GREECE DEBT CRISIS
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To Keep Greece In The Eurozone, You Need A Transfer Union
Taking advice from the Germans? Greece ready to sell off uninhabited islands
Greece Debt Crisis Timeline
To Keep Greece In The Eurozone, You Need A Transfer Union
To keep Greece in the euro zone, effectively you need a transfer union, you have to realize that the problems of Greece are long-term, it’s going to take 10 to 20 years to do the austerity and the reform to stabilize Greece and therefore you have to give money and you have to be patient.
If you’re willing to do that for the sake of keeping the euro zone together, whether it’s economic reasons or political or geo political or foreign policy then Greece has a chance. – in The WSJ
Nouriel Roubini is an American economist. He teaches at New York University’s Stern School of Business and is the chairman of Roubini Global Economics.
Taking advice from the Germans? Greece ready to sell off uninhabited islands. 8/23/2012
greek islandsThe Greek prime minister has told Le Monde that the beleaguered country is ready to sell some islands – something that two German MPs told them to do two years ago.
THE PRIME MINISTER of Greece has made a surprise announcement to Le Monde newspaper: that his country is ready to put some of its uninhabited islands up for sale.
According to the French publication today, PM Antonis Samaris makes the admission in a lengthy interview – a synopsis of it can be viewed on Le Monde’s website. In the introduction, the reporter Alain Salles notes that Greece hopes to accelerate the privatisation (of some State assets) and is ready to give up uninhabited islands (underlined in red):
It’s part of Samaras’s plan to try and pull Greece back from the brink of total meltdown as it tried to meet the terms of its bailout agreement.
German MPs told Greece to sell the islands two years ago – this is what they said then:
What is most interesting about this revelation – apart from the speculation about what wealthy individual might be the new owner of a private Mediterranean island or two – is the fact that this idea was mooted to Greece two years ago… by the Germans.
In 2010, two German members of parliament told the German newspaper Bild that “The Greek state must sell stakes in companies and also assets such as, for example, unpopulated islands.”
At the time, George Papandreou was prime minister and in the midst of talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel about Greece’s dire economic situation. His deputy foreign minister Dimitris Droutsas told German TV station ARD TV at that time that they wouldn’t consider such a suggestion.
When The Guardian newspaper published a story claiming that the Greek government had in fact started to put up some islands for sale in June 2010 to boost its coffers, the Greek government sent out a spokesperson to emphatically deny this was the case. One private island was for sale – but “has been on the market for a long time” and was a private sale. The spokesperson wrote:
The far-fetched suggestion that Greece would consider selling off islands “driven by the inability of the state to develop basic infrastructure, or police most of its islands” is both incorrect and offensive. Last but not least, Greece did not receive a “bailout” from the EU and IMF, but a loan, which will be repaid in full.
Two years on, and it appears that the new Greek government has done a U-turn on the uninhabited islands issue. Then again, no-one is taking issue with the word ‘bailout’ anymore either…
Want to buy one of the islands?
The national Greek tourism organisation states that there are 6,000 islands and islets in the Greek archipelago. Of these, only 227 are inhabited which means that the rest are potentially up for grabs. (Be warned – some are only tiny outcrops of rock so choose your deserted paradise carefully).
If you have a few million euro burning a hole in your pocket and you can’t wait for the Greek government to officially put the islands up for auction, privateislandsonline.com already has a private uninhabited Greek island up for sale. It covers an area of 170 acres, has two natural ports, two natural beaches, forests and fields. The good news is that it’s a fixer-upper: the advertisement goes as following:
All the necessary paperwork and a building license are available. One can build about 185,000 squared metres depending on the use of the land. There is a power supply about 25m from shore. Water supply is available.
It’s in the Ionian Sea, one of five islands in the Echinades complex. The site goes on to say that it is offering two other Greek islands for sale near the Scorpios island owned by “Greek tycoon Ari Onassis”. There goes the neighbourhood, eh Ari?
