Greek Account Deficit 2011 9.9% of GDP
Greek Account Deficit 2008 14.7% of GDP
GDP estimate (3rd quarter):-7.2%
GDP estimate (2nd quarter):-6.3%
Population of Athens:
2012 estimates non-Greek immigrants at over 800,000 (legal) and 350,000+ (illegal) in Greece.
Rick Steves' Greece: Athens & the Peloponnese amazon.com
Nice interactive world map that shows the credit ratings for sovereign nations around the planet. That's right: Greece has a burning red "substantial risk" rating at present.
With national ratings and global banks all experiencing a phenomenon of credit rating 'adjustments', I don't know for how long this chart will be accurate.
Entire chart at chartbin.com
Bust: Greece, the Euro and the Sovereign Debt Crisis - By Matthew Lynn amazon.com
Greece's 'Odious' Debt: The Looting of the Hellenic Republic by the Euro, the Political Elite and the Investment Community - By Jason Manolopoulos amazon.com
Understanding the Crisis in Greece: From Boom to Bust - By Theodore Pelagidis amazon.com
The Imminent Crisis: Greek Debt and the Collapse of the European Monetary Union amazon.com
Eyewitness Greece - Athens and the Mainland - 352 Pages
"Archaeologists excavating the tomb of Amphipolis in northern Greece have uncovered the head of one of the two sphinxes that guard the entrance to the site which dates back to the time of Alexander the Great.
The head was found in the third chamber of the tomb in a marble threshold at a depth of 15 cm, the Greek culture ministry said on Wednesday.
The piece is largely intact and only has a small fracture in the nose. It is marble, measures 60 cm and is from the eastern sphinx."
"The European Elections in Greece have marked a turning point in its relationship with Europe. Voters largely split themselves between eurosceptic parties: Syriza on the far-left and neo-Nazi Golden Dawn who won three seats. However, Alexis Tsipras’ party got the lion’s share of the vote.
...In light of the result Tsipras wasted no time in calling for general elections saying the outcome robbed the government of any “political or moral legitimacy” as euronews correspondent Nikoletta Kritikou in Athens explains:
“Syriza’s supporters received the results of the European as well as the regional elections with great enthusiasm. They strongly believe that their victory will entail rapid political developments in the country.”
"The Greek proposal would see a new financial tool combining unused funds from its existing program with the profits that euro-area central banks made on their Greek bonds portfolio, said the people, who asked not to be identified because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter. That would give Greek officials a backup plan should they struggle to sell bonds and also allow them to avoid the conditions tied to existing facilities.
The pitch epitomizes Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’s balancing act as he tries to convince voters that Greece is regaining its economic independence while reassuring investors that Europe’s most indebted state can still refinance its liabilities without the international lifeline which has kept it afloat since 2010.
The size of the envelope might reach 15 billion euros ($19.2 billion) through 2016, one of the people said. That figure includes about 11.5 billion euros of bank recapitalization funds and about 3.7 billion euros of profits that euro-area central banks made on Greek bonds and have committed to returning to Greece."
"Is a new Greek drama on tap for markets?
It was two years ago that a potential Greek exit from the Eurozone became the market's prime concern. But fresh concerns emanating out of Greece could once again have dire implications for global markets, Larry McDonald warns.
In February, 180 members of the 300-seat Greek parliament need to vote for the Greek president. If the support of these 180 members cannot be garnered, then a snap parliament election is held. This could lead to a victory for the Greek far left, which is opposed to European Union bailout measures. The political moves of a newly empowered left could thus lead to a Greek exit from the euro zone."
"Greece's radical leftist Syriza party would beat Prime Minister Antonis Samaras' New Democracy party if an election were held now, but its lead has slipped, an opinion poll showed on Saturday.
Syriza is deeply opposed to an international bailout that has allowed Greece to avoid a debt default in return for a package of tough austerity measures and economic reform.
A Metron Analysis survey for Parapolitika newspaper said support for Syriza was running at 32.9 percent against 26.1 percent for New Democracy and 4.7 percent for the Socialist PASOK party, which is in Samaras' coalition government.
A previous Oct. 6-8 poll showed backing for Syriza at 34.1 percent, while New Democracy was at 26.2 percent."
"Greek Finance Minister Gikas Hardouvelis said in an interview published on Saturday he did not expect the European Central Bank's health checks to show major surprises for Greek banks.
Violent swings on financial markets in the past week have deepened investors' anxiety about what Europe's review of the health of its banks will reveal later this month."
"For a country proclaimed to be so “down and out” of it all after the 2008 economic bomb hit, Greece has proved especially resilient when compared to many other nations. We know from our own experience with the Greek National Tourism Organisation (GNTO), instead of folding their arms and drowning beneath a staggering debt, the Greeks have swum back to the surface these recent months. But free national WiFi? Come on, it can’t be true.
Apparently though, the words of Networks Minister Michalis Chrysochoidis back in March are about to come true in the form of some 4,000 first phase locations. Towns and sites across Greece will be empowered with connectivity, according to officials. Phase two will add countless other locations like hospitals, universities, public transport, and so on. There’s even plans been WiFi connectivity added to more than 1500 buses and trolleys.
While some remain skeptical Samaras’ promise will come true in time for the deadline next month, other evidence shows the PM’s digital gift to locals and visitors to Greece is well underway."
"David Einhorn just finished presenting at the annual Robin Hood Investor Conference, and he recommended a Europe trade — long Greece, short France.
Einhorn recommended going long Greek banks, Alpha Bank and Piraeus Bank using warrants, our source says. "
"Stocks in Greece staged a huge rally on Friday, gaining 7.5% to finish the week.
It was still an ugly week for the Greek stock market, as the Athens Stock Exchange fell 7.3% this week despite the huge rally on Friday.
Greek bank stocks gained 6.4% on Friday, but overall lost 7.8% this week."
"Greek financial markets rallied Friday, following a week of heavy selling pressure, with share prices closing 7.2% higher and Greek government bond yields down almost 100 basis points from a day earlier.
