Posts Tagged ‘Budget’

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before…

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Greece’s leftwing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras wants more negotiations. Because, you know, Europe just hasn’t had enough of those over Greek debt.

Mr. Tsipras said Greece was “prepared to accept” a deal set out publicly over the weekend by the creditors, with small modifications to some of the central points of contention: pension cuts and tax increases.

In other words: Groundhog Day on the Aegean. Yet again.

More Greek crisis links:

  • “Socialism is a one-way ticket to misery and failure.” Also: “The Greeks are simply the vanguard in a long line of nations who have buried themselves under mountains of unpayable debt.”
  • Greece: “We’re suffering so hard!” Poorer countries in Europe: “Suck it up, you proliferate spendthrifts!”
  • Possible post-referendum timelines in Greece. I hope you like flow charts…
  • Greece Officially Defaults on IMF Payment

    Tuesday, June 30th, 2015

    And verily it came to pass.

    Greece lost its financial lifelines Tuesday, as the country missed a crucial payment to the International Monetary Fund amid growing questions about whether it would be able to remain in the euro zone.

    Greek leaders had made a last-ditch attempt to come up with the necessary cash, asking European countries for a new bailout hours before its last ones were set to expire, but E.U. finance ministers rejected the request as unrealistic. The missed payment, confirmed by the IMF, was a landmark moment in Europe’s five-year battle to preserve its common currency.

    A few more Greek tidbits:

  • Greek banks are about to enjoy some ECB-mandated haircuts. He who pays the piper calls the tune…
  • Dear PIIGS citizens: Don’t blame austerity, blame your corrupt politicians.
  • Europe’s Democracy Deficit:

    The bureaucrats in Brussels and their counterparts in Europe’s national governments are furious with the Greeks for daring to consult their own people. Daniel Hannan, a British member of the European parliament, sarcastically tweeted, “Calling a referendum is, to Eurocrats, the most offensive thing a politician can do.” Stripped of their veneer, Eucrocrats’ arguments against all referendums amount to saying that referendums are a bad idea because they shift power from small cliques of unelected but wise rulers to an unsophisticated, nationalistic mob that might fall prey to populism

  • Via the People’s Cube: Greece declares victory.
  • Greece Slides Toward Default

    Monday, June 29th, 2015

    Looks like that optimism over Greece caving in to reality was a bit premature, since Alexis Tsipras is back to his old tricks again, proclaiming loudly that he won’t be “blackmailed.” Because we all know that agreeing to cuts in your bloated welfare state to pay for the loans you already agreed to is “blackmail.”

    He’s called for a national referendum on bailout agreement terms. The problem is, that vote is July 5 while $1.7 billion payment Greece owes the IMF is due June 30, and the IMF can’t offer extensions, and Greece is too broke to make its debt payment.

    Greek banks are closed until July 7, and the “European Central Bank (ECB) said it was not increasing emergency funding to Greek banks.” ATMs are running dry and withdrawals are bveing limited to 60 euros.”

    Stocks in Europe and China are in freefall, with bank stocks in Europe particularly hard hit. Greek stocks are off 17% despite their stock market being closed.

    A few more Greek crisis tidbits:

  • Holy fark: 70% of Greek mortgages are in default.
  • Nothing says “vibrant economy” like adults forced to live with their parents.
  • “The strange thing is that neither Tsipras nor a large majority of the Greek people want to leave the euro (more than 70 per cent support keeping euro polls show). But despite the country being united on this, the government is still unwilling to make the compromises that would keep Greece in the euro zone.”
  • The bill for Greece’s profligate spending and fake austerity was always going to come due sooner or later. Tsipras’s disasterous term in office merely ensured that it would come sooner and with a maximum of economic pain for the Greek people…

    Greece Introduces Capital Controls

    Monday, June 22nd, 2015

    The economic collapse of Greece is unfolding pretty much exactly as observers predicted it would: “Greek banks have imposed an unofficial ceiling of €3,000 on walk-in withdrawals, the commercial banker added.”

    More capital controls are most likely coming, especially since bank runs have meant that Greek banks “will soon exhaust eligible assets they can pledge to the Bank of Greece for cash under the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) scheme.” The ECB backstopping of Greeek banks has been extended for today only. And today’s Eurozone talks have already broken off.

    Despite that, Greece’s feckless ruling Syriza Party is still insisting on ignoring reality: “I repeat: The deal will either be compatible with the basic lines of Syriza’s election manifesto, or there will be no deal.”