It is Germany and not Greece or any other GIIP that should say “Auf Wiedersehen” to the euro, says GaveKal analyst Anatole Kaletsky. The other members should force the issue with a vote in the ECB for unlimited QE. A German exit would be “very bullish for practically all global risk assets,” Kaletsky says, although it wouldn’t be so great for German exporters and banks. 6/19/2012
The terms of Greece’s bailout will be renegotiated, according to a senior EU official, as the worsening situation there makes the original agreement “an illusion.” Anyone who believes differently “is delusional.” 6/19/2012
In a statement released today, Fitch Ratings indicated that it would not place all eurozone sovereigns on downgrade watch, as it would have if Greece’s elections had not supported the EU-IMF bailout plan.
Even so, the ratings agency warned of significant headwinds for the euro area, writing, “The crisis in Greece and the eurozone remains intense.”
Fitch credited the downgrade reprieve to the diminished likelihood that Greece could leave the euro immediately. 6/18/2012
This Sunday’s Greek parliamentary elections largely went right in line with expectations. The conservative, pro-bailout New Democracy party won the most votes, easing fears of a disorderly exit from the euro. However, the left-leaning, anti-bailout SYRIZA party was close. Now they just have to form a government. Failure to do so could lead to a third round of elections, which would bring more volatility to the markets. 6/18/2012
Talks about Greece have shifted from preventing default to cutting its €350B ($500B) debt by exploiting the deep discounts at which its bonds are trading, sources say. Eurozone FinMins are expected to discuss their options tomorrow, including reviving a plan to use EU bailout cash to buy Greek debt.
Solving the Greek debt crisis will require extremely tough decisions and compromises — both for Greece and the European Union.
Greeks withdrew €4.8B in deposits from domestic banks in May, the highest outflow since April 2010. Last year, the money appeared to go to Switzerland, suggesting it was the rich moving the dough. Now Cyrpus – which has smaller minimum deposits, is the recipient, suggesting middle class money is fleeing. July 6, 2011
In a SPIEGEL interview, Allianz CEO Michael Diekmann discusses the participation of private creditors in a new bailout for Greece, the German insurance giant’s contribution to the aid package and his proposal for a long-term solution to Athens’ problems. July 5, 2011
Greek finmin Venizelos says the current plan is for Greece to be able to return to markets for borrowing in mid-2014. This time last year, Greece’s return was expected to be 2012. With the current plan relying on an optimistic €50B in privatizations by 2015, it’s probable Venizelos’ claim will be revisited over coming months and years. July 5, 2011
The ECB will continue to accept Greek debt as collateral, says one senior official, unless all three major ratings agencies declare it to be in default. July 5, 2011
The big chatter over the last few days has concerned the ratings agencies, and whether they would torpedo the Greek bailout, by declaring a debt rollover to be a default. S&P indicated they would likely take this step.
This is problematic, since the ECB had promised that it wouldn’t take as collateral debt from defaulted nations. Greek banks, for one, would be screwed.
Well, the ECB has a Plan B according to FT. If just one of the ratings agencies opts not to call the plan a default — let’s say, Fitch — then it would be okay with taking on Greek debt.
Meanwhile, there’s chatter from Bloomberg that the ECB could just ignore the ratings altogether, and go on lending as it pleases.
