Greece and the economic crisis

July 29, 2015

Tsipras: party rebels could force early election - Fox Tampa Bay

"Greece's prime minister sought to contain a deepening rift in his radical left Syriza party Wednesday, warning rebels that he would have to call early elections if they keep opposing key reforms demanded for a new international bailout.

...Tsipras has taken no action so far against rebel lawmakers, although he criticized their stance Wednesday and said they should step down if they disagree.

"It is too surreal to say that 'I vote against the government's proposals but support the government'" he said. "(Or) 'I am denouncing you to protect you.' I'm not a little child."

Teneo Intelligence analyst Wolfgango Piccoli said Syriza looks set to split into at least two groups - the leftwing hardliners and a moderate group led by Tsipras.

"Despite his popularity, Tsipras is facing an uphill struggle to keep his party united and under his control," he said in a note. "As a result, the risk of unforeseen intra-Syriza developments that could delay, and at worst derail, the ongoing talks between Athens and its international creditors cannot be discarded."

Greece expects debt reduction after November - Zee News

"Greece expects debt reduction from its international creditors after a first assessment of reforms under its new bailout obligations concludes in November, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said Wednesday"

Tsipras Faces Battle to Avoid Syriza Split - WSJ

"Syriza’s central committee—the body that sets the party’s policies—is due to meet Thursday to decide how to handle a rift that erupted in mid-July, when a quarter of the party’s lawmakers voted against a set of austerity measures, which were a prerequisite for the country’s prospective new bailout program from the eurozone and International Monetary Fund, worth up to €86 billion ($95 billion).

The central committee is due to decide whether Syriza will hold an emergency congress in September or carry out an inner-party referendum to decide on the party’s future.

If the committee decides to hold a referendum, it could take place this weekend.

Despite his consistently high popularity with the Greek public, Mr. Tsipras faces a difficult battle inside his own party with an uncertain outcome."

July 28, 2015

Why Greece’s Lenders Need to Suffer - NY Times Magazine

"There is definitive proof, for anyone willing to look, that Greece is not solely or even primarily responsible for its own financial crisis. The proof is not especially exciting: It is a single bond, with the identification code GR0133004177. But a consideration of this bond should end, permanently, any discussion of Greece’s crisis as a moral failing on the part of the Greeks.

GR0133004177 is the technical name for a bond the Greek government sold on Nov. 10, 2009, in a public auction. Every business day, governments and companies hold auctions like this; it is how they borrow money. Bond auctions, though, are not at all like the auctions we’re used to seeing in movies, with the fast talkers and the loud hammers. They happen silently, electronically. Investors all over the world type a number on their keyboards and submit it as their bid: the amount of interest they would insist on receiving in exchange for the loan. Just as with mortgages and credit cards, the riskier a loan is, the higher the rate would need to be, compensating the lender for the chance that the borrower in question will fail to pay it back.

...In hindsight, of course, we know that the investors should not have lent Greece anything at all, or, if they did, should have demanded something like 100 percent interest. But this is not a case of retrospective genius. At the time, investors had all the information they needed to make a smarter decision. Greece, then as now, was a small, poor, largely agrarian economy, with a spotty track record for adhering to globally recognized financial controls."

Greece advances in loan talks, under fire for euro exit plan - MYNJ

"This week's talks will include an array of issues such as pensions and labor market reforms, where the government is being asked to cut early retirement, raise retirement ages, streamline the pension system and ease restrictions protecting workers from mass layoffs.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has reluctantly accepted the reforms in principle - even though he has repeatedly said he doesn't agree with them - abandoning the staunchly anti-austerity policies that brought his Syriza party to power six months ago. The U-turn was necessary after talks with bailout creditors came very close to collapse and Greece was threatened with exit from the euro currency union unless it agreed.

...The main opposition New Democracy party on Tuesday formally asked a parliamentary committee investigating Greece's bailouts to examine Varoufakis, with a view to determining whether Tsipras was aware of his alleged acts."

Greece awaiting ECB consent to reopen stock market - Reuters

"Greece is waiting for the green light from the European Central Bank on plans it has submitted to reopen the Athens stock market after a month-long shutdown, two regulatory sources said on Tuesday.

The exchange could reopen as early as Wednesday depending on the ECB's opinion, the sources said."

