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The Greek Fraud Reads Like a Crime Novel


Tamara de Lempicka The refugees 1937
Note: I feel kind of sorry this has become such a long essay. But I still left out so much. You know by now I care a lot about Greece, and it’s high time for another look, and another update, and another chance for people to understand what is happening to the country, and why. To understand that hardly any of it is because the Greeks had so much debt and all of that narrative.

The truth is, Greece was set up to be a patsy for the failure of Europe’s financial system, and is now being groomed simultaneously as a tourist attraction to benefit foreign investors who buy Greek assets for pennies on the dollar, and as an internment camp for refugees and migrants that Europe’s ‘leaders’ view as a threat to their political careers more than anything else.

I would almost say: here we go again, but in reality we never stopped going. It’s just that Greece’s 15 minutes of fame may be long gone, but its ordeal is far from over. If you read through this, you will understand why that is. The EU is deliberately, and without any economic justification, destroying one of its own member states, destroying its entire economy.

A short article in Greek paper Kathimerini last week detailed the latest new cuts in pensions the Troika has imposed on Greece, and it’s now getting beyond absurd. For an economy to function, you need people spending money. That is what keeps jobs alive, jobs which pay people the money they need to spend on their basic necessities. If you don’t do at least that, there’ll be ever fewer jobs, and/or ever less money to spend. It’s a vicious cycle.

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

Meanwhile In Greece, Familiar Scenes Are Back: General Strike, Molotov Cocktails, Tear Gas

Meanwhile In Greece, Familiar Scenes Are Back: General Strike, Molotov Cocktails, Tear Gas

Greece was fixed for a few months, when the so-called “anti-austerity” government of PM Tsipras which came to power just over a year ago did what each on its predecessors did by kicking the can and trading off what little sovereignty Greece has left for promises of more cash from Europe, but it is broken once again.

Earlier today, services across Greece ground to a halt Thursday as workers joined in a massive general strike that cancelled flights, ferries and public transport, shut down schools, courts and pharmacies, and left public hospitals with emergency staff. Even the undertakers are striking.

Thursday’s general strike is the most significant the coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has faced since he initially came to power about a year ago. As an opposition party, Tsipras’ radical left Syriza party had led opposition to pension reforms, but he was forced into a dramatic policy U-turn last year when he faced the stark choice of signing up to a third bailout or the country being kicked out of the eurozone.

The strike comes as the government negotiates with Greece’s international debt inspectors, who returned to Athens this week to review progress on the country’s bailout obligations. The central Athens hotel where the inspectors were staying was heavily guarded by police.

As CBC reports, well over 20,000 supporters of a Communist party-backed union were marching through central Athens, while around 10,000 more people — including about 1,000 lawyers in suits and ties — were gathering for a separate demonstration. A heavy police presence was deployed in the capital, as previous protests have often degenerated into riots.

Unions are angry at pension reforms that are part of Greece’s third international bailout.

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

Greece Is A Nation Under Occupation

Greece Is A Nation Under Occupation

Perhaps the best way to show what a mess Europe is in is the €3 billion deal they made with Turkey head Erdogan, only to see him being unmasked by EU archenemy Vlad Putin as a major supporter, financial and who knows how else, of the very group everyone’s so eager to bomb the heebees out after Paris. It could hardly have been more fitting. That’s not egg on your face, that’s face on your egg.

But Brussels thinks it’s found a whipping boy for all its failures. Greece. It’s fast increasing its accusations against Athens’ handling of the 100s of 1000s of refugees flooding the country. Everything that goes wrong is the fault of Greece, not Brussels. The EU has so far given Greece €30 million in ‘assistance’ for the refugee crisis, while the country has spent over €1.5 billion in money it desperately needs for its own people. But somehow it’s still not done enough.

