Thursday, 16 July 2015

Merkel 'Gambling Away' Germany's Reputation over Greece, Says Habermas

German chancellor Angela Merkel has been accused of
'punishing' Greece
THE GUARDIAN: Exclusive: Intellectual figurehead of European integration says efforts of previous generations put at risk by Angela Merkel’s hardline stance on Greece

Jürgen Habermas, one of the intellectual figureheads of European integration, has launched a withering attack on the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, accusing her of “gambling away” the efforts of previous generations to rebuild the country’s postwar reputation with her hardline stance on Greece.

Speaking about the bailout deal for the first time since it was presented on Monday, the philosopher and sociologist said the German chancellor had effectively carried out “an act of punishment” against the leftwing government of Alexis Tsipras.

“I fear that the German government, including its social democratic faction, have gambled away in one night all the political capital that a better Germany had accumulated in half a century,” he told the Guardian. Previous German governments, he said, had displayed “greater political sensitivity and a post-national mentality”.

Habermas, widely considered one of the most influential contemporary European intellectuals, said that by threatening Greece with an exit from the eurozone over the course of the negotiations, Germany had “unashamedly revealed itself as Europe’s chief disciplinarian and for the first time openly made a claim for German hegemony in Europe.” » | Philip Oltermann | Thursday, July 16, 2015

Monday, 13 July 2015

Greek Rescue Deal: Political Tumult Beckons as Alexis Tsipras Returns Home

THE GUARDIAN: Some members of Greek prime minister’s Syriza party have already denounced bailout accord as harbinger of further catastrophe

For the Greek prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, the hard work begins now. The rescue deal hammered out in Brussels may have brought relief to Athens but its battle-hardened government knows that it also comes at enormous cost.

Within minutes of Tsipras giving his “victory” speech, some in his Syriza party were denouncing the bailout accord – the third emergency funding programme for the debt-stricken country since 2010 – as the harbinger of further catastrophe.

“After 17 hours of ‘negotiations’ the leaders of eurozone member states reached an agreement that was humiliating for Greece and the Greek people,” declared the dissenters, coalesced around the energy minister Panagiotis Lafazanis.

Political tumult beckons. Tsipras returns to Athens with a deal so excoriating that not even his closest allies on Monday appeared willing to defend it. » | Helena Smith in Athens | Monday, July 13, 2015

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Eurozone Tells Greece Not to Expect Debt Relief in Near Future

A tattered EU flag flutters in front of the Parthenon in Athens.
THE GUARDIAN: Hopes fade for quick solution to thwart Grexit as Eurogroup finance chiefs show incredulity as new Greek finance minister arrives without detailed proposals

The Greek government has been told by its eurozone partners not to expect debt relief any time soon, amid fading hopes of decisive action to stop the country tumbling out of the currency union.

Eurozone finance ministers arriving for emergency talks in Brussels made it clear they were waiting on Athens to sign up to further reforms and were in no hurry to discuss debt relief.

But there was incredulity when it emerged Greece’s new finance minister Euclid Tsakalotos had not come armed with detailed proposals. » | Jennifer Rankin in Brussels | Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Friday, 3 July 2015

Greek Economy Close to Collapse as Food and Medicine Run Short

Supporters of the yes campaign attend a rally in Athens on Friday.
THE GUARDIAN: Alexis Tsipras urges people to vote no in Sunday’s referendum as capital controls bite and vital tourism industry sees tens of thousands cancel holidays in Greece

Greece’s economy is on the brink of collapse after the capital controls imposed ahead of Sunday’s referendum left the country with shortages of food and drugs, the tourist industry facing a wave of cancellations and banks with barely enough money to survive the weekend.

Banks said they had a €1bn cash buffer to see them through the weekend – equal to just €90 (£64) a head for the 11 million-strong population – and would require immediate help from the European Central Bank on Monday whatever the result of the referendum, in which the two sides are running neck and neck.

Alexis Tsipras, Greece’s prime minister, was fighting for his political life on Friday night, using a rally to say that a no vote would enable him to negotiate a reform-for-debt-relief deal with the country’s creditors.

