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Greece and the economic crisis 2016

NEWS ARCHIVE - June 1 - June 14


June 14, 2016

U.N. agency cuts 2016 estimate for refugee arrivals in Europe via Greece - Reuters

"The U.N. refugee agency said on Monday it expects 248,000 refugees and migrants to arrive in Europe via the Eastern Mediterranean this year, far lower than the "up to 1 million" it foresaw at the start of the year.

...The International Organization for Migration has said there has been no evidence of migrants switching from one route to the other, with the Libyan route mainly attracting African migrants and the Greek route mainly Syrians, Afghans and Iraqis."


Regling: Loan disbursement likely to be ratified at Thursday’s Eurogroup meeting - Capital GR

"The head of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) suggested that the next loan disbursement for Greece is likely to be ratified at the upcoming Eurogroup meeting on 16th June."


EU worried Commission not applying budget rules equally - eKathimerini

"Disregard for EU budget rules, which set a ceiling for budget deficits at 3 percent of GDP and for debt at 60 per cent of GDP, was one of the factors behind the sovereign debt crisis that threatened the unity of the eurozone."


Greece has its problems with the EU, but it is in no hurry to leave - UK Guardian

".....Athens’s relationship with the EU is more complex than some would like to believe.

No matter how frustrated the country may be with Brussels, a staggering 75% of Greeks are still in favour of being part of the EU. Unlike the UK, most Greeks are not frustrated with the EU in general but, rather, with the austerity measures that are seen as “imposed” by Brussels..

Greece’s relationship with Brussels has always been linked to the country’s democratic coming-of-age. Like its neighbours Spain and Portugal, one of the main reasons that Greece joined the EU in the 1980s was to consolidate its democratic transition from a seven-year long dictatorship."


June 13, 2016

Greece: Police Clear More Migrant Camps Near Border - NYT

"Police in northern Greece are clearing makeshift migrant camps along the border with Macedonia after creating more shelter space to house stranded refugees and migrants.

...More than 50,000 migrants remain stranded in Greece follow European border closures and an agreement reached in March between the European Union and Turkey to deport newly arrived migrants traveling across the Aegean Sea."

More Coverage:

Hope Lost in Greece, Some Syrians Pay Smugglers to Get Home - ABC News

Greece: Police clear more migrant camps - Fox


National Bank Of Greece Vs. Bank Of Greece - seekingalpha

"Bank of Greece is a rare type of investment in the modern world: a publicly-traded central bank. While many central banks have some private shareholders, only the central banks of Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, South Africa, and Japan are actually publicly-traded."


9 foods that prove it's possible to be a vegetarian on holiday in Greece - BT Online -

"We have a look at some of the country’s most traditional natural produce to show there’s more to the national cuisine than a lamb kebab."


June 10, 2016

Greece urges 'crazy' Germany to invest - Yahoo

"We have a northern economy who have zero interest rates and to me as an economist (the lack of investment) is crazy," Tsakalotos told a conference in Brussels.

"It just can not be the case that in Germany for instance there are not a lot of projects... when we have almost zero interest rates," he said.

Germany is often criticised for choosing to save and slash spending instead of spreading the benefits of its strong economy to its European partners, especially in the eurozone."


Jean-Claude Juncker to visit Athens on June 21 - Capital GR

"Juncker will meet with Greek President Prokopis Pavlopoulos and Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said in a press briefing on Friday. "


June 9, 2016

Two countries now exist: Tourist Greece and Real Greece - UK Spectator

"...smooth-running journeys are reserved for tourists only. Because there are now two Greeces. There’s Tourist Greece – a country of hotels at capacity, of packed tavernas; with all the outward appearance of a solvent economy.

And then there’s Real Greece – a broke country of closed shops, houses for sale at knockdown prices, and families living on 40 euros a week. Real Greece bears the brunt of off-season ferry strikes and thousands of refugees; Tourist Greece doesn’t."


Greece jobless rate at 24.1 percent - eKathimerini

"The number of unemployed people fell by 4,609 from February and by 68,045 from March 2015, ELSTAT said. Meanwhile, the number of employed people grew by 1,632 monthly in March and by 87,296 compared with the same month last year. "


Ancient Civilization of Microbes, Not Greeks, Built ‘Lost City’ - NYT

"So much for the Lost City of Zakynthos.

