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Tsipras Warns IMF, Schauble To “Stop Playing With Fire” Over Greek Debt

Tsipras Warns IMF, Schauble To “Stop Playing With Fire” Over Greek Debt

One day after Greek 2Y bond yields tumbled following press reports that for the first time in the latest Greek mini-crisis, the IMF and Eurozone creditors finally agreed on a “common stance” regarding what the Greek fiscal surplus and debt profile would look like, despite talks between Greece and its creditors ending in Brussels with no breakthrough, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras on Saturday warned the IMF and German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble to “stop playing with fire” in handling his country’s debt.

Nonetheless, striking a positive tone, Tsipras opened a meeting of his Syriza party by saying he was confident a solution would be found, and urged a change of course from the IMF. “We expect as soon as possible that the IMF revise its forecast so that discussions can continue at the technical level”, AFP reported, suggesting that contrary to initial reports, the bid-ask between the Troika and Greece still remains irreconcilable .

Tsipras also attacked Greek nemesis Wolfgang Schauble – who earlier in the week ruled out a Greek debt cut, saying “for that Greece would have to exit the currency area”- and called for German Chancellor Angela Merkel to “encourage her finance minister to end his permanent aggressiveness” towards Greece.

As documented before, ongoing feuding with the IMF has raised fears of a new debt crisis. Greece, whose economic collapse is now worse than the US Great Depression – remains embroiled in a row with its eurozone paymasters and the IMF over debt relief and budget targets that has rattled markets and revived talk of its place in the euro. 

A silver lining emerged on Friday, when Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem said progress had been made in the Brussels talks with Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos and other EU and IMF officials. But he provided few details.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Greece Unleashes ‘Soft’ Cash Ban

Greece Unleashes ‘Soft’ Cash Ban

The spread of global cash bans continues with Greece unveiling their so-called ‘soft’ approach by which taxpayers will only be granted tax-allowances or deductions when payments are made via credit or debit cards. As KeepTalkingGreeece reports, the new guidelines refer to employees, pensioners, farmers, and also the unemployed.

Accepted expenditure will be:

  • purchases for food and supermarket products, electronic and electric devices, household equipment, footwear, clothing, fuel, furniture, cigarettes, drinks
  • Restaurants, cafeterias,bars and hotels
  • Services like by hairdressers and beauty parlors, gyms and dance schools, car repair, plumbers, electricians, painters, carpenters, lawyers and accountants.
  • For doctors and pharmacy the same practice will be valid as in last year. The tax office will accept the expenditure only if payments are made per credit card or bank transfer.
  • Expenditure for utility bills, landlines and mobile phones, heating, rent, loan repayments that in fact swallow the largest amount of monthly expenditure for private households will not be accepted. Also not accepted is expenditure for toll and transport tickets.

In its “wisdom” the Greek Finance Ministry has determined the amount the taxpayers will have to pay with electronic money in order to be able to get the tax allowance:

  • 10% for annual income up to €10,000
  • 15% for annual income €10,001-€30,000
  • 20% for annual income over €30,001

The famous Greek wisdom in times of austerity, bailout agreements and economic crisis remains the same also in 2017 and as neoliberal as possible since 2010: crack the low and medium incomes, let the rich fly free

Find the Surrealism

  • income €7,000: expenditure per plastic money must be €700
  • income €10,000: expenditure per plastic money must be €1,000
  • income €30,000: expenditure per plastic money must be €4,500
  • income  €60,000 expenditure per plastic money must be €12,000

Should a taxpayer not be able to spend the necessary percentage of the annual income according to the guidelines, the punishment will be a penalty of 22% imposed on the missing difference.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

When Assets (Such as Real Estate) Become Liabilities

When Assets (Such as Real Estate) Become Liabilities

December 27, 2016

It will be the middle class that accepted the notion that “real estate is the foundation of family wealth” that will be stripmined by higher taxes on immobile assets such as real estate.

Correspondent Joel M. submitted an article that struck me as a harbinger of the future: In Greece, Property Is Debt:

“At law courts throughout Greece, people are lining up to file papers renouncing their inheritance. Not necessarily because some feckless uncle left them with a pile of debt at the end of his revels; they are turning their backs on what used to be a pillar of Greece’s economy and society: real estate. 

