troika has 4 scenarios for Greece - one positive and three increasingly negative ranging from the need for further bailouts to paying staff in IOUs and issuing a parallel currency.
Capital controls are in place...
Threatened with deflation, the authorities will want to turn the tide in the worst possible way. What’s the worst way to stop deflation? With hyperinflation. Yes, we may suffer a year or two more of sluggish growth... or even deflation. Stocks will crash and people will be desperate for paper dollars. But sooner or later, the feds will find their feet and lose their heads. Most likely, the credit-drenched world of 2015 will end... not in a whimper of deflation, but in a bang. Hyperinflation will bring the long depression to a dramatic close long before a quarter of a century has passed.
As next week's Eurogroup meeting's last chance to get more cash, ahead of the looming threat of a €780mm payments due to The IMF, rapidly approaches, the left-wing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has forecast a "happy ending" to fraught negotiations on the cash-for-reforms deal. EU creditors are less enthusiastic, as Reuters reports, noting talks were making progress, though not enough for a deal next Monday. Tsipras promised to do "whatever it takes in order to reach... an honest and mutually beneficial agreement with our partners", but gave no indication of yielding on the lenders' core demands for painful reforms.
Greece is set to introduce a surcharge on withdrawals and financial transactions in an effort to raise cash amid fractious negotiations with creditors. Meanwhile, the ECB is considering measures that will tighten the screws on the country's cash-strapped banking sector.
On the heels of Monday's news that the IMF may demand a write-off of Greek debt by European creditors before the organization will disburse its portion of a €7.2 billion aid tranche to Athens, it now appears the situation has deteriorated further with unnamed Greek officials reporting "serious disagreements" between the IMF and the EU which may make a compromise "impossible" by the critical May 12 deadline.
Facing a pensioner rebellion and a looming payment due to the IMF, Greece’s back is now truly against the wall. As Handelsblatt reports, even if a deal were reached with creditors this weekend, it may now be logistically impossible for Greece to make a €780 million payment scheduled for May 12. Oh well, there's always war reparations...
"The effects on underlying inflation have so far been tepid. What is worrisome is that market participants still do not see consumer price inflation returning to the ECB’s 2% target on a sustained basis, let alone going above it, over any reasonable time horizon," Goldman says. And while the bank is ultimately confident that the Goldmanite in charge of the ECB will succeed in driving up inflation over time, the market would be wise to note that the US and Japanese experience with QE don't provide much in the way of empirical support for that contention.