Greece 2010

Written by  //  October 19, 2010  //  Antal (Tony) Deutsch, Europe & EU, Kimon Valskakis  //  Comments Off on Greece 2010

Europe and European Council ; Greece on

Greece After The Fall
( Has the near financial collapse changed the country?
19 September
IMF poised to send permanent officials to Greece
(The Guardian) Greek government faces growing criticism over pace of reforms, amid reports aid programme is to be prolonged to 2020
4 July
Israel loses Turkey, gains Greece as strategic partner
(DEBKA) Greece, a NATO member like Turkey with plenty of Middle East interests, has shown interest in stepping into Turkey’s shoes and investing in stronger military and intelligence ties.
27 June
Greece to test markets with July T-bill auctions
(Reuters) – Greece said on Monday it would issue T-bills in mid-July to cover maturing debt, a bold but risky test of market appetite in its first auction since securing a mammoth EU and IMF bailout last month.
Nouriel Roubini: Greece’s best option is an orderly default
(FT) It is time to recognise that Greece is not just suffering from a liquidity crisis; it is facing an insolvency crisis too. Rating agencies have started to downgrade its public debt to junk level, while spreads on Greek sovereign bonds last week spiked to new highs. The €110bn bail-out agreed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund in May only delays the inevitable default and risks making it disorderly when it comes. Instead, an orderly restructuring of Greece’s public debt is needed now.
24 June
Life Amid the Ruins
An economic collapse, the biggest bailout in EU history, and sweeping government reforms have shocked Greece. A special report on the country’s new misery—and opportunity
Greece starts putting island land up for sale to save economy
(The Guardian) Desperate attempt to repay debts also driven by inability to find funds to develop infrastructure on islands
Greece is making it easier for the rich and famous to fulfill their dreams by preparing to sell, or offering long-term leases on, some of its 6,000 sunkissed islands in a desperate attempt to repay its mountainous debts.
The Guardian has learned that an area in Mykonos, one of Greece’s top tourist destinations, is one of the sites for sale. The area is one-third owned by the government, which is looking for a buyer willing to inject capital and develop a luxury tourism complex, according to a source close to the negotiations.
23 May
Ambassador Kimon Valaskakis: Some misinformation which has been disseminated by the Media paints a picture of overpaid workers in Greece. This is not the case. The salaries are low by European standards. For this reason, to lay the burden of repaying a debt, incurred by corrupt officials in the public and private sector, to the little people, seems particularly unfair.
Dr. Kenneth Matziorinis replies: You are absolutely right, Kimon. For proof, read “The Greek Myth of Profligacy: The Fiscal Crisis in Greece Isn’t About Spending” from the Center of American Progress.
Michael Linden and Sabina Dewan: The Greek Myth of Profligacy: The Fiscal Crisis in Greece Isn’t About Spending
(Center for American Progress) It’s not the spending. The Greek fiscal situation is a mess, a big dangerous mess. But they didn’t spend their way into that mess and they won’t be able to cut their way out of it. It is easy, and for conservatives certainly tempting, to blame Greece’s woes on overspending. Robert Samuelson’s recent op-ed in The Washington Post even goes so far as to claim that the Greek fiscal crisis signals the “death spiral” of the welfare state. He then tries to extrapolate lessons from the Greek crisis and apply them to the United States. The facts belie both of these claims.
Professor Antal Deutsch comments: If one were to assume that the share of the ‘informal’ economy in Greece is larger than in many (most?) of its European neighbors, the case made in the article becomes stronger, because a larger portion of the Greek GDP is unrecorded, but all of the public spending is on the books. The impression of generosity is partly historical: PASOK first got elected by promising to double pensions, and partly cultural, because on the Continent salaries are defined by month. The 13th monthly salary is usually the Christmas bonus, which, while by now generally expected, is nominally discretionary.
The bottom line is that the Greek public sector has to reduce its deficit. How this is done matters a great deal to the persons affected, but not at all to the bond-holders, who now have to be satisfied.