Tsipras Faces Race Against Time to Secure Greece Bailout Deal - Wall Street Journal

"A delegation from the institutions policing eurozone bailouts—the so-called troika of the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the eurozone’s bailout fund, and the International Monetary Fund—was initially supposed to arrive in Athens last week. But its arrival was delayed by differences between Greece and its creditors on logistics and procedural issues, costing several days.

The two sides are racing against time, as a new bailout program for Greece worth up to €86 billion ($95 billion) would have to be completed and approved by the Greek parliament, as well as lawmakers in Germany and elsewhere, by mid-August if Athens is to secure billions of euros to repay ECB-held bonds that mature on Aug. 20.

The biggest sticking point is whether Greece will have to pass another round of painful and politically divisive austerity measures, including tax increased and pension cuts, before negotiations conclude."

July 27, 2015

Greece Poised for Troika Talks as Bourse Shutdown Extended - Bloomberg

"Technical experts from the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the European Commission are due to begin talks with their counterparts by Tuesday on policies that Greece must implement over the next three years, in return for loans of as much as 86 billion euros ($94 billion).

After six months of brinkmanship that triggered unprecedented capital flight, the government was forced to impose capital controls and close its banks on June 28 in order to safeguard liquidity in its financial system.

...While the government and the Commission have said Greece has fulfilled the conditions following two votes in parliament in the past two weeks, some euro-area member states are still pushing for more measures, said the official, who isn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter."

Varoufakis 'parallel' currency ploy sparks uproar in Greece - Yahoo

"The news caused a political storm in Athens, with opposition parties demanding an official explanation from the government and threatening to put Varoufakis on trial.

..."It totally distorts my purpose for wanting parallel liquidity. I have always been completely against dismantling the euro because we never know what dark forces that might unleash in Europe," he said.

A close associate of Varoufakis who worked on the project, University of Texas professor James Galbraith, insisted that the team was "at no time engaged in advocating (euro) exit or any policy choice."

July 26, 2015

Greece rocked by reports of secret plan to raid banks for drachma return - UK Guardian

"Some members of Greece’s leftist-led government wanted to raid central bank reserves and hack taxpayer accounts to prepare a return to the drachma, according to reports that highlighted the chaos in the ruling Syriza party.

It is not clear how seriously the government considered the plans, attributed to former energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis and ex-finance minister Yanis Varoufakis. Both ministers were sacked this month. However, the revelations have been seized on by opposition parties who are demanding an explanation.

The reports on Sunday came at the end of a week of fevered speculation over what Syriza hardliners had in mind as an alternative to the tough bailout terms Tsipras has reluctantly accepted to keep Greece in the eurozone.

...Under the secret plan, which the report said was devised before Tsipras was elected in January, transactions through the parallel system would have been nominated in euros but could easily change into drachmas overnight."

Varoufakis claims had approval to plan parallel banking system - eKathimerini

"Former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has claimed that he was authorized by Alexis Tsipras last December to look into a parallel payment system that would operate using wiretapped tax registration numbers (AFMs) and could eventually work as a parallel banking system, Kathimerini has learned.

...The plan would involve hijacking the AFMs of taxpayers and corporations by hacking into General Secretariat of Public Revenues website, Varoufakis told his interlocutors. This would allow the creation of a parallel system that could operate if banks were forced to close and which would allow payments to be made between third parties and the state and could eventually lead to the creation of a parallel banking system, he said.

... "Schaeuble has a plan. The way he described it to me is very simple. He believes that the eurozone is not sustainable as it is. He believes there has to be some fiscal transfers, some degree of political union. He believes that for that political union to work without federation, without the legitimacy that a properly elected federal parliament can render, can bestow upon an executive, it will have to be done in a very disciplinary way. And he said explicitly to me that a Grexit is going to equip him with sufficient bargaining, sufficient terrorising power in order to impose upon the French that which Paris has been resisting. And what is that? A degree of transfer of budget making powers from Paris to Brussels."

Greece's headache: how to lift the capital controls? - Yahoo

"...Some 40 billion euros have left the banks' coffers since December. As the world waits to see whether Greece and its creditors can hammer out a bailout worth up to 86 billion euros ($96 billion), staving off a panicked outpouring of the country's cash remains a paramount concern.

