Greece and the economic crisis
Dec 1, 2015
"A conclusion of the review means that a set of reforms agreed under the program has to be implemented. They include politically difficult changes to the pension system, income tax, electricity markets and setting up of an independent tax office.
But euro zone creditors have promised that once the first review is completed, they will start talks with Athens on further debt relief for the country."
Tsipras: We spend billions on weapons
These "tweets" were later deleted. Article about this at UK Telegraph
Greece Still In Trouble -SeekingAlpha
"Although financial market volatility surrounding the Greece situation has died down in recent months, Greece's economy is still in trouble. The new measures to appease its creditors has given Greece a lifeline, but its underlying economy remains weak.
...Greece's economy has been struggling for a variety of reasons. First, high unemployment and weak wage growth is weighing on consumption. Furthermore, even as the euro currency weakens in global markets, exports have fallen considerably due to a lack of global demand...."
Nov 30, 2015
"Tsakalotos warned creditor countries against "kicking the can down the road" again, saying that failing to provide a clear pathway for Greece would also leave uncertainty hanging over the whole euro zone.
... He did not spell out Greece's expectations for debt relief but Athens has accepted that there will not be an outright write-down or "haircut" on loans by euro zone partners, which is anathema to top creditor Germany and its northern allies."
In Greece and going nowhere: The barrier blocking migrants’ hopes of a new life in Western Europe - Euronews
"...Those from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan are being let through. Others are not.
The move has been criticised by human rights groups who say international conventions require countries to treat asylum requests on merit, not on the basis of nationality."
Nov 28, 2015New set of reforms agreed upon - Reuters
"Greece and its international lenders have agreed on a new set of measures the country must approve by next month to qualify for more aid and to pave the way for a first review of progress under its third bailout, a Greek newspaper reported on Friday.
Athens has already legislated a first set of reforms to secure 25 billion euros from the euro zone's ESM rescue fund, a sum that is part of its 86 billion euro bailout agreed this summer."
Refugees In Greece Brace For A Cold Winter Ahead - HuffingtonPost
"In Northern Greece, where hundreds are stranded after Macedonia shut its border to all but those from the most war-torn countries, average temperatures often plunge below freezing in the winter months.
The harsh weather exacerbates the existing challenge of accommodating hundreds of refugees at border areas, like the Greek town of Idomeni, which until recent weeks had primarily been just a transit point for those going on to Northern Europe. Now, around 1,500 people are stuck near Idomeni, where a tented camp was meant to serve as just a temporary shelter."
Protests mount at Macedonia's fence with Greece - BBC
"If we had stayed we would die, if we come here and we die, its the same thing"
Video report at link.
"The Macedonian army has started reinforcing a metal fence on the country's southern border with Greece at the point where migrants cross on their way to western Europe."
Nov 27, 2015Greece sees rebound in migrant crossings - News Advance
"Greece has seen a rebound in the number of crossings by migrants to its islands near the coast of Turkey despite growing difficulties in crossing the Balkans to reach central and northern Europe.
The International Organization for Migration said Friday that the number of people crossing daily topped 5,000 on Wednesday after dropping to just 155 on Sunday."
Nov 24, 2015Greece cleared to get next batch of bailout loans - USA Today
"The country will get a 2 billion-euro ($2.1 billion) payment on Tuesday, money that will be used to meet debt service commitments, clear arrears and co-fund projects with the European Union.
The crippled Greek banks, which are reeling from limits on money transfers and another likely recession, can also soon start claiming money from a separate 10 billion-euro pot of money available."
Bomb explodes at industry federation, no one hurt
"A time bomb exploded outside the building of the Federation of Greek Enterprises, near Parliament in central Athens, police said, causing damage but no injuries.
The nighttime blast occurred early Tuesday in a narrow street outside the federation offices, near Athens' main Syntagma Square and just 200 meters (yards) from Parliament."
Greece cleared by eurozone fund for €2bn bailout loan - UK Guardian
“If program implementation remains strong, I am confident that the Greek people’s reform efforts will allow them to make visible strides toward a sound recovery,” said the ESM managing director, Klaus Regling.