When snorkelers discovered what appeared to be pieces of ancient stonework, including columns and doughnut-shaped disks that might have been column bases, in a bay off the Greek island of Zakynthos several years ago, government archaeologists were sent in to investigate. The debris might have been the ruins of a city, the scientists reported and, if so, a rare discovery of a Greek archaeological site in shallow waters."


Pan-Orthodox Synod in doubt amid inter-church wrangling - eKathimerini

"...after 55 years of preparation, the fate of the Holy and Great Council appears in doubt now after the Bulgarian Orthodox Church last week declared its refusal to attend citing differences over the agenda.

...Vartholomaios I's Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople – which has been the driving force behind efforts to convene the pan-Orthodox synod — said Wednesday that no church has yet notified that they will not be participating."


June 8, 2016

Europe Prepares to Pick Who Can Run Greece’s Banks - WSJ

"Under pressure from international creditors, the Greek Parliament established rules for who can and who can’t serve on bank boards, effectively banishing local business magnates and former politicians. The rules are extensive and complex. Directors must have worked in banking for at least a decade, for instance. But directors who head committees that control decisions about risk and personnel can’t have worked in Greece’s financial sector in the past 10 years.

The result is a small pool of eligible directors and a large pool of frustrated elites. This month, amid fierce lobbying, Greek banks will receive a report outlining which board members need to be axed. In Athens, bankers dub it the “Get Katseli Law.”


Move over Croatia, this year festival goers are heading to Greece - UK Guardian

"Sean Tipton, from the Association of British Travel Agents, says yes. “More that 2 million visits were made to Greece from the UK last year and so far bookings for 2016 are looking set to overtake this figure,” he explains. “It is really positive for Greece after some years of decline.”

Seven festival pitfalls and how to avoid them Read more One explanation is to be found in the revival of dance music. The electronic music scene is the driving force behind a whole host of events this summer such as Odyssia festival in Alepokhóri, Attiki, Rhythmatic open air festival in Pelion and Reworks festival in Thessaloniki.

“There are lots of great festival spots in Greece and more and more young people are getting involved with electronic music,” says Panos Karatzas, the Athens-based editor of UrbanStyle magazine and manager of Claap Records. “People are searching for new music and collecting vinyl. A lot of youngsters are producing their own stuff too.”


ECB keeps rates steady as deflation fears ease - Capital GR

"... the rate for overnight deposits with the central bank remained at minus 0.4 percent, it added. The central bank for the euro area also announced that it would start buying corporate sector bonds on June 8, and offer cheap credits to commercial banks under a program called "targeted longer-term refinancing operation" as of June 22.

Asset purchases for growth and higher prices In 2015, the ECB announced it was buying sovereign eurozone debt to the tune of 1.74 trillion euros ($1.94 trillion) at least until March 2017 to lift growth and boost inflation. About two months ago, it launched an additional package of measures, expanding its asset purchases to corporate bonds, and cutting its benchmark interest rate to zero... "


Greece Secures Bailout Money With Airport Real Estate Deal - NYT

"Elliniko is part of an ambitious privatization program by Greece’s leftist-led government and the country’s international creditors. Apart from Greece’s power board and other state companies, the portfolio of Greek assets for sale includes former government buildings, beaches and hotels.

The deal, which was frozen for a year and a half because of protests, was hailed as a breakthrough. Taiped’s chairman, Stergios Pitsiorlas, said the site, which covers four square kilometers, or 1.5 square miles, would accommodate “the largest urban regeneration project in Europe,” and create thousands of jobs for the debt-ridden nation. The site will also have the largest metropolitan park in Europe, he said. The office of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said the investment would help “restart the economy.”

Currently, however, the site is home to some 3,000 refugees who live in a makeshift settlement in the former airport building. The structure also houses several small companies, chiefly shipping and advertising firms. It had served as sports venues for the 2004 Olympics in Athens."