The survival of the Syriza coalition, formed just over five months ago to repudiate five years of austerity programmes, was in doubt as Greece started to suffer shortages of basic provisions, including the sale of vital drugs in pharmacies nationwide.

Food staples, such as sugar and flour, were also fast running out on Friday as consumers started to feel the effect of the restrictions. » | Helena Smith in Athens and Larry Elliott in London | Friday, July 3, 2015

Bank of England to Cut Amount of Personal Savings Protected by £10,000

THE GUARDIAN: It has been forced to reduce figure covered when banks collapse from £85,000 to £75,000 to bring UK in line with rest of the EU

The Bank of England has been forced to make a £10,000 cut in the amount of individual savings protected when banks go bust because of the slump in the euro over the past five years.

The fall means that £75,000 of savings will now be covered by the guarantee scheme, rather than £85,000 – a move that may surprise millions of savers.

The Bank said it had to reduce the cover to bring the UK in line with the rest of the EU, which has set a threshold of saver protection at €100,000 (£71,000). That measure was introduced after the 2008 banking crisis to prevent savers being enticed to move money across borders to chase the highest level of protection.

The £85,000 limit was set in 2010 and has to be reviewed every five years to keep it in line with the EU’s stipulation. Changes in the value of the euro since then mean the Bank has to alter the conversion rate used to translate euros into pounds at the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS).

The new limit kicks in immediately, although the Treasury is putting legislation to maintain the £85,000 figure until the end of the year. The Bank has also launched a consultation to try to tackle the consequences for individuals locked in to long-term savings products with the aim of allowing savers to move the £10,000 that will no longer be covered without having to pay a fee.

About 3% of the population have savings above the £85,000 threshold. » | Jill Treanor | Friday, July 3, 2015

Thursday, 2 July 2015

No Talks on Greek Bailout before Referendum - Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel says that whilst the door for talks with Greece remains open, no negotiations on a bailout are possible before the referendum on Sunday 5th July.

Saturday, 27 June 2015

Breaking News: Greece Debt Crisis: Eurozone Refuses Bailout Extension

BBC AMERICA: Eurozone finance ministers have rejected a Greek request to extend a bailout programme beyond 30 June.

Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem said talks on a new bailout had been ongoing on Friday when Greece called a surprise referendum over the terms of any deal.

By doing so they broke off the process, he said. » | Saturday, June 27, 2015

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Tsipras Summoned to Brussels for Emergency Talks over Greek Bailout Deal

THE GUARDIAN: Greek prime minister travels to meet creditors to thrash out differences over his proposed cuts to try to avoid eurozone’s first default

Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, is to travel to Brussels on Wednesday for critical talks with the country’s creditors as the outlines of the latest proposed deal to avoid bankruptcy threatened to unravel, worsening the intractable crisis.

In advance of the third meeting of eurozone finance ministers in less than a week, Tsipras was summoned to the office of Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, to try to thrash out remaining differences.

Christine Lagarde, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank, and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister who runs the Eurogroup committee of finance ministers, are to confront Tsipras over his tax raises and spending cuts tabled on Monday in the hope of securing more bailout funds and avoiding default next week. » | Ian Traynor and Jennifer Rankin in Brussels and Helena Smith in Athens | Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Monday, 22 June 2015

Dire Warning from Greek Bank Boss

BBC AMERICA: If I had any doubts about the dire state of the Greek banking system, and why it matters so much for the Greek government to reach an agreement with creditors today to escape default, those doubts were dispelled in an interview with the chairman of Greece's fourth-biggest bank, Nikolaos Karamouzis.

Mr Karamouzis confirmed to me that the European Central Bank (ECB) has agreed to keep Greek banks alive today.