The justification given for this insane shortfall is that Greece doesn’t blindly follow all orders emanating from Europe’s ‘leaders’. Orders such as setting up a joint patrol of the Aegean seas with … yes, Erdogan’s Turkey. Where Greece gets next to nothing as the children keep drowning, Turkey gets €3 billion and a half-baked promise to join the Union sometime in the future.

Which was never going to happen, the EU would blow up before Turkey joins and certainly if it does, and most certainly now that Russia’s busy detailing the link between the Erdogan cabal and Europe’s supposed new archenemies -move over Putin?!, which, incidentally, are reason for France to ponder a kind of permanent state of emergency; ostensibly, this is Hollande’s way of exuding confidence. ‘We must protect our way of life’.

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

Meanwhile In Greece, Pension Funds Tap Emergency Loans

Meanwhile In Greece, Pension Funds Tap Emergency Loans

This has not been a great year to be a pensioner in Greece.

Over the course of the country’s fraught bailout talks, Greece’s pension system was frequently in the troika’s crosshairs. As for PM Alexis Tsipras, pension cuts were generally considered to be a so-called “red line” and intractable disagreements over pension reform quite frequently resulted in the total breakdown of negotiations.

Meanwhile, the increasingly untenable financial situation and acute liquidity squeeze very often meant that payments to pensioners were in doubt, even as Athens went out of its way to assure the public that whatever funds were left in Greece’s depleted coffers would go to public sector employees before they would go to EU creditors or to Christine Lagarde.

The situation reached it’s “heartbreaking” low point on July 1 when Greek banks that had been shuttered after the institution of capital controls opened for a few hours to ration payments to long lines of pensioners who were forced to effectively beg for €120.

In theory, the bailout agreement – while promising more austerity and more pressure on the bloated pension system – should at least guarantee that there will be money in the banks to make monthly payments, but that assumption now looks to be in doubt because as Kathimerini reportsboth IKA and ETAA are tapping a contingency fund that guarantees social security programs for fear that the provisions of the bailout will not provide for sufficient enough savings to fund the remainder of this year’s payouts. Here’s the story:

Greece’s state insurance funds are resorting to external loans to cover their needs as fears grow that the measures of the third bailout will not be enough to cover the rest of 2015’s liquidity needs.

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

 

 

 

Another Black Swan? Syriza Outcasts Form New Political Party, Will Push For Grexit

Another Black Swan? Syriza Outcasts Form New Political Party, Will Push For Grexit

Once upon a time, Panagiotis Lafazanis had a plan to save Greece.

On July 14, just two days after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sold out the Greek referendum “no” vote by agreeing to a shockingly punitive bailout deal in Brussels, Lafazanis convened a meeting of Syriza party “rebels” at a hotel in Athens. There, he allegedly attempted to convince his fellow lawmakers to storm the Greek mint, seize the country’s reserves, and arrest central bank governor Yannis Stournaras. “Obviously, it was a moment of high tension,”one activist who attended the secret meeting later told FT.

Yes, “obviously.” Equally obvious once news of the meeting leaked was that Lafazanis would not be Energy Minister for much longer and sure enough, he was sacked by Tsipras as the premier sought to pave the way for a series of votes in parliament on bailout prior actions.

Earlier this month, as rumors started to circulate that Tsipras might not have the support to survive a confidence vote, Lafazanis announced he was forming his own political party, which was funny right up until Thursday when Tsipras resigned, setting off a series of events that will see Greeks head back to the polls in September. Now, Lafazanis has seized the opportunity to convince 28 other Greek lawmakers to join him and his new party which will be called “Popular Unity,” an ironic choice, given that it grew out of the desire to split with a party leader who had become decisively unpopular among Syriza’s Left Platform.


Popular Unity head Lafazanis says new party supports orderly and does not accept being blackmailed by Merkel & Schäuble.

Tsipras Reportedly Set To Step Down, Call Snap Elections As Early As Today

Tsipras Reportedly Set To Step Down, Call Snap Elections As Early As Today

As Greece struggled to seal the deal on its latest bailout agreement with creditors, it became abundantly clear that embattled PM Alexis Tsipras was going to have a difficult time preserving his coalition government.