...Many Greeks fear that they too will be forced to endure a bail-in -- but analysts say such a move would be much more painful in Greece.

Cyprus' bail-in was "easier politically" because it largely affected foreigners who had parked large sums in the tax haven, according to Ducrozet.

"The situation in Greece is very different," the economist Frances Coppola wrote on her blog. "Most large depositors have removed their money already. The remaining uninsured deposits -- about 30 percent of the deposit base -- are mainly the working capital of Greek businesses."

Greece, the Sacrificial Lamb - NY Times

"As the Greek crisis proceeds to its next stage, Germany, Greece and the triumvirate of the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and the European Commission (now better known as the troika) have all faced serious criticism. While there is plenty of blame to share, we shouldn’t lose sight of what is really going on. I’ve been watching this Greek tragedy closely for five years, engaged with those on all sides. Having spent the last week in Athens talking to ordinary citizens, young and old, as well as current and past officials, I’ve come to the view that this is about far more than just Greece and the euro.

...The macro-policies demanded by the troika will lead to a deeper Greek depression. That’s why the I.M.F.’s current managing director, Christine Lagarde, said that there needs to be what is euphemistically called “debt restructuring” — that is, in one way or another, a write-off of a significant portion of the debt. The troika program is thus incoherent: The Germans say there is to be no debt write-off and that the I.M.F. must be part of the program. But the I.M.F. cannot participate in a program in which debt levels are unsustainable, and Greece’s debts are unsustainable.

...Normally, the I.M.F. warns of the dangers of high taxation. Yet in Greece, the troika has insisted on high effective tax rates even at very low income levels. All recent Greek governments have recognized the importance of increasing tax revenues, but mistaken tax policy can help destroy an economy. In an economy where the financial system is not functioning well, where small- and medium-size enterprises can’t get access to credit, the troika is demanding that Greek firms, including mom and pop stores, pay all of their taxes ahead of time, at the beginning of the year, before they have earned it, before they even know what their income is going to be. The requirement is intended to reduce tax evasion, but in the circumstances in which Greece finds itself, it destroys small business and increases resentment of both the government and the troika."

Here' what contributed to the downfall of Greece - Business Insider

"...This is prima facie evidence that fiscal management issues were a primary cause of the problem for Greece – in stark contrast to Ireland and Spain. Yes, private debt soared in Greece in the period up to the financial crisis. But it started from a low base and was not at levels in other developed countries where you would expect a financial crisis. However, once the fiscal adjustment began, these private debts became toxic as debt deflation set in and the economy and banking system collapsed. Today, non-performing private loans on the balance sheets of Greek banks are a serious problem. I would even say that private debt in the context of weak aggregate demand is now the big problem for Greece. But this is a problem created by a financial crisis and the debt deflation of private and public sector cutting spending all at once.

I reckon the main differences to Ireland and Spain then are high structural deficits and the gross level of public and private debt when the financial crisis began. In Greece, the private debt levels were not high but structural deficits were so high that they had no fiscal space and a much deeper debt deflation ensued. High government debt levels left no room for manoeuvre and Greece was rendered insolvent."

Greece asks for fresh IMF aid - Tribune Express

"The Greek government, which is seeking a three-year bailout worth up to €86 billion ($94 billion) to avert financial meltdown and a chaotic exit from the eurozone, had initially planned to go without fresh help from the IMF as it considers the agency too wedded to draconian austerity measures.

But in a letter to Christine Lagarde, the managing director of the IMF, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos wrote that Greece was “seeking a new loan” from the IMF. "

July 24, 2015

Security issues delay start of Greece's new bailout talks - Yahoo

"No date has been set for the beginning of formal talks on a new rescue program for Greece because international creditors are still looking for a secure place to hold negotiations in Athens, a European Commission official said on Friday.

Greek government officials have said repeatedly that the talks on a bailout of up to 86 billion euros ($94 billion) would start in Athens on Friday."

Capitol restrictions loosened - Reuters

"Greece started loosening restrictions on foreign transfers by businesses on Friday, unblocking imports held up after the country introduced capital controls last month.

"The daily limit (on money transfers) has been raised to 100,000 euros from 50,000 euros," central bank governor Yannis Stournaras told reporters, adding that this covered almost 70 percent of requests.