Opposition to the latest measures, however, cut the leftwing government’s majority in parliament from five seats to three."
Stranded migrants block railway in Greece, call hunger strike - Trade Arabia
"Moroccans, Iranians and Pakistanis on Greece’s northern border with Macedonia blocked rail traffic and demanded passage to western Europe, stranded by a policy of filtering migrants in the Balkans that has raised human rights concerns."
Greece, Italy witness drop in refugee, migrant arrivals - China/Europe
"The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) said on Tuesday that a significant decrease in the number of refugees and migrants reaching Greek soil over the weekend had been observed, with only 155 people arriving to the Greek islands by sea on Sunday.
According to IOM, 79 people arrived in Kalymnos, 44 in Megisti and 24 in Lesvos, with the remainder arriving in Chios and Kos.
These figures contrast the 100,000 migrants who have reached Greece since the beginning of November, with an average of 4,500 daily crossings reported by authorities."
Nov 23, 2015At least two Paris suicide bombers entered Greece posing as refugees - Mashable
"Both men had taken a boat from Turkey to Greece, along with some 200 migrants and refugees, according to two Greek officials who spoke to The Associated Press. The boat sank before reaching Greece — and the men were rescued by the Greek coast guard, the officials said."
Nov 20, 2015Draft Budget Sees Mild Economic Contraction in 2016 - WSJ
"If this year’s GDP projection is confirmed, it would mean that the Greek economy has proved resilient in the face of this year’s confrontation between the Athens government and its international creditors, which brought Greece to the brink of bankruptcy and exit from the euro."
Greece Sees Lighter Recession Despite Recent Crisis - ABC News
"Greece's left-wing government says the country will escape an expected recession this year and suffer only a minor downturn in 2016, revising up its forecasts despite months of dramatic bailout negotiations."
Coalition government weakened by EU-backed reforms - UK Guardian
"Prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s majority shrinks to two seats in 300-member House after MPs fail to endorse policies demanded by EU
...“My patience has run its course,” said Stathis Panagoulis, an MP in Tsipras’ leftist Syriza party, before abstaining from the vote.
Nikos Nikolopoulos, a lawmaker with the Independent Greeks party Anel, the leftists’ junior partner in power, said the package of measures ran roughshod over all the government’s “red lines”. Both men were immediately expelled from the parties."
Greece Passes Bailout Bill but Government Majority Shrinks - VOA
"The bill approved on Thursday provides foreclosure protection for primary homes to about 60 percent of mortgages among an estimated 400,000 homeowners whose loans have soured during the financial crisis.
About a quarter of them - families with incomes below the poverty line — were accorded full protection from foreclosure. The rest were given protection for a three-year period provided they restructured their debts with their banks."
National Bank Of Greece Stock Movement Signals Deeper Troubles - Bidnessetc
"An important development surfaced from Athens that weighed down heavily on the stock. National Bank of Greece announced that it will now offer new ordinary shares at a price per share of €0.02. The offering has an alternative option attached to it that reflects a 1-for-15 reverse share split. This option is being offered at €0.30. These offerings are priced substantially below the stock’s latest market prices, which reflects deeper problems within the country’s banking system."
Nov 19, 2015
Interview with ESM secretary general Kalin Anev Janse.
"Anev Janse: Our latest debt agreement with Greece was a very important one, which allowed us to keep Greece in the euro area. And it actually empowered the government with a deal that is now accepted by an overwhelming majority in the Parliament. We believe that this ambitious reform program will stabilize the economy in Greece and restore its sustainable growth. And it will also honor the painful efforts that have already been made by the population.
On the debt issue, let me recall that Greece, in a way, has already received a form of debt relief. If you look at our loans, the maximum maturity of these loans is 32.5 years, which is longer than a typical IMF loan of around three years. The interest rates that Greece paid under the EFSF were around 1.4%, where the IMF rate is 3.6%. And for the ESM, the rate is around 1%. These lending conditions amounted in 2013 alone to budgetary savings of €8.6 billion, which represents about 4.7% of GDP. Twitter These savings will stay all throughout the program. Last year, the savings were €7.8b, another 4.4% of Greek GDP.