Growing personal debt, declining incomes and ever higher taxes as Greece’s depression grinds on have turned property and the dream of easy money into dread of a catastrophic burden.

After many years in which only very valuable properties were taxed, many Greeks went from paying almost no taxes on real estate to not having enough money to pay. 

In 2010, property taxes accounted for 0.26 percent of gross domestic product, while this year they are around 2 percent, according to state budget figures. ‘Suddenly, the state treated the Greeks as if they were rich, at the precise moment that they ceased to be rich.’

Among the many disruptions of the past few years, this one shows how traditional conceptions — and a sense of security — can be shattered. With a history full of wars, bankruptcies and rampant inflation, Greeks had always seen land as a haven.

But it is private debt — at 222 billion euros last year — that may prove an even greater danger. This shows in government revenues. With the unified tax, ownership of every kind of property is now subject to taxation.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Economic Ideas: Plato, Aristotle, and the Ancient Greeks, Part 1

The ancient Greeks left a wealth of knowledge through their surviving writings on a wide variety of themes, including science, logic, philosophy, literature, and the arts.

In addition, the city-state of Athens is considered the birthplace of intellectual freedom and democracy – lasting legacies that helped to mold the ideas that have influenced the development of Western Civilization.

But, in comparison, their discussions on economics were often few and almost always relatively unsystematic.  A primary reason for this is due to the fact that for the ancient Greeks questions concerning “economics” were considered subservient to other themes considered far more crucial to human life and society.

For the Greek philosophers and social thinkers, the central themes were questions of “justice,” “virtue,” “the good,” and “the beautiful.” What today we call “economic” questions and problems were relegated to a narrow corner of evaluating how economic institutions and organization could be designed or modified to serve these “higher” ends or goals.

The Greek view of the society over the individual

An extension of this is an appreciation of the general view that the ancient Greeks had concerning the individual in society. Their conception was that the individual was dependent upon the society in which he was born for all that he could or did become as a person. That is, the community nurtured and molded the individual into a “civilized” human being.

The society took precedence, or priority, over the individual. The individual was born, lived, and died. The society and the State, however, they believed, lived on.

The more modern conception of man as free, autonomous agent who chooses his own ends, selects his own means to attain his desired ends, and in general lives for himself was an alien notion to the mind of the ancient Greeks.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Murder, Lifeboats, an Iceberg and an Orchestra


DPC White Star liner S.S. Olympic, sister ship of Titanic, NY 1911
The reason the Brexit debate has gotten so out of hand is nobody understands what it’s about.

The Brexit campaigns have started anew in the UK, and from what I’ve seen here from left field barely a thing has changed since the murder of MP Jo Cox. Neither side has any qualms about using her death to make their respective points. The main, and perhaps only real, point is that nobody understands what the vote is about. Jo Cox, bless her soul, didn’t either.

This lack of understanding is also, at the same time, the reason why the debate has gotten so out of hand. Nobody seems to understand it’s not about Cameron or Nigel Farage, or Michael Gove vs Boris Johnson, it’s about voting for or against the EU, for or against Juncker and Tusk and five other unelected presidents having a say in one’s life.

And that’s not all either. It’s about voting to leave, or remain in, a Union that is already dead and preserved only in a zombie state. Brexit is just one vote and many more will inevitably follow. Brexit is not the first, Grexit had that ‘honor’ last year. Later this month, elections in Italy and Spain have the potential to turn into preliminary Italix and Spexit votes. And then there will be more.