Greek businesses have been hit by limits on transferring money abroad to pay for imports of raw material and other items since capital controls started on June 29, and have had to apply to a special committee for permission to pay their foreign suppliers, a time-consuming process. "

New talks with creditors for newbailout to start - Newser

"Greek government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili sought to downplay talk that security concerns are a reason why European negotiators won't now arrive in Athens until Saturday at the earliest. They had been expected Friday. The delay, she said, is related to "technical issues" and that the security of negotiators isn't a problem.

"Greece is a safe country," Gerovasili said. "Both sides are trying to expedite the start of talks."

A European official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations, said final preparations regarding the structure of the talks were being ironed out but that discussions at a technical level were taking place between Greece and representatives from the country's creditors."

July 23, 2015

Greek Gov't Debt Level Enormous - WS Selector

"This gets at why Germany wasn't in a hurry to let Greece leave the euro zone. And in fact, why it finally insisted they stay.

In government debt, Greece owes Germany 90 billion euros.

If Greece had exited, Germany woudl have had to write-off that amount overtime. The short-term effects for Germany would have been manageable.

But in addition to the government debt, Greece owes Germany another 100 billion in TARGET 2 loans. That would've been written off immediately. That's much more painful and embarrassing to voters near term - which is the realm politicians live in.

That means Germany could see 190 billion euros - or $200 billion - in default if Greece exited. That's much more than any other country by far."

Greece approves fresh reforms, clearing way for new bailout talks - Fox

"Lawmakers voted 230-63 in favor of the measures, following a whirlwind debate that ended at 4 a.m. (9 p.m. ET). Another 5 members of the 300-seat house voted present, a kind of abstention.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras was unable to forestall a second revolt in a week among his own Syriza party lawmakers, but had no trouble passing the draft legislation with the backing of pro-European opposition parties.

...Before the debate got underway, about 10,000 people demonstrated outside parliament, protesting the latest measures to overhaul Greece's judicial and banking sectors. Minor violence marred the end of the protest when a few teenagers threw petrol bombs at riot police, but no injuries or arrests were reported."

Parliament approves reforms, clearing hurdle ahead of third bailout talks to secure $93B - NY Daily

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras once again suffered a revolt among his own radical left Syriza party lawmakers, but had no trouble passing the draft legislation with the backing of pro-European opposition parties.

The number of disaffected Syriza lawmakers, who see the reforms as a betrayal of the anti-austerity platform that brought their party to power in January, shrunk slightly compared to last week's similar vote.

The reforms were the final prerequisite before Greece can start negotiations with creditors on a third bailout worth around $93 billion.

Failure to have approved them would have derailed the bailout and rekindled fears over Greece's future in the shared euro currency."

Greece faces recession warning as bailout talks set to open - Economic Times

"Greece's most influential think tank warned on Thursday of a sharp drop back into recession in a report that came hours after parliament approved a second package of reform measures aimed at securing a new bailout from international lenders.

In its quarterly report, the IOBE institute said that capital controls imposed last month to stop a bank run pushing the financial system into collapse would exact a heavy toll across the economy. "

July 22, 2015

Next steps before bailout money arrives - CNN

"While European leaders agreed to the latest $96 billion bailout package for Greece, they are waiting for the country's government to push several reforms through the parliament. Last week, it passed the first few, and has two more to approve by Wednesday.

...The clock is ticking -- Greece needs to secure the deal before August 20, when it needs to pay 3.2 billion euros ($3.5 billion) to the ECB, in order to stay in the eurozone.

...Athens also agreed to transfer up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) worth of assets to an independent fund, reform its pension and VAT system, and implement more spending cuts."

Greece to vote on second bailout bill in test for Tsipras - Global Post

"The embattled premier suffered a major parliamentary rebellion on the cash-for-reforms deal last week, with a fifth of the lawmakers from his radical-left Syriza party voting against sweeping changes to Greece's taxes, pensions and labour rules. He was forced to rely on the support of opposition MPs to get the law passed.

The second bill is less controversial, with MPs set to vote on measures including an EU directive that guarantees bank deposits up to 100,000 euros ($108,000), as well as civil justice reforms designed to speed up legal proceedings and reduce their costs.