Turkey Reacts to Greece’s Condemnation of Turning Hagia Sophia into Mosque - Greek Reporter

“The Greek Foreign Ministry’s statement with regards to TRT Diyanet TV’s sahur program entitled ‘Hagia Sophia at the time of abundance,’ which will be broadcast throughout the month of Ramadan, is unacceptable,” Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Tanju Bilgiç said in a written statement released on June 8.

The statement further says that Greece is “mistaking anti-Islamism with contemporaneity.”

Turkey‘s Foreign Ministry counterattacks the Greek claims by saying that Greece has not permitted the building of a mosque in its capital for years. Bilgiç also said in the statement that Greece has often interfered against the religious freedoms of the “Turkish minority in western Thrace.”


Migrants in Greece Light Tents on Fire, Threaten Children - Breitbart

"The rioters proceeded to burn down their own tents, trash various areas of the camp and one man threatened to kill both his wife and their child, Die Welt reports.

Authorities say that it took several hours to calm the rioters and bring order back to the camp. They stated that the man who threatened to kill his wife and child only did so after the police started to try and regain control of the situation. So far only four of the migrant rioters were detained by the police, all of whom were released only a short time after their arrest.

The Chios camp has become notorious for the prevalence of rioting and violence that has taken place over the past few months since the implementation of the European Union (EU) migrant deal with Turkey. Though around 1,500 migrants live in the camp the total number of migrants on the island exceeds 8,500 as the fabled migrant deal with Turkey has resulted in very few deportations. Migrants on the islands have chosen to seek asylum in Greece rather than be deported."


June 7, 2016

Greece says last obstacles lifted for rescue loan payout - Fox

"Government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili says all outstanding issues have been resolved and negotiations are expected to be completed Tuesday.

She says this will allow the start Wednesday of the necessary approval process for the deal by the parliaments of European countries participating in Greece's bailout."


Greece says help is just an airport sale away - Business Recorder

"Greece said it will on Tuesday relaunch the sale of a former airport in a privatisation that Athens expects will quickly unblock a new tranche of EU funding.

The government is to sign a memorandum of understanding for the sale of Athens's former airport Hellinikon to a consortium made up of Al Maabar of Abu Dhabi, Chinese company Fosun and Greece's Lamda, government spokeswoman Olga Gerovassili said.

The sale is valued at 915 million euros ($1 billion) and comes with a 99-year lease to build a tourist resort outside Athens."


Greece expects Elliniko deal on Tuesday, unlocking bailout funds - eKathimerini

"But divisions among local communities and technical hurdles delayed the sale. A migrant crisis since the beginning of last year has also impeded efforts to conclude the deal.

“We expect within the day the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the privatization agency and investors,” government spokeswoman Olga Gerovasili told a regular briefing, referring to prime seafront property at the Elliniko complex.

The initial deal called for the Lamda-led consortium, which also included the Chinese diversified group Fosun, the Abu Dhabi-based real estate firm Al Maabar and other investors, to spend about 6 billion euros to turn the 445-acre property into a seaside town of hotels, residences and shops. About 50,000 jobs would be created over 10 years."


What kind of state is this? - eKathimeirni

"Greece has been in decline for some years now. At the moment, though, it is in a phase of rapid collapse as the state has ceased functioning, particularly in areas where it should have a steady and constant presence. A leading example is the decision to divert buses and trolley buses that pass the historic Athens Polytechnic building because, every so often, groups of troublemakers and vandals attack them with rocks and firebombs. The incredible thing is that instead of dealing with these troublemakers head-on, the state prefers to step back and leave them alone.

What kind of state is this?

Where else would large bronze busts be looted over the course of two consecutive nights without anyone noticing, without the police taking any action? This kind of open vandalism has taken place outside the City of Athens Cultural Center right on central Academias Street and also at Athens Law School, just a few meters away. Most recently, a gang was allowed to walk into the grounds of the former carrying equipment that allowed them to saw off five bronze busts depicting celebrated men of the arts and letters and make off with them, presumably to be sold for scrap..."


