We’re late in posting today, having edited more than a hundred wedding photos taken Sunday. . .
But there’s lots to report, starting with the latest numbers, with economic contraction growing tighter still. We’ve got more signs of a coalition in jeopardy, more nasty jabs from up North, bond sales, a wave of selloffs and privatizations — including the ports and the postal service — and the fate of one man who stood up to austerity.
But the most amazing tale is of a the Troika-installed privatization czar, whoi was given her job as Greek overlord despite the fact she’d been booted from her previous job after revelations of corruption.
And then there’s the latest racist violence, including the murder of a young immigrant and the torching of a mosque, plus the likely culprits getting a taste of their own medicine.
There’s a cold winter ahead for Greek schoolchildren, fears of a Syrian refugee horde, and story about one business blessed by the crisis.
Greek economic contraction continues
And the latest numbers are — what else? — notably dour.
From Athens News:
The country’s economy contracted 6.2 percent in the second quarter as belt-tightening to slash deficits continued to take a toll, hampering efforts to meet targets set by the troika for continued bailout funding.
Currently in its fifth consecutive year, the economic downturn has driven unemployment to record highs, with nearly one in four unemployed and more pain expected ahead.
“It’s not a major surprise, we knew the economy was continuing to struggle but hopefully it’s some sign that the rate of decline is starting to bottom out,” said Chris Williamson, chief economist at London-based research firm Markit.
“Hopefully the first half of the year was as bad as it gets and we’ll see some improvement now,” he said.
The second quarter preliminary GDP estimate was based on seasonally unadjusted data and follows a 6.5 percent GDP decline in the previous quarter.
Read the rest.
Rally looks like that austerity is working like the Troika promised, no?
Coalition on the brink of breakup?
More signs are emerging that Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ three-party coalition is growing brittle, with the left-most party showing signs of nervousness at being linked to an austerity regime designed to meet the needs of investment banks and not their constituents.
Samaras is due to meet Eurogroup chief and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker in Athens on August 22 before talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on August 24 and French President Francois Hollande the following day. He is also pursuing meetings this month with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi and International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde.
Samaras could be in a position to present to Juncker, Merkel and Hollande the details of the 11.5 billion euros in savings Greece plans to make over the next couple of years. Samaras, PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos and Democratic Left chief Fotis Kouvelis are likely to be supplied with the final list of spending cuts around August 20. The measures will need the coalition leaders’ approval.
This appeared far from a foregone conclusion yesterday as two Democratic Left MPs, Odysseas Voudouris and Yiannis Micheloyiannis, both expressed doubts about the cuts their party leader is set to approve.
“The government is slipping and not keeping to its promises,” said Voudouris. “We were committed to finding the 11.5 billion from tax evasion and waste but I don’t see the Finance Ministry looking in these areas.”
“If farmers’ pensions are cut, if pensions under 1,400 euros are cut, if civil servants’ bonuses are reduced and if benefits for the long-term unemployed are cut, Democratic Left should leave the coalition,” said Micheloyiannis.
Voudouris and Micheloyiannis left PASOK to join Kouvelis’s party earlier this year.
Read the rest.
The inherent contradictions of the financial order on which globalization depends are becoming clear.
Money’s value depends on public confidence, and when those with the most money act like confidence men, the public will lose confidence, especially when the folks on whom they’re supposed to bestow their confidence at getting rich while everyone else is growing poor.
Another nasty sound bite from a German
They must use an alarm clock to keep these going, or maybe one of those fancy mechanical clocks they put in town squares centuries back.
You’ve got your mechanical Merkel, her finance ministers, the Bundesbankers, and her cast of CSU party luminaries.
Here’s the latest, from a foxy guy [his last name shared with a certain short-legged, bushy tailed canine], via A. Papapostolou of Greek Reporter:
Germany will block any new aid to Greece if Athens does not fully comply with the terms of previous rescue packages, even if other countries support unlocking funds, a senior lawmaker said today.
The deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative parliamentary bloc, Michael Fuchs, told business daily Handelsblatt that Berlin was ready to use its veto if it is unhappy with findings from the Greece creditors’ “troika”.
“You can quote me: even if the glass is half-full, that is not enough for a new aid package,” he said in an interview to appear in the paper’s Monday issue. “Germany cannot and will not agree to that.”
More from The Economic Times of India:
“Even if the glass is half full, that won’t be sufficient for a new aid package. Germany cannot and will not agree to that,” Michael Fuchs told German newspaper Handelsblatt.
“We long ago reached the point where the Greeks must show they are capable of delivering a shift. A policy of the last, last, last chance won’t work anymore and must come to an end.”
Read the rest.
But that was just the first cry of the clock
Greek Reporter’s A. Papapostolou brings us word of a second grumbling German:
German Economy Minister Philipp Roesler expressed disappointment with the efforts of debt-wracked Greece to implement necessary reforms, in an interview with the weekly magazine Focus.
“I’ve lost my illusions,” said Roesler, who is also vice chancellor and leads the pro-business Free Democrats in Germany’s ruling coalition.
“I proposed with German businesses a whole series of support measures for the Greek government. The Greeks have hardly responded to our offers,” he told Focus according to an advance copy of an article to appear in its Monday edition.
Read the rest.
That Greek big bang is the sound an auctioneer’s gavel
Unlike American banks, which have been sitting on a lot of foreclosed property, the usual suspects are demanding that Greek foreclosures go under the gavel. And that means more misery.
Here’s the story from Keep Talking Greece, with their headline:
Troika Pushes Greek Banks to Bring Under the Auction Hammer 100,000 Properties
Does the big bang rolls with forceful violence towards Greece’s property owners? Are those who bought homes on loans and found themselves unable to meet their obligations at risk to be kicked out of the four walls and the ceiling, they used to call ‘their own’? The Troika apparently puts pressure on the banks to start foreclosures by Continue reading