So basically, since the ECB is an independent body that can do whatever it pleases — including go back on past statements — the odds of the ratings agencies screwing this up are greatly diminished. July 5, 2011
James Suroiwiecki on Greece: The real problem with the country is that tax evasion is a national pastime. July 5, 2011
Top German court hears case against bail-outs. German economists take their fight against Berlin’s part in rescuing Greece and setting up a permanent eurozone rescue mechanism to court. July 5, 2011
Banks to meet to sweeten Greek terms. Eurozone lenders are to gather Paris on Wednesday to consider a sweetened rollover plan which will ease burden on Greece. July 5, 2011
Hedge Funds Seeking Gains in Greek Crisis. The twists and turns of the Greek crisis and the whipsaw market activity have made it difficult for some hedge funds to maneuver. July 4, 2011
S&P threatens Greece with default: Ratings agency deals blow to proposed plan by French and German banks to roll over holdings of Greek debt. July 4, 2011
Risk rally stalls as S&P warns on Greece. Asia equities rally as regional sentiment is buoyed by gains on Wall Street, but Greece worries stall Europe. July 4, 2011
Greece to see out year in recession. The economy is set to shrink 3.75 per cent in 2011 and will show only marginal growth in 2012, according to the European Commission’s quarterly report. July 3, 2011
France’s self-protects over Greece. The French government’s push to help Greece avoid a default may not come out of pure altruism – but as a way to protect the French banks’ strong interests in the beleaguered country, analysts say. June 28, 2011
Greece debt crisis timeline
Greece’s debt crisis timeline
1 January 2001: Greece joins the euro
Having been left out when the single European currency began at the beginning of 1999, Greece becomes the 12th member two years later after dramatically cutting inflation and interest rates, and bringing the drachma smoothly into line with the euro. The Greek government hails the achievement, saying it promised greater stability and prosperity. But the then president of the European Central Bank, Wim Duisenberg, warns that the country must keep working hard to improve its economy, and some analysts fret that the euro could suffer from the inclusion of weaker European nations.
15 November 2004: Greece admits fudging euro entry
Close scrutiny of Greece’s budget figures shows that the country has not actually met the conditions to join the eurozone. Greek government admits that its deficit has never been below 3% since 1999, as EU rules demand.
29 March 2005: Austerity measures
Having ousted the Greece’s socialist government a year earlier, the right-wing New Democracy party imposes an austerity budget to try to slash Greece’s deficit and get the public finances back on track after the cost of hosting the 2004 Olympics. It includes tax hikes on alcohol and tobacco, and an increase in VAT from 18% to 19%.
Spring 2006: Bouncing back?
A year after the austerity budget, Greece’s economy appears to be growing strongly again, with GDP up 4.1% in the first three months of 2006.
4 October 2009: George Papandreou becomes Greece’s prime minister
Papandreou’s Panhellenic Socialist Movement (PASOK) party wins power after New Democracy calls a snap general election, asking the Greek people for a new mandate to tackle the looming financial crisis. The Greek economy has contracted by 0.3%, and the national debt has risen to €262bn, from €168bn in 2004. At this stage, the government expects the 2009 deficit to reach 6% of GDP.
30 November 2009: Debt fears mount
Papandreou admits that the Greek economy is in “intensive care”, as European finance ministers express concern about the size of the country’s debt.
8 December 2009: Fitch downgrades Greece’s credit rating
The crisis escalates and shares fall around the world after ratings agency Fitch cuts Greece’s long-term debt to BBB+, from A-. This is the first time in a decade that Greece does not have an A-rating, and pushes up the cost of borrowing.
14 December 2009: Papandreou unveils radical reforms
The Greek government announces an ambitious plan to cut the deficit by four percentage points, as a proportion of GDP, in 2010-2011.
17 December 2009: Strikes hit Greece as debt crisis grows
Thousands of workers take to the streets in protest at Papandreou’s cutbacks, hours after Standard & Poor’s follows Fitch by cutting Greece’s credit rating.
28 January 2010: Greece promises to ‘put house in order’
The spread between the interest charged on Greek and German debt widens to 4% as investors fret that Greece may default.
2 February 2010: Papandreou makes TV appeal for unity over financial crisis
Greece announces a wider austerity package, including a freeze on public sector pay and higher taxes for low and middle-income households.
10 February 2010: Greek public sector workers strike as spectre of bailout looms
Riot police fire’s tear gas on demonstrators in Athens, protesting at the austerity measures. Meanwhile European leaders consider a rescue package for Greece at an economic summit.
11 February 2010: Angela Merkel dashes Greek hopes of rescue bid
Germany opposes a quick bailout of Greece, saying the country must tackle its debt problems itself.
26 February 2010: Goldman Sachs faces Fed inquiry over Greek crisis
Investment bank is accused of helping to cause the crisis by using derivatives contracts to disguise how much Greece was borrowing.