In short, the Syriza defections were mounting with each passing parliamentary vote and Tsipras was forced to rely on opposition lawmakers for support.

Realizing that implementing the bailout would be all but impossible considering the extraordinarily fractious political environment and lacking the support necessary to win a confidence vote, it looks as though Tsipras will call for new elections as early as today now that the country has made a critical payment to the ECB. Here’s The Telegraph:

Hello and welcome to live coverage of Greece’s political crisis, where it seems that Alexis Tsipras is on the verge of calling a snap on the same day his country managed to secure its first bail-out cash from international creditors in over a year.

Greek state broadcaster ERT is reporting that the embattled prime minister will announce the vote later today. The PM has been meeting with government officials this afternoon and could resign from office having called the vote. September 13 and 20 have been touted as possible dates.

The 41-year-old Syriza leader remains the most popular politician in the country, despite presiding over six months of ill-tempered talks with creditors in which he was forced to capitulate when faced with the threat of a euro exit.

“Anything is possible” Earlier today, a Greek government official told reporters that “everything is possible,” when asked whether Tsipras could announce elections today.

According to Greek media, the PM has been holed up with his aides and officials in the Maximos Mansion in Athens deciding on what his next move will be.

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

 

 

Euro ministers give blessing to Greek bailout, wooing IMF on debt

Euro ministers give blessing to Greek bailout, wooing IMF on debt

Euro zone finance ministers have agreed to lend Greece up to 86 billion euros ($96 billion) after Greek lawmakers accepted their stiff conditions despite a revolt by supporters of leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras.

Assuming approval by the German and other parliaments, 13 billion euros should be in Athens next Thursday to pay pressing bills and a further 10 billion will be set aside at the European Stability Mechanism, earmarked to bolster Greek banks’ capital.

In all, euro zone governments will lend 26 billion euros in a first tranche of the bailout before reviewing Greece’s compliance with their conditions in October.

One remaining uncertainty – aside from Tsipras’ ability to deliver sweeping budget cuts and privatizations opposed by many of his own party – is the role of the International Monetary Fund. After backing two previous bailouts, the IMF renewed its call for the Europeans to grant Athens debt relief – a bone of contention between the Eurogroup and the Washington-based Fund.

Managing Director Christine Lagarde told the Eurogroup by telephone that she could not commit until the IMF board reviewed the situation in the autumn. Officials said the Fund needed more assurances and detail on Greek reforms, notably to pensions, and steps to persuade it that Greece’s debt burden was sustainable.

But after deadlock since January that ravaged the already weak Greek economy and ended in a dramatic U-turn a month ago by the anti-austerity leftist government to avert Athens’ expulsion from the euro, there was a cautious sense of optimism among ministers gathered in a Brussels deep in summer holiday languor.

 

“After six months of very difficult negotiations with lots of ups and downs, we finally have an agreement,” Greek Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos told reporters on Friday. His appointment by Tsipras six weeks ago in place of his abrasive predecessor has been hailed by counterparts as a mark of a new Greek “realism”.

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

Greeks Ditch Euro For Alternative Currencies As Parliament Votes On Bailout

Greeks Ditch Euro For Alternative Currencies As Parliament Votes On Bailout

Greece released a bit of amusing econ data on Thursday, as the country’s statistical authority claimed GDP grew by 0.8% in Q2, well ahead of estimates of a 0.5% contraction. While we suppose it’s feasible that things weren’t as bad in Q2 as they have been since (capital controls weren’t in place during the quarter), we think you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in Greece who thought things were looking up for the economy heading into the referendum. In any event it doesn’t matter, because as WSJ notes, the fiscal retrenchment enshrined in the country’s third bailout program combined with the generally poor outlook means Greece faces a two-year recession – at least:

Greece faces two years of recession amid sharp budget cuts and overhauls mandated by its €86 billion ($95 billion) bailout agreement, European Union officials said, as Greek Prime MinisterAlexis Tsipras expressed confidence that the deal would be completed.