Professor Deutsch adds Christopher Buckley: The Debt of Socrates – Even at the dawn of western civilization, a demand for higher pensions and more services – to the discussion with the comment Who said that studying the classics was a waste of time?
21 May
John Pilger: The heresy of the Greeks offers hope
(The New Statesman) The crisis that has led to Greece’s “rescue” by European banks and the International Monetary Fund is the product of a grotesque financial system that itself is in crisis. Greece is a microcosm of a modern class war rarely reported as such, but waged with all the urgency of panic among the imperial rich.
Protests quiet temporarily, but Greek anger has not waned
Although demonstrations have quieted in Greece, the sentiment persists that Greek leaders must be held accountable for their failure to prevent a financial catastrophe that will bring hardship in the form of austerity measures — and for the impression that the political leadership has weathered the crisis with impunity. Protests cooled after three workers, including one pregnant women, died from smoke inhalation, but union organizers say they are prepared to return to the streets, with a nationwide 48-hour strike to follow within weeks. Labor leaders fear that some 100,000 private-sector jobs will be lost as a result of the crisis. Los Angeles Times (5/12) 
Greece secures bailout program to bolster failing economy
Greek authorities announced agreement Sunday on a bailout worth $140 billion (110 billion euros) to be funded by the European Union and International Monetary Fund. The deal is designed to stabilize the flailing Greek economy and help the government meet its rising debt obligations, but it comes with austerity measures that are expected to roil Greek society. Protesters took to the streets of Athens on Saturday to protest terms of the deal, which will require significant reforms such as government spending cuts and higher taxes. The Globe and Mail (Toronto) (5/3) , The New York Times (free registration) (5/2) , The Toronto Star/The Associated Press (5/1)
2 May
Greek Wealth Is Everywhere but Tax Forms
Signs of wealth abound in Athens, but only a few thousand Greeks out of 11 million declared an income of more than $132,000 last year, according to the Finance Ministry.
Various studies, including one by the Federation of Greek Industries last year, have estimated that the government may be losing as much as $30 billion a year to tax evasion — a figure that would have gone a long way to solving its debt problems.
28 April
Greek Junk Contagion Presses EU to Broaden Bailout After Rout
Europe’s worsening debt crisis is intensifying pressure on policy makers to widen a bailout package beyond Greece after a cut in the nation’s rating to junk drove up borrowing costs from Italy to Portugal and Ireland.
25 April
Best Hope for Greece: Minimize the Losses
(NYT) Only a few weeks ago, the idea that Greece might restructure its debt seemed like the nuclear option. Now restructuring — a polite alternative to outright “default” — is not only thinkable, but even likely.
In a full-fledged, Argentina-style default, investors would lose over half their money — an option that may be too severe for Greece to contemplate seriously. But even a so-called haircut, in which creditors absorb a relatively modest reduction in the face value of Greek bonds, could have dire consequences for the euro zone and the region’s beleaguered banks, which hold most of Greece’s bonds.
23 April
Greeks fear deeper economic pain
(BBC) … the prime minister had little cause for celebration as he … announced surrender to the forces of international finance. Until Thursday, his socialist administration was still insisting that it wanted to borrow money from the world’s markets to repay Greece’s elephantine debt. But capitulation was inevitable after European statisticians disclosed that Greece’s deficit was even worse than first thought.
22 April
A Setback for Greece as Europe Says Deficit Is Larger Than Thought
Greece’s attempts to get its economy back on its feet and to regain investor trust suffered another setback Thursday as the European Union increased its estimate of the country’s 2009 budget deficit.
The new estimate means the austerity measures being negotiated with the International Monetary Fund and euro zone countries might be deeper and last longer than previously expected.
In addition, Moody’s Investors Service cut the government’s sovereign debt rating, sending its borrowing costs soaring.
13 April
French and German Ties Fray Over Debt Crisis in Greece
Germany, long the financier of the European Union, has made it clear that it will no longer pay for the mistakes and frauds of others, while France has emphasized unity.
9 April
Greece’s deepening debt crisis
Worries about Greece’s ability to roll over its maturing debt are giving way to bigger fears
(The Economist) On April 6th, just three days after the Greek prime minister claimed “the worst is over,” the yield on Greek ten-year government bonds leapt from 6.5% to above 7%. Yields remain at alarming levels, rising above 7.5% at one point on April 8th. The president of the European Central Bank, Jean-Claude Trichet, told a press conference that “default is not an issue for Greece.” But the D-word is increasingly on the lips of analysts. The cost of insuring Greece’s bonds surpassed that of Iceland’s this week; Greek banks have asked to tap a government liquidity scheme. Far from coming to an end, the Greek debt crisis seems scarcely to have begun.
29 March
(FT) Greece made a successful return to capital markets on Monday as it raised €5bn in a new syndicated bond issue. But the high price it had to pay signalled that markets were unconvinced by last week’s European Union-led rescue package.
However, the euro rose against a clutch of currencies, including the dollar, yen and sterling, after the Greeks achieved the amount targeted for the seven-year bond. More
26 March
(Financial Post) Markets, euro roiled as France, Germany strike deal for Greek bailout
Germany and France yesterday thrashed out a deal to involve the International Monetary Fund in a rescue package for Greece’s ailing economy but the plan drew a sharp rebuke from the head of the European Central Bank, sending stocks and the euro into a late-day tailspin.
Germany, France to let IMF take lead on helping Greece
In advance of a two-day EU summit in Brussels, Germany and France have agreed to support a plan that would give International Monetary Fund aid to Greece, according to an official from Germany’s Finance Ministry. Earlier, another German official said that Germany would not participate in an EU bailout for Greece without a significant contribution from the IMF. Greece has sought help from the EU to lower its borrowing costs as a first step in addressing its debt load. Bloomberg (3/23)
21 March
German stance solidifies against aid for Greece

