Tag Archives: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras

Dress rehearsal (part 1)

That is the question in my mind, are we in the final preparations of a new theatre play that will change everything? In the Green Room we have the people in preparation of the new mess they are about to bestow on the people of the EEC. A game that changes everything, yet the people behind all of this have a short term solution, because soon they will move out of the seats of power with a golden parachute, a golden umbrella, a golden handshake and a gold watch. They will get the most luxurious life imaginable, only by prolonging the power players. That is the very first thoughts going through my mind when I was looking at the article ‘Greek debt crisis: day of decision for Alexis Tsipras‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/live/2015/jun/30/greek-debt-crisis-day-of-decision-for-tsipras)

When we look at this production in the limelight, we get a few parts, the introduction is all about comedy with the quick comedy play ‘It’s Greece’s problem, says Kremlin‘, yes, as Russia distances himself from that lefty organisation called Syriza that has elements of Marxist–Leninist, Trotskyist and Euro-communist. Must feel really nice for Alexis Tsipras to be the debutante at a Kremlin ball, only to realise he gave away his cherry for naught and got left out in the cold afterwards. Which means that one option he thought he had just left the exit on the left.

The intro act comes from Mariano Rajoy, our Spanish player. The quote ““What would happen if Greece came out of the euro? There would be a negative message that euro membership is reversible,” Rajoy said in a radio interview. “People may think that if one country can leave the euro, others could do so in the future. I think that is the most serious problem that could arise (from a Greek exit).”“, reflects not on Greece, but emphasizes on the danger France is about to pose. The players are comprehending the dangers, the news on Greece is coming from a few direction, but right from the bat, the others are now starting to manage the news any way they can. My reasoning?

Reuters reports: “Greece has not yet made any movement in response to a last-minute bid by creditors to broker a deal to end a deadlock over the Greek debt crisis, the European Commission said on Tuesday. Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday night and Juncker, after speaking to the chair of euro zone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem, explained what a last-minute deal could look like, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told reporters. “This would require a move from the Greek government which President Juncker asked (for) before midnight last night. As we speak, this move has not yet been received, registered, and time is now narrowing,” Schinas said“.

In addition we see from Reuters:

30-Jun-2015 11:19:20 – EUROPEAN COMMISSION SAYS DOOR OPEN FOR GREEK DEAL, BUT TIME RUNNING OUT QUICKLY
30-Jun-2015 11:20:27 – EUROPEAN COMMISSION SAYS NO MOVE HAS BEEN RECEIVED FROM GREECE
30-Jun-2015 11:21:05 – EUROPEAN COMMISSION SAYS GREEK GOVERMENT WOULD NEED TO ACCEPT PUBLISHED PROPOSAL

In addition we see in the Guardian: “Danuta Huebner, chair of the committee on constitutional affairs at the European Parliament, has tweeted about the legality of Grexit“, she gives the following Tweets “A member state’s exit from #EMU without a parallel withdrawal from the EU, would be legally inconceivable #Greece

The link refers to a PDF (at the end of the article), where we see in the abstract “that a Member State’s exit from EMU, without a parallel withdrawal from the EU, would be legally inconceivable; and that, while perhaps feasible through indirect means, a Member State’s expulsion from the EU or EMU, would be legally next to impossible. This paper concludes with a reminder that while, institutionally, a Member State’s membership of the euro area would not survive the discontinuation of its membership of the EU, the same need not be true of the former Member State’s use of the euro

So, if the abstract holds any level of water, have we, the audience been played? Are we the people now being misdirected by missing legislation because politicians could not do their job properly? That is the question, because one EU paper, does not policy make. The introduction gives us “Until recently, to talk of ‘secession’ from the European Union (EU) would have been next to absurd“, really? Did you policy makers remember a man named Adolf Hitler in one corner and Arthur Neville Chamberlain with the Munich agreement in the other corner?

