Greek debt talks implode

Talks between Greece and European finance ministers broke down in acrimony yesterday when Greece rejected an extension of the bailout and it's harsh repayment terms.

They could hardly do anything else. The far left Syriza party, that won a smashing victory at the polls a few short weeks ago, came to power promising to end the hated bailout regime. But the rest of the EU is having none of it, insisting that Greece stay the course with its austerity program.

Reuters:

European Union finance ministers piled pressure on Greece on Tuesday to remain in an international financial rescue program as the euro weakened on fears of disruption when Athens' credit lines expire in 10 days time.

But as he returned to meetings on other, routine, matters with his EU counterparts in Brussels after the collapse of talks on Monday night, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis dismissed their argument that his only option is to come back to them and ask to extend a bailout rejected by Greek voters.

"The next step is the responsible step," he said, offering no detail on what Athens was willing to propose. "We will continue to deliberate, in order to enhance the chances and actually achieve a very good outcome for the average European."

Syriza is not fighting for the "average European." If they were, they'd pay the average European back what they owe them. In 2012, most Greek debt was converted to EU government bonds, putting taxpayers in Germany, France, and other countries on the hook if Greece can't repay their debt.

"The Greek government must shift its position," Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said. "Time is pressing."

Dijsselbloem has said Friday is a deadline for a deal that would give time for some national parliaments to ratify it before the expiry on Feb. 28 of the 240 billion euro credit package that rescued Greece from bankruptcy three years ago.

From Britain, the biggest EU state not using the euro, finance minister George Osborne said "we're reaching crunch time for Greece and the euro zone" and warned failure to reach a deal would be "very severe for economic and financial stability".

Echoing the alarm EU officials have voiced about the negotiating tactics of the left-wing government Greeks elected last month to end hated austerity programs, Osborne added: "What Britain really needs to see is competence, not chaos."

The far left radicals know little of international finance. What they are seeking is the illusion of a deal to pay down their debt. They are willing to accept an extension of the bailout - as long as they can raise the minimum wage, increase pensions, give Greeks free electricity, and cut taxes. Essentially, they are asklng the rest of Europe to finance their bloated welfare state.

The markets reacted negatively to the news, but there is no panic - yet. But on Wednesday, the European Central Bank will decide whether or not to keep pumping billions of euros into the Greek banking system to keep it liquid. This Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) is the only thing standing between Greece and a bank panic. If the ECB decides that Greece is not negotiating in good faith, they may pull the plug, sending capital fleeing from Greek banks. That would mean capital controls and chaos.

Some may think that Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras is trying to engineer a Greek exit from the eurozone. But 70% of the public wants ot remain in the eurozone. The Greek people are no more sophisticated about international finance than their anti-capitalist government. But they are smart enough to realize that a Greek exit from the euro would be a catastrophe.

 

Talks between Greece and European finance ministers broke down in acrimony yesterday when Greece rejected an extension of the bailout and it's harsh repayment terms.

They could hardly do anything else. The far left Syriza party, that won a smashing victory at the polls a few short weeks ago, came to power promising to end the hated bailout regime. But the rest of the EU is having none of it, insisting that Greece stay the course with its austerity program.

Reuters:

European Union finance ministers piled pressure on Greece on Tuesday to remain in an international financial rescue program as the euro weakened on fears of disruption when Athens' credit lines expire in 10 days time.

But as he returned to meetings on other, routine, matters with his EU counterparts in Brussels after the collapse of talks on Monday night, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis dismissed their argument that his only option is to come back to them and ask to extend a bailout rejected by Greek voters.

"The next step is the responsible step," he said, offering no detail on what Athens was willing to propose. "We will continue to deliberate, in order to enhance the chances and actually achieve a very good outcome for the average European."

Syriza is not fighting for the "average European." If they were, they'd pay the average European back what they owe them. In 2012, most Greek debt was converted to EU government bonds, putting taxpayers in Germany, France, and other countries on the hook if Greece can't repay their debt.

"The Greek government must shift its position," Austrian Finance Minister Hans Joerg Schelling said. "Time is pressing."

Dijsselbloem has said Friday is a deadline for a deal that would give time for some national parliaments to ratify it before the expiry on Feb. 28 of the 240 billion euro credit package that rescued Greece from bankruptcy three years ago.

From Britain, the biggest EU state not using the euro, finance minister George Osborne said "we're reaching crunch time for Greece and the euro zone" and warned failure to reach a deal would be "very severe for economic and financial stability".

Echoing the alarm EU officials have voiced about the negotiating tactics of the left-wing government Greeks elected last month to end hated austerity programs, Osborne added: "What Britain really needs to see is competence, not chaos."

The far left radicals know little of international finance. What they are seeking is the illusion of a deal to pay down their debt. They are willing to accept an extension of the bailout - as long as they can raise the minimum wage, increase pensions, give Greeks free electricity, and cut taxes. Essentially, they are asklng the rest of Europe to finance their bloated welfare state.

The markets reacted negatively to the news, but there is no panic - yet. But on Wednesday, the European Central Bank will decide whether or not to keep pumping billions of euros into the Greek banking system to keep it liquid. This Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) is the only thing standing between Greece and a bank panic. If the ECB decides that Greece is not negotiating in good faith, they may pull the plug, sending capital fleeing from Greek banks. That would mean capital controls and chaos.

Some may think that Greek Prime Minister Alex Tsipras is trying to engineer a Greek exit from the eurozone. But 70% of the public wants ot remain in the eurozone. The Greek people are no more sophisticated about international finance than their anti-capitalist government. But they are smart enough to realize that a Greek exit from the euro would be a catastrophe.