    Translation: “Europe must continue to throw money down the rat-hole of our bankrupt welfare state, or else!” What the “or else” might be when the country is already too bankrupt to pay pensions and keeps the lights on remains a mystery. The problem with holding a gun to your own head is that eventually someone will call your bluff.

    Greece is finally finished with the “gradually” phase of their bankruptcy and is now in the “suddenly” phase…

    Animation on the Greek Debt Crisis

    Sunday, June 21st, 2015

    Even though this whiteboard animation is from 2012, it’s still mostly accurate.

    My only quibbles would be:

  • It doesn’t mention how Greece lied about it’s finances to get into the Euro in the first place.
  • It doesn’t discuss what that debt was spent on, i.e., mainly an overly generous and unsustainable welfare state.
  • Because it was made in 2012, it overstates how exposed European banks will be to a Greek default. By now, banks and insiders have managed to offload the vast majority of their default exposure to Greek default onto the European taxpayer (which, of course, was the real primary purpose of the bailout).
  • But it gets the big picture right, namely how out-of-control debt destroys nations…

    Bank Runs Start in Greece

    Saturday, June 20th, 2015

    The bank runs have started in Greece. Why the Greek peeople would even keep their money in banks, having the example of Cyprus’s bank “bail-ins” before them, would keep any but the most minimal amout of cash in a Greek bank is a mystery.

    Given that Greek banks are insolvent without the European Central Bank’s backstop, one wonders why Greek PM Alexis Tsipras thinks he can continue to bluff the EU caving on reform demands. It’s tough to bluff when you have no hole cards…

    There’s talk of a “new” Greek proposal, which could mean Tsipras and Syriza are finally coming to their senses and giving in to EU demands, or it could be just another smokescreen. I mean, we’ve only seen about a dozen “new” Greek proposals this year that didn’t offer meaningful reform. What’s one more?

    Stay tuned…

    Greece’s Final, Final, Final Deadline…Finally?

    Thursday, June 18th, 2015

    Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Google News is once again filled with Greece on the Brink headlines and the Telegraph has started a live update page for the Greek debt crisis. Today’s Eurogroup meeting ended without any deal, Merkel says she won’t budge, and Greece admits they have no money to make their bundled payment to the IMF at the end of the month.

    And the IMF has said there will be no grace period if Greece misses their June 30 deadline.

    Also, tomorrow Greece owes €85 million to the European Central Bank. Since the ECB backstop is the only reason Greek banks aren’t already insolvent, I suspect Greece will find some way to make that payment, even if it means raiding the Emergency Transplants for Crippled Orphans fund.

    Other than that, things are going swimmingly.

    The sticking point, as always, is Greece’s insistence that the rest of Europe lend it more so as to allow Greece to continue spending insanely more money than it actually has on its bloated welfare state, and that it absolutely will not cut government pensions (the pensions it will be unable to pay without a loan anyway) at all. But “Greece still spends more than any other country in the European Union on pensions as a proportion to GDP – with the country shelling out a whopping 17.5 percent.”

    British tourists are warned to take cash if they’re vacationing in Greece, since cash machines and credit cards may not work due to capital controls.

    How much is Greece uncertainty weighing down stocks?

    Eh, not so much…

    Quick Pre-Default Greece Update

    Monday, June 15th, 2015

    It looks like the rest of Europe has finally wised up to the fact that Alexis Tsipras has been playing them for chumps. It should be obvious to everyone now that Tsipras and his far-left Syriza party have no intention of reforming Greece’s bloated welfare state, they just wanted to pretend to as long as the rest of Europe was willing to underwrite it in exchange for pretending to reform. But lately even the pretense of reform has become intolerable. They want debt forgiveness and Europe to continue paying their bills, and they’re not going to budge until they get it, or until they totally destroy the Greek economy. You know, whichever.

    Europe seems to finally have said “Enough!”