“Greece has explained that we don’t need a new [loan agreement]. But a precautionary credit line, that would protect our country from possible turmoil in the markets, is a part of the negotiations,” Mr. Samaras said.
Greece and its creditors agree the country should continue with its reform program, he added, and that talks were now focused on “the first transitional period” after the end of the current program.
Greece’s coalition government—made up of Mr. Samaras’s center-right New Democracy party and the socialist Pasok party—is aiming to leave the current bailout program at the end of the year, 18 months earlier than the rescue plan now calls for.
By doing so, the government hopes to scale back the degree of oversight now exercised over Greece by a troika of international inspectors."
"For months in 2012, everyone in Greece knew about the "Lagarde list," but few had actually seen it.
The list contained the names of 2,000-plus possible Greek tax evaders who held Swiss bank accounts, and was given by former French Finance Minister Christine Lagarde to her Greek counterparts in October 2010, during the worst of Greece's economic crisis.
But government officials claimed to have lost the list – first by misplacing the CD it was on, then by losing the USB drive they copied it to – and then dragged their heels for months.
Then, in the fall of 2012, Greek investigative journalist Kostas Vaxevanis got a copy of the list and published it in his magazine Hot Doc. He named politicians, their relevant family members, and business moguls. Suddenly, the government sprang into action. In less than 24 hours a warrant was issued and 50 police officers were deployed to arrest Mr. Vaxevanis, not the tax evaders.
... Without domestic laws to protect free press and free speech, journalists are left vulnerable and open to intimidation. As a result, the country has fallen steeply on the press-freedom index compiled by the watchdog group Reporters Without Borders, from 31st place in 2008 to 70th in 2010 and 99th this year.
"...Practically all of the country's major television and radio stations, newspapers, and magazines, as well as major web portals, belong to a handful of extremely wealthy and well-connected media and business moguls," says Michalis Nevradakis, a Ph.D. student at the University of Texas at Austin and expert on Greek media. "[They] use their media outlets to exert pressure on the government of the day and to present an almost completely one-sided [version of] their own political point of view."
"After more than a century of fruitless lobbying, Greece is now pinning its hopes of reclaiming the 5th-century B.C. Parthenon Sculptures from Britain on a mediation effort backed by the U.N. cultural agency.
...The marble sculptures were removed to Britain — illegally, according to Greece — from the Parthenon temple on the Acropolis in the early 19th century.
The British Museum, where they are displayed, and the British government say the works are better off in London."
"The stock market is down over 9% on Wednesday, which is about as big as crashes come.
And the banks are getting absolutely smashed.
Greece, which had been calm for a while, is now being wracked by two separate but related things. One is the rise in the political popularity of left-winger Alexis Tsipras, the leader of the Syriza party, who if he ever got elected to power would take a much more confrontational stance with the rest of the eurozone with regards to austerity.
Meanwhile, a rift is growing between the current Greek government and the rest of the EU as Greece is keen to exit its bailout program. The EU is not so sure."
"Greece sold 812.5 million euros ($1.03 billion) of three-month treasury bills on Wednesday to roll over a maturing issue, the country's debt agency PDMA said.
The T-bills were priced to yield 1.70 percent..."
"Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Thessaloniki, Greece' second largest city, in solidarity with Syrian Kurds in Kobane, the town that have been under attack by ISIS since mid-September."
"According to the report, in the period from 2008 to 2013, double-digit increase in indebtedness occurred in Cyprus and Ireland, while in Spain, France, the Netherlands and Greece the increase exceeded 10 percentage points."
"Archaeologists armed with top-notch technology have scoured one of the richest shipwrecks of antiquity for overlooked treasures, recovering a scattering of artifacts amid indications that significant artworks may await discovery under the seabed. Lying 164 feet down a steep underwater slope off Antikythera Island, in southern Greece, the Roman commercial vessel’s wreck was accidentally located by sponge divers more than a century ago. Using primitive suits and assisted by the Greek navy, they raised marble and bronze statues, luxury tableware and the so-called Antikythera Mechanism, an entrancingly complex clockwork computer that tracked the cycles of the Solar system and could predict eclipses to a precise hour on a specific day.
For years too deep for proper investigation, the wreck is now accessible through modern applied science.
Over the past three weeks, a U.S. and Greek-led team comprehensively mapped the seabed, despite being hampered by strong winds that only allowed archaeologists a single day’s use of their star gadget — an Iron Man-like diving suit, likened to a wearable submarine, that can take its wearer more than 985 feet deep without the dangerous and time-consuming process of decompression.
The Greek Culture Ministry said Thursday that divers raised sample artifacts — a bronze spear probably belonged to a larger than life-sized statue, metal fittings from the 1st century B.C. wooden ship, a pottery flask that may have contained wine or oil and a metal leg from a bed."
"I recently spoke with an experienced politician who has a very clear picture of political developments in Greece. He raised a very interesting question: “I find it hard to understand,” he said “why [Alexis] Tsipras is in such a hurry to become prime minister. Is he ignorant of what this would entail?”
I in turn asked the politician what he would do if he were in the opposition leader’s shoes. “I would step forward after the European Parliament vote and tell the public that, although I have won this race, I will not block the election of the next president because I believe that elections must take place at the end of the four-year term or in the event that the government has lost its mandate,” he said.
The politician then went on to remind me of the time when PASOK’s George Papandreou shot himself in the foot in 2009 when he kept asking for snap elections...
Similarly, Tsipras and his senior aides in leftist SYRIZA simply refuse to consider any option that could be seen as distancing the party from the end-goal, which is to become government..."
"The government breezed through a confidence vote that took place after midnight on Friday as it gained the support of its own MPs but no other members of Parliament.
The final results saw 155 MPs back the coalition, two lawmakers vote "present" and 131 deputies vote against the government.
....SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras insisted that the government would soon be removed from power as it would be unable to elect a president in February."
