A quiet run on Greek banks spells more trouble for euro zone
For obvious reasons, the Greek government is not making any announcements about what appears to be a run on banks and the potential pull out of foreign companies if Greece leaves the euro.
Greeks are already voting in advance of the election this Sunday. They are voting with their deposits.
A senior banker at a large Greek lender said between €600 million ($754 million) and €900 million has left the banking system daily over the past few days, a number he expects to increase leading up to the vote. Other people familiar with the banking system confirmed the estimates.
Crédit Agricole's contingency plans for Emporiki Bank of Greece SA, Greece's sixth-largest bank, add to the bleak landscape, even after two multibillion euro bailouts extended by European Union countries and the International Monetary Fund. The banking sector is reeling from rising bad loans as the economy-now in its fifth year of recession-nose dives and fears over an eventual exit from the euro zone shatter consumer confidence.
Several European leaders have said Sunday's ballot amounts to a referendum on whether the Mediterranean country wants to stay part of the bloc. The vote pits the radical leftist Syriza party, which opposes austerity measures tied to the Greek bailouts, against their conservative rival, New Democracy, which largely supports the bailout program.
Throughout much of the European crisis, France's leading banks, which rank among Europe's largest, have faced criticism for responding slowly to emerging problems. For the past three years, as Greece's financial situation deteriorated, Crédit Agricole pumped additional money into Emporiki, insisting it was a business the bank was committed to.
A withdrawal from Greece by Crédit Agricole would underscore the lengths that the bank will potentially go to draw a line under its disastrous foray into the Mediterranean country. For a bank already considered by many experts to be financially stretched, such a move could cost it billions of euros, as well as expose it to legal risks and damage its reputation.
Even if pro-bailout parties win the election on Sunday, there is no guarantee they will continue to back the harsh austerity measures demanded by the EU in exchange for the cash. In fact, Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy party says that he will seek to renegoitate some of the terms of the bail out agreement. This, Germany and the ECB have flatly refused to do which means any potential Samaras government probably isn't long for this world.
You can smell the panic in Greece. Pretty soon, you'll be able to smell it in Spain, Italy, and perhaps even France. The printing presses at the European Central Bank can't work fast enough to manufacture enough euros to cover all those country's problems. Few have any confidence that EU leaders will be able to stop whatever is going to happen when Greece goes back on the drachma.