A paper linked to all this by Karolina Boronska-Hryniewiecka called ‘The Risky Game of EMU Withdrawal‘, which is implied to come from the Polish institute of international affairs gives us: “The EC’s statement about the legal “impossibility” of EMU withdrawal stems from the fact that no European treaty has included a provision for how a Member State could leave the single currency area. While Art. 50 of the Lisbon Treaty provides that any Member State may withdraw from the EU on the basis of a negotiated agreement with the EU institutions, it does not mention anything about the possibility of exiting EMU itself. At the same time, Art. 140 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) provides that the rate at which the former national currencies are substituted by the “euro” for EMU members has been “irrevocably” fixed. What also follows from the EU treaties is that while membership is voluntary, participation in the EMU, apart from certain exceptions, is a legal, if eventual obligation of every EU Member State.

The links come from Danuta Hübner, Chair of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, European Parliament. So why did no one properly look into this, or even report on this? I personally expected that the European members of constitutional affairs had their affairs in order, which means that if one local yokel (Alexis Tsipras) cannot get his act in order, there are decent steps that can be taken to either get that person in line, or expel his nation. Now we seem to get introduced that expulsion is not really an option. So in all the theatre plays we watched, it seems that the part, ‘expulsion is impossible‘ was never ever mentioned, was it?

And in addition we get “Reports are mounting that the Greek prime minister has not only accepted a deal but will travel to Brussels, possibly as early as this evening, to discuss it with senior EU officials. The deal, based on reforms proposed by EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker late last night, is believed to have been rubber stamped at a meeting of senior government official held at the prime minister’s office, the Megaron Maximou, this morning. The German daily, Bild, is also backing up the reports, saying Tsipras has had contact with high ranking EU officials whom he will meet imminently. “The prime minister’s plane is at the ready,” the paper said.

This all comes from Helena Smith from the Guardian reporting. So, I feel comfortable trusting the source here. So now we have ourselves a fifth act. You see, in my view this is all about opening 7.2 billion if the 1.6 billion get paid. It must be really comfortable for any banker to underwrite a 7 days loan, with a nice percentage knowing that this payment is the first payment out of 7.2 billion. At 1% that banker ends up with a 16 million euro bonus, that is, if it is only one percent.

Yet, is it not me? Am I trivialising things, perhaps even over-dramatizing it?

Consider the next news “Here’s Bloomberg on Schaeuble’s comments: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble told lawmakers in Berlin that Greece would stay in the euro for the time being if Greek voters reject austerity in a referendum scheduled this week, according to three people present. Schaeuble also said the European Central Bank would do what’s needed to protect the euro if Greeks voted against the bailout terms in the July 5 referendum, according to the people, all of whom participated in the closed-door meeting on Tuesday. They asked not to be identified, citing the private nature of the discussion. The German Finance Ministry declined to comment.

Now we have a ballgame. There is also an issue, why do they need to be ‘not identified’? It seems to me that the European Central Bank would need to do what’s needed to protect the euro. Yet, in light of what made the news from Danuta Huebner, chair of the committee on constitutional affairs at the European Parliament, we now need to consider what options are there?

These are important questions to keep in mind. Consider all the news I have brought in the last 6 months through my blog. This is now ‘set’ in the limelight with the Guardian article ‘Alexis Tsipras: Mr Reasonable seizes the initiative from Project Fear’ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/30/alexis-tsipras-greece-deal-vote-referendum), how misguided is that title? The quote “Faced with Project Fear, Tsipras wants to be seen as Mr Reasonable“, is as misguided as it can. They have not just changed the game, they have left, what should be regarded as criminal activities open to reactivation. (I will get to that part in part 2).