"Athens. Greece is in talks with the US and Bulgaria about selling some of its old F-16 fighter jets to Sofia and leasing new ones from Washington, Kathimerini understands, Greek eKathimerini writes.
NATO asked Bulgaria in February to update its air force’s capability and the country’s defense officials have approached Athens about the possibility of buying between six and eight Fighting Falcon planes, sources said. The issue was first discussed when the country’s two defense ministers met in March. Athens has approached Washington with regard to this issue and has received a positive response."
"The Greek fund charged with selling state assets will attempt to raise 400 million euros ($508 million) by securitizing real estate in a move designed to attract investment to the debt-stricken country.
The Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund will sell shares in a company with about 300 properties ranging from retail, office and tourism-related real estate including land for development, Andreas Taprantzis, the fund’s executive director, said in an Oct. 8 interview in his Athens office. The company will then sell debt backed by the properties.
“This transaction is important for investment in Greece and for society, not just because of the immediate returns it will generate, but this will bring multiple sums of money into the real economy of Greece,” Taprantzis said.
The privatization fund is tapping into renewed investor demand for Greek assets as the country emerges from a six-year economic crisis, which enabled it to return to bond markets in April after a four-year exile. The fund has completed 1.9 billion euros of real estate transactions over the last year."
"Greece revised data on last year's gross domestic product on Friday, showing its economy shrank by 3.3 percent for the year as a whole, less than a previous estimate of a 3.9 percent contraction."
|Consumer price index||Sep 13/Sep 12||-0.8|
|Harmonized Index Consumer Prices||Sep 13/Sep 12||-1.1|
|Gross Domestic Product (GDP)||Q2 2014||-0.3%|
|Unemployment rate*||Q2 2014||26.6%|
|Industrial Production (non-construction)||Aug 13 / Aug 12||-5.7%|
|Turnover Retail Trade||July 13 /July 12||1.5|
|Producer Price Index Industry||Aug13/Aug12||-0.6%|
|Building (volume)||June 13 / Jun 12||39.9%|
|Population count 2001||10,815,197|
|(2008 Eurostat Estimate Population)||11,262,000|
|Registered Population 2011||9.903.268|
"Speaking at an annual IMF event in Washington, Lagarde acknowledged the desire of Greek officials for an early exit from its loan program with the European Commission, European Central Bank and IMF. But she indicated that the country would still require help to see the crisis through. “In order to deliver a continuous satisfactory outcome, the country would be, in our view, in a better position if it had precautionary support,” she said. “So we are talking about evolution in the relationship. But we believe that the relationship can still be extremely helpful for the country to move on.”
Her comments came a week after ECB President Mario Draghi said Greece must stay in some form of support program if Greek banks’ asset-backed securities are to be eligible for the ECB’s ABS program.
Lagarde’s comments came immediately in the wake of Samaras’ claims that Greece can cover its funding needs by tapping bond markets.
...The European arm of Greece’s loan program ends in December. But the IMF’s part is set to continue until the spring of 2016, with some 15 billion euros remaining to be disbursed."
"Greece’s industrial production fell 5.7% y/y in August following a 2.1% drop in July. It had managed to stick its nose into positive territory a couple of times this year but is back on the slide."
"Greece's prime minister is braced for a confidence vote on Friday to force lawmakers to back his plans to exit an international bailout program early.
Antonis Samaras' government is hoping to win today's vote and thus dispel investors' fears of political instability in the country. Samaras' government has been plagued by the prospect of snap elections early next year if the prime minister fails to gain the support of opposition lawmakers for his candidate for president in elections early next year. A promise to exit the painful program early could be key in securing that backing.
A potential early exit from the bailout program -- which imposed tough austerity measures on the country -- has already rattled investors' nerves however.
Greek bond yields rose to a six-month high this week ahead of Friday's confidence vote in parliament. The yield on 10-year paper currently stands at around 6.6 percent.
Greece is hoping to be able to meet its funding needs through the debt markets, rather than call on the Troika of lenders – the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and International Monetary Fund (IMF)."
Their Top Five:
"Between his conservative New Democracy and Socialist PASOK junior partner, Samaras has the backing of 154 deputies in the 300-seat parliament and should win the vote without trouble, buying him time ahead of the presidential vote in February.
It should also allow his government to present a cohesive front as it tries to negotiate the early bailout exit with EU/IMF lenders, a move Samaras hopes will help him lure independent and opposition lawmakers to his side in the presidential vote.
But that has failed to reassure investors, who have taken fright at the prospect of a prolonged period of political paralysis as Greece could be forced to hold an early general election if gridlock in parliament means lawmakers are unable to elect a president.
Deputy Prime Minister Evangelos Venizelos warned political uncertainty was undermining the Greek economy as it begins to emerge from its worst economic slump in decades.
"Five years of efforts, five years of hard sacrifices, could be destroyed in five days," Venizelos said in a speech on Tuesday, referring to the February presidential vote.
"Five days are enough to take us back to 2009: budget deficits, no future, the collapse of competitiveness."
“What’s being reported in the media that the primary surplus target will be much lower than 3 percent is not true,” the official said.
The target is one of several agreed with the European Union and International Monetary Fund as part of the country’s 240-billion-euro aid package. Greek media have reported Athens could cut it to about 2.3 percent to give the government the leeway to introduce steeper tax cuts.
Athens has been trying to convince its EU/IMF lenders to move away from austerity measures and focus on efforts to revive the economy and preserve fragile political stability in a nation struggling through a six-year austerity-fuelled recession.
Greece will submit its 2015 budget to parliament on Monday amid a review by the “troika” of inspectors from the EU and IMF lenders who are in Athens for what is expected to be their last review under the bailout."
"Greek authorities said Thursday that they had thwarted a terrorist attack planned for Saturday, possibly against political or business targets.
...suspect had a notebook identifying several possible targets, including the headquarters of New Democracy, the conservative party that leads Greece’s fragile coalition government, as well as the names of shipowners, a leading businessman and the chairman of a soccer club, said Police Chief Dimitris Tsaknakis."
