Less than 24 hours after the ECB showed it would only play hardball from now on, there were some hopes that either the Greek position would soften or that Germany would indicate it may agree to at least a modest compromise to avoid the worst possible outcome.
Alas, as the following photo from the ongoing press conference between the finance ministers of Greece and Germany shows...
... it was not meant to be.
- SCHAEUBLE SAYS HAD INTENSIVE TALKS WITH VAROUFAKIS
- SCHAEUBLE SAYS NO AGREEMENT YET WITH VAROUFAKIS ON WAY AHEAD
- SCHAEUBLE: GERMANY MUST HAVE UNDERSTANDING FOR GREEK WOES
- SCHAEUBLE: GREECE MUST WORK WITH TROIKA AS PER PRIOR AGREEMENTS
- SCHAEUBLE: SAYS SOME GREEK POLICY MEASURES GO IN WRONG DIRECTION
- SCHAEUBLE: DEBT CUT FOR GREECE IS NOT ON THE TABLE
- SCHAEUBLE: HAVE GONE TO THE LEGAL LIMITS IN PROVIDING AID
- SCHAEUBLE: MY PRESS SPOKESMAN ADVISED ME TO SAY "WE AGREED TO DISAGREE"
And the other side:
- VAROUFAKIS SAYS HAS NOT REACHED AGREEMENT WITH SCHAEUBLE
- VAROUFAKIS SAYS OUTLINED GREEK GOVT PRIORITIES TO SCHAEUBLE
- VAROUFAKIS SAYS AGREED WITH SCHAEUBLE TO ENTER A CONSULTATION
- VAROUFAKIS SAYS IT IS TIME TO PUT AN END TO GREECE'S ECONOMIC WOES, SURE PEOPLE OF GERMANY WANT TO GET OVER GREEK SAGA
- VAROUFAKIS SAYS WE DIDN'T DISCUSS GREECE'S DEBT REPAYMENT SCHEDULE OR DEBT HAIRCUT
- VAROUFAKIS SAYS "WE DIDN'T EVEN AGREE TO DISAGREE"
Said otherwise, if the ECB had hoped that by escalating the political fight by yanking the proverbial financial rug from under Greece it would lead to a quick submission of Greece, it has so far failed.
All of this happens after ECB member Peter Praet had some choice comments of his own as well:
- PRAET SAYS DECISION ON GREEK WAIVER WAS 'NOT AN EASY DECISION'
- PRAET SAYS DECISION ON GREEK WAIVER 'SHOULDN'T BE A SURPRISE'
It wasn't a surprise: as we noted on January 31, Vitor Constancio was kind enough to warn Greece this was coming several days ago. But the bigger question is why wasn't this an "easy decision" - after all isn't the ECB just following its rules? Because if it wasn't "easy" it implies there was much discretion in the choice, discretion which makes it very clear this latest escalation is nothing but a move by a central bank which is anything but, and is now clearly a political power broker to an increasingly troubled continent, which as some are starting to whisper, is starting to lose control.
Watch the press conference here: