In a brief clip from a lengthier discussion between historian Niall Ferguson and ex-Greek PM George Papandreou at this week's Zeitgeist conference, the effusive Englishman lays out perfectly what many are missing with regard to Europe: "Greece is not the problem - it is a symptom of a much more profound malaise that affects the entire monetary union." - just as Lehman Brothers was not the 'cause' of the US's problems. The wasted energy spent moralizing about the 'work habits' of Mediterranean citizens as being the problem is incorrect as this is a European-wide problem - a systemic crisis of European banking and public finance. Papandreou pipes in by noting, in typical toe-the-line manner, that Germany must swerve (in the game of chicken) or there is a major danger of disintegration because "there will be contagion".
The story of Facebook’s disappointing IPO is a gripping tale, and it holds some valuable lessons. But it concerns an event that has already happened. Forget Facebook — there are far more interesting events in play and that will affect you, if only at the margins. They haven’t happened yet, and they may not happen at all. But if they do, you’d sure as hell better have a plan.
“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.” The Reuters Global Gold Forum confirms that in the small print of the Greek “bailout” is a provision for the creditors to seize Greek national gold reserves. Reuters correspondents in Athens have not got confirmation that this is the case so they are, as ever, working hard to pin that down. Greece owns just some 100 tonnes of gold. According to IMF data, for some reason over the last few months Greece has bought and sold the odd 1,000 ounce lot of its gold bullion reserves. A Reuter’s correspondent notes that “these amounts are so tiny that it could well be a rounding issue, rather than holdings really rising or falling.” While many market participants would expect that Greece’s gold reserves would be on the table in the debt agreement, it is the somewhat covert and untransparent way that this is being done that is of concern to Greeks and to people who believe in the rule of law.
Negative Salaries, Negative Bailout And Now Negative Gold - Greece Just Became The Bankster's ParadiseSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/22/2012 17:58 -0400
While Iceland is now known as the country that is the closest earthly approximation to banker hell, it is safe to say that Greece is the terrestrial equivalent of banker heaven. Because as explained earlier today, the country's population is about to get a worse deal than your average run of the mill slave - they may get whipped, but at least never have to pay for the privilege, unlike the Greeks. Hence negative salaries. As also explained, the European bailout of Greece, is now formally a Greek bailout of Europe, funded by the country's already negative primary surplus, or better said - deficit (don't try to make mathematical sense of that - a scene out of Scanners is guaranteed). Hence, negative bailout. But the piece de resistance, and the reason why Greece is the in situ version of bankster heaven is the news from the NYT that Greece is also about to have negative gold.
Open Europe has published a briefing note outlining the ten questions and issues that still need to be resolved in the coming weeks in order for Greece to avoid a full and disorderly default on March 20. The briefing argues that, realistically, only a few of these issues are likely to be fully resolved before the deadline meaning that Greece’s future in the euro will come down to one question: whether Germany and other Triple A countries will deem this to be enough political cover to approve the second Greek bailout package. In particular, the briefing argues that recent analyses of Greece’s woes have underplayed the importance of the problems posed by the large amount of funding which needs to be released to ensure the voluntary Greek restructuring can work – almost €94bn – as well as the massive time constraints presented by issues such as getting parliamentary approval for the bailout deal in Germany and Finland. While the eurozone also continues to ignore or side-line questions over the whether a 120% debt-to-GDP ratio in 2020 would be sustainable and if, given the recent riots, Greece has come close to the social and political level of austerity which it can credibly enforce.
Greece is the epicenter of a drama that threatens to unwind with all the intrigue and subterfuge of ancient Greek myths and tragedies. As with the legend of Icarus, big, and now bigger, transnational banks provoked the gods with their wax-and-feather financial fabrications to create the appearance of soaring wealth. Now that they have flown too close to the sun and their wings have melted, these banks are being brought to earth by the obligations and consequences imposed by their fabrications. Rather than take responsibility, these banks seek to appease the gods by sacrificing taxpayers. In fact, if one looks closely, these banks aspire to be gods themselves. They clothe themselves in their indispensability and shield themselves from accountability with tales about how many innocent citizens will be hurt if they don’t get their next bailout. It is as if they say, “We are above the law… We are the law.” Mathematics, legal enforcement, restraint, humility all must fall under the sword of their hubris. In the end, just as with a Greek tragedy or a Yeats poem, this center cannot hold and things fall apart.
Tonight's protest in Athens has all the makings of the vintage ones from May of 2010, and the nigh is still young. Here are some updates:
- FTW: Public order minister resigns in Greece as fires burn - BBC
- Rioting spreads across central Athens, at least 5 buildings set ablaze - AP
- 2:02PM EST: FIRES ARE BURNING SEVERAL SMALL BUSINESSES AROUND ATHENS AS PROTESTERS CLASH WITH POLICE NEAR GREEK PARLIAMENT
- 1:52 PM EST: POLICE ARE CLEARING PROTESTERS FROM OUT IN FRONT OF GREEK PARLIAMENT BUILDING
- 1:50 PM EST: ATMS ARE REPORTEDLY EMPTY AROUND ATHENS... STILL UNCONFIRMED WORKING TO CONFIRM THIS
- 1:48 PM EST: LARGE FIRES ARE REPORTED AROUND ATHENS... INCLUDING A BRANCH OF EUROBANK AND STARBUCKS
- Skai TV reports that police have run out of tear gas & have asked for more supplies to be brought
As a reminder, the final vote is not until midnight.