The country’s economy is expected to shrink 2.3% this year because of the recent months of turmoil and the cuts required by the bailout, the officials said, citing the latest estimates from the institutions that have been negotiating Greece’s new aid program. Next year, it is projected to contract 1.3%.


Miraculously, the Greek economy is expected to rebound sharply in 2017, when it will supposedly grow at 2.7%. Clearly that’s optimistic to the point of being largely meaningless, but that’s the story Athens and creditors are sticking to for now and on Thursday, Greek lawmakers will be herded into parliament where they’ll be pressured to pass some 40 new laws which will serve to plunge the country even further into depression than it already plunged during the first two months of Q3.

 

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

Greek Stocks, Economy Collapse, Suffer Worst Declines In History

Greek Stocks, Economy Collapse, Suffer Worst Declines In History

The Athens Stock Exchange reopened on Monday and unsurprisingly, some folks were selling.

Trading was suspended five weeks ago after PM Alexis Tsipras’ dramatic midnight referendum call precipitated capital controls and a lengthy bank “holiday.” Shares opened lower by nearly 23% and the country’s banks traded limit-down, which makes sense because they are, after all, largely insolvent. Here’s NY Times:

The Athens Stock Exchange plunged 22.8 percent when it reopened on Monday after a five-week shutdown imposed by Greek authorities as part of efforts to prevent a financial collapse.

Bank stocks, which are particularly vulnerable as Greek lenders are set for new recapitalization in the coming months, took a battering, falling by as much as 30 percent.

Although foreign investors face no restrictions in the Athens exchange, local traders can only use existing cash holdings to buy shares; they are prohibited from tapping local bank deposits to buy shares as the authorities seek to prevent capital flight.

Asked about the harrowing decline, European Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva had no comment but did say that Brussels has “taken note” of the reopening. Amusingly, she also said the decision was made by “competent” Greek officials. A ban on short-selling was due to expire on Monday but will be extended, an unnamed official told Reuters.

Meanwhile, monthly PMI data from Markit confirmed that the Greek economy suffered an outright collapse in July. Last month marked the 11th consecutive month of contraction, but it was the depth of the downturn that was truly shocking as the index plummeted to 30.2 from 46.9 in June. It was the lowest print on record. New orders plunged to 17.9 from 43.2.

“July saw factory production in Greece contract sharply amid an unprecedented drop in new orders and difficulties in purchasing raw materials,” Markit said. Here’s more from the report:

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

 

 

Varoufakis: “In 1967 There Were The Tanks And In 2015 There Were The Banks”

Varoufakis: “In 1967 There Were The Tanks And In 2015 There Were The Banks”

It was back on January 31 of this year, long before the “game theoretical” approach of Greek negotiations with the Eurogroup and ECB in particular and the Troika, and now Quadriga in general was revealed, that we first forecast with absolute accuracy just what the middle, and end game, of the Greek negotiation with Europe (and vice versa) will be:

… today the ECB’s Erikki Liikanen, tired of pleasantries and dealing with what to Europe is a completely incomprehensible and illogical stance, one which is essentially a massive defection by Greece in the European “prisoner’s dilemma”, and which while leading to a Greek financial collapse and Grexit – both prerequisites to a subsequent Greek economic recovery unburdened by the shackles of the Euro – would also unleash a European depression, came out and directly threatened Greece that it now has 1 month until the end of February to reach a deal with the Troika, or else the ECB would cut off lending to Greek banks, in the process destroying the otherwise insolvent Greek banking sector.

And since only the ECB backstop has prevented a banking sector panic, the ECB is essentially betting the house, and the sanctity of the Eurozone (because after a Grexit all bets are off which peripheral leaves next) that the threat, and soon reality, of a bank run will finally force Varoufakis and Tsipras to sit at the negotiating table with the understanding that not they but the Troika has all the leverage.

