Germany Snubs Greek Aid Plea As Protesters Seize Finance Ministry in Athens

See also:
Greece passes new deficit cuts to avert ‘catastrophe’ (Telegraph)


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George Papandreou, Greece’s prime minister, pauses during a conference organized by The Economist in Athens, on Feb. 2, 2010. (Bloomberg)

March 4 (Bloomberg) — Greece’s pledge to deepen planned budget-deficit cuts failed to yield an offer of assistance from Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, as protesters in Athens seized the finance ministry building and blocked roads in the city center.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said a meeting tomorrow with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou won’t be “about aid commitments.” Her finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, said the third round of deficit-reduction measures this year were probably enough to convince investors to buy Greek debt.

While Papandreou is risking a backlash at home to meet European Union demands for more deficit cuts before allies even consider providing aid, Merkel is facing domestic opposition to tapping taxpayers to extend a financial lifeline to Greece.

“There would be no understanding in Germany for bailing out Greece,” Henrik Enderlein, a political economist at the Hertie School of Governance in Berlin, said by phone. “It’s a bit of catch-22 situation: if you give in to Greece and you put 5 billion or perhaps even 10 billion into some kind of rescue package or into some guarantees, then the German government would look irresponsible. However, if it doesn’t, then European Union leaders might put a lot of pressure on Merkel and say, look, we have to bail out Greece.”

Read moreGermany Snubs Greek Aid Plea As Protesters Seize Finance Ministry in Athens

You Could Now Be Arrested, In America, Just For Mentioning Europe’s Problems Over Dinner

george-soros
George Soros

You know a company/country/continent is in trouble when authorities start cracking down on short bets against it.

That’s why it’s so disturbing how much heat European currency and sovereign debt speculators are getting these days.

Even the U.S. has climbed aboard the bandwagon now.

Reports of a U.S. Justice Department investigation into Soros Fund Management, SAC, and Greenlight Capital short positions against the euro broke last week.

Yet now the speculator clamp down is evolving into something completely terrifying. Apparently, it could now be considered collusion if you simply share economic opinions over dinner:

Read moreYou Could Now Be Arrested, In America, Just For Mentioning Europe’s Problems Over Dinner

JP Morgan Chairman: California Is A Greater Risk Than Greece

Jamie Dimon, chairman of JP Morgan Chase, has warned American investors should be more worried about the risk of default of the state of California than of Greece’s current debt woes.

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Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is desperately trying to reduce California’s $20bn deficit Photo: BLOOMBERG

Mr Dimon told investors at the Wall Street bank’s annual meeting that “there could be contagion” if a state the size of California, the biggest of the United States, had problems making debt repayments. “Greece itself would not be an issue for this company, nor would any other country,” said Mr Dimon. “We don’t really foresee the European Union coming apart.” The senior banker said that JP Morgan Chase and other US rivals are largely immune from the European debt crisis, as the risks have largely been hedged.

California however poses more of a risk, given the state’s $20bn (£13.1bn) budget deficit, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is desperately trying to reduce.

Earlier this week, the state’s legislature passed bills that will cut the deficit by $2.8bn through budget cuts and other measures. However the former Hollywood film star turned politician is looking for $8.9bn of cuts over the next 16 months, and is also hoping for as much as $7bn of handouts from the federal government.

Earlier this week, John Chiang, the state’s controller, said that if a workable plan to reduce the deficit and increase cash levels is not reached soon, he will have to return to issuing IOU’s, forcing state workers to take additional unpaid leave and potentially freezing spending.

Read moreJP Morgan Chairman: California Is A Greater Risk Than Greece

Europe: Quantifying The Donors And Moochers – Without Germany, The EU Would Not Exist

With the dramatic emergence of intra-EU bickering between various “banana-eating countries” and “tax cheats”, it is easy to lose sight of the forest for the banana trees. While it is subjective to say who owes whom what, one thing that is very objective, is whose money is critical to sustaining the European Union.

And here there is no doubt: without Germany, the EU would not exist. The country, which receives €78 billion from the EU annually, pays out more than double that, or €164 billion, for a net impact of (€1,045) per capita.

Surely the Germans would be just as happy to see this money retained by their economy instead of going to assorted hangers-on. And speaking of the latter, one of the biggest recipients, with a net benefit of €2,284 per person, is Greece, which pays just €15 billion a year to the EU but receives nearly triple, or €40 billion.

We wonder just how Greece will plug that particular hole should the EU dissolve after the recent escalation in rhetoric threatens to royally piss off the Germans.