...Civil servants' union ADEDY and the communist-affiliated PAME union both plan to stage protests against the second bill outside parliament during Wednesday evening's emergency debate."

July 21, 2015

Tsipras stays popular despite bailout hardship - Yahoo

"The 40-year-old has an approval rating of nearly 60 percent, more than 10 points clear of his closest rival — leading to speculation about a possible snap election in the fall. A weekend opinion poll suggested his hard-left Syriza party would win a landslide victory if elections were held today.

Many Greeks like Tsipras' message of hope — even if his actions may be leading to a harder life.

....But Tsipras appears to have won Greek hearts with his tough talk against Europe — and a frank admission in parliament that he had accepted tough terms after making mistakes.

Defending the deal, Tsipras also argued that he had not walked away from the eurozone summit empty-handed. His long-standing demand for some way to ease Greece's whopping 320 billion euro ($347 billion) national debt is now under discussion by Europe's policymakers. "

How Greece’s credit went south - Wash Post

"It helped that the European Central Bank agreed early on to redeem securities from any country in the euro zone, which motivated investors to seek higher-yield debt in places like Greece and Italy, with the knowledge that they were all backed by the same ECB guarantee. And Germany and France themselves broke the rules of many of the mechanisms that they had set in place to ensure good behavior, such as the Stability and Growth Pact. Even so, Greece and many other euro-zone countries benefited greatly in the 2000s, simply because they were perceived as members in good standing of a prestigious club of states.

It However, investors are now shedding that old presumption and assessing potential loans on the country’s merit alone. The turmoil in Greece today more accurately reflects the actual economic and political fundamentals of Greece’s situation.

It The converse is also true: The reputations of creditworthy countries can also suffer when they associate with worse-performing countries. This may help explain why some European states seriously considered kicking Greece out of the euro zone."

At Least Somebody Feels Good About Greece - Bloomberg

"Lots of smart people expect Greece to default and leave the European Monetary Union. Global investors are not among them.\

...It's fair to ask: How could anybody be optimistic about the economic prospects of a country with 26 percent unemployment, the worst perception of creditworthiness in the world (based on credit default swap prices) and a debt load equal to 175 percent of the country's GDP?

One reason is faith in the euro.

Remember 2011? When soaring yields on euro-denominated debt and depressed stock markets revealed widespread anxiety that the European Union would unravel with serial defaults of Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Greece? Since then global investors have embraced everything denominated in euros. The bonds and stocks of Greece are no exception."

July 20, 2015

Banks reopen, first repayments start as Greece aims for return to normal -Yahoo News

"international creditors on Monday in the first signs of a return to normal after a deal to agree a new package of bailout reforms.

Customers were queued up outside bank branches open for the first time in three weeks on Monday after they were closed to save the system from collapsing under a flood of withdrawals.

...Limits on withdrawals will remain, however -- at 420 euros per week instead of 60 euros per day previously -- and payments and wire transfers abroad will still not be possible, a situation German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Sunday was "not a normal life" and warranted swift negotiations on a new bailout, expected to be worth up to 86 billion euros.

"Capital controls and restrictions on withdrawals will remain in place but we are entering a new stage which we all hope will be one of normality," said Louka Katseli, head of the Greek bank association.

Greeks will be able to deposit cheques but not cash, pay bills as well as have access to safety deposit boxes and withdraw money without an ATM card."

Greece is turning into a 'zombie' state that exists solely to pay off debts - SF Gate

"...This is the starkest example we've seen yet of just why Greece needs massive debt restructuring — the country is effectively an economic zombie existing solely to pay off debts. Its economy is flatlining, and any funding that comes in goes straight back out again. (Both The New York Times and Bloomberg have used the term "zombie" recently to refer to Greece's economy.)

Greece's creditors are starting to realise something has to change. The IMF has called these debts "unsustainable," and German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble says Greece should perhaps leave the euro temporarily.

It clearly doesn't make sense for Europe to pay out €7.1 billion to ensure "financial stability" when €4.2 billion simply returns to another European funding pot and much of the rest goes to other creditors. "

Greece Said to Make ECB Debt Deadline as Banks Reopen - Bloomberg

"Greece’s payments Monday comprise 4.2 billion euros in maturing debt and interest to the ECB, 2.05 billion euros to the IMF, and 470 million euros to the Bank of Greece, a second finance ministry official said.