"The Greek Minister of Environment, Energy and Climate Change Yannis Maniatis has announced a 700-million-euro plan which will aim to create 10,000 new job placements in waste management over the next six years..."
"The move was preemptive because the government expected the opposition to file a no-confidence motion next week, a senior government official said today by phone. It was also designed to demonstrate that the coalition has no plans to call a snap election before the president’s term expires in March, the official said on condition of anonymity in line with policy.
“Polls show that support for the government is weakening and public opinion wants elections,” John Loulis, an Athens-based political analyst and communications strategist, said by phone today. “The move to ask for a confidence vote is an attempt to cluster support from its lawmakers and show that it still commands power.”
"Early last month, on a hill outside a tiny, windy village of almond and tobacco farmers in northeastern Greece, veteran archaeologist Katerina Peristeri announced that she and her team had discovered what is believed to be the biggest tomb in Greece.
The "massive, magnificent tomb," Peristeri told reporters, is likely connected to the ancient Greek kingdom of Macedonia, which, in the fourth century B.C. produced Alexander the Great.
Speculation over who is buried in the tomb has drawn a steady stream of visitors to nearby Mesolakkia, where the village's president — Athanassios Zounatzis, a silver-haired, retired tobacco farmer — now doubles as a tour guide.
"....Modern Greeks are very insular, inward looking and extremely traumatized by the financial crisis," she says. "I think they will feel really cheated if it's not Greek."
Peristeri, the lead archaeologist in Amphipolis, insists that the site is Greek, beyond a doubt.
That's also the sentiment back at Mesolakkia, where the townspeople remember a Greek archaeologist named Dimitris Lazaridis, who first discovered the Amphipolis mound in the 1950s but ran out of money to excavate it. Lazaridis said he also suspected that the tomb contained a major Macedonian tomb."
"In Berlin earlier this week, Samaras for the first time publicly acknowledged that Athens hoped to wean itself off a 240-billion-euro ($305-billion) EU/IMF aid package a year before its scheduled end in early 2016.
He offered no details, but Athens is calculating that declaring an end to the reviled bailout could be just the political game-changer it needs, with the end of bailout funding from the European Union in December offering a logical moment to seal the exit of the International Monetary Fund as well.
"It makes political sense, completely 100 percent," a source familiar with the discussions said. "The IMF is not pushing to leave, the government is pushing for it." Pulling this off, however, will almost certainly require Athens to notch up rapid-fire successes on several fronts - a swift end to its current bailout review, securing debt relief and the backing of European partners for going it alone."
"...Non-performing loans at Greece’s banks have reached almost 80 billion euros, according to the country’s Growth and Competitiveness Minister Nikolaos Dendias. To top that, Greek households and corporations had overdue taxes of 69.2 billion euros in August, data from the public revenue secretariat show. Also, “collectible” social arrears to pension funds exceed 14.5 billion euros, according to labor ministry figures.
“Some of this debt can never be recovered and should be written off,” said Panos Tsakloglou, a professor at the Athens University of Economics and Business who was Greece’s representative in the working group of senior euro-area finance ministry officials until June.
...The Greek government may need to address the country’s private-debt crisis before it can convince its external lenders to give it additional relief measures.
The government is seeking an early bailout exit after the end of the next compliance review by the troika -- the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. It also wants to ask for a further easing of repayment terms on the emergency loans it received from the euro-area crisis fund.
Before getting there, however, it needs to convince the bodies that it is complying with commitments -- one of them being effectively dealing with bad private debt."
"...Ms. Merkel seconded that view. "I am very pleased that there are quite positive signs coming from Greece," Ms. Merkel said. The "first tender shoots" of Greece's economic success are visible, she said.
Greece has secured two international bailouts totaling around €240 billion ($310 billion) from the so-called troika of international lenders. The troika, consisting of the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund, has insisted that Greece fix its finances and restructure its economy in exchange for emergency financing.
Greece needs some breathing space to ensure the economic recovery proves durable, Mr. Samaras said.
"If we generate a growth climate, we can achieve much more," he said. "That is why we need some breathing time to be able to support reforms differently."
"While Turkey was pressuring the French president not to support a bill criminalizing denial of the Armenian Genocide, it had to cope with Greece, yet another country that just adopted a law making it illegal to deny genocides, including the Armenian Genocide. Greece is the third European country, after Slovakia and Switzerland, to pass such a law. The Swiss law, however, is under review by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) for violating a Turkish defendant’s freedom of speech.
The French Parliament (2011) and Senate (2012) adopted a similar law to punish genocide denial that was overturned by the French Constitutional Council. To replace the failed law, French Deputy Valerie Boyer submitted a new bill to the parliament last week. President Francois Hollande has also pledged to back the criminalization of Armenian Genocide denial.
Despite legal uncertainties regarding such laws in Europe, the Greek Parliament on Sept. 9 adopted by a vote of 54 to 42 an anti-hate crime law—“Combating Discrimination, Xenophobia, and Racism”—making it illegal to deny the Jewish Holocaust and genocides recognized by international courts or by the Greek Parliament..."
"Time may be running out for the Greek public broadcaster NERIT to persuade the European Broadcasting Union - the producers of the Eurovision Song Contest - of its eligibility for EBU membership.
The formal deadline for each country to confirm participation expired on September 15. NERIT’s officials state they sent their application in on time but the EBU says Greece’s application cannot be taken into consideration before its public broadcaster is officially an EBU member.
It is worth noting that NERIT has been Greece's new public broadcaster since the summer of 2013, when after an abrupt governmental decision the former broadcaster ERT was shut down sparking worldwide attention."
"Barcelona, Spain, has captured the 5 million euro ($6.5 million) grand prize in a competition that spurs cities to develop novel approaches to improve urban life.
The Mayors Challenge is run by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's foundation, Bloomberg Philanthropies.
Four other cities won 1 million euros ($1.3 million) each: the metropolitan area of Kirklees, England; Stockholm; Warsaw, Poland; and Athens, Greece."
