Greece and the economic crisis

Aug 4, 2015

Greece's stunningly terrible economic numbers were great news for the rest of Europe - Yahoo News

"On Monday, manufacturing data from Markit Economics showed that economic activity in Greece was stunningly low in July.

Markit's purchasing managers index came in at a reading of 30.2. Any reading below 50 represents contraction in the sector, and readings near 40 represent a major crisis. Greece's manufacturing sector was then 10 below that.

Which, on some level, shouldn't have come as a complete surprise. After all, Greek banks were closed for much of the month, capital controls are in place, and the stock market was closed for the entire month of July.

...But Monday also saw the release of this data across the rest of Europe.

And the news on that front wasn't just not bad, but decidedly positive. "


Rebooting Greece: How to Get Its Economy Going Again - ABC News

"Have a steady government, simplify the rules of doing business, and rather than try to reinvent the economy, zoom in on sectors that can benefit from small investments: tourism and agriculture, for example.

In many cases, that's easier said than done.

Political instability, a hallmark of Greece's crisis, is highly toxic for investors, who need to know that the rules for business won't change unexpectedly.

Greece's current government offers a stark example of the risks. The country had just emerged from recession when the new government, led by the radical left leader Alexis Tsipras, came to power in January with plans to undo a series of reforms and challenge creditors."


Greece expects bailout deal with lenders in two weeks - Express Tribune

"The drafting of the accord would start on Wednesday, Gerovasili told Skai TV station.

European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has said that, while ambitious, a deal is possible in August. Past negotiations between Greece and its lenders have proved tortuous.

“If the terms of the (EU) summit are met, I think that we will have a deal by the 18th of this month,” Gerovasili said.

Greece and its EU partners clinched a last-minute deal in July on a reform program including privatizations and pension reform and scrapping tax breaks for groups such as farmers. "


Aug 3, 2015

Greece to extend stock short-selling ban: Regulatory source - Economic Times India

"There will be an extension of the full ban on short-selling," the official said, declining to be named. " A decision will be announced later on Monday."

Trading on the Athens bourse was suspended in late June as part of capital controls imposed to stem a debilitating outflow of euros that threatened to collapse Greece's banks and hurl the indebted country out of the euro zone. "


Eurozone Crisis Nations Leave Greece Behind - WSJ

"It is perhaps not surprising that Ireland and Spain are ahead in their recoveries; both had relatively traditional, albeit spectacular, real estate busts. These are more straightforward to overcome than the deep-seated problems Greece faces.

Further, both nations had shown strong growth before the crisis. Ireland had little to do to fix its economy structurally; Spain has carried out reforms. Italy and Portugal have bigger challenges, with deeper structural issues, but are making progress. Cyprus has exited capital controls."


Aug 2, 2015

Greece’s Market Reopens - NY Times

"... To prevent capital flight, a mass sell-off of holdings and a market crash, there will be a cap on stock fluctuations and restrictions on local traders, though foreign investors will face no constraints when stock trading resumes."


Greece -- Give It a Chance - Huffington World Post

"Hardly was the ink dry after the agreement July 17 between Greece and its creditors before columnists, commentators, economists and politicians jumped to far reaching conclusions: Greece would never make it.

Leaving the Euro (Grexit) is certain. This is the beginning of the end for the Eurozone. Germany is bullying the other members of the Eurozone and by throwing its weight around dooming the whole European edifice to collapse. The engine driving European integration since 1952 -- the Franco-German axis -- has come to an abrupt end primarily because of German policies.

....It is open for discussion how wisely creditors behaved. Certainly! And the Greek government, too! But this is irrelevant. We cannot go back to the future. The agreement - -good, bad, lousy, or promising -- is what Greece and the creditors have. No one with the slightest experience of being in office can seriously contemplate going back to the negotiating table. This is it or nothing. "


Aug 1, 2015

Tsipras Called for Euro-Exit Contingency Plan - WSJ

"Mr. Tsipras said the government was obliged to prepare for the threat of an exit.