    Other Greek links:

  • Might the European Central Bank impose capital controls on Greece (ala Cyprus) to force a change in the Greek government? Since the Greek banking system only exists at the mercy of ECB-backstopping, this could very well be the easiest way out of the crisis for everyone (even, weirdly, Tsipras and Syriza, who will still be able to claim they never gave in to Troika demands…)
  • “The latest Greek negotiating strategy is to demand a ransom to desist threatening suicide. Such blackmail might work for a suicide bomber. But Greece is just holding a gun to its own head — and Europe does not need to care very much if it pulls the trigger.”
  • “For the creditors, the test of whether Mr. Tsipras really wants Greece to remain in the eurozone comes down to a simple question: Is Syriza willing or able to reform Greece’s public sector?” Syriza wants to reform Greece’s public sector the way O. J. Simpson wants to find the real killers.
  • Gameplanning Greek outcomes. (Warning: Autoplaying video. Up yours, Bloomberg.)
  • IMF Gives Up on Greece

    Thursday, June 11th, 2015

    The IMF just said to Greece “Screw you guys, I’m going home.” (Note: For the full effect, you have to say the preceding in the voice of Eric Cartman.)

    The International Monetary Fund said it was halting bailout talks with Greece in a stark signal of its exasperation about a lack of progress toward a deal needed to avert a Greek default, as European leaders suggested the negotiations were nearing their endgame without an agreement in sight.

    And keep in mind that these are transnational bureaucrats whose entire job description is long, drawn-out economic negotiations. And they’ve finally had enough of talking to Greece.

    That’s not the fat lady warming up, that’s the fat lady striding boldly on stage and waiting for the cue to open her mouth.

    The Greek debt crisis was always going to come to a bad end. The least bad alternative was introducing real austerity when the crisis hit, paring back their welfare state, reforming their economy, and living within their means for several years until their economy started growing again.

    But by electing the far-left Syriza party, Greece has ended up opting for a far worse fate: They’re going to end up absolutely broke, absolutely in debt, and they won’t even be able to fund the day-to-day operations of their bloated welfare state. Unless the Greek parliament can somehow force a snap election and replace Alexis Tsipras’s lying, farcical government with one actually capable of recognizing reality, Greece is in for a level of economic pain that’s going to make the Great Depression look like a picnic…

    (Hat tip: Zero Hedge.)

    Greece to Receive It’s Final Final Final Final Final Final Final Offer

    Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

    Looks like all of Greece’s creditors have finally decided it’s put up or shut up time for reform. “Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is expected to face demands for tough reforms of Greece’s pension system, labor laws and other areas, as well as creditors’ insistence on painful budget measures to ensure that Greece runs a fiscal surplus before interest.”

    At this point Greece seems completely and utterly broke, unless there’s more upfront money in that still unsigned Russian pipeline deal than reports indicate (doubtful, given Russia’s own financial straits), or Tsipras finds yet another hidden money reserve to tap (“We can can pay pensions from the children’s bone marrow fund!”). So despite Tsipras’ insistence that they be allowed to keep spending other people’s money on their bankrupt welfare state, this time the jig may finally, finally, really, we mean it this time, for sure, be up.

    Here’s a piece that explains in terms of game theory why Tsipras overplayed his weak hand:

    Now, as long as the EU keeps Greece in the Eurozone then the Tsipras administration will find itself forced to either exit the Eurozone or apply the austerity it promised to end. Not only would such an outcome send a clear signal to other Eurozone nations that exiting was foolhardy, it would also indicate that radical, nationalist, anti-establishment and anti-austerity parties cannot deliver on their promises.

    The EU won’t force Greece to exit the Eurozone but it won’t offer anything to keep Syriza in power, either. The EU simply needs to keep negotiating without offering anything but strict compliance with what was already agreed upon, which is continued austerity in return for loans. In effect, to use a sports analogy, the EU just needs to “run out the clock.” In the end, it appears that Tsipras will either be forced out of office or forced to break up his coalition and form a new government with the mainstream parties, the outcome that EU and Germany have been angling for all along.

    (Though make no mistake: that “primary surplus” was always illusory.)

    A few more Greek debt crisis links:

  • Now Greece is threatening not to pay this week’s debt payment to the IMF unless a deal is agreed on. Once again, Tsipras is playing chicken with a Yugo, while his opponents are driving a Tiger tank…
  • Tsipras needs to stop making empty promises and get a clue. “He cannot expect Germans to volunteer the money Greece needs, so he can spend it on the kind of leftist economic fantasy that was discredited all over Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. Just ask Argentina where default followed by populist economics leads.”
  • Germany has good reason to stop subsidizing Greece, namely their own crashing demographics: “Germany’s birth rate has collapsed to the lowest level in the world and its workforce will start plunging at a faster rate than Japan’s by the early 2020s, seriously threatening the long-term viability of Europe’s leading economy.” (Hat tip: Powerline.)
  • “A Greek exit is already priced into the euro.”