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that there was no reason to make Greece’s crushing debt the main topic of an upcoming EU summit, widening the gap between Germany and other countries in the EU with regard to Greece’s fate. Germany has resisted calls from Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou for a plan that would enable Greece to restructure its public-sector deficit, which threatens the financial stability of the eurozone. Some 40% of Germans believe that the country would fare better without the common euro currency, and an overwhelming majority oppose offering support to Greece. The New York Times (3/21) , Financial Times (3/21)
18 March
Greek PM gives European leaders a week to produce rescue plan
(The Guardian) George Papandreou has threatened to turn to the IMF in exasperation with the EU’s lack of clarity on a plan to resolve the Greek crisis
4 March
Greece prepared to turn to IMF
(FT) Papandreou: ‘We have shown we can take difficult decisions. We are waiting for European support – the other side of the agreement’
2 March
Athens: The First Domino?
If help isn’t forthcoming, little Greece–whose economy is just 3 percent of Europe’s GDP–could, against its will, set off a chain reaction that pulls down Portugal, Ireland, Spain, perhaps even Italy, and thereby throws Europe’s, and then America’s and the rest of the world’s, fragile recoveries into reverse.
1 March
Hedge funds prosper from Greek debt
Hedge funds have made large profits from Greek debt and providing insurance to overexposed European banks, it emerged on Sunday. France signalled that private lenders were likely to help in any rescue plan for Athens
23 February
Greece threatens more than the euro
As Greece’s financial crisis rumbles onwards, it has become commonplace to argue that the roots of the problem stretch all the way back to the design of Europe’s single currency. Actually, … the Greek crisis is about the very basis on which European unity has been built for the last 60 years.
16 February
Eurozone seeks tougher Greek action
Commission asks for additional measures on top of budget deficit cuts agreed
European community struggles with Greek economic uncertainty
European leaders are seeking guarantees of tighter fiscal responsibility from Greece before making any definitive allocations. The New York Times  (2/15)
A vote last week by the European Council to support a financial bailout for debt-beset Greece likely will bring an end to Greece’s downward spiral — and will have lasting ramifications for the European Union. Financial Times (tiered subscription model) (2/14)
11 February
Europe’s financial crisis
(The Economist) The spectre that haunts Europe – A bail-out for Greece will not be the end of the euro area’s fiscal troubles
Europe Vows to Save Greece – Pledge to Prevent Athens Default Is Watershed for Euro Zone; Details Remain Vague
(WSJ) It was a watershed acknowledgment that the fiscal problems of one euro-zone country have now become the problems of all.
8 February
How Goldman Sachs Helped Greece to Mask its True Debt
(Spiegel online) Goldman Sachs helped the Greek government to mask the true extent of its deficit with the help of a derivatives deal that legally circumvented the EU Maastricht deficit rules. At some point the so-called cross currency swaps will mature, and swell the country’s already bloated deficit.
5 February
(The Economist) The Greek government wins support from Brussels—but can the country stick to austerity?

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