Greece Avoids Bank Run By Last Minute Bail Out Of Proton Bank

Tyler Durden's picture

Alas, it is not a liquidity problem, it is a solvency problem. After delaying this realization for over two years, Greece, and Europe, are about to understand just how flawed "bailout" strategies that address the symptoms and not the cause, have been since the beginning of 2010. And while the world is engaged with the latest victim of the Bernanke-inspired, food-price inflation political upheaval better known as the Arab Spring, whose final stop is nothing less than Times Square, Greece quietly avoided the failure of smallish Proton bank (there is no FDIC backstop of failed banks in Greece), which would have resulted in a market wide panic, and a terminal bank run that would have toppled the Greek financial sector. Luckily, this was prevented in the last second courtesy of a capital injection in the last minute by the big 4 Greek banks. From the FT: "Greece’s four largest banks agreed to take up a €50m convertible bond to help recapitalise Proton Bank, a small lender, the central bank announced this weekend, in what is being seen as an attempt to avert a run on the country’s fragile banking system...“In this environment, it was essential to prevent Proton from collapsing and creating a mood of fear with unpredictable consequences,” said one banker, explaining the rationale for the take-up of the Proton bond." In summary, Greece was lucky... this time around, they had enough cash to save the smallish lender. The next time around they will not be so lucky.

Greek banks no longer have sufficient high-quality collateral to seek funding from the European Central Bank after recent sovereign downgrades. But they are eligible for liquidity allocated by the Bank of Greece in agreement with the Frankfurt-based ECB and are expected to seek it this week.


All four big lenders – National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank and Piraeus Bank – face a looming liquidity crunch as about €10bn of government deposits are set to be withdrawn from local banks to pay off debt maturing in the next few weeks.


“In this environment, it was essential to prevent Proton from collapsing and creating a mood of fear with unpredictable consequences,” said one banker, explaining the rationale for the take-up of the Proton bond.


Proton, which has just 31 branches, has emerged as the first Greek bank to reach the brink of collapse since the country’s sovereign debt crisis erupted 18 months ago. “It is the small banks like Proton that are most at risk . . . they have been hit by irregular practices as well as the credit crunch,” a Greek financial expert said.


The central bank this month replaced Proton’s board of directors and senior managers, and appointed a special commissioner to oversee operations after discovering a €51m hole in the bank’s balance sheet.


The government also made a €100m emergency transfer to Proton. The bank was however unable to pay back €70m of this amount, after depositors removed funds amid reports that Lavrentis Lavrentiadis, its largest shareholder, was being investigated for alleged embezzlement and money-laundering.

Also it appears that the recent substitution of Greek FinMin G-Pap with Venizelos will not be successful as there, unlike here, bailing out banks at any and all costs s generally frowned up.

Evangelos Venizelos, the finance minister, has faced criticism from opposition politicians for approving the €100m transfer to Proton in defiance of a law banning the government from depositing funds with banks that face financial problems.

For now it appears that contrary to some expectations of a new ECB announcement tonight, which would provide so much needed USD-denominated liquidity to local banks, one is not coming, which means that the same old Risk Off scramble will prevail as soon as Europe opens in a few hours. And one of these days the Greek bank that blows up will be just large enough to where even its bigger cousins will be unable to bail it out.

h/t Mike

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Irish66's picture

Too small too fail

wang's picture
wang (not verified) Irish66 Aug 21, 2011 7:40 PM

indeed, Protons are quite small

Me, I bank at Amoeba bank



WestVillageIdiot's picture

It would seem that the only banks that are still solvent, and having no liquidity problems, are the Sperm Banks. 

WmMcK's picture

I only overdrawn at the blood bank.

Arrowhead's picture

sperm banks are a racket, depositors should deal direct

Tijuana Donkey Show's picture

I always withdraw from the assets before an unwanted deposit.....

Mae Kadoodie's picture

Lt. Sulu, arm the Proton torpedos!

Calmyourself's picture

If I remember Lt. Sulu was arming the sperm torpoedoes


Cassandra Syndrome's picture

CERN Relief Program Bitchez

WmMcK's picture

"Proton Bank", I thought it was "Photon bank".  Catch the wave.

IQ 145's picture

I'm waiting for the bailout of the neutron bank.

IMA5U's picture

that's what she said

johngaltfla's picture

LOL, and that's like putting more cash into an ATM on the Titanic.

Newsboy's picture

Mission Accomplished!

Thomas's picture

Helluva job, Brownie.

sitenine's picture

Greek banks trying to prevent a mood of fear.  No one could possibly see any irony in that.  /sarc

WestVillageIdiot's picture

There's going to be a revolution at Times Square tomorrow?  Cool.  I guess I will get out of the subway in the morning and check it out.  It couldn't happen in a more disgusting place.  Maybe they can set up the guillotines in that empty space where ESPN Zone used to be. 

zen0's picture

There is an opportunity for political performance art here.Guillotines set up at strategic spots suggesting a reckoning for the kleptocracy.


Where are the artists when you need them?

IQ 145's picture

"it couldn't happen in a more disgusting place"; oh yeah; what about Brooklyn ? eh. Did you think of that?