First two quotes “It little mattered that the new blueprint from Athens had a shelf life of only a couple of hours before Angela Merkel said there could be no fresh negotiations until after Greece’s referendum on Sunday” and “Somehow or other, Greece’s debt burden will be reduced. It can happen through a deal in which Athens gets debt relief for economic reform. Or it can came through a default that would swiftly follow Greek exit from the single currency. Everybody knows this, and it is bizarre that an explicit proposal for debt relief was not formally made to Tsipras in last week’s talks

You see, the game is changing, yet some elements have been ignored and some were never given clarity. So as Greece wants another extension 2 minutes before midnight, as they want another bailout of 30 billion with better terms, the game is now taking another term, one that the people behind the screens cannot contain, in the end, they are cutting their own veins even deeper than Greece ever did, but let me back that up with some facts, because without facts, this all becomes a rant (which anyone can get whilst reading the Telegraph, or an equally disastrous form of news coverage).

The quote “Juncker earlier told Tsipras that a last-minute deal was still possible if Athens agreed to sign up to the creditors’ proposals presented last Friday. He also dangled the prospects of debt relief for Greece and a €35bn “new start for jobs and growth” programme” from the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/30/greece-brink-financial-collapse-imf-deadline-hours-away) gives us the salutation I made on May 6th (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2015/05/06/whats-the-matter), where I stated “when the voters learn that Greece is about to desire up to 30 billion before the end of the year, so that it can pay the outstanding bills“, so not only was I right all along, it is possible that the Greeks delayed because of the fear what it would do to the UKIP numbers and subsequently a first serious move away from the EU. Now, not only is Juncker offering 5 billion in addition, it comes with very little extra hardship for the Greeks, especially the previous Greek politicians.

Yet, now, as I mentioned, the game changes. With the migrant issues in Calais, Marine Le Pen is about to take control of another piece of France, which will soon prove to be really bad news for President Hollande. In addition, the quote “In January she asked French President Francois Hollande to suspend the visa-free Schengen Area in Europe and strip dual nationals of their French citizenship if they carry out “barbaric crimes”“, give us an additional change. It is not a given that the changes to Schengen will happen, but if it does, it is clearly in addition a preparation to move France away from the EU. Her statement a week ago clearly indicates the change she wants to impose.

In all this, Greece now stands alone, because the drive on the shores of Brexit and Frexit are now clearly stated in the news, stated by these politicians, which in case of Marine Le Pen is not a good thing for Europe, because unless her demands are met, she will call for an exit from the EEC, not just the Euro, which changes the game by a massive margin. So when I see the quote “but what Tsipras has done is seize the initiative“, it must be stated that it is an incomplete view, because the response from both the UK and France is about to give the world of finance a massive headache, one that will continue for the next 20 months, especially as Marine Le Pen ends up as the next possible leader of France, for which she is currently in the lead, ahead of Sarkozy and Hollande. The laughing whisper two years ago, is now a realistic threat, interesting how so many journalists missed this escalation.

There are more signals, all indicative of one more act on the floors of the theatre.

And the act starts with a gloomy theatre, men and women in black, handing a folder, from person to person, they all look at it for a few seconds and give it to the next person. This goes on and on. Yes, we get to the article ‘IMF: austerity measures would still leave Greece with unsustainable debt‘ (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2015/jun/30/greek-debt-troika-analysis-says-significant-concessions-still-needed). The story already starts with questionable statements “Greece would face an unsustainable level of debt by 2030 even if it signs up to the full package of tax and spending reforms demanded of it, according to unpublished documents compiled by its three main creditors“, the reason that I call it questionable, is because Greece is what I call a 3G nation, which means it will take three generations for this debt to become close to manageable. So, with that I imply that the debt is still a massive form of pressure in 2061, there is no escaping it. Even with reforms Greece is no longer able to meet the interest payments and the payments after the payment reduction, unless it makes MASSIVE changes to its laws and its social system. This includes holding politicians accountable for overspending, making them prosecutable for criminal negligence if they cannot meet the budget. It is close to the only change that will start stopping the madness. In addition, tax laws need a massive overhaul, one that should be part of the IMF demand before Greece gets one additional eurocent.