Additionally, Greece does not need to start paying us back until 2023 under the previous program and 2034 under the new program. This form of debt relief can make a difference by creating fiscal space. But the key to the success of Greece is the consistent implementation of reforms in order to help it stabilize and grow its economy."
Nov 17, 2015Greece Inks Deal with Creditors to Unlock 12-Billion Euros - NDTV
"Greece has struck a deal with its international creditors to unblock some 12 billion euros in much-needed loans, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said on Tuesday after marathon talks.
...The agreement covers home foreclosures, which the government was reluctant to accept in order to ensure a safety net for more vulnerable households. "
Greece and creditors in deal to release more bailout cash - WLOX
"Though the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had already made many of the reforms required by its third international bailout, it has balked at a few. Those include a law making it easier to evict people in arrears on their mortgages and measures to reduce the burden on banks of bad loans.
But Pierre Moscovici, the European Union's top economy and finance official, said Greece and the creditors had reached a deal on all outstanding issues - a development that also brings promised discussions on reducing Greece's debt burden one step nearer."
Greece: Stocks Sink, Bad-Mortgage Accord, Tsipras In Turkey - Barrons
"Meanwhile, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is in Turkey this week to speak with Turkish leaders about the crisis of refugees from the Middle East and Turkey flooding Europe — through the two countries’ porous borders. Tsipras and Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are scheduled to attend a soccer match between the two nations today."
Nov 16, 2015
"Authorities in France and Greece have said that fingerprints taken from the remains of a suicide bomber outside France’s national sports stadium, the Stade de France, match the prints of a man who entered Europe via the Aegean island of Leros on Oct. 3.
Police on Leros registered the man under the identity in the passport he showed them: Ahmad AlMohammad, 25, from Syria. The same passport was found near the man’s body outside the stadium on Friday night."
Greece misses bailout deadline as talks with creditors drag on - UK Guardian
"The deadline to dispense further rescue loans to debt-stricken Greece was extended by eurozone countries once again on Sunday amid continuing deadlock between Athens and its creditors.
With negotiations still bogged down over failure to agree on a new foreclosure law – legislation the leftist-led government says would push austerity-hit Greeks over the edge – lenders postponed a critical Eurogroup Working Group until Tuesday."
Up to 3 Suicide Bombers May Have Entered France Through Greece As Syrians Refugees - 700wlw
"Greek authorities say at least one and as many as three of the suicide bombers in the Paris attacks entered Greece alongside Syrian refugees. CNN reports a bomber at the Stade de France came from Syria and landed in Greece in early October.
The report says the terrorist then received an emergency passport -- and the fingerprints on the passport match those of the stadium bomber."
Nov 13, 2015
"Greek state budget for the period January-October 2015 showed a 808-million-euro deficit after a preliminary estimate.
However, the deficit for the same period in 2014 was 2,448 million euros, while the revised target for the 2016 draft budget is estimated at 2,881 million euros.
Primary surplus for this period is at 4,517million euros, against a primary surplus of 2,654 million euros for the same period in 2014 and a revised target of 2,425 million."
3,300 people a day still arriving on Lesvos – UN refugee agency
"So far in 2015, UNHCR estimates that some 3,460 lives have been lost on the Mediterranean, 360 in the last four weeks. Some 250 of these were in the Aegean Greek territorial waters.
The agency says it is working with the Hellenic Coast Guard to facilitate the deployment of additional experienced life guards and has provided equipment to support the on-going rescue efforts on Lesvos."
Arriving in Greece, it pays to be Syrian - Euronews
"On the Greek island of Lesbos, on the seaborne refugee front line, arrivals from Syria and other countries are processed at separate locations. Non-Syrians must register at a special reception point in Moria. Once they fill in the forms, they have admitted to entering the country illegally. They then have a certain time frame in which to leave, but are, in principle, exempt from arrest for the offence. "
Obstacles remain in lender talks - eKathimerini
"Athens appears to have softened its position on the sale of NPLs to investment funds but only if they are affiliated to banks or international organizations. Also, the Greek government wants the Bank of Greece to issue licenses to any bodies that purchase loan portfolios and to be responsible for monitoring the process.
