Moments ago, the German DAX roared gingerly back over 12,000 dragging US equity futures alongside it, with the catalyst cited as the somewhat optimistic tone following the three hours of talks held late last night to try to break an impasse that risks sending Athens stumbling of the euro zone. As a result, a smiling if only through his teeth, Tsipras said Greece was "moving swiftly to meet creditors' demands for a detailed economic reform plan" and assured euro zone leaders his leftist-led coalition would speed up work to avert bankruptcy.
Still, nothing that happened last night actually unlocks any new money. Reuters reports that "while a joint statement by the EU institutions spoke of a "spirit of mutual trust" and Tsipras said he left feeling more optimistic, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed no money would be released before Athens implements budget measures and other reforms that it has so far been reluctant to accept."
The risk of a continued standoff, exactly a month after Greece secured a last-gasp four-month extension of an EU/IMF bailout, was highlighted by different descriptions by Tsipras and Merkel about what reforms Athens would need to launch.
"It is clear that Greece is not obliged to implement recessionary measures," the 40-year-old leftist premier told reporters, referring to previously agreed reforms. "Greece will submit its own structural reforms, which it will implement."
But Merkel, facing mounting resistance in Europe's richest state to continued lending to keep an erratic partner in the common currency area, insisted that only the full completion of already approved measures would satisfy the creditors.
"The reference point is the agreement of Feb. 20," she said. "We have not changed one iota. You may have heard some of this before. But then not much has happened in the last few weeks."
So once again, the market looks forward, this time to Monday when Tsipras will make a much anticipated visit to Merkel in Berlin, and where EU officials said that if Greece did come up with a convincing plan to get its debts under control, "euro zone finance ministers could meet soon to release at least some funds to help it meet pressing commitments in the coming weeks."
In Athens on Friday, government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis said: "Once the reforms are submitted, and in a detailed manner, to the Euro Group when that happens ... then the funding will be unlocked towards the Greek economy."
In other words, "this time the Greek promises of reforms are different" at least as far as the algos are concerned, even if we have all seen the same song and dance countless times before:
TSIPRAS SAYS GREECE WILL PRESENT AND IMPLEMENT REFORMS....and on to the bottom box pic.twitter.com/RzAoymGSS5— GreekFire23 (@GreekFire23) March 20, 2015
But just to sweeten the pot and make sure those OTM calls the "unnamed official" had on the Dax lead to generous profits, moments ago Bloomberg also noted, the following:
- EUROGROUP COULD MEET AS EARLY AS MARCH 27 ON GREECE: OFFICIAL
- EUROGROUP COULD GIVE GREECE EU1.9B SMP PROFITS: OFFICIAL
- EUROGROUP COULD APPROVE GREEK AID PAYMENT IF MEASURES APPROVED
Which is of course ironic because earlier today Greece was said to have made the latest €350MM payment to the IMF, so what the Troika continues to do is merely agree to lend money to Greece so that Greece can repay the Troika almost immediately.
And meanwhile, the hole gets deeper and deeper, and here is the actual math from Bloomberg:
With Greece’s coffers emptying and payments looming, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government is coming ever closer to a financial day of reckoning.
While Tsipras may have bought some time after yesterday’s European Union summit in Brussels, he still isn’t saying what’s left in the bank and acknowledges Greece is facing “liquidity pressure.” The country’s cash shortfall is projected to hit 3.5 billion euros ($3.7 billion) in March, according to Bloomberg calculations based on 2015 budget figures.
Even assuming a €1.9 billion payment is made to Greece on the condition that Greece proposes and implements, and this means sending in the "hated" Troika to supervise, Greece will still have nearly a €2 billion shortfall all else equal.
In other words, the Dax may be soaring on Greek optimism, but the money has run out, and for Greece, so has time.
"Yes Alexis, time is running out. Fast." pic.twitter.com/OZEUJJQ5g7— Jamie McGeever (@ReutersJamie) March 19, 2015
At this point the only thing remaining is admitting it.