The reason why these things are taking place, and will be, going forward, is that the economies of all these countries are fast deteriorating. The sole reason why people have accepted the rule of Brussels coming from far away over their daily lives, is the promise that it would make those lives better and more comfortable.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Brexit: Wrong Discussion, Wrong People, Wrong Arguments


G.G. Bain Immigrants arriving at Ellis Island, New York 1907
There’ve been a bunch of issues and topics on my -temporarily non-writing- mind, and politics, though as I’ve often said it’s not my preferred focus, keeps on slipping in. That’s not because I’ve gotten more interested in ‘the game’, but because the game itself is changing in unrecognizable fashion, and that is intricately linked to subjects I find more appealing.For instance, in the past few days, I’ve read Matt Taibbi’s epos on the demise of America’s Republican Party in R.I.P., GOP: How Trump Is Killing the Republican Party, and Shaun King on a similar demise of the Democrats in Why I’m Leaving the Democratic Party After This Presidential Election and You Should Too, and both make a lot of sense.

But I think both also miss out on the main reason why these ‘demises’ are happening. In my view, it’s not enough, not satisfactory, to talk about disgruntled voters and corrupt politicians and the antics of Donaldo, and leave it at that. There is something bigger, much bigger, going on that drives these events.

But that I will explain in a later article (soon!). Right now, I want to address another piece of the same pie (though it’s perhaps not obvious that it is): the Brexit ‘discussion’ in Europe. A May 11 piece by ex-World Banker Peter Koenig provides as good a starting point as any:

The Collapse of the European Union: Return to National Sovereignty and to Happy Europeans? 

Imagine – the EU were to collapse tomorrow – or any day soon for that matter. Europeans would dance in the streets. The EU has become a sheer pothole of fear and terror: Economic sanctions – punishment, mounting militarization, the abolition of civil rights for most Europeans. 

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

German Study Proves It – 95% of Greek “Bailout” Money Went to the Banks

German Study Proves It – 95% of Greek “Bailout” Money Went to the Banks

Screen Shot 2016-05-05 at 10.20.07 AM

I simply cannot stress enough how important Greece is to freedom, liberty and civilization across the globe. Greece is not a one-off, or merely a small nation in big trouble that holds little relevance for the rest of us. Greece is everything.

What is happening to Greece follows the exact same game plan of what will eventually happen to every other supposedly sovereign nation. First there is an explosion of debt. Then a crisis. Then a bailout. Then creditor imposed hardship is forced upon the average population, in conjunction with unlimited bailouts for the bankers and other oligarch criminals. Finally, when a public which mistakenly believes it is living in a democracy exercises its right to national sovereignty, the sad truth is exposed. They are not a people living under a free political system.

– From last year’s post: This is Sparta – 1,000 Bitcoin ATMs are Coming to Greece

A recent German study just confirmed what tens of millions of Greeks already knew. That they are a people fully conquered by criminal mega banks and the corrupt politicians and technocrats in their employ.

Get ready for another epic screw job this summer.

From Ekathimerini:

Some 95 percent of the 220 billion euros disbursed to Greece since the start of the financial crisis as loans from the bailout mechanism has been directed toward saving the European banks. That means about 210 billion euros was eventually channeled to the eurozone credit sector while just 5 percent ended up in state coffers, according to a study by the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin.

“Europe and the International Monetary Fund have in previous years mainly saved the banks and other private creditors,” concluded the report, published yesterday in German newspaper Handelsblatt. ESMT director Jorg Rocholl told the financial newspaper that “the bailout packages mainly saved the European banks.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Jim Grant Asks When The World Will Realize “That Central Bankers Have Lost Their Marbles”

Jim Grant Asks When The World Will Realize “That Central Bankers Have Lost Their Marbles”

April 15 comes and goes but the federal debt stays and grows. The secrets of its life force are the topics at hand— that and some guesswork about how the upsurge in financial leverage, private and public alike, may bear on the value of the dollar and on the course of monetary affairs. Skipping down to the bottom line, we judge that the government’s money is a short sale.

Diminishing returns is the essential problem of the debt: Past a certain level of encumbrance, a marginal dollar of borrowing loses its punch. There’s a moral dimension to the problem as well. There would be less debt if people were more angelic. Non-angels, the taxpayers underpay, the bureaucrats over-remit and everyone averts his gaze from the looming titanic cost of future medical entitlements. Topping it all is 21st-century monetary policy, which fosters the credit formation that leads to the debt dead end. The debt dead end may, in fact, be upon us now. A monetary dead end could follow.