"Turkey supports Macedonia for NATO membership and will continue to do so. We also support Macedonia for EU membership. We hope that one day we will be in the European Union together," Davutoglu made the remarks at a joint press conference with visiting Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski in the Turkish capital of Ankara.
...Greece is opposed to the use of the name Macedonia by its northern neighbour, saying that it implies territorial claims to Greece's northern province of the same name.
As a result, Greece is blocking Macedonia's bid to join NATO and the EU, saying that Macedonia can be a member only if a solution to the name dispute is reached.
In November 2008, Macedonia brought Greece to the International Court of Justice(ICJ) accusing Athens of violating a 1995 agreement by thwarting Macedonia's efforts to join NATO at a summit of the alliance in April 2008."
"Greece's biggest telecoms operator OTE, Vodafone and Wind Hellas submitted offers to buy mobile radio frequency rights within the 800 and 2,600 MHz band, telecoms regulator EETT said in a statement. The deadline for offers expired on Monday.
The auction is part of Greece's 22 billion euro ($28 billion) privatisation plan agreed with its international lenders, the EU and the IMF, under a 240 billion euro bailout."
"After nearly crashing out of the euro zone two years ago, Greece has managed to bring its finances back on track and post a budget surplus before interest payments last year.
Athens has relied on a 240 billion euro EU/IMF financing package since the second half of 2010 to stay afloat. Bailout funding from its euro zone partners ends in December while IMF aid will run out in the first quarter of 2016.
"Greece does not need new loans and could not sign a new bailout for money it does not need," Samaras told the paper in an interview.
"We are exiting the bailout for good, and our goal is to never again need to go into such a (bailout) programme, asking for loans to make it through the year."
"Lagarde only commented on taxation in Greece and raised the burning issue of tax evasion. When asked about past comments regarding tax evasion by the wealthy Greeks, she said: “I better not say too much because, you know, when I have talked about Greece and its taxes before, I got death threats and we had to increase security,” adding, “but is the shipping industry really paying its taxes? Are others? I don’t think so."
"T-bill holders of the above maturities [T-bills maturing between Sept.19 2014 to March 6, 2015] can also exchange the short-term paper for five-year bonds due in 2019 at exchange ratios of 95.805554 to 95.297785 percent. The offer starts at 0600 London time (0500 GMT) on Thursday and expires at 1700 (1600 GMT). Alpha Bank, Eurobank, National Bank and Piraeus Bank are the dealer managers. Settlement is expected on Sept. 16. "
"At more than double the euro zone average of 11.5 percent in July, Greece's unemployment rate remains near record highs despite signs of recovery in the economy, which is expected to emerge from recession and expand by 0.6 percent this year."
"Greece’s National Intelligence Service said Tuesday that it was at “a heightened state of vigilance” for suspected militants, keeping close tabs on radical Muslims, and had detected at least six foreign fighters with the terrorist group Islamic State transiting through the country in recent months.
The surveillance operation comes amid concern that the militant group, formerly known as Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, will retaliate for increased U.S airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.
About 300 Albanian fighters have joined Islamic State and the militant group Al Nusra Front, which is also fighting in Syria, according to the International Center for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence, a think tank based at London’s King College. Forty of them were arrested and tried last month in Kosovo, among the poorest states in the Balkans.
“More than half of them were released because they had no idea what they were getting into,” said Jeta Xharra, director of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network in Pristina, the capital of Kosovo. “Many new recruits do not know either. They are just replying to Internet ads that are pouring in from Turkey, promising money in exchange for a year of adventure, like a gap year after college.”
"Greek authorities are in constant contact with intelligence agencies in the US, France and the UK, as it is estimated that there are about 80-100 jihadists in the country, who either live or currently visiting Greece in order to go to Syria. Some are under police surveillance, while European countries inform Greece about Syrians and Iraqis living in the country who have family or friendly relations with jihadists who live mainly in Britain and France. Until today, three jihadist extremists of French nationality have been arrested.
According to The Los Angeles Times, the surveillance operation comes amidst concerns that ISIS will retaliate for increased US airstrikes in Iraq and possible strikes in Syria.
“...The threat level originating from Greece is very low because there are no verified indications of either dormant or active ISIS cells or splinter groups within the country,” a senior intelligence official said. “We are, however, at a heightened state of vigilance now, exchanging intelligence from the United States, Britain, France and others,” the LA Times report said.
...In recent months, Greek intelligence has detected six ISIS recruits traveling through the country, including a 23-year-old French national carrying a memory stick with instructions for making bombs.
“...Since the start of the year, Greece has deported more than 300 Syrians and Iraqis suspected of terrorism-related activities. What’s more, with Greece neighboring Albania, the biggest source of Islamic State recruits in the Balkans, investigators warn that the passage of militants through this country could increase,” the LA Times report said."
"While Western Europe has claimed much of our attention this summer for its overt displays of anti-Semitism (see: Paris; Berlin; London), Greece’s small but historic Jewish community is witnessing the legitimization of the Golden Dawn party, whose leaders routinely use Nazi imagery and deny the Holocaust. (One member of the group, a Greek doctor, was arrested in March for posting a ‘Jews Not Welcome’ sign outside his practice.)
While the neo-Nazi group’s political ascent in modern-day Greece is a frightening prospect, outlawing hate speech is itself a controversial legal practice. Still, according to JTA, the local Jewish community has been pressuring lawmakers to take legislation action on their behalf for a while now. The ban on Holocaust denial, it appears, is for them a step in the right direction."
"The Finance Ministry's force inspected 2,639 businesses across Greece in the six-month period, finding more than 390,000 tax code violations at 1,872 of them, or 54 percent. "
"The management of 14 regional airports throughout Greece is set to be sold to private investors in the next two months, according to the Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund (HRADF) schedule."