The coalition, however, wants mortgages and loans to small and medium-sized businesses to be excluded from the transactions."
'Our rage is Relentless' - UK Guardian
“Syriza may now be trying to save its soul but it has gone back on all its promises,” said Kalomoiris, a life-long leftist who joined a rebel group, Popular Unity, formed by Syriza dissidents when Tsipras signed up to the bailout in July.
“In this country a graduate starts off in the public sector with a salary of €775 a month, or €9,300 a year, and we are being told that wages will be frozen for the next decade and that every tax imaginable will be increased. How will people make ends meet? It has got to the point where a social explosion is inevitable and it will come sooner rather than later.”
Nov 12, 2015Greece Disrupted by First General Strike Under Syriza-Led Government - NY Times
"The 24-hour walkout shut down public services, forced the cancellation of flights and disrupted public transportation across the country. Ferries remained moored in ports, hospitals were operating with reduced staff, and museums and archaeological sites were closed.
...The country’s two main labor unions, which called the walkout, object to a recent barrage of economic overhauls, including further cuts to pensions and tax increases, and further budget-cutting measures that are in the works."
Nov 10, 2015Greece given new deadline to hit bailout milestones - UK Guardian
"The eurozone’s finance ministers have now issued a statement following today’s meeting.
It confirms that the Eurogroup called on the Greek authorities to finalise the financial sector measures, as well as the legislation agreed under the first set of milestones, in the course of the week.
Once that is done, Greece can unlock €2bn of aid funds, plus up to€10bn for the recapitalisation of the Greek banking sector."
Number of refugees escaping to Greece expands dramatically - FoxNews
"More than 540,000 migrants escaping terror and poverty arrived on the Greek islands in the first 10 months of the year, 13 times more than in the same period of 2014, according to the European Union border control agency Frontex.
The Warsaw-based agency said Tuesday that more than 150,000 people made the journey from Turkey to Greece in October alone despite worsening weather conditions. That compares to 8,500 in October 2014."
Hopes expressed that Greece can secure deal with European creditors - US News
"Greece failed to convince European creditors Monday to release vital bailout funds to shore up the country's public coffers and its crippled banks but hopes are high that a deal will be concluded within a week.
Though the Greek government has met many of the conditions attached to the country's third international bailout, it still needs to push through some financial reforms, notably how to deal with those in arrears on their mortgages and the bad loans held by banks."
Nov 9, 2015
The ministers decided to delay the release of the payout, a sum of €2 billion, but indicated it might be dispensed soon.
Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the eurozone finance ministers, used his Twitter account after the meeting to reinforce pressure on Athens to meet its targets, saying there had been a “commitment of the Greek authorities to fulfill the required measures in the course of the week.”
Nov 6, 2015There will be no tranche disbursement at Euroworking group, EU sources say - themanews
"...any agreement between Greece and its creditors in Euroworking group meeting, which could lead to the tranche disbursement, seems rather impossible.
Furthermore, the Euroworking group teleconference scheduled to be held today was cancelled, since according to sources, there was no reason to perform the teleconference given the fact that there is not enough clarity concerning the prior actions of the Greek program."
"On Wednesday, the European Commission released data breaking down the various temporary relocation commitments made by countries for the next two years to alleviate some of the pressures facing Greece and Italy. In late September, the International Organization for Migration reported half a million refugees came into Europe via the Mediterranean in 2015, with 388,000 landing in Greece and nearly 131,000 arriving in Italy.
Finland took 48 refugees and Sweden relocated 38 refugees from Eritrea and Syria, all of whom entered Europe through Italy. Some 30 refugees from Syria and Iraq arrived in Luxembourg via Greece on Wednesday."
Greece approves reform bill, eyes bailout tranche - Reuters
"Greece's parliament approved early Friday a bill with reforms prescribed by the country's international lenders, ahead of a euro zone finance ministers meeting in three days which will decide if Athens qualifies for fresh bailout funds.