“Of course, obviously, I personally ordered [ex-Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis to put together a team to manage an emergency situation,” the Greek premier told lawmakers in Parliament.

During the call, Mr. Varoufakis claimed he hired a friend and information-technology specialist months ago to hack into the Greek tax commissioner’s data and get information needed to set up a parallel payment system.

Mr. Tsipras didn't comment specifically on that claim. Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said on Monday that the government never planned such a step. Opposition figures are asking for judicial authorities to look into Mr. Varoufakis’s claims. "


July 31, 2015

85 billion euros bailout talks shift to high gear - US News

"Greece's talks with its international creditors on a third bailout worth 85 billion euros ($93 billion) shifted into a higher gear on Friday, with lead negotiators from the European Union and International Monetary Fund meeting key ministers in Athens.

...The third bailout will include a new punishing round of austerity measures heaped on a country reeling from a six-year recession and more than 25 percent unemployment. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pledged to back the new cutbacks, while openly admitting that he disagrees with them.

...Pro-European Union opposition parties were left to save the bill and have continued to prop up his government, while Tsipras has taken no disciplinary action against dissenters.

"We have to agree that we can't go on this way," Tsipras told the committee members during a 12-hour meeting. He added that "the absurdity of this strange and unprecedented dualism" within the party must stop. "


Tsipras Prevails over Rebels at Party Meeting - Newsmax

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has defeated a bid by dissenters in his left-wing Syriza party to push for an end to bailout talks and an exit from the euro currency.

Syriza's governing central committee early Friday backed a proposal by Tsipras to hold an emergency party conference in September, after the talks have been concluded.

Dissenters had sought a conference earlier, pressing the government to abandon ongoing negotiations with rescue lenders."


IMF researches new funding based on debt relief - Ethnos.gr

"...Ae official of the IMF confirmed that the Director General Christine Lagarde "authorized agency staff to begin discussions with the Greek authorities on a new loan facility. This was authorized and approved by the executive board of the Fund, "the official said.

It is important to note that the official repeatedly emphasized that the IMF began negotiations with Athens for a new loan under the inviolable condition that there is debt relief....


Solid logic, bold language needed- eKathimerini

"Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appears to be exhausting whatever bravado he has on issues pertaining to the government’s parliamentary majority and the “different centers of power,” as he put in an interview on Sto Kokkino radio on Wednesday. He was right to point out that SYRIZA’s inner-party strife should not become the country’s problem but it just so happens that at this point Greece is hanging in mid-air and the public is being forced to follow clashes between ideological relics that would otherwise have no place in public discourse simply for the fact that they represent a tiny minority. "


Bailout Money Goes to Greece, Only to Flow Out Again - NY Times

"The latest financial aid package is following a similar pattern to the previous ones. Only a fraction of the money, should Greece get it, will go toward healing the economy. Nearly 90 percent would go toward debts, interest and supporting Greece’s ailing banks.

The European Commission has offered to set aside an additional €35 billion development aid package to jump-start the economy. But the funds are difficult to obtain and will become available only in small trickles later in the year.

...Back in 2010, political leaders in the eurozone as well as top officials of the International Monetary Fund were terrified that Greece would default on its debts, imposing huge losses on banks and other investors and threatening a renewed financial crisis. The debt was largely held by Greek and international banks. And Greece, officials feared, could be another Lehman Brothers, the investment bank that collapsed in 2008, setting off a global panic."


Tsipras asserts control over party with congress vote - Reuters

"He threw down the gauntlet before his critics by proposing an immediate membership ballot on the bailout negotiation, but said his preference was for Syriza to hold an emergency congress in September to deliberate strategy.

After hours of debate, the committee backed his proposal in a show of hands. The emergency congress will allow Tsipras to bring in new members and capitalize on the wider public support he has secured over the past two years, making it easier to defeat the far-left camp.

...The deepening crisis within Syriza is the most serious political challenge to Tsipras, who otherwise enjoys unrivalled domination of Greek politics and remains popular despite his sudden U-turn to accept stringent bailout terms."