"With vast levels of unemployment and a slump in the size of the economy of over a quarter since 2008, Greece looks in dire shape
...The minor problem is that there hasn’t been nearly enough structural reform of the welfare state in Greece. For long-run fiscal recovery, it’s very important to save money by reducing handouts that create dependency, while also shrinking the country’s bloated bureaucracy. By comparison, it’s less important (or perhaps even harmful) to save money by letting physical infrastructure deteriorate.
The major problem is that controlling government spending is just one piece of the puzzle. There are five major factors that determine economic performance, with experts assigning equal importance to fiscal policy, trade policy, regulatory policy, monetary policy, and rule of law."
"Fifteen years ago, a 5.9 magnitude earthquake shook the Parnitha region in Attica, Greece. It was one of the largest and deadliest earthquakes to hit Greece in the last 50 years.
...fifteen years later, Greek newspaper “Ta Nea” reports that some of these people are still living in those prefabricated camps. Most of them are unemployed or do not have enough money to rent a proper home. They are forced to live in 23-square-meter iso-boxes with no electricity or running water."
"Samaras, whose conservative party trails the anti-austerity, radical leftist Syriza party in opinion polls, said a heating oil consumption tax would be cut by 30 percent and a "solidarity tax" would also be reduced.
...Greek officials brought up the issue of tax relief at talks in Paris this week with the lenders to review the progress of the bailout, but there was no confirmation that they had agreed to the package. Samaras said details of the tax cuts would be presented in the draft budget when it is announced in October.
He also said he was working on a taxation "road map", in which the top rate of income tax would be cut in stages to 32 percent from 42 percent and the corporate tax rate reduced to 15 percent from 26 percent. A deeply unpopular property tax would also be reduced, he said, without providing any details."
"Archaeologists excavating a burial mound in northern Greece have found two marble sculptures of female figures and a large, colored marble panel in what appears to be the antechamber of the main room.
...The 60-centimeter (2-foot) female figurines are on a wall leading to the yet unexplored main room. The marble panel, 4.2 meters (14 feet) long by 1 meter (3.3 feet) wide, is carved with geometric shapes and painted dark red and yellow. It is located up a wall in the 6.5-meter (21.3-feet) high antechamber."
"There's a lot of commotion going on at an archaeological site in Greece these days. Thus, researchers are busy excavating an Alexander the Great-era tomb, and are unearthing stunning artworks every day.
The tomb in question is located in Amphipolis, a municipality in Greece's Serres regional unit. It is encircled by a massive 1,600-foot (500-meter) wall made of marble, and has not yet been explored in its entirety.
Information shared with the public says that the entrance to this ancient tomb is guarded by two lion sculptures. This opening leads to an antechamber, which in turn guides visitors to the actual tomb, Live Science informs.
It is in this antechamber that archaeologists found a stunning mosaic that, like the tomb, dates back to the 4th century BC. The mosaic covers the antechamber's floor, and researchers say that, given its age, it is in excellent condition.
A photo of this mosaic was released to the press by the Greek Ministry of Culture, and is available next to this article. As easily noticeable, the mosaic comprises bits and pieces of white marble fitted onto a red background."
"A surge in people fleeing violence in Africa and the Middle East has increased the pressure on the euro zone's most indebted country, a major gateway into the EU for migrants who attempt risky boat crossings through porous sea borders.
The latest influx was driven mainly by wars in Syria, the Gaza Strip, Libya and northern Iraq, Shipping and Maritime Minister Miltiadis Varvitsiotis told reporters.
"We are facing a great challenge," Varvitsiotis said, adding that there was a pool of more than two million migrants - half of whom are Syrian and other migrants now in neighboring Turkey - who could attempt to enter the EU via Greece."
"After six years of crippling recession, Greek officials are hopeful that the country's economy will grow in 2014—despite continuing sky-high unemployment and falling prices.
"I feel quite comfortable overall about the prospects of the Greek economy. We've succeeded after about six years to establish positive growth," Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek Minister of Administrative Reform, told CNBC on Thursday.
Greece was first hit hard by the global financial crisis in 2008 and then ran into trouble paying down its debt in 2010. The country was bailed out by the rest of Europe and the International Monetary Fund, but hopes to graduate from its loan program in 2016 without further assistance—just as Ireland and Portugal did this year."
"Representatives from Greece and the "troika" of the European Central Bank, European Commission and International Monetary Fund had thrashed out sensitive details over three days of talks in Paris that Greek officials had hailed as "positive".
...The representative of the European Commission, Declan Costello, said the three days of talks had led to "a greater understanding of the most significant problems."
"We are preparing the next discussions scheduled for later in the month," he said.
"Greece will issue a new seven-year bond by the end of the year, a government official said on Wednesday, as the aid-dependent nation seeks to capitalise on two successful forays into the bond market this year on the back of a recovering economy. It also plans to exchange three- and six-month Treasury bills with new 18- and 24-month T-bill issues by the end of the year to stretch out the repayment period, the official said.
Athens has a stock of about 15 billion euros of outstanding T-bills and refinances them on a monthly basis."
"Parliamentary review of a draft anti-racism law in Greece, which began in November 2013, has resumed following a nine-month interruption and is expected to be debated in parliament's recess section on September 2 and 5, 2014. Members of parliament should amend the draft to include measures to combat racist violence and protect free speech, Human Rights Watch said today.
The current version of the bill, if approved, would toughen criminal sanctions for incitement to hatred, discrimination, and violence. It would also criminalize denial of genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity."
"Greece sold 1.1 billion euro (1.44 billion U.S dollars) worth of six-month treasury bills on Tuesday as part of its regular monthly treasury bills auction program, the Public Debt Management Agency (PDMA) said.
According to the announcement, the treasury bills were priced to yield 2 percent, marginally lower than a 2.02 percent achieved in the previous similar sale in August."
"Turkey, for example, faces the serious threat of seeing some its territory being lost to the emerging Kurdish state, the founding of which is being encouraged by certain international elements. Of course Turkey cannot avert such a development on its own, but recently elected President Recep Tayyip Erdogan will be eager to ensure that his personal triumph is not allowed to become a national failure. This is especially the case given that his long tenure as prime minister became identified with visions of neo-Ottoman hegemony over the Islamic world.