As to sin, Americans surrender, in full and on time, 83% of what they owe, according to the IRS—or they did between the years 2001 and 2006, the latest period for which America’s most popular federal agency has sifted data. In 2006, the IRS reckons, American filers, both individuals and corporations, paid $450 billion less than they owed. They underreported $376 billion, underpaid $46 billion and kept mum about (“nonfiled”) $28 billion. Recoveries, through late payments or enforcement actions, reduced that gross deficiency to a net “tax gap” of $385 billion.

This was in 2006, when federal tax receipts footed to $2.31 trillion. Ten  years later, the U.S. tax take is expected to reach $3.12 trillion.Proportionally, the 2006 gross tax gap would translate to $607.7 billion, and the net tax gap to $520 billion.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

How A Collapse In South America Could Trigger Martial Law In The U.S.

How A Collapse In South America Could Trigger Martial Law In The U.S.

If an economic system collapses in the woods and no one is paying attention, are there any consequences outside the woods? Well, yes, of course. As with most situations financial and global, however, consequences are not usually taken very seriously until they have spawned a vast bog of sewage we all have to then swim through.

The issue is and always will be “interdependency,” and the dissolution of sovereign borders. Take a close look at the European Union, for example.

You have a large network of fiscally interdependent nations struggling to maintain a sense of principled identity and heritage while participating in the delusion of multiculturalism. You have a system in which these nations are admonished or even punished for attempting to become self-reliant. You have a system which encourages a Cloward-Piven-style forced integration of incompatible cultures. You have unmanageable debt. You have a welfare addicted socialist population plagued by naive assumptions of entitlement. And on top of it all, you have a political structure dominated by cultural Marxists who would like nothing better than to see the whole of the old world go down in a blazing inferno.

This EU dynamic can only end in one of two ways — the complete dismantling of the supranational body and a return to sovereignty, or, a socio-economic crisis followed by even more centralization and the end of all remnants of sovereignty. Either way, the consequences will not be pretty.

In the EU there are particular nations that are being exploited by globalists to initiate greater disaster in the overall region. As Wikileaks exposed in transcripts of IMF discussions on Greece, the plan has always been to create enough chaos to drive fear into the general populace.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Austria Just Announced A 54% Haircut Of Senior Creditors In First “Bail In” Under New European Rules

Austria Just Announced A 54% Haircut Of Senior Creditors In First “Bail In” Under New European Rules

Just over a year ago, a black swan landed in the middle of Europe, when in what was then dubbed a “Spectacular Development” In Austria, the “bad bank” of failed Hypo Alpe Adria – the Heta Asset Resolution AG – itself went from good to bad, with its creditors forced into an involuntary “bail-in” following the “discovery” of a $8.5 billion capital hole in its balance sheet primarily related to ongoing deterioration in central and eastern European economies.

Austria had previously nationalized Heta’s predecessor Hypo Alpe-Adria-Bank International six years ago after it nearly collapsed under the bad loans it ran up when it grew rapidly in the former Yugoslavia. Having burnt through €5.5 euros of taxpayers’ money to prop up Hypo Alpe, Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling ended support in March 2015, triggering the FMA’s takeover.

This was the first official proposed “Bail-In” of creditors, one that took place before similar ad hoc balance sheet restructuring would take place in Greece and Portugal in the coming months. Or rather, it wasn’t a fully executed “Bail-In” for the reason that creditors fought it tooth and nail.

And then today, following a decision by the Austrian Banking Regulator, the Finanzmarktaufsicht or Financial Market Authority, Austria officially became the first European country to use a new law under the framework imposed by Bank the European Recovery and Resolution Directive to share losses of a failed bank with senior creditors as it slashed the value of debt owed by Heta Asset Resolution AG. 

The highlights from the announcement:

Today, the Austrian Financial Market Authority (FMA) in its function as the resolution authority pursuant to the Bank Recovery and Resolution Act (BaSAG – Bundesgesetz über die Sanierung und Abwicklung von Banken) has issued the key features for the further steps for the resolution of HETA ASSET RESOLUTION AG. The most significant measures are:

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Dutch Referendum May Have Unleashed European “Continental Crisis”

Dutch Referendum May Have Unleashed European “Continental Crisis”

In early January, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker warned that a Dutch advisory referendum, which took place today, on the bloc’s association agreement with Ukraine could lead to a “continental crisis” if voters reject the treaty.