(Click on image to enlarge.)

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Graphic via FSTeurope.com

Read moreEurope: Quantifying The Donors And Moochers – Without Germany, The EU Would Not Exist

Greece: Police Clash With Protesters During Strike Against Austerity Plan

Nationwide Strike Paralyzes Greece (Wall Street Journal)

Germany parries Greek broadside over Nazi occupation (Reuters)


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Clashes broke out between police and protesters on the streets of Greece

Police in Greece have clashed with protesters striking over austerity measures designed to save the economy.

Greek police fired tear gas at a group of some 50 protesters on the edges of the rally, reports said.

It is the second general strike in two weeks and coincides with growing anger at the EU’s response to the crisis.

The action is set to be the biggest since Greece’s socialist government introduced cuts to bring the country’s debt and deficit under control.

Greece has closed airspace to all flights, trains and ferries are standing idle, and archaeological sites have been shut.

The country currently has a spiralling public deficit of 12.7%, more than four times higher than eurozone rules allow.

The government has pledged to cut this to 8.7% this year, and also reduce the 300bn-euro ($419bn; £259bn) national debt, by freezing public sector salaries, raising the average retirement age to 63 by 2015, and increasing taxes on petrol, alcohol and tobacco.

It also wants to crack down on tax avoidance. Greece’s black economy is estimated at 30% of official gross domestic product.

Read moreGreece: Police Clash With Protesters During Strike Against Austerity Plan

European Banks Face €1 Trillion Debt Showdown

European banks need to roll over €1 trillion (£877bn) of debt over the next two years at a much higher cost and in direct competition with hungry sovereign states, according to a report by Morgan Stanley.


The bank has advised clients to prepare for chillier times as monetary tightening begins in the US and China, causing major spill-over effects in Europe.

Roughly €560bn of EU bank debt matures in 2010 and €540bn in 2011. The banks will have to roll over loans at a time when unprecedented bond issuance by governments worldwide risks saturating the debt markets. European states alone must raise €1.6 trillion this year.

“The scale of such issuance could raise a significant ‘crowding out’ issue, whereby government bonds suck up the vast majority of capital,” said Graham Secker, Morgan Stanley’s equity strategist. “The debt burden that prompted the financial crisis has not fallen; rather, we are witnessing a dramatic transfer of private-sector debt on to the public sector. The most important macro-theme for the next few years will be how easily countries can service and pay down these deficits. Greece may well prove to be a taste of things to come.”

Read moreEuropean Banks Face €1 Trillion Debt Showdown

German Official: No EU, Bilateral Aid For Greece On EU Agenda

See also:

Germany Backs Greek Bailout as EU Creates ‘Economic Government’

Storm over bailout of Greece, EU’s most ailing economy

Greece: ‘Ouzo crisis’ escalates into global margin call as confidence ebbs

The CDS Puppetmaster Behind It All And The Ever Increasing Parallels Between AIG And Greece


BERLIN (Dow Jones)–Euro-zone finance ministers scheduled to talk about Greece this afternoon are unlikely to make any decision and there is no aid for Greece on the agenda of Thursday’s summit of European Union leaders, a senior German government official said Wednesday.

The official added that Germany will stick to the European Union bailout clause and at present no EU or bilateral aid for Greece is on the meeting’s agenda or is planned.

The comments come before an informal summit held by the EU in Brussels, where leaders will focus on Greece’s debt crisis as part of a broader assessment of post-recession government debt levels.

“There doesn’t exist any decision on such aid and it also isn’t pending at present,” said the senior government official at a press conference on Thursday’s meeting. The official added that for Germany, Greece has the responsibility to deal with its budget woes.

The euro and peripheral euro-zone government bonds, such as those from Greece, Spain and Portugal, have been under pressure due to fears that Greece may default on its debt.

The EU summit is widely expected to work on further steps to help Greece shore up public finances and restore calm to financial markets.

Read moreGerman Official: No EU, Bilateral Aid For Greece On EU Agenda

Storm over bailout of Greece, EU’s most ailing economy

German Official: No EU, Bilateral Aid For Greece On EU Agenda (Wall Street Journal)


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Athens will be paralysed today by a 24-hour strike against a government trying to stave off bankruptcy ? as fellow members of the eurozone squabble over how best to solve Greece?s debt crisis

Angela Merkel tried to calm fevered speculation in financial markets yesterday that Germany was preparing to lead a bail-out of Greece amid a split in the EU on how to handle its most ailing member.