June 6, 2016

Greece offers no increase in taxes to attract big investments - Reuters

"...To reach 2009 levels of fixed capital formation, Greece would need to invest at least 79 billion euros ($90 billion). That is more than it can afford, the finance ministry said last week, when it submitted a draft law that offers different incentives for setting up a business.

Under the law, investment plans exceeding 20 million euros and creating at least 40 new jobs could choose a stable tax regime with no tax increases for 12 years once the investment is concluded..."


4 dead, 340 people rescued from migrant boat Fayette Advocate - Fayette

"Greek officials said that of those rescued on Friday, 242 were transferred to Italy and another 75 to Egypt, with 16 sent to Turkey, and 7 to Malta.

...In another incident, more than 100 bodies of migrants have been retrieved after a boat capsized off Libya's shores, according to Associated Press.

The bodies of at least 104 asylum seekers have washed up on a beach in the western Libyan town of Zwara, the navy said, as hundreds more were believed to be missing off the coast of Greece after a boat capsized."


Kotzias greeted with protests in Albania - Nujournal

"Four issues have soured bilateral ties between the two neighbors: the Chams' claims on their confiscated property; the technical state of war still in place since then-fascist Italy attacked Greece through Albania in 1940; an unresolved maritime dispute and Greek claims of discrimination against the ethnic Greek minority in Albania.

Hundreds of thousands of Albanians poured to Greece after the communist regime fell in 1990."


Greece investigates Islamic State following opiate haul - Reuters

Video report online

"Greek authorities are investigating a possible link to Islamic State after opiates with an estimated value of about $13 million were found at Piraeus port."


June 4, 2016

Migrant Crisis: Libyan Officials Find 117 Bodies; Greece Rescues Over 300 in Mediterranean - NBC

"The Libyan Red Crescent said "a large number" of bodies had been "tossed by the waves onto the shores" off the city of Zuwara in northwestern Libya. It said in a statement posted on Facebook that workers removed 117 bodies — 75 women, six children and 36 men — and that search -and-rescue operations were still ongoing.

It was not immediately known what capsize or shipwreck the victims were from — there have been several in recent days, including another incident on Friday off the coast of Greece's Cete.

More than 300 migrants and refugees were rescued there after their boat capsized in the Mediterranean Sea, according to Greece's Hellenic Coast Guard."


With first review almost in the bag, gov't eyes next reforms - eKathimerini

"Greece’s creditors are expected to approve the release of 7.5 billion euros in rescue loans in time for Athens to make debt repayments in July.

But the summer will be far from carefree for Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos.

...In an interview with the left-leaning Efimerida ton Syntakton newspaper, Tsipras said his government would protect jobs as it had protected primary homes from foreclosures and main pensions from excessive cuts.

He added that the completion of the bailout review signaled that Greece had “turned a page” and that economic recovery was in sight."


ECB keeps rates steady as deflation fears ease - Capital GR

"...Asset purchases for growth and higher prices In 2015, the ECB announced it was buying sovereign eurozone debt to the tune of 1.74 trillion euros ($1.94 trillion) at least until March 2017 to lift growth and boost inflation.

About two months ago, it launched an additional package of measures, expanding its asset purchases to corporate bonds, and cutting its benchmark interest rate to zero.

Moreover, the ECB also introduced negative interest rates for deposits with the central bank under efforts to punish comercial lenders parking their cash reserves there instead of lending money to businesses."


June 3, 2016

French Prime Minister Expresses Support for Greece - WSJ

"[French Prime Minister Manuel Valls] said he was confident the next bailout funds for Greece would be disbursed soon and added that he hoped a solution for Greece’s debt problems would be found.

...The country needs its bailout funding by mid-July at the latest, when it must repay hefty debts, including bonds held by the ECB.

Mr. Valls has put off a visit to Canada scheduled for later in June because of the protests over labor reform in France, but he kept his trip to Athens on his agenda."


Greece says 4 dead, 340 people rescued from migrant boat - ABC15

"Four bodies were recovered and 340 people rescued Friday after a boat carrying migrants across the Mediterranean Sea sank south of the Greek island of Crete, authorities said.

The coast guard said the roughly 25-meter (82-foot) vessel, which resembled a large fishing boat, had been carrying an undetermined number of people when it was located half-sunk about 75 nautical miles south of Crete in international waters, and within Egypt's search and rescue area of operation."