WmMcK's picture

+ (Postive) hadrons.

disabledvet's picture

Exactly. No swap lines.methinks it'll be official soon: "the training wheels are off."

wang's picture
wang (not verified) Aug 21, 2011 7:45 PM

and now the looting begins

oh. and those 140 tonnes of gold

promise, we'll search the world to find out where is was taken and prosecute those who stole it

promise justice will be done

IQ 145's picture

"Everyone is crying out for justice; just as soon as they get theirs"----Mose Allison--

Diablo's picture

the proton bank bail-out was not caused by the sovereign debt crisis. the eur51mio was embezzelment. 



ISEEIT's picture

Long EUR. 1.42 is the line in the sand. Below that USD spikes and the game changes.


ISEEIT's picture

Disclosure: I'm short at 1.42. Holding and covered to the moon.

unum mountaineer's picture

just a game thought: recall the fx swap lines from last week.woukd be the ultimate exercise of swap line reach around, snb deniable plausability..things that make you go hmmmm..

monopoly's picture

Just the timing, that is all that is not known.

Good article in Bloomberg, if you want to really get pissed off, again.

Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2 Trillion in Fed’s Secret Loans
Long-John-Silver's picture

The only Bank run I want to see is in Bullion. All Hail Hugo! Hooray! Hooray! Hooray! 

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

One of these seemingly insignificant bank failures is going to be the trigger for chaos...

The central banks don't have enough fingers to plug all the leaking holes

Calmyourself's picture

Fingers no, electronic currency yes..  This is all going to last longer and be more painful than most think..

JLee2027's picture

Seems to be a constant state of one debt crisis after another. 

The end must be here. They'll give up soon.

NumNutt's picture

Kind of like crack heads lending each other money, they know they will never see it again.

Arrowhead's picture

By God I'd better see mine, I have some expensive dental work to pay for.

WmMcK's picture

The one case in which I will rid myself of metal -- old amalgam fillings, that is.

Arrowhead's picture

Is mercury still traded? I remember seeing the price of mercury quoted in the paper in the 1980's when I was pup.

SAJ's picture

No, Arrrowhead -- the mercury contract on the old NYMEX (pre-energy) failed not once, but twice.   First time in 1975 or 1976.  Second time, for good, in the late 1980s.

Joined the ranks of Apples, Iced Broilers, Eggs, Maine White Potatoes, Silver Coins, Tom Turkeys, and here recently, Frozen Pork Bellies.  All of these had one thing in common (well, besides failing):  the contracts never met their respective industries' needs.


Lazlo Toth's picture

So.. let me get his straight...

The bigger failing banks in Greece are lending to the smaller failing banks in Greece....

But the bigger banks must be lending the money of the Bank (i.e. Greece citizens who bank there) to the smaller failing bank.

So... Who got done?

Mesquite's picture

Some things never change...

LookingWithAmazement's picture

So, no bankruns in Greece and further Europe. Bankproblem solved. Boring world we live in.

LawsofPhysics's picture

I know of several venture fund guys heading to Germany tomorrow.  We all know that it is arm-twisting time, just wish I knew who was twisting who's arm.  Although short-lived, I think one fiat (either the dollar or the Euro) is about to get a bump.  Gold will, simply because.

Jasper M's picture

I'l take the under on that trade. 

If When interest rates go up (and Bernanke can't stop them), gold will plummet. 

LawsofPhysics's picture

Ah the contrarian, we can't have money becoming a store of value now can we.  Interest rates goes up, America defaults.  Anything of physical value will be used as "money".  All paper will be good for starting fires.

Dick Fitz's picture

Yes, when interest rates rise gold will drop, for a short while. The rise in interest rates will signal even higher inflation, and gold will then resume rising at even faster speeds. A 20% interest rate on a currency that is depreciating (due to price inflation) at 30-99% a year is still a losing deal.

Snidley Whipsnae's picture

Jasper... If interest rates of US Ts go up the US Economy is toast... A default on US Ts will ensue for the treasury will not be able to pay the interest on the debt without massive printing... Dollar will sink on news of massive printing...

and PMs will be the only game in town!

falak pema's picture

Benocide's rule holds: ZIRP for two more years. Print and dump. "Exorbitant privilege" holds until the Chinese pull the plug on USD as reserve. But that will take some doing. Its real big game changer and could shove the world to the brink of Armageddon.

Dick Cheney said it all : "The American way of life is non negotiable." He was obviously talking in the name of the Oligarchs, not in name of Main Street. Subtle nuance which is now sinking home fast to Main Street USA. But the Chinese have their eyes on what Benocide's print and dump could do to hyperinflation in China and its RM commodity market. It could explode their bubble and deflate world wide growth. 

Pm stays the only game in town. Until the Oligarchs make their move. Watch out. If there is a massive sell off by Paulson...If deflation comes in big way... Two black swans that could kill PMs. But as long as we are in "print and dump" mode and USD stays reserve that devalues every day, PMs stay sexy. The less worse of two scenarios from Ben's perspectve. And he is point man for the Oligarchs.