By the way, Greece is not alone, Spain, France and Italy are all 3G nations at present. The UK is not that deep yet, but it will take a generation of hardship to get the debt under control.

That (secret) document also states “that under the baseline scenario “significant concessions” are necessary to improve Greece’s chances of ridding itself permanently of its debt financing woes”, is that even a surprise? I figured that out over a year ago, doing the math of my fingers, an Abacus was not required, this is exactly why I opposed Greece to be allowed back on the market selling another 5 billion in bonds. But the power players wanted their commission and as I see it a 100 million euro bonus is just too good to pass up.

So here in short is part one of this story. Certain elements are in play and have been in play for some time. Greece has done next to nothing to clean up its act, its laws and its massive shortcomings. As we see again the voices of many shouting against Austerity, we have to wonder whether people even realise what they are shouting against. You see, austerity is merely keeping a budget, for close to two decades governments have overspend every year, this is how Greece got into this mess, it had spent money that it never had. It is not alone in this pretty much every EEC nation is guilty of this and whilst some are still afloat, Greece is the first one who cannot even commit to the due interest bill, that is at the foundation of this debacle. So austerity is not a punishment, it is not a right, it is a mere responsibility and it has been forfeited by nearly every EEC nation for much too long.

I will give more answers in part 2 of this article, hopefully the day after tomorrow.

Withdrawal and expulsion from the EU and EMU

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The Defiant Possum!

Yes, Greece is all over the news today, in many ways the people are now expecting a Grexit, the Greek exodus from the Euro. The people are reading more and more about the Greek way and no one is playing nice anymore. Even though readers might disagree with my view, which remains forever valid, let me show you the evidence that brought me to this!

The Centre Party, led by telecoms millionaire Juha Sipilä, must now put together a coalition. And if he invites the Finns into office too (Timo Soini, leader of Finns, who has already vowed to change’s Finland’s approach to Greece), we will see the complication regarding the chances of agreeing a third bailout for Greece. (Source: the Guardian). You see, Finland’s economy not in a great shape and they are now facing austerity. Sipilä had pledged a wage freeze and spending cuts to make it competitive again, which are issues that Tsipras is not addressing, which means that the Finns are no longer playing nice, one less vote that might have been in favour of any third bailout, now lost, the trip from Tsipras playing nice with the Russians did not help either. We now see a direct consequence on inaction where the observing it all are going more extreme, less positive towards the Euro. The Finnish Centrist Party is only a smaller step in the path that UKIP, National Front and the PVV are proclaiming. So, those who were rightfully sceptical of my predictions can now personally see the first of 6 steps fulfilling, the Pro-EU part in Finland lost and the Centrist party now has a staggering 49 seats, they are now in the centre of any coalition, gaining 14 seats. This is the danger I foresaw all along, even if many other parties were blind to this danger.

The second part was seen today when Fabrizio Goria (@FGoria) published the Barclays list on the payments that Greece has to make, these are only repayments and payments on maturity of bonds, the repayments are €1B by May 15th, €1.7B by June 17th, €4.7B by July 20th and €3.6B by August 20th. This brings the total repayments €10.7B before September 1st. Can anyone tell me how they expect to pull this off? Let us not forget that the days of the Onassis shipping fortunes are gone, the nation has a population of 11 million. We could state that it boils down to 970 Euros from every Greek (including the minors and babies), in addition to the taxation they are mostly not paying at present anyway. Add to that that many Greeks are living way below the poverty line.

So when we hear on French TV (iTele) the fact that Moscovici added that “Plan A is for Greece to remain in the Eurozone, and there is no Plan B. But there’s also no time for prevarication“, so in this story of ‘Moscovici the Possum’, playing dead to the realities of finance, where the next bailout of €7.2 billion, does not even cover the bills due before September 1st, which add up to a lot more than the bailout money that might not even come in. When we saw that the last payment was almost not made, when the Greeks pulled it off we saw the some triumphant pose of ‘we did it!‘, whilst we also saw that it cleaned out Greece for the most and that the payment made is only 10% of what is due over the next 18 weeks. This is the future I foresaw, one that could be done by nearly all using Excel or an abacus.