...Athens and its lenders are still at odds over an effective mechanism for Greece's troubled banks - which will be receiving bailout aid - to address non-performing loans affecting businesses, but also thousands of mortgage holders."
Tolerance and resignation - eKathimerini
"Repeated protests that disrupt lives without achieving much else are not the greatest problem that the Greeks face but highlight the dead end of our politics, our economy and our society. The myth that every arbitrary action could be justified with the self-serving proclamation that it was for the public good should have been swept away in the years of our economic crash-landing.
But it appears that in our politics, in our education system, in our streets, there has been no adjustment; small groups can still impose their will on the whole without caring for the cost."
Nov 5, 2015
“We have a crisis of the government system in the eyes of the people,” he said. Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister who led the left-wing Syriza party into government on a vow to reject austerity, won re-election on a pledge to enforce a new bailout as painlessly as possible.
“Tsipras would never have been re-elected if we had a credible opposition,” Mr. Kaminis said. “A vote for him was a vote against the old political establishment, and people decided to give him a second chance.”
The latest sign of Greece's decay - children's teeth - Fox
"In few places are the wounds of Greece's economic depression more evident than in the mouths of the nation's children. By most indicators of dental health, Greece is one of the unhealthiest places in Europe. The number of Greeks 16 years or older reporting unmet dental care needs was 10.6 percent in 2013, according to Europe's statistical agency Eurostat. That compares to a European Union average of 7.9 percent.
Dental problems are particularly acute among children, according to a recent survey by the Hellenic Dental Federation, a supervisory body. And the financial crisis has made things worse. In the decade up to 2014, 60 percent of all dental problems in 15-year-olds were left untreated for at least a year, up from 44 percent in the previous decade. Almost all the five-year-olds surveyed - 86.8 percent - suffered dental problems that had not been treated, the survey found. "
Nov 4, 2015EU Says Greece Could Return to Growth in 2016 - Newsmax
"Greece has promised to implement a series of reforms, including tax hikes, spending cuts and pension reforms, in return for the bailout, without which it would default on its debts and likely end up having to leave Europe's joint currency, the euro.
[Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras] said Wednesday that Greece should be given some lee-way as it is bearing the brunt of a massive refugee crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people streaming into the country from nearby Turkey."
Greece May Win 2 Billion-Euro Payout by Monday, EU Official Says - Bloomberg
"The scheduled 2 billion-euro payment for the government in Athens is part of an initial 26 billion-euro segment under the latest rescue program for Greece, as is a follow-on disbursement of 1 billion euros for which the country has yet to qualify. The first segment also includes about 13 billion euros that Greece used to repay debt and 10 billion euros earmarked to recapitalize Greek banks."
"The six families from Syria and Iraq mark the start of a program seeking to relocate refugees who have arrived in Greece from nearby Turkey to other European Union countries without them having to make the arduous and often dangerous overland journey across the Balkans on foot.
The number is minuscule compared to the flood of people who risk their lives to reach Greek islands from the nearby Turkish coast. Dozens of dinghies, wooden boats and other vessels reach the islands daily, carrying from 40 to hundreds of people each."
Greece rolls over 6-month T-bills, yield steady - Brecorder
"Greece sold 1.137,5 billion euros ($1.24 billion) of six-month T-bills on Wednesday to refinance a maturing issue, keeping its public finances afloat."
Commissioner says Greece, creditors can reach deal in days - JSonline
"Financial and economic affairs commissioner Pierre Moscovici said that while significant progress has been made so far, "three or four" issues remain unresolved.
These include measures to protect Greek-mortgage holders from foreclosures, as well as whether sales tax will be imposed on private education - from kindergartens and schools to music, language and dancing lessons."
Nov 3, 2015Brain Drain Hits Greece As Young Professionals Seek Financial Security - HuffPost
"Greece’s years-long financial crisis has led to surging unemployment numbers. Twenty-five percent of the Greek population is out of work, and the youth unemployment rate is above 50 percent. Salaries have decreased over time, while prices of food and services have skyrocketed because of heavy taxation.
...Because Greece is part of the European Union, Greek citizens can live and work in other EU countries without having to apply for residency visas or work permits. They are also entitled to health care and social security benefits."