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

 

 

An Exasperated Tsipras Calls For Syriza Referendum On Bailout Cancellation

An Exasperated Tsipras Calls For Syriza Referendum On Bailout Cancellation

Anyone who thought Greece’s third bailout program was a done deal or that, at the very least, the market would get a few months of respite before having to grapple with daily Grexit headlines again, got a rude awakening late last week when reports of a secret plot (hatched by ex-Energy Minister Panayiotis Lafazanis along with several Left Platform co-conspirators) to storm the Greek mint and seize the country’s currency reserves underscored the deep divisions within Syriza and betrayed the extent to which passing a third set of prior actions and sealing the deal on an ESM program would prove to be anything but simple.

Just days after Lafazanis’ plan leaked last week, Kathimerini claimed it had transcripts from a conference call between former Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis and international hedge fund managers during which Varoufakis described yet another secret ploy to return the country to the drachma by way of establishing a parallel payments system set up using surreptitiously obtained tax filer ID numbers. Later, the full audio recording was released.

At that juncture, the opposition parties which helped PM Alexis Tsipras beat back a Syriza rebellion and pass the first two sets of bailout prior actions through parliament began to ask questions.

Essentially, opposition lawmakers wanted to know whether Tsipras was allowing his party to undermine progress on the bailout just as he was desperately courting MPs from across the aisle in order to win parliamentary approval for the deal’s conditions.

On Wednesday, in an interview with Sto Kokkino radio, Tsipras addressed friction within the party andsuggested that if he lost his majority in parliament he would call for snap elections.

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

 

 

Total Collapse: Greece Reverts To Barter Economy For First Time Since Nazi Occupation

Total Collapse: Greece Reverts To Barter Economy For First Time Since Nazi Occupation

Months ago, when Alexis Tsipras, Yanis Varoufakis, and their Syriza compatriots had just swept to power behind an ambitious anti-austerity platform and bold promises about a brighter future for the beleaguered Greek state, we warned that Greece was one or two vacuous threats away from being “digitally bombed back to barter status.”

Subsequently, the Greek economy began to deteriorate in the face of increasingly fraught negotiations between Athens and creditors, with Brussels blaming the economic slide on Syriza’s unwillingness to implement reforms, while analysts and commentators noted that relentless deposit flight and the weakened state of the Greek banking sector was contributing to a liquidity crisis and severe credit contraction.

As of May, 60 businesses were closed and 613 jobs were lost for each business day that the crisis persisted without a resolution.

On the heels of Tsipras’ referendum call and the imposition of capital controls, the bottom fell out completely as businesses found that supplier credit was increasingly difficult to come by, leaving Greeks to consider the possibility that the country would soon face a shortage of imported goods.

On Tuesday, we brought you the latest on the Greek economy when we noted that according to data presented at an extraordinary meeting of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship, retail sales have fallen 70%, while The Athens Medical Association recently warned that 7,500 doctors have left the country since 2010.

Now, the situation has gotten so bad that our prediction from February has come true. That is, Greece is reverting to a barter economy. Reuters has more:

Wild boar and power cuts were Greek cotton farmer Mimis Tsakanikas’ biggest worries until a bank shutdown last month left him stranded without cash to pay suppliers, and his customers without money to pay him.

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

 

 

 

Greek Bonds Tumble As Tsipras Threatens Snap Election

Greek Bonds Tumble As Tsipras Threatens Snap Election

10 year Greek bond yields are spiking this morning (and prices therefore plunging) as trading actvity picks up in the dormant peripheral capital markets. The 2025s are downover 5pts from their last traded price back in late June with yields spiking back up toward 12.5%. This derisking comes after, as we detailed earlier, not only is the Greek economy collapsing but while Brussels is “satisfied with the smooth and constructive cooperation with the Greek authorities and that should allow us to progress as swiftly as possible,” Greek PM Tsipras is threatening snap election as rebellion within ‘his’ party grows.