But this is not just about my view, others see it in the same way. Although, there is (as will be) an opposition view too and I do not ignore it. Foremost there is the eminent view of Simon Nixon from the Wall Street Journal. He stated: “One option is that Greece fails to get a deal with its creditors (quite plausible), runs out of cash (ditto) and then defaults on a debt repayment payment. But that wouldn’t immediately trigger Grexit“, which is where I am to some extent. Yet, he adds to that “How things play out after [a default] that will depend on who Greece decides to default on and the reaction of bank depositors. If Athens defaults on a government bond or loan, then the ECB will have to raise the price that banks pay to access emergency liquidity from the Bank of Greece, effectively depriving them of access to fresh supplies of euros. If Athens decides instead to default to its own citizens, perhaps by issuing IOUs to pay pensions and salaries, bank customers may start emptying euros from their accounts. Again, banks would quickly run out of collateral for emergency liquidity. In both cases, Athens would have to introduce capital controls and bank holidays to stop the financial system imploding. Some officials believe Greece could carry on for several weeks if not months in this state of limbo while still technically remaining part of the Eurozone“, I am not denying his view, he has a good grasp of things so he is probably a lot more correct then I am. Yet, my issue now is not whether they remain in the Euro, but the ramifications of Greece remaining in the Euro, regardless of the consequences and through the wheeling and dealing of several players who feel profitable if Greece remains in the Euro. Finland is only the first of 6.

Second is the UK with UKIP, that party is still growing and the Varoufakis rock star tour, as we saw it over the last two months, only agitated people all over Europe, the entire German slamming thing as well as the political statements around the refugee issues did not help either. So as UKIP grows, so will the option (and future) of the Euro diminishing in equal measure, the nightmare that Moscovici will like even less.

Third on the list is France with National Front. They will go on growing and the momentum UIKIP gets will massively benefit National Front, the party that was ignored for way too long has become a voice of power in France. Marine Le Penn has become a global player, another member against the softness for Greece and even less in favour of the Euro power as it diminished the force of France will take a steep change for the worse of the health of the Euro as they gain more momentum.

Fourth is the Dutch PVV, by themselves not that powerful or too influential, but with the like minded views they have to some degree to both UKIP and National Front, PVV will be invited to several tables they were not invited to earlier, even though their favour is falling (especially against the Dutch VVD), they remain a higher placed party (higher than they were before) and should the VVD be unable to create a working dialogue with UKIP and National Front, we will see more growth towards PVV, making them another voice that asks to end the Euro.

Fifth is Germany. Their power is actually twofold, first there is the growing opposition from Bernd Lucke, with his AfD (Alternative for Germany), remains on a forward momentum. And as they are anti-Euro, that ship needs to be closely watched, in addition, some German magazines state that one in two Germans are now in favour of Grexit. And here we get the first major Crux. Should some player overextend their reach by forcing some ‘deal’ keeping Greece in the Euro with a last minute ‘miracle’ solution (with ‘some’ hidden costs down the track of course), then the move towards AfD could be a lot more massive than before, the German player is the biggest one at the moment (in economic regard to the other 5 parties) and they have had enough (especially after the WW2 debacle Tsipras reignited).

