Juncker Warns Of Greek Default As Europe's Patience With Greece Runs Out
Following up on our report from this morning that according to former Greek defense minister, German submarine chief procurer, and not to mention Jenny Twenty repeat offender, Evangelos "Xanax" Venizelos, we learn that the god of Deus Ex Machinae is about to abandon Greece, after an announcement by that most magic unicorn-infatuated of bureaucrats, Eurogroup head Jean-Claude Juncker made it clear that Greece is all but finished. As Reuters reports, "The possibility of a sovereign default by Greece cannot be ruled out, Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the Eurogroup of finance ministers from the single currency zone, said in a German magazine on Saturday." Translation: A Greek default on that €14.5 billion bond maturity D-day of March 20, is now inevitable. In an advance copy of comments to news weekly Der Spiegel, Jean-Claude Juncker was quoted as saying Greece could no longer expect solidarity from other euro zone members if it cannot implement reforms it has agreed. "If we were to establish that everything has gone wrong in Greece, there would be no new programme, and that would mean that in March they have to declare bankruptcy," he said. So after years of delaying the inevitable sovereign Lehman weekend, it is finally here. As a reminder, when Lehman filed, everyone, at least those in charge, thought the fall out could be contained. It couldn't, and the Fed had to step in with roughly $30 trillion in backstops, guarantees, and asset purchases. The same will happen this time.
Curiously, it was none other than Zero Hedge who said back in April of 2010, that Greece should just cut the cord and get on with it, because "Not only will a delay in defaulting do nothing for the economy except bleed it to death slowly, but ever more frequent risk flare episodes culminating in bank runs will intensify the deposit outflows and impair the banking system beyond repair (for depositors to keep their money in Greek banks, they need to be compensated for the risks: double digit rates sound about right), thus dooming any hope for an economic recovery." Funny how correct we were on that assessment, just two years ahead of the Eurozone's kleptocrats. On the other hand, having called Europe's bluff for as long as it did, is also an admirable development, if only instead of recycling the cash mooched out of Germany to pay European banks, it had been injected back into the economy and not into German submarines....
As for next steps, the only question now is what happens in that critical interval between February 29 when the second ECB 3-year LTRO takes place, and March 13, when the next FOMC statement is due, incidentally just after the BLS announce that all the labor numbers in the past few months were really just a joke, and the economic contraction is about to hit the US despite what those who believe that the market, and thus the economy, is really just a reflection of one month's seasonal labor adjustment.
And while in the past imminent deadlines were always promptly forgotten this time around, Greece may have boxed itself into a corner, having said earlier today that all must be set in under 24 hours or else the bailout is off the table. Alas, there will be no resolution tomorrow.
On the brink of bankruptcy, Greece must wrap up talks with foreign lenders on the bailout and quickly get political approval to ensure funds begin flowing in time for it to pay back 14.5 billion euros of bonds falling due in mid-March.
But negotiations with its 'troika' of international lenders have stumbled over their demands that include cutting labour costs by axing holiday bonuses and lowering the minimum wage - proposals strongly opposed by Greek political party leaders.
Some more from Reuters why tomorrow may be finally the day when the foreplay officially ends:
Euro zone finance ministers told Greece on Saturday it could not go ahead with an agreed deal to restructure privately-held debt until it guaranteed it would implement reforms needed to secure a second financing package from the euro zone and the IMF.
Euro zone ministers had hoped to meet on Monday to finalize the second Greek bailout, which has to be in place by mid-March if Athens is to avoid a chaotic default. But the meeting was postponed because of Greek reluctance to commit to reforms.
Instead, the ministers held a conference call on Saturday to take stock of progress on the second financing package, which euro zone leaders set at 130 billion euros back in October.
"There was a very clear message that was conveyed from all participants of the teleconference ... to the Greeks that enough is enough," one euro zone official said. "There is a great sense of frustration that they are dragging their feet.
"They should get their act together and start talking honestly, decisively and speedily with the Troika on the aspects of the programme that remain to be finalized - on fiscal and labor market reforms," the official said.
"There is a great sense of frustration with Minister Venizelos, who is very hard to get hold of because he is very busy campaigning for the leadership of (the Greek party) PASOK, so he is not available to meet with Troika members," the first official said.
"He is preparing his own political future, rather than the future of his country. People are seriously disgruntled about that and have conveyed this very clearly to him this afternoon," the official said.
"There is an increasing sense of frustration that why should we honour our part of the bargain, which we have in the past, while Greece does not seem to care that much, and has not delivered their part of the bargain," the official said.
Alas, if Venixanax is now unreachable, it pretty much seals the deal. Or lack thereof.
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