In an interview in January for Dutch daily NRC Handelsblad, Juncker said Russia would “pluck the fruits” of a vote in the Netherlands against deepened ties between the European Union and Ukraine. “I want the Dutch to understand that the importance of this question goes beyond the Netherlands,” NRC quoted Juncker as saying. “I don’t believe the Dutch will say no, because it would open the door to a big continental crisis.”

The reason why Jean-Claude “when it gets serious, you have to lie” Juncker was so nervous, is that the vote, launched by anti-EU forces, is seen as test of the strength of Eurosceptics on the continent just three months before Britain votes on whether to stay in the European Union.

Fast forward to today when the vote just took place, and based on initial exit polls, Juncker was dead wrong. According to Reuters, in a rebuke for the government, which campaigned in favor of the EU-Ukraine association agreement, roughly 64 percent voted “No” and 36 percent said “Yes”. 

As a reminder, the political, trade and defense treaty is already provisionally in place but has to be ratified by all 28 European Union member states for every part of it to have full legal force. The Netherlands is the only country that has not done so.

And, it appears, that in a big hit for those who had plotted the Ukraine ascension, the Dutch may have just frozen Ukraine dead in its tracks.

Eurosceptics had presented the referendum as a rare opportunity for their countrymen to cast a vote against the EU and the way it is run – including its open immigration policies.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Governor Of Puerto Rico Set To Impose Capital Controls

Governor Of Puerto Rico Set To Impose Capital Controls 

Yesterday, in the latest plot twist surrounding the inevitable Puerto Rico default, we observed that after the commonwealth island’s Senate passed a surprising bill to impose a debt moratorium on any future debt repayment, its bonds – predictably – tumbled.

We also noted that the legislation addressed the Government Development Bank, or GDB, which is facing speculation that it’ll lapse into insolvency. The bank’s receivership process, liquidity and reserve requirements and payment obligations would be suspended indefinitely, according to an analyst’s read of the bill, which also seeks to split the entity into a “good bank” and “bad bank.”

Hedge funds holding debt in the GDB sued on Monday to stop the bank from returning deposits to local government agencies as it faces a growing cash shortage. The funds, which include affiliates of Brigade Capital Management, Claren Road Asset Management and Solus Alternative Asset Management, accused the bank of seeking to “prop up” local agencies at the expense of other creditors. The GDB has a $422 million debt-service payment due May 1.

The Government Development Bank serves the dual purpose of providing financial support to local governments and acting as a financial adviser to the commonwealth. The funds, which say they hold a “substantial amount” of almost $3.75 billion in the bank’s outstanding debt, blamed the entity’s deteriorating condition on a “hopeless conflict” between loyalties to Puerto Rico and to creditors.

Fast forward to today, when Puerto Rico Governor Alejandro García Padilla signed a measure into law Wednesday that would enable him to declare a moratorium on the commonwealth’s debt payments, mere hours after it cleared the Legislature amid concerns of securing enough support in the lower chamber and a full-court press by creditor lobbyists demanding changes to the bill.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Yanis Varoufakis Issues a Major Warning to the Greek People

Yanis Varoufakis Issues a Major Warning to the Greek People

Varoufakis said that Schäuble, Germany’s finance minister and the architect of the deals Greece signed in 2010 and 2012, was “consistent throughout”. “His view was ‘I’m not discussing the program – this was accepted by the previous [Greek] government and we can’t possibly allow an election to change anything.

 “So at that point I said ‘Well perhaps we should simply not hold elections anymore for indebted countries’, and there was no answer. The only interpretation I can give [of their view] is, ‘Yes, that would be a good idea, but it would be difficult. So you either sign on the dotted line or you are out.’”