3 March 2010: Greece unveils radical austerity package
Greek population told to accept lower bonuses and higher taxes or risk bankruptcy.
4 March 2010: Greece breathes a sigh of relief as 10-year bonds sale proves popular
… and the financial markets welcome the move by bidding for €16bn of government debt.
March 5, 2010: New package of public sector pay cuts and tax increases is passed to save an extra 4.8 billion euros. VAT to rise 2 percentage points to 21%, public sector salary bonuses cut by 30%, tax on fuel, tobacco and alcohol rise, state-funded pensions frozen in 2010.
9 March 2010: Papandreou asks Obama for help
Greek prime minister calls for a crackdown on financial speculators during a world tour.
March 11, 2010: Public and private sector workers on strike.
March 15, 2010: The Euro zone finance ministers agree on mechanism that will allow them to help Greece, but reveal no details.
29 March 2010: Greece struggles on after weak response to bond sale.
Financial markets start to lose faith in Greece’s ability to service its debts.
11 April 2010: EU ministers agree Greek bailout terms
Finally, after several weeks of haggling the eurozone agrees a €30bn rescue package for its weakest member.
16 April 2010: Fury in Greece over IMF intervention
Greek government admits that it may need help from the International Monetary Fund, pushing its bailout up to €45bn.
19 April 2010: Greek borrowing reaches record high
The spread between the yield on Greek and German bonds shoots up to 469 basis points, as Greek workers fear the IMF’s arrival.
April 21, 2010: Investors dump Greek assets on uncertainly whether rescue funds will come in time. The yield on the benchmark Greek 10-year government bond rises to 8.4 percent.
April 22, 2010: Eurostat says Greece’s 2009 budget deficit is 13.6 percent of GDP, not 12.7 percent as reported earlier.
April 23, 2010: Greece officially requests a bailout.
27 April 2010: Standard & Poor’s downgrade Greek credit rating to junk status.
S&P slashes its credit rating to BB+, sending stock markets plunging worldwide. Analysts and politicians warn that €45bn simply won’t be enough to sort out the Greek crisis, with Goldman Sachs predicting that the country may need a €150bn rescue package.
28 April 2010: All eyes are Berlin
EU and IMF officials hold crunch talks with German leaders. Rumours of a €120bn package calm the markets, as Angela Merkel admits that admitting Greece into the euro may have been a mistake.
2 May 2010: EU debt crisis: Greece granted €110bn aid to avert meltdown
After days of frantic negotiations, the IMF, the EC and the European central bank hammer out a three-year package to rescue Greece.
4 May 2010: Greek protesters storm the Acropolis as markets lose faith
As anger erupts across Athens at the scale of the cutbacks that Greece must now implement, stock markets fall sharply and gold hits a record high as investors start to doubt whether the €110bn bailout will actually solve Greece problems.
May 9, 2010: The IMF unanimously approves its part of the rescue loans, with 5.5 billion euros being provided immediately.
May 10, 2010: Global policymakers install an emergency financial safety net worth €750bn to bolster financial markets and shore up the euro against contagion from the Greek crisis. It consists of 440 billion euros in guarantees from euro zone states, plus 60 billion euros in European debt instruments. EU finance ministers say the IMF will contribute a further 250 billion euros.
May 18, 2010: Greece receives a €14.5bn loan from the EU and can now repay its immediate debt payments.
June 8, 2010: Greece’s consumer inflation jumps to 5.4percent in May, it’s highest since summer of 1997.
June 14, 2010: Moody’s cuts Greece’s credit rating four notches to Ba1, or junk status, over risks to an EU-IMF bailout package. Greece’s Finance Minister says Moody’s cut is not justified.
July 7, 2010: Parliament passes pension reform, a key requirement of the EU-IMF deal, cutting benefits, curbing widespread early retirement and raising the women’s retirement age from 60 to 65.
August 5, 2010: European Union and IMF inspectors give Greece the green light for a fresh 9 billion euro tranche from the bailout.