 

Volume and actvity picks up in GGBs and the price plunges…

 

*  *  *

Put simply, there seems to be a very real possibility that the Syriza rebellion will gather enough steam in the coming weeks to materially derail discussions. This is then a race – Tsipras needs to formalize the new program before Lafazanis (and perhaps Varoufakis) foment enough discontent to make a meaningful push to head off implementation.

And with that, we’ll close with the following sound bites from Kathimerini which sum up the situation quite nicely.

 

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

Greek Parliament Votes In Favor of “Prior Actions” – Protests Erupt in Athens (Live Stream)

Greek Parliament Votes In Favor of “Prior Actions” – Protests Erupt in Athens (Live Stream)

Euro-Group Deal Approved by Greek Parliament

The result of the parliamentary vote in Athens just came through, and was remarkably closely aligned with recent surveys of Greek voters. Funny enough, these surveys revealed approximately 70% approval of the dealoffered by the euro-group among the population. No doubt the fact that the insolvency of Greece’s fractionally reserved banking system was recently painfully revealed to depositors after the ECB froze ELA had something to do with this sudden surge in support. Moreover, it is always possible that a majority of Greece’s citizens actually realizes that there is no way around wide-ranging reform.

 

metron-analysisRecent polls show soaring support for Syriza in spite of Tsipras ignoring the referendum outcome (source: Keep Talking Greece)

 

There were 229 “Yes” votes, 64 “No” votes and 6 abstentions. Make of this what you will, but the only parties unanimously voting “No” were the Stalinist KKE and the Neo-Nazi party “Golden Dawn”. In addition, a greater number of Syriza MPs rebelled than was previously expected (apparently 38 of the 149 Syriza MPs voted “No”, roughly equivalent to the size of the party’s Marxist Bloc) . Ironically, even though Mr. Tsipras has decided to completely ignore the “No” vote returned in the referendum, support for Syriza has soared among voters as well.

As a result of the vote, there are now protests in Athens – of which you can see a live stream below:

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

 

 

UK Furious At Proposed €7 Billion Greek Ponzi-Perpetuating Bridge Loan

UK Furious At Proposed €7 Billion Greek Ponzi-Perpetuating Bridge Loan

The two most important stories out of Greece on Tuesday were: 1) the IMF’s leaked report on Greek debt sustainability, and 2) the race to secure between €7 and €12 billion in bridge financing to hold Greece over until the ESM gets off the ground.

Although a new program is in the works and should get the greenlight once Tsipras succeeds in forcing Greek lawmakers to legislate away their sovereignty and any semblance of pride they have left, Athens has bills that need paying, the most important of which comes due to the ECB (on its SMP holdings) on July 20. The Greeks must make the payment to Mario Draghi – otherwise the central would be compelled to interrupt the liquidity drip that’s keeping the Greek banking sector from collapsing altogether. There’s also the issue of public sector salaries and pension payments which Greeks would prefer to receive in euros as opposed to the IOUs suggested by German FinMin Wolfgang Schaeuble.

We outlined the options available for bridge financing on Tuesday morning, noting that all alternatives involve creditors effectively paying themselves either literally or in spirit or otherwise entail the perpetuation of some manner of ponzi scheme (i.e. allowing Greece to sell T-bills to Greek banks).

On Wednesday, the EU Commission decided to go the EFSM route and will look to tap €7 billion of the €11-12 billion that remains in the fund. The formal request by the EU Commission says the funds from the EFSM “aim to provide a bridge financing to allow Greece to face some urgent financial obligations until it starts receiving financial assistance under a new programme from the ESM [and] would safeguard financial stability in the Union and in the euro area.”

This isn’t as simple as it sounds. The EFSM was replaced by the ESM and wasn’t really supposed to be used again, so going back to the well is problematic from a political perspective. There are a number of issues here, but for the sake of brevity, here’s FT’s summary:

 

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

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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