– From last year’s post:  Everything You Need to Know About the Greek Crisis and ECB Fascism in Two Paragraphs

By now, most of you have heard about Wikileaks’ release of internal deliberations between the top two IMF officials in charge of managing the Greek debt crisis – Poul Thomsen, the head of the IMF’s European Department, and Delia Velkouleskou, the IMF Mission Chief for Greece.

In nutshell, the two discussed whether or not a new credit crisis would be required in order to force EU creditors to agree with the IMF’s debt relief objective. Shedding some much needed perspective on the situation, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has chimed in, and he makes one thing perfectly clear — no matter who comes out ahead in this dispute (the IMF or the EU), it will be the Greek people who lose.

Here are a few excerpts from his op-ed published at Der Spiegel.

The feud between the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the European side of Greece’s troika of creditors is old news. However, Wikileaks’ publication of a dialogue between key IMF players suggests that we are approaching something of a hazardous endgame.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Was There A Run On The Bank? JPM Caps Some ATM Withdrawals

Was There A Run On The Bank? JPM Caps Some ATM Withdrawals

Under the auspices of “protecting clients from criminal activity,” JPMorgan Chase has decided to impose capital controls on . As WSJ reports, following the bank’s ATM modification to enable $100-bills to be dispensed with no limit, some customers started pulling out tens of thousands of dollars at a time. This apparent bank run has prompted Jamie Dimon to cap ATM withdrawals at $1,000 per card daily for non-customers.

Most large U.S. banks, including Chase, Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc. and Wells Fargo & Co. have been rolling out new ATMs, sometimes known as eATMs, which perform more services akin to tellers. That includes allowing customers to withdraw different dollar denominations than the usual $20, typically ranging from $1 to $100.

The efforts run counter to recent calls to phase out large bills such as the $100 bill or the €500 note ($569) to discourage corruption while putting up hurdles for tax evaders, terrorists, drug dealers and human traffickers.

The Wall Street Journal reported in February that the European Central Bank was considering eliminating its highest paper currency denomination, the €500 note. Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence H. Summers also has called for an agreement by monetary authorities to stop issuing notes worth more than $50 or $100.

This move appears to have backfired and created a ‘run’ of sorts on Chase…

A funny thing happened as J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. modified its ATMs to dispense hundred-dollar bills with no limit: Some customers started pulling out tens of thousands of dollars at a time.

While it was changing to newer ATM technology, J.P. Morgan found that some customers of banks in countries such as Russia and Ukraine had used Chase ATMs to withdraw tens of thousands of dollars in a single day, people familiar with the situation said. Chase had instances of people withdrawing $20,000 in one transaction, they added.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

IMF’s Christine Lagarde: “When The World Goes Downhill, We Thrive”

IMF’s Christine Lagarde: “When The World Goes Downhill, We Thrive” 

When we wrote earlier that based on a leaked Wikileaks transcript, which the Greek government interpreted “as revealing an IMF effort to blackmail Athens with a possible credit event to force it to give in on pension cuts which it has rejected“, the article promptly went viral. While it remains to be determined if the IMF indeed made such an implied threat, we attribute this spike in interest to the general public’s surprise that the IMF could stoop to such a low, even by its own standards, level as to use a nation of 11 million people as a lab rat on which to conduct policy experiments.

But why the surprise?

As the below transcript from a April 2012 interview given by Lagarde to the Wharton school at UPenn, none other than IMF president Lagarde herself admitted that for the IMF to “thrive”, the world has to “goes downhill“, and that the IMF “to be sustainable” it needs to be “very in touch with our client base.”

She added that “when the world goes well and we’ve had years of growth, as was the case back in 2006 and 2007, the IMF doesn’t do so well both financially and otherwise

It goes without saying that Lagarde’s sole prerogative as the managing director of the IMF is to make sure it “does well.”

She concluded by saying that “we need to be able to invent and reinvent ourselves in many ways.” One such client-facing “reinvention” just happened to be caught on tape.

Here is the key section:

Knowledge@Wharton: Of all the things that you do here, what are you most passionate about? What would you really like to make sure happens? It could be a small thing, it could be a large thing. What is it that really has your heart?

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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Olduvai III: Cataclysm
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