An ECB spokeswoman declined to comment on whether the Frankfurt-based central bank had received payment."

July 18, 2015

Greece's leftist government pledges privatization push; experts doubt 50B euro goal reachable- Fox News

"Work was supposed to begin next year on a 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) waterfront urban renewal project almost twice the size of New York's Central Park that could have poured nearly a billion euros into Greece's depleted coffers. The plans stalled late last year after the far-left Syriza party took power and promised to halt attempts at putting the private sector in control of state assets, both on ideological grounds and because leaders believe rampant corruption must be addressed before any sell-off.

...Big money assets that Greece could sell include state-owned stakes in Athens' new airport, energy company Hellenic Petroleum and electrical utility Public Power Corp., plus offshore oil or natural gas drilling parcels. Greece also has stock in banks valued at 7.5 billion euros, but the true value of the stake is unknown because the Athens stock market stopped trading at the end of June as the country descended into financial chaos.

The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, charged with matching state assets in deals with the private sector, also has parcels of land on beautiful islands available for long-term leases and a castle on the island of Corfu, plus buildings throughout Athens and across the country. "

Germany Risks Its Reputation With Idea of Greece Exiting Eurozone - NY Times

"It may be too soon to say for sure whether the harsher German tone signifies a turning point in its role within Europe or if it is the transitory result of circumstances. But for many in Europe, especially on the center left, the Greek crisis “revealed a more brutal Germany, embodied in Schäuble,” said Hans Kundnani, the author of “The Paradox of German Power.”

“But we see, with this crisis, a qualitative transformation of the European Union into a more coercive bloc, different from the one the founding fathers had in mind, or even the creators of the single currency,” he said. “And Germany is at the heart of that.”

....One could argue, as many have, about the correctness of the German prescription of austerity in a time of recession. But the brutality of the negotiations over Greece in Brussels has damaged Germany’s reputation inside the European Union, said François Heisbourg, a French analyst.

“I think the Germans have crossed a line,” he said, “and it will be very difficult for them to walk it back.”

July 17, 2015

ECB to raise emergency funding to Greek banks - MSN Money

"In the early hours of Thursday morning, the austerity bill that will pave the way for financial aid worth 86 billion euros ($94 billion) was approved with 229 votes in the 300-seat chamber. There were 64 votes against it and six abstentions.

"Last night's parliamentary vote might well persuade the Governing Council to increase its ELA to the Greek banks," Scicluna said.

"While Draghi will take some satisfaction from the measured response of euro area financial markets to the Greek crisis and recent economic data and surveys, which remain consistent with steady economic recovery and improved credit conditions in most member states, we would expect him to maintain a dovish tone, and emphasize the importance that the ECB complete its asset purchase program in full, at least through to September 2016," he added."

Everyone now agrees on what Greece needs next — except Germany - SF Gate

"The reforms demanded by European creditors still need to be implemented, and the hanging question of Greek debt relief still needs tackling. The issue of Greece's debt burden is one of the reasons bailout talks dragged on for months.

Athens made a major concession by getting no up-front guarantees on debt in its agreement (among the dozens of concessions it made). German negotiators seemed to be particularly against a discussion of debt relief before another bailout and austerity programme was in place.

...the "full implementation of the measures" in a new programme may be borderline impossible. For example, the privatisation programme to which Greece just signed up is more than twice as optimistic on the revenue it can raise as the previous one was. And the previous one was already probably too optimistic."

Germany, Not Greece, Should Exit the Euro - Bloomberg

"After months of grueling negotiations, recriminations and reversals, it's hard to see any winners. The deal Greece reached with its creditors -- if it lasts -- pursues the same economic strategy that has failed repeatedly to heal the country. Greeks will get more of the brutal belt-tightening that they voted against. The creditors will probably see even less of their money than they would with a package of reduced austerity and immediate debt relief.

...A German return to the deutsche mark would cause the value of the euro to fall immediately, giving countries in Europe's periphery a much-needed boost in competitiveness. Italy and Portugal have about the same gross domestic product today as when the euro was introduced, and the Greek economy, having briefly soared, is now in danger of falling below its starting point. A weaker euro would give them a chance to jump-start growth. If, as would be likely, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Finland followed Germany's lead, perhaps to form a new currency bloc, the euro would depreciate even further. "

Merkel warns of chaos without talks on new Greece aid plan - eKathimerini

"Chancellor Angela Merkel warned of chaos on Friday if German lawmakers do not give her government backing to start negotiations on a third bailout program for Greece.

