Monday, 30 July 2012

Greek return to the drachma?


GREECE EXCLUSIVE: Geithner envoy ‘assured Athens of US support on return to drachma’ – sources
Meanwhile, the EFSF robs Petros to pay Pavlos



29 July, 2012

The US Treasury’s Assistant Secretary for International Finance Charles Collyns had a meeting with Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras in Athens on Wednesday morning. The official Greek media version was that Collyns ‘expressed the support of US-Finance Secretary Tomothy Geithner to Greece and his confidence in Greek efforts. Yinannis Stournas briefed Collyns on the situation of the Greek fiscal condition, and the key challenges of the Greek economy’.

In fact, Washington sources told The Slog last night BST that Collyns – a confidante of both Geithner and Stournas – was on a specific mission to impress on Greek Finance bosses the US Treasury’s sincerity in offering Greece “almost unqualified support in the event of a return to the drachma”. The White House is betting on the strong likelihood of Greece becoming formally insolvent before any more bailout monies are available from Berlin-am-Brussels.

Charles Collyns is uniquely placed to deliver the message credibly to the Athens government: he was at the IMF for many years, and is a personal friend of Geithner going back a long way;  but significantly, he is also an old classmate and close friend of Yiannis Stournaras himself.

As The Slog reported earlier his year  US Government covertly attempted to isolate Greece from the eurozone last March, in a bid to both make the country an important and loyal base for military intervention against enemies in the region, and itself play a beneficial role in the exploitation of Greece’s energy and mineral assets under the Aegean ocean. This move shows that the Obama White House remains determined to follow this course of action. A number of informed sources in Europe believe that the Greeks have had all the EFSF monies they’re going to get. On that basis, they would probably default on or around August 20th.


One day soon – allegedly – that EFSF will become the ESM. But it’s becoming increasingly hard to see how future bailouts are going to work given the likely contributors to the fund. As Yanis Varoufakis noted on his blog yesterday, on August 20th Greece is due to borrow €3.2 bn from the EFSF, in order to pay back the ECB. This idea is potty enough, but are we now to believe that Spain can cough up €600m for Greece, while borrowing another €3bn for itself?


That the whole ball of wool is unravelling could not be clearer given examples like these. Yanis Varoufikas urges Greece not to borrow the next tranche. I think he’s farting against thunder on that one. But as the American moves suggest, the money may well not be forthcoming anyway.



23 crucial days for Greece
28 July, 2012

On 20th August, the Greek government will have to borrow 3.2 billion from one arm of the Eurozone (from the EFSF) in order to repay another (the ECB). Yet Greece is insolvent. The very idea of an insolvent entity borrowing more from a community, like the Eurozone, in order to repay that same community is obscene. 

All it does is to shift the burden from the Central Bank to the taxpayers of Germany, Holland, Austria and Finland. This is not an act of solidarity with Greece. It is an act of irresponsible kicking-the-can-up-a-steep-hill. The simple point I have been trying to drive home for a long while now is that the Eurozone must make a simple decision: Either to give Greece a proper chance of exiting its current death spiral. Or to dump Greece now, before the Greek state loses all its remaining assets and before it gets deeper into debt. And if our Eurozone partners are not prepared to make up their minds (caught up in their own short term concerns and shenanigans), then Athens must force their hand to decide within the next 23 days. How? By announcing that Greece will NOT be borrowing on 20th August monies it cannot repay under the present scheme of things. 

The other day I published an extensive article in Greek making this point (seehere). Today some good people, unknown to me, have re-posted that article in German (click here). English speakers can read it by using Google Translate (which does a decent job of it). Meanwhile, here is how I described the Eurozone’s dilemma concerning Greece on BSkyB (Sky News). The footage comes from the eve of the Greek parliamentary election (16th June). But it is still pertinent, I think.



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