Another week came and went with no breakthrough in negotiations between Greece and its creditors. The IMF is now fed up and has reportedly refused to be a part of any new bailout program for Greece, after Athens drew down its SDR reserves to makes its latest payment to the Fund. That money will now need to be repaid and in a move that surely marks the new gold standard for absurd circular funding schemes, Greece will likely look to use the next tranche of IMF money to payback its IMF SDR reserve which it tapped to pay the IMF. The country’s public sector employees live in limbo, not knowing from one week to the next whether they will be paid and commuters are now subjected to a 50 second looped highlight reel of the Nazi occupation meant to rally the country behind the government’s quarter trillion euro war reparations claim (they might as well just ask for a 'gagillion') on Germany which has now become the symbol of tyranny and debt servitude for many Greek citizens.
Given the situation, one would be inclined to think that Alexis Tsipras would be falling all over himself to cut a deal with creditors because while giving up on campaign promises to voters isn’t ideal, it’s better than going down in history as the PM who sent the country careening into a drachma death spiral, and besides, giving up on campaign promises is something most politicians do all the time (it’s a job requirement for the US presidency). Alas we were back to the now ubiquitous ‘red line’ rhetoric on Friday as Tsipras continued to employ the “tell EU officials one thing behind close doors and tell the public the exact opposite a day later” negotiating technique. Here’s more from Bloomberg:
Greece won’t cross its red lines in negotiations with international creditors just because time is pressing to close a deal, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said.
“Those who think that our red lines will fade as time goes on would do well to forget it,” Tsipras said at a conference in Athens late Friday. “I want to assure the Greek people that there’s no way the government will back down on the issue of pension and wage cuts,” he said. “A deal must be reached but it must be mutually beneficial.”
Europe is once again set to take the stalled negotiations down to the wire as it now appears the next serious round of talks will come in Riga (the site of an epic Varoufakis meltdown that saw the FinMin tweeting out melodramatic FDR quotes after he was forced to have dinner by himself while his EU counterparts attended a gala) when Tsipras will try to close a deal by the end of the month.
Tsipras will address the standoff in bailout negotiations on the sidelines of a meeting of European Union leaders to be held May 21-22 in Riga, Latvia, according to a Greek government official who asked not to be identified as the diplomacy is not public.
If a deal isn’t struck by the end of May, it is truly game over. Here’s the ECB’s Yves Mersch:
“We are in an end game in Greece where the situation is grave. This situation is not tenable. There has been an accord between Europe and Greece to go through a program. This hasn’t been the case since December last year, because the new government said it doesn’t want to have anything to do with the program. But then they can’t demand money that was attached to that program either. In the meantime, they haven’t managed to bring other measures to the table that could lead to the same goal as foreseen in the first program. Greece is convinced it can play along the line of other rules than” the other 18 euro-area members.”
Despite the obviously dire circumstances, the Syriza government still insists it will somehow scrape together cash to meet its obligations...
“Greece Will Pay Wages, Pensions, Varoufakis Tells Skai TV”
...while EU officials (who one imagines are at this point completely amazed at how obtuse the Greek government has proven to be) are left with no option but to remind Greece that Brussels is still waiting on a list of reforms…
“Dombrovskis Reminds Greece to Submit Reform List, Bild Reports”
….and at the end of the day, here is the reality (via Bloomberg)…
"Greece won’t be able to make IMF repayments, beginning with a June 5 payment, unless an agreement is reached with international partners, U.K.’s Channel 4 reports, citing a leaked IMF memo dated May 14."
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As a reminder, here is the IMF procedure for a default and a matrix which outlines what a missed IMF payment would mean in terms of accelerated payment rights for Greece's other creditors: