We’ve got the latest on that Golden Dawn berzerker, Merkel’s latest dsciplinary demand, a lapdog’s response, the latest Grexit grief [including a hefty boost for the dollar if it happens], a debanking debunking [?], a British bank’s brokerage departure, archaeological looting, an election day strike, and bad news for car dealers.
We open with a video from the network, a production of euronews done in the ultimate high-tech set. Note the rapidity of the image cuts from frame to frame. The pace combined with digital set wizardry, yields a product somewhere between a game show and a video game.
With the deft chops of a game show host, Chris Burns moderates a discussion on Greece and the Grexit among German Elmar Brok chairman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the European Parliament, Syriza party spokesperson Giorgios Karatsioubanis, and Carsten Brzeski, a senior bank economist for ING.
Arrest warrants issued Punch-drunk Golden Dawner
Ilias Kasidiaris is a member of the Greek Parliament representing Golden Dawn, the neoNazi nasties whose followers may a sport of beating and stabbing immigrants.
Greek newspapers reported Tuesday that he faced criminal charges as the result in his alleged participation as wheel-man in the 2007 mugging of a student on the campus of Athens University.
Which is why we weren’t overly surprised to see that he’d assaulted two women political rivals yesterday during a television talk show.
While his acts have been largely depicted as those of a bizarre individual, it’s helpful to recall that planned physical violence is a frequently used weapon in the armory of the radical right [recall Hitler’s Brown Shirts, the Sturmarbeitelung, who regularly made carefully planned assaults on rival political gatherings.
We suspect his acts were coldly calculated, a theatrical and deeply traditional play to the base also designed to strike fear in the hearts of those designated as enemies.
Police have issued an arrest warrant for the spokesman of Greece’s extremist far-right Golden Dawn (Chrysi Avgi) party, after physically attacking two left-wing deputies on live television during a morning TV show.
Ilias Kasidiaris bounded out of his seat and repeatedly slapped Communist Party member Liana Kanelli on Thursday, after throwing a glass of water over radical left Syriza party member Rena Dourou.The discussion turned into a clash after Kasidiaris and Kanelli disagreed over whether there were oil reserves south of Crete and after Dourou had made reference to a court case pending against Kasidiaris during a morning talk show on ANT-1 TV.
In a statement by Kanelli she said that Kasidiaris’s behavior was proof of why some 450,000 Greek who voted for the neo-Nazi Chrysi Avgi on May 6 should withdraw their support in the June 17 election, according to Kathimerini.
“With the power of their vote on June 17, citizens must isolate every thuggish hand, which has no qualms about striking at any time,” said Kanelli. Chrysi Avgi won a stunning 7 percent of the vote in May 6 elections.
Merkel repeats her call for Greek discipline
The Deustche Dominatrix doesn’t let a day go by without a demand for Greeks to whip themselves into shape.
Her latest, from Agence France-Presse:
Greece must stick to the austerity commitments it has made if it wants to remain part of the eurozone after elections on June 17, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Friday.
Speaking after talks with New Zealand’s prime minister John Key, Merkel said: “What we have always said is that we want Greece to remain a member of the eurozone.”
“The precondition for that to succeed is that the future Greek government sticks to the memorandum that was agreed with the International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European Commission.”
“This memorandum is the foundation for a favourable development and we have to say that clearly to all those who are seeking election in Greece,” Merkel stressed.
Grexit catastrophic, warns Papdemos
Lucas Papdemos was Greece’s Mario Monti, an unelected technocrat installed by the Troika to carry out an austerity mandate.
Papdemos, like Monti, failed to win confidence, replaced by abnother technocrat, a judge, appointed by the president.
But Papademos is still preaching the austerian line.
A Greek exit from the euro zone would be “catastrophic” for the country, former prime minister Lucas Papademos said on Thursday, urging the Greek people to “stay the course” of painful economic reforms.
“The overall economic consequences of a Greek euro exit would be disastrous, or to use a Greek word, ‘catastrophic,’ Papademos, also a former vice president of the European Central Bank, said in a speech at an Institute of International Finance conference in Copenhagen.
Papademos said international lenders should ease the terms of conditions imposed on Greece to help its recovery.
“In light of recent developments I believe it would be appropriate to extend the horizon of the fiscal adjustment process by at least one year,” he said.
Another call for a Grexit, from Harvard
Flight from the eurozone is Greece’s best option, Martin Feldstein, says George F. Baker Professor of Economics at Harvard and one-time chief economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan.
From Bloomberg’s Patrick Donahue and Mark Barton:
“Greece is in terrible shape -- I don’t think it can be fixed,” Feldstein told Bloomberg Television today from Copenhagen. “There is no solution,” barring indefinite financial aid from stronger countries in the monetary union such as Germany.
While a departure would generate “chaos” in the short term, a newly traded drachma would be able to devalue against other currencies and return Greece to growth and more robust employment, Feldstein said.
In contrast, Italy is in “pretty good shape” as Prime Minister Mario Monti enacts an agenda of budget consolidation, Feldstein said. In Spain, the government must prevent regional authorities from driving up budget deficits, which pose a “bigger problem” than the banking crisis.
Capital.gr reports on Feldstein’s comments in another forum, CNBC’s Worldwide Exchange:
“The best situation for Greece is to leave the euro zone, devalue a new currency, and be able therefore to grow again,” he said.
“Letting Greece go will be painful in the short run but will be better for Greece, and for Europe, in the long-run,” said Feldstein, who is also president emeritus of the U.S. National Bureau of Economic Research, and also served as chief economic advisor to President Ronald Reagan.
“It was a mistake the way it was constructed in the beginning,” Feldstein said. “The real question is – what do they do with the individual countries. The first thing to recognize is that the countries [in the euro zone] differ a lot … so there is no single fix for all of them.”
Grexit could provoke ‘Lehman Event,’ dollar run
Who’d benefit most from chaos-making Grexit?
A very strong contender would be that class of people who hold very large stocks of dollars, according to a major bank’s key currency player.
With their dollars worth more, the capitalist crowd could then swoop in, reaping those wondrous profits Goldman Sachs drool over so eloquently.
From Wells Fargo Currency Strategist Vassili Serebriakov, via FXStreet.com:
The European debt crisis is once again at a critical juncture ahead of the second Greek parliamentary election and as Spain appears to be nearing a possible European Union bailout. Benchmarking recent market moves against the prior episodes of the debt crisis suggests that markets are well advanced in pricing in a negative, but probably not an extreme, European scenario. A Greek exit from the euro could be a ‘Lehman event’ for global markets leading to further equity market weakness and at least a 5%-10% US dollar gain against most G10 currencies. That said, we still see a constructive European outcome as more likely, as Greece succeeds in forming a pro-austerity government and the EU provides assistance to help recapitalize Spain’s banks. Given the extended speculative short positioning, this suggests scope for a near-term bounce in the euro. However, with Europe’s economic fundamentals very weak and monetary policy outlook dovish, it will not be long before the euro returns to a weakening path.
Debunking a debanking?
Is Brussels pushing Greece to shut down one of it’s five top banks?
No so, say the Greeks.
So we’d give it about a sixty percent [and rising] probability.
From Athens News:
The finance ministry has dismissed as “not corresponding to reality” a Reuters dispatch claiming that the European Commission is pressing the government to wind down ATEbank, the country’s fifth-largest lender.
The report said that although it is the responsibility of the central Bank of Greece to close a struggling lender, the EU’s executive also has a say under state-aid rules, which allow it to refuse a request to rescue a bank if the commission considers it too costly to save – effectively forcing the bank to be wound up.
Throughout the crisis, the commission has rarely used the full extent of its state-aid powers and few European banks have been closed. If it were to use them in Greece, it would mark a more aggressive stance in tackling weak European banks at the heart of the crisis. It could use the same powers to wind up banks in Spain and Portugal, one of the sources said.
“We are moving into a new phase with Greece, Portugal and Spain,” said one of the sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “Some banks are going to be squeezed. Some are going to be closed down. . .ATEbank will have to be closed or wound down over time.”
Europe’s biggest bank closes Greek brokerage
Call it a case of voting their feet. We suspect they’ll be back when the dust settles when all those opportunities are oh so ripe.
Europe’s biggest bank, HSBC, said on Thursday it had agreed to sell its Greek stock broking business, HSBC Securities S.A., to a group of investors led by the unit’s current managing director Nikos Pantelakis.
HSBC Securities, one of Greece’s ten biggest stockbrokers, provides equity broking services for Greek equities and derivatives to domestic and foreign institutional clients, domestic retail clients and HSBC’s institutional clients.
HSBC said the sale represented further progress in the execution of its long-term strategy. It is in the first year of a three-year revival plan to cut costs and boost profitability.
The plan will see it focus on fast-growing Asian markets and cut its exposure to troubled euro zone countries such as Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain.
A reprisal of Iraq in Greece
In the chaos that followed in the wake of Gulf War II, looting of the Iraqi archaeological heritage erupted — starting with the looting of museums left unprotected while U.S. troops guarded the oil ministry.
Within days, rapacious looters were at work at many of the countries ancient sites, digging for trinkets and treasure and destroying a rich historical legacy.
Now it appears the same thing is happening in austerity-ravaged Greece.
From The Independent’s Costas Kantouris:
A retired policeman and a house painter have been arrested in northern Greece on suspicion of antiquities smuggling after an ancient gold wreath and armband were found in their car, police said today.
The suspects were stopped by highway police near the village of Asprovalta, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of Thessaloniki late yesterday. Officers, who were working on a tip that the house painter might be trafficking in antiquities, found the 4th century BC artifacts in a shoebox under the passenger seat.
The wreath was a rare and valuable find, said Nikos Dimitriadis, head of the Thessaloniki police antiquities theft section.
“It is a product of an illegal excavation from a Macedonian grave, according to archaeologists (who examined it),” he said.
Antiquities in Greece are all state property by law. But smuggling is a major problem in the country, where relics of a rich ancient past often lie just inches beneath the surface.
Greek municipal union calls election day strike
Talk about complications.
There’s a lot more to this story than appears on the surface, and we’d really like to know the reasons behind a move that could potentially sabotage an election.
For now, we leave it to readers to speculate on the motives.
From Greek Reporter’s A. Papapostolou:
As world markets wait the outcome of the second Greek elections, scheduled to take place on June 17, which could determine Greece’s fate within the euro, strike action has been threatened which could disrupt the process.
POE-OTA union which represents Greek municipal workers, has called for strike action. Themis Balassopoulos, leader of the POE-OTA, said “the union decided Thursday to hold a two-day strike on June 16-17.”
Municipal workers are involved in setting up and cleaning voting centers for elections and other matters which ensure elections are held. The union is striking for higher electoral pay and Balassopoulos said “municipal employees will refuse to do any election-related work until” the strike.
According to AJC Balassopoulos said municipal employees were paid €60 for their work in the May election. He stated the unions’ case, saying “We asked for dignified pay. If the country has no money, it can’t just be for us while Interior Ministry employees get €1,800 – that’s three months’ salary for a municipal garbage collector. It’s a provocation.”
An anonymous government official has stated that all necessary action will be taken to ensure the elections go ahead.
Greek new car sales plummet
While we’re not surprised by declining sales, given those radical Troika-imposed pay cuts, the extent of the decline is really significant.
New cars on Greek roads posted a dramatic 46.9% decline in May on a yearly basis, as few are willing to buy a new vehicle in the midst of the crisis as daily Kathimerini reports. Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT) data show that 6,826 cars came into circulation in Greece last month, including 1,288 used vehicles from abroad. In the first five months of the year there were 36,070 newly registered cars.