"Do the advantages of Monday's result outweigh the disadvantages. My answer is a completely convinced 'yes'," Merkel told the Bundestag lower house of parliament, with reference to a deal for further aid."

July 16, 2015

Europe moves to restore funding to Greece after bailout vote - Reuters

"The European Central Bank increased emergency funding for Greek lenders, although capital controls will have to remain to avoid a bank run when they reopen on Monday.

European Union finance ministers also approved 7 billion euros ($7.6 billion) in bridging loans to keep Greece afloat, allowing it to make a bond payment to the ECB next Monday and clear its arrears with the International Monetary Fund.

The loans will be finalised on Friday provided Germany's parliament approves a Berlin government request to open talks on a three-year bailout programme - Greece's third in the past five years - worth up to 86 billion euros.

The twin lifelines were a reward for Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras after he won the backing of parliament in the early hours of Thursday for the tough reform measures demanded by creditors led by Germany. "

Greece Might Be Better Off Outside Eurozone: Schauble - NY Times

"It was the second time this week that Mr. Schäuble has raised the idea in public. His statement, in a radio interview, came just hours after the Greek Parliament reluctantly approved a package of economic policy changes, demanded by Germany and other creditors, intended to allow Greece to remain in the eurozone and to qualify for a new round of bailout financing.

...Mr. Schäuble signaled on Thursday that it might be difficult to reduce the burden of the debt payments sufficiently without some debt forgiveness — a step that he said could not be taken while Greece is a member of the common currency area. "

Deal with lenders approved despite strong SYRIZA opposition - eKathimerini

"In his speech before Parliament, Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos sought to defend Greece’s agreement with creditors as a necessary evil. “It’s a difficult agreement, a deal which only time will show if it is economically viable,” he said. “I don’t know if we did the right thing, but I know we felt we had no choice,” he said. “We never said this was a good agreement,” he added, noting that “a lot will depend on how politicians will handle the many changes included in the agreement.”

... New Democracy’s rapporteur Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Parliament that Greece “is paying very dearly for the political coming-of-age of SYRIZA.”

Greece Is On The Verge Of A Health Catastrophe - Forbes

"...Greece faces a medical crisis as deadly as the Plague of Athens, one that could throw the country deeper into economic crisis.

Today, in the face of severe pharmaceutical drug shortages, 12,000 pharmacists throughout Greece will begin an open-ended strike to protest changes to draft legislation that they say will limit the role of pharmacies and threaten their livelihood. Such a prolonged strike could prove catastrophic to diabetics, heart patients, cancer patients and others. With this in mind there are three indications that the Greek medical system, once one of the best in Europe, is on the verge of collapse.

...The second indication of a Greek crisis is behavioral changes within the country leading to increased death and disability. People are already going to the doctor less frequently, even though there is no co-pay for primary care physician visits. Greece’s 132 hospitals had a budget of $735 million for the first four months of 2014. This year the budget for the same time period was $50 million total. "

Why Germany refuses to write off Greece's debts - SF Gate

"The International Monetary Fund says Greece's debts are too big to pay and need to be partly forgiven.

Germany says that's out of the question.

German officials, led by Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, say that as part of a new rescue package for Greece they will consider giving it more time to pay its debts and perhaps lower interest rates. But no outright cut on what it owes."

Perissa Beach, Santorini

Santorini Perissa Beach

Santorini Guide 2015

Acropolis Dusk into Night

Snow on the Acropolis Greece Athens

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

Athens, Circa 1994

Greek War for Independence: How the Ottoman's empowered the Greek Revolution

Philoxenia, 1968 Greece

Greek identity after the War of Independence: Hellenic Place-names

Vote-Rigging and the quasi-feudal system in Greece: Patronage in Post-Independence Greece

Antoine Bon Thessaly
Photo of Thessaly Greece; Meteora mountains 1938. Click to view enlargement.
Rhodes Island Tile
Scan of Rhodes Island Souvenir tile, circa 1976. Click to view enlargement.

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