Isolated from powerful alliances and thrust into the direction of Erdogan’s sultanic ambitions, Turkey may well end up venting its hegemonic urges on the Balkans and the Mediterranean region. Ankara’s growing intransigence in talks for a solution to the Cyprus issue is but one indication and Greece must be prepared for such an eventuality.
Of course this is just mere supposition, but Greece is crippled financially and cannot under any circumstances afford to suffer another crisis, be it diplomatic or otherwise.
All the country’s political forces need to be vigilant and to keep a close eye on developments on the other side of the Aegean as well as the wider Mediterranean region. "
The one word missing from the entire article is "Turkey"
"We had the opportunity, along with my American counterpart, to confirm once again the really excellent level of the Greek-American defense cooperation. Today, we essentially proceeded to the finalization of critical issues referring to the road map of the American defense cooperation with our country and give solutions to outstanding issues,” Avramopoulos stressed after the meeting.
Avramopoulos said that they discussed “the burning geopolitical issues of our region, the geostrategic role of Greece as a country of stability and security in the wider region, as well as the role Greece can undertake in the name of international law."
"According to the OECD data, Greece has the highest rate of overweight and obese children (aged 5-17) in the world, followed by Italy, U.S. and Mexico."
"Vodafone today announces that Vodafone Greece has agreed to acquire 72.7% of the share capital of Hellas Online SA ("HOL") from the Intracom Group ("Intracom") and World Equities Investments Holdings SA"
Video report online - follow the link.
"A fragile, uneven and weak recovery is gradually manifesting itself in the real economy of Greece. The recent data published by ELSTAT for the first two quarters of GDP performance in 2014 suggests that Greece is on course to register its first quarterly GDP level in positive territory in the third quarter this year.
...reinvigoration of the Greek economy will hardly gain traction if a shortage of financial resources to fund it persists. The case of neighbouring Italy is a warning sign for Greece. We learnt last week that the Italian economy yet again slipped back into recession in the second quarter of 2014. If such a scenario is to be avoided in Greece, there are important lessons to be learned and applied in the short-term for Athens.
Funding the recovery in Greece will need more than record tourism numbers for this year and even more emphasis being put on the narrative of this recovery. Scraping together new funding resources and instruments remains the order of the day for the authorities in Athens."
"As a fighter pilot myself, I am keenly aware of the importance of these kinds of exercises," said Hellenic air force Col. Ioannis Gerolimos, the 115th Combat Wing commander. "My aim is to make sure that the 115th CW is ready to deal with any operational situation in any environment. Also, this training exercise -- with the participation of the 480th (Fighter Squadron) -- gives us both the essential means in maintaining and enhancing the ability of our involving personnel to work together, which will be increasingly important to meet future challenges as allied air forces."
Flexible airpower derives from the ability to successfully plan, integrate, and provide command and control for a large number of tactical air assets, and each NATO partner nation may achieve their desired combat potential through rigorous peacetime training."
"...Greece, the world’s largest farmer of seabass and seabream, was the only significant European producer to experience any growth, driven by a 16% hike in seabass output (see charts below).
The FEAP 2014 report, available in full here, shows that European countries harvested 2.187 million metric tons of finfish in 2013. That represents a 3% or 68,000t drop from the previous year’s 2.255m tons.
Norway had the biggest drop, with volumes dropping by 55,000t from 1.325m to 1.27m tons."
"The playground of the 1960s jetset is back in fashion as the country's tourist hotspots give the economy a boost
...mega-yachts moored in its harbour, magnums of champagne sold on its beaches and dawn-to-dusk parties at its open-air clubs, Mykonos has reclaimed some of the glamour that made it a bacchanalian paradise for artists and the gay community half a century ago. "You bump into Conchita Wurst [winner of this year's European song contest] and think nothing of it," said one visitor, part of a crowd of six well-heeled gay men from the US who spent a week on the island during a cruise of the Aegean earlier this summer. "You definitely don't think 'crisis' when you are there."
For a country so dependent on tourism, the endorsements could not come at a better time. Against all the odds, Greece has attracted record numbers this year to become the hottest tourist destination on the continent of Europe. Despite a precipitous drop in tourists from Russia and Ukraine – an estimated 300,000 have cancelled holidays following the insurrection and drop in value of the rouble – the Mediterranean country is well on track to surpassing its target of 19 million visitors (21.5 million if cruise-ship visitors are taken into account), almost double the Greek population."
"It's official. Portugal, Greece and Spain are in deflation - while Italy isn't far behind. Prices in the three eurozone nations fell in July, while overall inflation in the currency bloc was confirmed at just 0.4pc, down from 0.5pc in June. This represents the lowest level in almost five years.
Prices in Greece fell by an average of 0.8pc in July, according to Eurostat, while prices in Portugal and Spain fell by 0.7pc and 0.4pc respectively. In Italy, the inflation rate was zero."
"Some 12,000 tons of peaches and nectarines on Wednesday remained in refrigerators in Imathia - one of the seven Greece's prefectures affected by the Russian food embargo - with another 13,000 tons of fruit remaining unpicked due to a flood of canceled deliveries, as Kathimerini online reports.
With agricultural experts from the European Union's 28 member states set to gather in Bruxelles on Thursday to estimate the broader impact of Moscow's ban ahead of calculating the compensation that should go to the various affected countries, authorities in seven prefectures in northern and central Greece are scrambling to assess their losses.
According to the head of the main group of agricultural cooperatives in Imathia, Christos Giannakakis, most of the trucks that had been dispatched with fruit for Russia have returned to the capital Veria following the cancellation of deliveries. But, he said, some of the truck drivers are trying to sell the fruit on their way back."
"Greece’s economy contracted at its slowest pace in almost six years, adding to signs that the country is set for a 2014 exit from its deepest recession in half a century as it emerges from its debt crisis.
