We covered today’s general strike in the previous post, but there was another strike action Wednesday, called by folks whose services would be needed today, including journalists, doctors, and court officials.
While the Troika’s Men in Black departed Athens Wednesday without an agreement, reports today indicate that the Lords of Money have decided to give Athens the next round of bailout cash — but not directly. Instead, the money will go into escrow and be doled out only as the cuts are enacted. Meanwhile, the Iron Chancellor says no Grexit’s allowed [for reasons to be noted in today’s later EuroWatch].
Questions arise about the real nature of the alleged split within the coalition, Germany rules out another Greek haircut as Greek children sink deeper into poverty and the country spends millions on a racetrack.
A Fren ch bank is bidding adieu, Greek export firms implode, Greeks sink into psychological depression, and a famous singer endorses Golden Dawn.
Journalists struck the day before the general strike
We presume the timing was because the journalists wanted to cover today’s action.
The details from a report from Ekathemerini, posted Tuesday:
Greece has been hit by news blackout as the country’s journalists go out on strike to protest new austerity measures.
The 24-hour walkout means there will be no radio or TV news programs on Wednesday, while newspapers will not be printed on Thursday.
The media blackout comes ahead of a general strike on Thursday which is also aimed at protesting against the measures.
Read the rest.
Doctors and court officials also joined the journalists in Wednesday’s action.
From Deutsche Presse-Agentur:
Professionals, including journalists, doctors and court officials, walked off the job across Greece Wednesday, ahead of a nationwide strike called by the country’s two biggest trade unions.
The 24-hour strike caused a news blackout while hospitals operated with emergency staff and courts closed. It came ahead of a 24-hour nationwide strike called by unions for Thursday to oppose the government’s austerity plans.
Read the rest.
Troika leaves Athens with no deal
Final details are to be left to talks between the government and the Troika at the highest levels, presumably underway at today’s European Union summit in Brussels.
Staff from Greece’s lenders concluded a mission to Athens Wednesday without resolving the country’s financing problems, which will be discussed “between official lenders and Greece,” a statement said, according to Dow Jones Newswires.
Officials from the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — known as the “troika” — had been in Athens for weeks trying to complete groundwork to prepare their review of the country?s bailout program, which is considered to be badly off track.
But resolving the “financing issues” is not up to those staffers and Greece will have to negotiate at a higher political level with its official-sector creditors who have been at odds over who will pay for the country to stay afloat. The Greek government has requested a two-year extension to reach a primary-deficit target of 4.5% of gross domestic product, from 2014 to 2016. The extension will be costly: the Greek finance minister said it would cost some EUR12 billion but other euro-zone officials have suggested it might go up to EUR25 billion with less optimistic assumptions about the country’s growth.
Read the rest.
Italian money minister says Greek will get the cash
And he’s also saying the Troikarchs will approve a delay in implementing the full slate of harsh austerity measures, including more pay and pension cuts, extended workdays, that six day work-week, and so much more.
Greece will need more time to carry out reforms to its damaged economy but will not be driven from the euro zone, Italian Finance Minister Vittorio Grilli said on Thursday.
“It certainly can be saved and it will be saved,” Grilli told Italy’s Rai state television as the latest general strike and demonstration against repeated doses of austerity measures hit central Athens.
“It’s obvious that this process of restructuring is even harder than ours, but there are no alternatives. It will certainly need more time but Greece will be saved,” he said.
Speigel adds a qualification
Greece will get the money, but not directly.
Instead, the cash will be stashed in escrow and doled out only as each austerian measure is carried out.
Spiegel hasn’t placed the story on its website yet, so here’s a summary from Ekathemerini:
Although the German government is officially waiting for the new report from troika inspectors, unofficially the decision has already been made to give Greece the next instalment of the 130 billion euro loan by the end of November, according to a Spiegel report Thursday.
The solution being put forward by Germany and France, the German magazine reports, is to put the 31.5 billion euro aid tranche into an escrow account, a segregated account at the Bank of Greece set up as part of the second bailout to ensure that Greece honors its debts.
Bloomberg’s Rainer Buergin has this, from the usual anonymous source:
Germany is proposing to toughen Greece’s access to international aid by setting up an escrow account outside its reach to guarantee payments of interest and debt to creditors, a government official said.
Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, who suggested that Greece will get more aid even while struggling to meet the conditions, wants a lasting solution to the country’s debt crisis to restore confidence in financial markets, the official, who asked not to be named, told reporters.
Read the rest.
More on the apparent agreement from Heather Stewart of The Guardian:
Greece has reached an agreement on “most of the core measures” to secure the release of the next €31bn tranche of its bailout as Europe’s leaders prepared for a crucial two-day summit.
A statement from the troika of the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund said it had left Athens after “comprehensive and productive discussion” agreeing the broad outlines of the austerity measures Greece will be forced to impose in exchange for the latest payout.
Speaking in Bucharest at a meeting of right-of-centre leaders from across Europe, Greece’s prime minister Antonis Samaras said: “I’m confident we’re doing everything we have to do in order to get [a deal] and get it soon, so that we can move towards a recovery.”
The details are expected to be finalised next week and any new commitments Samaras makes will be scrutinised by the electorate, which voted him into power earlier this year on the promise of exacting more lenient conditions from the troika.
Read the rest.
Merkel says Greece must stay in eurozone
Her declaration, issued before the start of today’s Brussels summit, via Ekathemerini:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday underlined her support for Greece to remain in the eurozone, adding that she had seen “a strong desire for change” during her visit to Athens last week.
“Many states have been implementing hard reforms and adjustment programs to tackle their specific problems,” Merkel told Germany’s Bundestag lower house a few hours before European Union leaders meet in Brussels for talks on the eurozone debt crisis.
“This is also true of Greece. I was able to see this for myself in Greece during my visit last week,” she added.
The German Chancellor said that Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras was expected to give his European peers an “interim report” on negotiations with the troika of foreign lenders.
Read the rest.
Coalition shows more signs of split — or does it?
The two nominally left junior partners of the government headed by a conservative New Democracy prime minister are having real troubles selling their members on signing off on measures that will destroy organized labor.
Given that labor has been the traditional base of leftist parties, that’s hardly a surprise.
Some legislators from Democratic Left and the socialist-in-name-only Pasok have talked openly of breaking with their parties, and party leaders responded Tuesday, indicating they wouldn’t sign off on the draconian austerity terms demanded by the Troika.
Greece’s two junior coalition government partners vowed Tuesday to vote down labor reforms demanded by a troika of international inspectors, indicating a fresh delay could arise in finalizing a multibillion-euro austerity plan needed to open the path for the country’s next aid tranche payment.
Speaking after a three-hour meeting between the leaders of the three parties supporting the government, Democratic Left party chief Fotis Continue reading