€65 billion—20% of GDP—have been yanked out of Greek bank accounts, and political positioning for the “afterwards” has begun....
Greece Draws The Line As Unity Government Leaders Refuse To Cede To Further Troika Austerity DemandsSubmitted by Tyler Durden on 02/03/2012 14:02 -0400
It appears that Greece will not even have to wait until the dreaded March 20 funding D-Day. As was earlier reported, Greek PM Lucas Papademos may resign if he is unable to persuade his coalition unity government to agree to further Troika demands for additional austerity. It now appears that there will be no agreement, and thus the primary demand from the Troika for further cash disbursement will not be met. The FT reports: "All three party leaders in Greece’s teetering national unity government have opposed new austerity measures demanded by international lenders, forcing eurozone finance ministers to postpone approval of a new €130bn bail-out and moving the country closer to a full-blown default. Representatives of the so-called “troika” – the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund – have demanded further cuts in government jobs and severe reductions in Greek salaries, including an immediate 25 per cent cut in the €750 minimum monthly wage, before agreeing the new rescue. But representatives of all three coalition partners, including centre-left Pasok of former prime minister George Papandreou and the centre-right New Democracy of likely successor Antonis Samaras, said they were unwilling to back the government layoffs." Now we have been here before, and as a reminder the last time Greece threatened to pull out of Europe with the G-Pap referendum threat back in the fall, G-Pap was promptly replaced with the Trilateral Commission member and former ECB Vice President, Lucas Papademos. The problem is that for him to obtain power, he needed to form a coalition government. Well, that now appears to be in tatters, as not one party is willing to break to the Greeks that the minimum wage of €750 will be cut even further. The question is who will blink first this time, as it is quite likely that neither the Troika nor Greece want an out of control default. Unless, of course, this was Germany's plan B to the imposition of a Greek commissar all along...
EURUSD longs just got punk'd again, with the EURUSD surging to over 1.32 on the fake BLS number (1.2 million labor force decline, whatever, with ), when it collapsed by 100 pips as the news we tweeted earlier that Greek PM Papademos may resign today throwing the entire Greek bailout out of the window, if his talks for further austerity fail. From Kathimerini: "Papademos is expected to meet PASOK’s George Papandreou, New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras and Giorgos Karatzaferis of the Popular Orthodox Rally (LAOS) on Saturday. The three politicians will have to agree on measures that will satisfy Greece’s lenders and pave the way for a new bailout. Sources told Kathimerini that the troika is demanding that the minimum wage of 751 euros per month (gross) be reduced and that labor costs in the private sector drop by 25 percent in a bid to help Greece regain competitiveness. Skai TV and radio reported on Friday that should the leaders fail to agree a deal, he will tender his resignation on Monday." And just to make the confusion complete, Jean Claude Juncker just announced there would be no Eurogroup meeting on February 6. So while the market is celebrating the rotation of banker jobs with minimum wage jobs, Greece may be on the verge of blowing up Europe.
As Greek standards of living nose-dive, loans to households and businesses shrink still further, and Troika-imposed PSI discussions continue, there is one segment of the country's infrastructure that is holding up well. In a story on Zeit Online, the details of the multi-billion Euro new arms contracts are exposed as the European reach-around would be complete with IMF (US) and Europe-provided Greek bailout cash doing a full-circle into American Apache helicopters, French frigates, and German U-Boats. As the unnamed source in the article notes: "If Greece gets paid in March the next tranche of funding (€ 80 billion is expected), there is a real opportunity to conclude new arms contracts." With the country's doctors only treating emergencies, bus drivers on strike, and a dire lack of school textbooks and the country teetering on the brink of Drachmatization, perhaps our previous concerns over military coups was not so far-fetched as after the Portuguese (another obviously stressed nation), the Greeks are the largest buyers of German war weapons. It seems debt crisis talks perhaps had more quid pro quo than many expected as Euro Fighter commitments were also discussed and Greek foreign minister Droutsas points out:"Whether we like it or not, Greece is obliged to have a strong military".
Former Greek PM, and career politician, George Papandreou, is effectively retiring. Per Reuters: "Greece's former prime minister George Papandreou told his PASOK socialist party on Wednesday that he will step down as party leader and not seek re-election, a socialist deputy told Reuters. "He told us that he will resign as PASOK leader and that he will not run for prime minister again," said the deputy who attended a party meeting on the leadership succession. Papandreou stepped down as prime minister in November last year to make way for a coalition government to help Greece exit its biggest financial crisis in decades." Nothing like scurrying away in the last lifeboat just as your country is caught in the 21st century equivalent of the 22nd Catch, where your tax collectors, so critical for procuring the much needed tax revenue (sorry Greece, only America can "print" its revenues) are on what seems to be perpetual strike.
This stuff is funny. Especially when google translated...
Greek blog DosePasa has released several smoking gun documents in which Boston-based Hayman Private Equity (no relation to the Kyle Bass firm, at least none that we can find), discloses it intention to offer a E20 billion loan through a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to Greece at roughly LIBOR+125bps in February 2010. If the documents are proven legitimate, and with a plethora of executive-level signatures it appears they would be difficult to forge, Athens will likely now demand G-Pap's head on a platter, or at least a coherent explanation why he refused to do this transaction at massively beneficial to Greece terms, which most importantly, did not involve the IMF's austerity measures, which have been the source of so much consternation to date, not to mention a proximal cause for the biggest market drop in history.