Greece has only one option - CNBC

"Surely this is a very tough deal. Its unpopularity has led some experts to continue to argue for Greece abandoning the euro. With the exception of the left- and right-most leaning members of the Greek political system, few of these proponents live in Greece. Polls regularly show that 65 to 70 percent of the population supports remaining in the euro zone. The devaluation entailed in a new currency means at least halving per-capita GDP. Greece would need 7-percent average annual growth over the next 10 years just to get back to today's level of economic output. However harsh the latest austerity measures are, they are not the equivalent of an economic atom bomb.

...Greece is a vacationer's paradise, and tourism generates about a fifth of GDP. But the country has few world-class resorts because the government owns much of the most desirable — and developable — coastal land. Multiple Greek Islands have government owned airports that currently host one flight a day — or fewer! Meanwhile, the busiest airports, such as the one on popular Mykonos, need to expand their capacity. This will not happen under public ownership. Yachters flock to the Greek islands. There is not enough marina capacity to serve them. Guess who owns most of the marinas? The list of possibilities goes on."


Prince Michael of Greece: 'Greeks Don't Like People in Power'- World Post

Are you worried for Greece?

I find it incredibly difficult to understand entirely what is happening! It is sure that people suffer, many people. It is very complicated because everyone lies. I get a bit lost. I think the crisis that comes is new, but it is an older situation. Everyone is forced to import it. Greece is the heart of Europe. I find the existence of the euro modern and practical. Since we have had the euro the cost of life went up, but we need to be in Europe.

You had a French mother and a French upbringing, but you seem to be more Greek?

By heart I am more Greek, even if I have a French education. It is a love story with Greece. As a matter of fact we come more to Greece now, because since a few years my wife Marina and myself have a foundation which takes care of abused children. Years ago I was involved in New York in the worst case of an abused child and so I wanted to do something in that field. We are the first ones to do it in Greece. The difficult thing is to change the mentality. The Greeks have to accept the fact that it exists, even in Greece, and not deny it.

And France?

I have many friends and family, but since a few years I don't feel happy, the mentality is not what I like. Countries are like human beings. They go down and then they go up again. France is sadly going down. I am less happy there than I was.


July 30, 2015

IMF cannot join Greek rescue, board told - Financial Times

"The International Monetary Fund’s board has been told Athens’ high debt levels and poor record of implementing reforms disqualify Greece from a third IMF bailout of the country, raising new questions over whether the institution will join the EU’s latest financial rescue.

... That delay could have significant repercussions, particularly in Germany, where officials have long said it would be impossible to win Bundestag approval for the new €86bn bailout without the IMF on board. "


IMF: No bailout funds for Greece - Business Insider

"The involvement of the IMF in the deal is crucial for some European countries, especially Germany.

Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, actually proposed a temporary Grexit (Greek exit) from the eurozone earlier in July, indicating just how little Europe's largest economy wants to be involved in another financial-aid package.

It's not the money that's the issue for other European countries — as a country of 11 million people, Greece's bailout won't break the bank. The involvement of the international creditor is more to do with keeping the veneer of respectability about the programme, so that it keeps strict conditions and doesn't veer into a giveaway from Europe's richer countries."


Tsipras on collision course with Syriza dissenters - UK Telegraph

"Earlier today, the Greek PM said Syiza had caused a division in the "neo liberal hegemony" of the creditor bloc. Today's latest assessment of the IMF's staff seems to confirm this is the case.

The Fund have supported calls for massive debt relief, a campaign which will embolden Mr Tsipras but irk the Europeans. Mr Tsipras said in an interview yesterday that debt relief measures would be granted in November, following the conclusion of talks and after a disbursement of new rescue cash. "


Greece PM hints at early election - Daily Star

"Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras yesterday said he would hold early elections if hardliners in his party continued to resist an unpopular new bailout deal that promised debt relief. "If we do not have a parliament majority I will be forced, we will be forced to hold elections," Tsipras said in a two-hour interview with Sto Kokkino radio. "


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."


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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