Nov 2, 2015
"The ECB expects the banks to raise at least 4.4 billion euros from shareholders and bondholders, sufficient to meet the shortfall identified under baseline macroeconomic assumptions in its Asset Quality Review, the Frankfurt-based supervisor said Saturday. The state-owned Hellenic Financial Stability Fund is ready to inject the 10 billion euros identified in the ECB’s adverse scenario, offering 25 percent through common shares with full voting rights in the lenders, and the rest via contingent convertible securities, according to a government statement released late on Sunday night, in Athens."
Greece raises death toll to 43 from boat sinking - Statesville
"Greek authorities have increased to 43 the number of deaths from last week's sinking of an overloaded wooden boat carrying more than 300 refugees and economic migrants from Turkey to the Greek island of Lesbos.
The coast guard said Monday that rescuers have so far recovered the bodies of 20 children, 17 men and six women who drowned after the battered vessel capsized off the eastern Aegean Sea island in rough seas Oct. 28."
Germany wants Greece 'hotspots' ready this month - Daily Sentinel
"Germany says it expects the so-called hotspots for migrants in Greece to begin functioning by the end of the month.
The European Union agreed to set up the processing centers in those countries where the biggest numbers of migrants arrive. Those deemed likely to get asylum or some other form of protection are then meant to be redistributed across the EU."
500 urge Greece to rip out border fence - Arkansas Online
"The demonstrators are demanding that Greece tear down the fence and allow refugees to cross by land instead of risking their lives on the sea crossing to Europe. The youths, many wearing hoods, hurled rocks at police, who responded with tear gas and stun grenades.
No arrests or injuries were reported.
The government says it cannot remove the fence for "practical reasons" and has called on other European Union countries to speed up additional support promised for search-and-rescue operations in the east Aegean Sea."
Oxi Day remembrance video - eKathimerini
"An online video shows a survey of world leaders and famous personalities describing the meaning of the Greek Oxi Day these decades after 1940.
Nov 1, 2015
"About 500 anti-government protesters, who traveled from Athens and several towns in northern Greece were involved in the clashes near the border with Turkey after challenging a police cordon blocking access to the fence that spans more than 10 kilometers (6.2 miles).
The demonstrators are demanding that Greece tear down the fence and allow refugees to cross by land instead of risking their lives on the sea crossing to Europe. The youths, many wearing hoods and balaclavas, hurled rocks at police who responded with tear gas and stun grenades."
Greece is the word for budget travelers - Detroit Free Press
"The usual tourist herds have thinned, traditional Greek hospitality is in overdrive and prices are down for hotels and meals.
With tourism accounting for about 18% of the country’s gross domestic product, Greeks are eager to maintain that revenue flow, and no host wants to risk a bad TripAdvisor review."
Banks need €14.4bn buffer in case of economic turndown - Ifamagazine
"Greece’s four biggest banks need to plug a 14.4bn (£10.2bn) hole if the country is to get through another economic downturn, the European Central Bank (ECB) said over the weekend.
The ECB, which conducted months of stress tests on the lenders before announcing its findings, have given Alpha, Piraeus, National Bank of Greece and Eurobank until Friday to tell it how they intend to come up with the money.
Of the four banks, Piraeus was the most vulnerable, needing to raise 5bn."
There's a $16 billion hole in Greece's banks and unpaid loans are soaring - Business Insider
"The capital hole has emerged chiefly due to the rising number of Greeks unable or unwilling to repay their debt, after a dispute over reforms between the leftist government and international lenders almost saw Greece leave the euro.
As controls on cash withdrawals have squeezed the economy, loans at risk of non-payment have increased by 7 billion euros to 107 billion euros."
Perissa Beach, Santorini
Greek words and phrases:
mi-la-ka-nis ang-glee-ka [Does anyone speak English?]
then mi-lo el-lee-ni-ka [I don't speak Greek]
The Socialists Revenge in Athens, Greece, 2004
Photo of Thessaly Greece; Meteora mountains 1938. Click to view enlargement.
Scan of Rhodes Island Souvenir tile, circa 1976. Click to view enlargement.