Gross domestic product declined 0.2 percent in the three months through June from the same period last year, its 24th straight contraction, after dropping a revised 1.1 percent in the previous quarter, the Athens-based Hellenic Statistical Authority said in an e-mailed statement today. The contraction is the smallest since the third quarter of 2008 and beats the median estimate of a 0.5 percent drop in a Bloomberg survey.
“We’ve had a long-term positive trend,” said Christian Schulz, senior European economist at Berenberg Bank in London. “Whether the confidence can be strong enough to push Greece back into strong growth just yet is open to question. I think Greece will probably this year still have to rely on a positive tourist season.”
The Wall Street Journal take on the same news:
"Greece's latest round of tax hikes on real estate, which take effect next month, are already weighing heavily on sentiment in one of the economy's most crucial sectors and acts as a drag on a broader recovery.
"Expectations of a rationalization of property taxes in 2014 were not met, harming further the property market," said Alpha Bank ALPHA.AT +0.83% in a report. "The sector that is now delaying the economy's rebound is the real-estate market."
"Archaeologists excavating an ancient mound in northern Greece have uncovered what appears to be the entrance to an important tomb from about the end of the reign of warrior-king Alexander the Great, officials said Tuesday.
Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who visited the tightly-guarded site Tuesday, said the discovery "is clearly extremely important" and dates between 325-300 B.C.
Alexander, who started from the northern Greek region of Macedonia to build an empire stretching as far as India, died in 323 B.C. and was buried in Egypt. His fellow royals were traditionally interred in a cemetery near Vergina, far to the west, where the lavishly-furnished tomb of Alexander's father, Philip II, was discovered in the 1970s.
But archaeologists believe the apparently unlooted Amphipolis grave, which is surrounded by a surprisingly long and well-built wall with courses of marble decorations, may have belonged to a senior ancient official."
"Greece’s hopes of a 2014 exit from its deepest recession in a half-century may hit a stumbling block after Russia banned European Union food imports in retaliation for sanctions stemming from the insurgency in Ukraine.
“The estimated total cost of Russian counter-sanctions for the Greek economy may look tolerable, but the impact could be quite damaging for industries such as tourism and agriculture amid the fragility of a slowly recovering economy,” said Thanos Dokos, director-general of the Hellenic Foundation for European and Foreign Policy, a Greek think-tank. “It also raises questions about energy security in the coming autumn and winter.”
Russia is Greece’s biggest trading partner, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The value of total trade between the two nations reached 9.3 billion euros ($12.5 billion) in 2013, surpassing trade flows between Greece and fellow EU-member German."
"After yesterday’s first round, in which he won more than 50 per cent of the vote, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the all-powerful Prime Minister since 2002, is almost certainly heading for several more years in power under a new label, giving him time to complete the construction of what he calls the “new Turkey”. The polls put him well ahead of his two rivals, a septuagenarian ex-diplomat and a young ethnic Kurd, which is not surprising, as the public has not learnt much about either candidate. Figures for last month showed that while Mr Erdogan received 533 minutes of airtime on state television to make his pitch, his two rivals got three minutes and 45 seconds respectively.
That farcically lopsided allocation of media coverage is only one of many indications that Turkey is morphing into a Russian-style “shell” democracy, in which managed plebiscites mask the essentially autocratic character of a system containing few or no checks and balances.
Like Vladimir Putin, Turkey’s strongman specialises in the rhetoric of “us and them”; in his case, railing against a strange and unlikely combination of Jews and supporters of the US-based Sunni cleric Fethullah Gulen, who, he insists, are plotting to destroy him. Lest anyone dismiss this as hot air, it should be noted that Mr Erdogan has made good use of these alleged conspiracies to ram through key changes, purging institutions of his opponents, starting with the army and police.
When he began putting generals on trial, Western governments were inclined to applaud, seeing the Turkish armed forces as over-fond of politics and their own privileges. But the purges have continued to the point where the only serious resistance to Mr Erdogan’s whims now comes from the judges, who in April bravely struck down his attempt to ban the use of social networks."
"Greece's recent efforts to get its public finances into shape could have been the model for recently defaulted Argentina to follow.
That's the view of Jean-Claude Juncker, the man who is due to take over the European Union's executive branch in November.
After talks with Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras in Athens, Juncker said the reforms carried about by the country over the past few years could have served as a model for Argentina, which last week defaulted on its debts for the second time since 2001.
"Greece could have been a good example for Argentina to avoid the problems it was not able to avoid," Juncker said. "So Greece is not Argentina."
In his first trip abroad since being elected to head the European Commission, Juncker praised Greek efforts to improve public finances, and insisted that he played a key role in keeping the country in the euro currency zone.
"I really fought like a lion, I would say," Juncker said. "There was a great battle to counter those who wanted to remove Greece from the euro."
Greece, said Artistotle, is geographically intermediate, between Europe, apparently incapable of civilisation, and south-west Asia, where where only the King of Persia was fully a free man; and the Mean, or medium, to him was the best. Modern geologists add that the Aegean basin is a slab of the earth's crust which has sunk and tipped, leaving only a rim (the Greek peninsula and Crete) and mountain tops (the other islands) above sea-level.
Greece can therefore support a population, on its small though fertile plains, only much smaller than that of the adjacent slab of Asia Minor; a fact which affects the whole of Greek history. Greater wealth must be found overseas, by trade of colonization; and when adjacent powers in Italy or Asia are strong, Greece is threatened. Persia attempted conquest; Rome, the Franks and Turkey achieved it.
On the other hand, Greece enjoys, with its variety of scenery, clear air and summer heat tempered by north winds, an intensely stimulating environment; and when free, three times it has produced great art: the bronze-age Minoan-Mycenaean, the Classical and the Byzantine; all completely different, all unique."
From The Living Past of Greece: A Time-traveller's tour of historic and prehistoric places, by A. R. and Mary Burn. Published by Little, Brown and Company. 1980. Quote from page 9.