Aug 24, 2010: Greece’s debt agency says it will switch from quarterly to monthly T-bill auctions starting from September 2010.
September 2010: The IMF says Greece is ahead of schedule in economic reform and it will disburse an additional 2.57 billion euros under a standby loan.
October 4, 2010: Greece submits a 2011 draft budget to parliament pledging to cut the 2011 budget deficit faster than agreed in the IMF-EU bailout deal.
January 2011: Fitch becomes the third rating agency to cut Greek debt to “junk” status after S&P Ratings and Moody’s.
February 11, 2011: EU and IMF inspectors approve a fresh tranche of 15 billion euros of bailout funds, but warn its fiscal program could fail unless it accelerates reforms and scales up privatizations.
April 8, 2011: Eurogroup Chairman Jean-Claude Juncker warns Greece of the importance of controlling spending, a day after news that the 2010 budget deficit overshot forecasts at more than 10% of GDP.
April 15, 2011: Greece presents new fiscal and privatization plans to convince international investors it can meet the terms of an EU-IMF bailout and avoid restructuring its debt.
May 2, 2011: Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou again rules out a debt restructuring, adding that he has just “expressed the hope” that the EU and IMF will agree to extend bailout loan repayments.
May 9, 2011: Standard and Poor’s cuts Greece’s credit rating further into junk territory to B, one notch above Pakistan’s.
May 21, 2011: Mr Papandreou and senior ECB officials say Greece must avoid debt restructuring and push on with reforms, budget cuts and privatisations to overcome its debt crisis.
May 23, 2011: Greece unveils a series of privatizations (DEH, OPAP, EYDAP), part of a goal to raise €50bn by 2015 to pay down its debt.
May 29, 2011: Thousands of protesters denounce Greece’s ruling class and vent their anger at the IMF and its demands for yet more belt-tightening.
June 1, 2011: Greece criticises Moody’s decision to cut its credit rating to Caa1, bringing it seven notches into junk territory, saying the move did not take into account the country’s efforts to tidy up the country’s finances.
June 3, 2011: Greece is likely to get a vital slice of aid in July to avoid default, international lenders say, as they end a month-long review of their 110 billion euro bailout program.
June 4, 2011: Greece hit by violent protests in central Athens, as P.M: Mr Papandreou agrees to make “significant” cuts in public-sector employment.
June 8, 2011: Greece agrees to 6.48 billion euros of extra austerity measures for 2011 and savings up to 2015 to cut deficits and keep getting aid, an official document shows.
June 9, 2011: The Greek government approves and submits to parliament the mid-term fiscal and privatization plan required by the EU and the IMF to restore the country’s finances.
In an open letter to European and international authorities, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble say: “Any additional financial support for Greece has to involve a fair burden sharing between taxpayers and private investors.”
GDP tumbles 5.5 percent year on year in the first quarter of 2011, official data shows.
June 11, 2011: Jean-Claude Juncker, head of the eurozone finance ministers, backs Germany’s proposal for a “soft restructuring” of Greece’s debt, but said any contribution from private sector creditors should be “voluntary”.
June 13, 2011: Greece becomes the country with the lowest credit rating in the world after S&P downgrades it by three notches, to CCC, just four steps away from default, from B. The short-term rating is affirmed at C and all the ratings are removed from credit watch.
June 15, 2011: Mr. Papandreou says in order to overcome the debt crisis he will form a new cabinet the next day and seek a vote of confidence from his fractious Socialist party to see through a harsh austerity bill, the target of major protests. Speculation and fear from both markets and the Greek population turns violent. The failure of European leaders to resolve their disagreements over the Greek debt crisis combines to rattle credit markets again on Wednesday and Thursday.
June 16, 2011: Mr. Papandreou postpones until June 17 the announcement of his reshuffled cabinet line up due to a string of parliamentary defections from his ruling socialist party.
June 17, 2011: Papandreou is expected to name a new cabinet, to muster support for painful economic reforms needed as the price of a second international bailout.