June 2, 2016

Greece: 3 injured in violence at migrant detention camp - Wash Post

"Authorities in Greece say three migrants have been hospitalized with injuries after violence broke out overnight at a detention camp on the island of Lesbos.

The clashes between migrant groups occurred early Thursday and also resulted in a fire that gutted a converted freight container used as trailer home, police said."


Greece, Brexit in focus at ECB meeting in Vienna - Channel Asia

"...given the desperate state of Greece's finances, its sovereign bonds have been classified as "junk" for some years, and are not normally eligible to be used as collateral.

Initially, in May 2010, the ECB granted Greek banks a special waiver to get around this problem, allowing them to use Greek sovereign bonds as collateral, as long as Athens kept to the terms of its international bailout programme.

But when Alexis Tsipras and his radical Syriza party stormed to power in January 2015, threatening to rescind on the terms of its international bailout, the ECB suspended that waiver in February 2015 until the new government in Athens could thrash out a new deal with its creditors.

Since then, Greek banks have been kept afloat via the Emergency Liquidity Assistance or ELA programme, which is much more expensive for them."


France to take in 400 refugees a month from Greece - Reuters

"As of last month, only 1,441 asylum seekers had been relocated to other EU countries out of 160,000 provided for under temporary scheme

...The scheme was set up as Greece struggled to cope with the chaotic arrival of nearly a million people last year, many of them Syrian refugees, most of whom went to Germany."


Planning to Move to Greece: Difficult Times Set New Realities for Expats - Greek Reporter

"Some figures have the Greek average monthly salary at around 700 euros per month. Honestly, if you find somewhere that actually pays this, you are lucky. It is not unheard of to work full-time and make as little as 450 to 580 euros per month, cleared. Furthermore, with the financial crisis taking its toll many companies expect their employees to work on their days off with no pay, if you don’t like it, they remind you that you can always quit.

With unemployment for 2016 documented around 25 percent (and suspected to be even higher due to undocumented people who are unemployed), and even higher for youth at over 50 percent, you will find yourself compromising your minimal salary requirements much more willingly that you would expect. It is also important for expats to understand that jobs are limited for non-Greek speakers. There was once a policy that companies had to give you an increase of salary if you are hired to speak in a foreign language, but this is rarely enforced since the wave of austerity increases began a few years ago. Also, during the hiring process in Greece, employers can ask you your age and if you have or are planning to have children. Just say no to both, it helps your odds of getting hired, particularly for women.

Finding an apartment in Greece in the times of this crisis is daunting as well. There are so many apartments for rent, but the great majority of them are flats that you would not actually want to live in because of their current condition... "


June 1, 2016

Greece Has a Deal ... of Sorts - Huffington Post

"...the mood in Athens is euphoric. It is as if the crisis has ended and the streets are flowing with money. One senior banker told me everything was done; they hired someone to manage their NPLs and there was nothing else to do except wait for the money to start rolling in. That is a slight exaggeration, but not by much.

In reality, Greece’s parliament passed what they “thought” the EU wanted in order to free up another €10 billion. It was not exactly what the EU wanted and negotiations are ongoing for the dozen (or so) amendments needed to release the funds. Of course, the €10 billion to be paid to Greece is less than the €17 billion in payments due to the EU between now and the end of the year. In reality, this settlement simply gets Greece through the summer.

My biggest fear in all of this is that this current euphoria will lead to the banks doing nothing, but waiting for the value of their NPL portfolios to rise before they start to sell loans. One senior banker said just that, he sees no sales of NPLs until prices improve. How does that work?

This means that we are headed for yet another major crisis."


Offshore amendment passed by Parliament after ND walkout - eKathimerini

"Greek lawmakers on Wednesday ratified an amendment revoking a controversial provision included in an omnibus bill last week that removed a blanket ban on MPs and public officials from being involved in offshore firms.

Of the 300-seat House's lawmakers, only 197 were present after opposition New Democracy walked out of the debate earlier in the day.."


NEWS ARCHIVE - June 2016

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