But he warned there was a genuine risk of Greek banks being forced to close their doors tomorrow and cease dispensing cash for days, if the Greek government led by Alexis Tsipras fails today to convince eurozone finance ministers and government heads that it is taking credible steps to balance its books. (+ BBC video) » | Robert Peston, Economics editor | Monday, June 22, 2015

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Greek Central Bank Warns of 'Painful' Euro and EU Exit

BBC AMERICA: Greece's central bank has warned for the first time that the country could be on a "painful course" to default and exit from both the eurozone and the EU.

It comes as the Greek government and its international creditors blamed each other for failing to reach a deal over economic reforms.

That failure is holding up the release of €7.2bn (£5.2bn) in bailout funds.

About €30bn was withdrawn from Greek bank deposits between October and April, the central bank added.

The central bank also warned the country's economic slowdown would accelerate without a deal.

"Failure to reach an agreement would... mark the beginning of a painful course that would lead initially to a Greek default and ultimately to the country's exit from the euro area and, most likely, from the European Union," the Bank of Greece said in a report.

"Striking an agreement with our partners is a historical imperative that we cannot afford to ignore." » | Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Greek Exit Real Prospect as Eurozone Hardens towards Belligerent Athens

THE GUARDIAN: Tsipras’s abrasive tone and accusations of ‘criminal conduct’ by IMF stokes more anger as EU officials prepare to gather at Luxembourg last chance saloon

Fears that the five-year Greek financial crisis will culminate in debt default and exit from the euro have intensified as Athens hardened its rhetoric against its creditors and insisted it would miss a payment to the International Monetary Fund unless it received debt relief.

With just 48 hours to go before a meeting of eurozone finance ministers, seen as the last realistic chance to reach a deal before Greece has to pay the IMF at the end of June, Alexis Tsipras, showed no sign of bowing to demands for cuts in pensions and increases in VAT. Instead, the Greek prime minister accused the Fund of “criminal responsibility” for the situation and said lenders were seeking to “humiliate” his country.

Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European commission, reflected the anger in Brussels at the way Tsipras has been approaching the deadlocked negotiations by saying he had “sympathy for the Greek people but not the Greek government”. Juncker was until recently rated as one of Tsipras’s only allies.

EU officials were on Tuesday night making preparations for a crisis meeting of leaders on Sunday if, as now expected, the talks between finance ministers on Thursday prove fruitless. Amid the third straight day of sharp declines on the Athens stock market, EU leaders are for the first time talking openly about Greek default and its ejection from the euro. » | Larry Elliott, Ian Traynor in Brussels, and Helena Smith in Athens | Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Grexit Beckons: Greece On Brink of Euro Exit as It Faces Economic Meltdown

THE TELEGRAPH: Embattled country could be forced out by Germany after politicians warn 'enough is enough' as it lurches towards default on €1.5bn debt

Greece is on the brink of economic meltdown after Germany appeared poised to push the country out of the eurozone.

With the embattled country set to default on a €1.5billion (£1.1billion) debt repayment, senior German politicians warned that “enough is enough”.

London’s FTSE 100 slipped 1.1 per cent to a three-month low on Monday as investors reacted to Greece’s failure to reach a deal with its creditors.

Global oil prices also fell after negotiations collapsed after just 45 minutes on Sunday, amid fears that Greece is now heading towards financial catastrophe.

As the crisis intensified, it emerged that George Osborne, the Chancellor, will later this week chair an emergency meeting as ministers seek to protect Britain’s economy from a potential Greek exit from the single currency - dubbed a Grexit.

Officials want to ensure that the Government has “contingency plans” in place to ensure that UK businesses are not damaged by a Greek withdrawal. » | Peter Dominiczak, Political Editor | Tuesday, June 16, 2015

THE TELEGRAPH: Enough is enough, Greece must leave the euro: The Greek debt crisis is now five years old, and still there is no workable settlement in sight. One apparent denouement follows another, lending Europe a sense of permanent crisis and conflict, not so dissimilar to an outright war, at least in terms of the entrenched positions adopted and the vitriol of the language. » | Telegraph View | Tuesday, June 16, 2015

DIE WELT: Merkel will "alles tun", um Griechenland zu halten » | Mittwoch, 17. Juni 2015