The German Chancellor denied reports that her Finance Minister was conducting secret talks with Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central Bank, and with other capitals on an EU rescue fund for Athens.

Mrs Merkel has staunchly resisted suggestions that the EU must swallow its pride and turn to the Washington-based IMF for a solution to the growing economic turmoil in Greece, with fears that its troubles in international finance markets will trigger a domino effect, toppling other weak members of the eurozone such as Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy.

But last night there were signs of a developing European split over calling in the International Monetary Fund, a move also strongly opposed by Brussels, with suggestions from Sweden’s Finance Minister and other officials that this might be better than the EU programme outlined last week.

Mrs Merkel has repeatedly rejected the idea that the 16-nation eurozone would need to look to the IMF, which is already overseeing recovery efforts in Latvia and Hungary – both EU members outside the single currency. Her insistence that the eurozone can keep its own house in order led to market speculation yesterday that an EU bail-out was imminent.

There were also reports yesterday that Wolfgang Schäuble, the German Finance Minister, was working bilaterally and at the European level on putting together a package to help Athens.

Read moreStorm over bailout of Greece, EU’s most ailing economy

Fears Rise of Euro Government Default, Euro And Stock Markets Slump

See also:

Trichet Says Greece, ‘All Countries’ Must Meet EU Deficit Rules (BusinessWeek)

Germany Warns of ‘Fatal’ Eurozone Crisis, Funds Flee Greece (Telegraph):

Germany has triggered a near-panic flight from southern European debt markets by warning that there will be no EU bail-outs, even though it fears the region’s economic crisis has turned dangerous and could prove “fatal” for the entire eurozone.


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Financial markets swooned Thursday amid rising fears of a government debt default in Europe, highlighting the seriousness of the challenges facing the euro currency as fiscally challenged countries like Greece, Portugal and Spain dig themselves out of debt.

After a brief respite early this week, the cost of insuring against default the debt of euro-zone members with large budget deficits jumped late Wednesday and rattled investors more broadly on Thursday.

While Greece and Portugal have felt investors’ fire in recent days, now even larger economies like Spain are starting to come under pressure from worries about their weakened public finances.

Blue-chip stock indexes in Spain and Portugal slumped nearly 6% and 5%, respectively, while an index of Europe’s 600 biggest companies dropped 2.7%. The euro sank more than 1% against the U.S. dollar to an eight-month low of $1.3727 and lost 3% of its value against the Japanese yen.

The global economic downturn, and extensive government spending to fight it, have led to major fiscal problems in Europe, especially for less-dynamic economies like Greece, Portugal, Ireland and Spain. Such countries took advantage of their membership in the 16-nation euro bloc during the boom by borrowing at unusually low interest rates. But now, investors are worried about how they will reduce yawning budget deficits that exceed 12% of their economic output in the case of Greece and Ireland.

Read moreFears Rise of Euro Government Default, Euro And Stock Markets Slump

Germany Warns of ‘Fatal’ Eurozone Crisis, Funds Flee Greece

Germany has triggered a near-panic flight from southern European debt markets by warning that there will be no EU bail-outs, even though it fears the region’s economic crisis has turned dangerous and could prove “fatal” for the entire eurozone.

Wonders of the World: Parthenon, Greece
Funds flee Greece as Germany warns of “fatal” eurozone crisis

The yield on 10-year Greek bonds blasted upwards by over 40 basis points to 7.15pc in a day of wild trading. Spreads over German Bunds reached almost four percentage points, by far the highest since Greece joined the euro, and close to levels that risk a self-feeding spiral. Contagion hit Portuguese, Spanish, Irish, and Italian bonds.

George Papandreou, the Greek premier, said in Davos that his country had been singled out as the weak link in a “attack on the eurozone” by speculators and political foes. “We are being targeted, particularly by those with an ulterior motive.”

Marc Ostwald, from Monument Securities, said the botched bond issue of €8bn (£6.9bn) of Greek debt earlier this week has made matters worse. Many of the investors were “hot money” funds that bought on rumours that China was emerging as a buyer, offering them a chance for quick profit. When the China story was denied by Beijing and Athens, these funds rushed for the exit.

However, a key trigger yesterday was testimony in Germany’s parliament by economy minister Rainer Brüderle, who said there would be “no bail-outs” for struggling debtors and no move to a “European economic government”.

“A few European nations are exhibiting dangerous weaknesses. That could have fatal consequences for all countries in the eurozone,” he said. Despite the warning, he said each country must solve its own problems.

Read moreGermany Warns of ‘Fatal’ Eurozone Crisis, Funds Flee Greece