Sixth in all this is the wildcard Italy. Here we have several unknowns, yet there is also a glooming danger. You see, the party here is Lega Nord, normally, this party is the one that is not the biggest contender it never was. However, Matteo Salvini is making headway, slowly but surely. Now we get the other side of the Greek issue. Matteo could grow in Italy with Lega Nord, the same way Syriza got Greece under Tsipras. Now we have ourselves a different fight, because Lega Nord is the opposite of Syriza and they are anti-Euro, as well as Anti-immigrant. So the issues pushed on us by Greece that are nagging us, are also growing the powers of Lega Nord. Normally it would not be such a big deal, but with National Front and UKIP being similar minded, Lega Nord will now get a more powerful European voice, together they will also push growth for AfD, or through AfD. I feel that they could grow a ‘symbiotic’ relationship.

If you are scared now, then do not be (unless you are a banker). These issues have been clearly in play and the vocally uttered path from Moscovici is helping these six entities and his speeches might help Moscovici a little less over the coming weeks. By trying to hold onto ‘Status Quo’, Moscovici might be achieving the opposite, who is the nice cuddly Possum now? Actually Possums are regarded as pests in New Zealand, so even as the possum is protected in Australia, is gets shot on sight in New Zealand. So as Moscovici contemplates his value as an asset by some, several nations are regarding the steps of Moscovici to be like a pest. Even though most of these politicians are not into the fair wildlife ‘game’, they will regard his policies and the need for them to be shot down at their earliest convenience. Not by the six I mentioned mind you, but as these issues are reason for growth for the six players mentioned, the other parties in those nations will now slowly more and more accept sacrificing Greece (by holding them to account), for them it is about governing and their chance to do so diminishes with every iteration where Greece remains unaccountable.

So here is as I see it the opposition I see to Simon Nixon from the wall Street Journal. Not because he is wrong (he is not wrong), but because the correct path seems to elevate some political parties to the degree that several political opponents do not want to see, which exasperates the Greek position even further.

This all escalates even further when we consider the news from NBC less than an hour ago. The title ‘Greece requires public sector entities to transfer cash balances to central bank’ should worry many, as it could be the first signal for the population of Greece to make a bank run (at http://www.cnbc.com/id/102601803). The quote “Greece issued a legislative act on Monday requiring public sector entities to transfer idle cash reserves to the country’s central bank, as part of efforts to deal with a cash squeeze” gives a fair view that Greece is trying to collect all the ‘idle’ cash there is. Is that not addressing the very last option? The second quote is “Monday’s act excludes pension funds and some state-owned firms. Cash reserves that are needed by these bodies for their immediate payment needs are also excluded from the regulation”, here we get the part ‘excludes immediate payment needed for pension funds’, yet what is ‘immediate’ here? 4 weeks, 8 weeks? This could possibly imply that those on a pension might not receive anything from June 1st onwards. Perhaps this is just to make headspace (or is it fund space) until May 12th? I do not presume to know the answer, but the Greek acts only confirms how right I was all along (as I see it).

So as Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras seems to continue to try to convince sceptical foreign creditors to extend new financial aid, we must ask how successful does Alexis Tsipras consider his chances when the state is collecting all ‘idle’ coins. If it takes all coins just to make the next €1 billion, whilst 9.7 is still required soon thereafter, how much faith will the creditors have? So, the earlier statement that Yanis Varoufakis made (three days ago), when he stated “On the 24th [April] there will not be a solution, there will be progress”, he’ll better wake up now and realise that he finds a decent solution before Saturday, because progress might not be enough and when the creditors state ‘no!’, then the Greek default could be regarded as the next reality. By the way, the quote from Bloomberg (regarding the legislative act of Greece) is: “Central government entities are obliged to deposit their cash reserves and transfer their term deposit funds to their accounts at the Bank of Greece,” the presidential decree issued Monday said on the government gazette website. The “regulation is submitted due to extremely urgent and unforeseen need”, I wonder what unforeseen need they might imply, because there was very little un-foreseeability regarding the strapped cash issue, that part was almost crystal clear when the previous payment was barely made.

The only thing remaining is to keep an eye out on the quotes from Pierre Moscovici for the next 48 hours, it might be interesting to see the ‘swing’ it holds (if it swings).

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