Category Archives: ELA

4/7/15: Timeline for Greece and Some Anchoring

Greece timeline for the weekend:

Greece has missed the IMF and ECB payments this week with both non-payments having potential for triggering a mother of all defaults for Greece: the ESM/EFSF loans call-in (EUR145bn worth of debt).

The EFSF/ESM decision so far has been to 'ignore' the arrears, noting that non-payment to IMF qualifies as "an event of default":

"The Board of Directors of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) decided today to opt for a Reservation of Rights on EFSF loans to Greece, after the non-payment of Greece to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Following the IMF Managing Director's notification of the IMF Executive Board, this non-payment results in an Event of Default by Greece, according to EFSF financial agreements with Greece."

Greece owes the EFSF EUR109.1bn in "Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement" loans, plus EUR5.5bn in "Bond Interest Facility Agreement" loans and EUR30bn more in "Private Sector Involvement Facility Agreement" loans.

For now, EFSF decided not to call in loans, preferring to wait for Sunday vote outcome. Per EFSF statement: "In line with a recommendation by the EFSF's CEO Klaus Regling, the EFSF Board of Directors decided not to request immediate repayment of its loans nor to waive its right to action – the other two possible options. By issuing a Reservation of Rights, the EFSF keeps all its options open as a creditor as events in Greece evolve. The situation will be continuously monitored and the EFSF will consider its position regularly."

A 'No' vote in the Sunday referendum can change that overnight.

This adds pressure on Greece to pass a 'Yes' vote - a pressure that is most publicly crystallised in the form of ECB refusal to lift ELA to Greek banks. Athens imposition of capital controls (limiting severely cash withdrawals from the banks) has meant that the current level of ELA (CHART below) is still sufficient to hold the bank run, but the ELA cushion remaining in Greek banks was estimated at EUR500mln at the start of this week. Even with capital controls in place, this would have dwindled to around EUR250-300mln by the week end.

Again, a 'No' vote in the referendum risks crashing Greek banks as ECB will be unlikely to lift ELA any more. In an indirect sign of this, the ECB appears to be setting up swap lines and euro credit lines for EU member states outside the euro area. For example, as reported by Bloomberg, "European Central Bank is set to extend a backstop facility to Bulgaria and is ready to assist other nations in the region to ward off contagion from Greece, according to people familiar with the situation". Such a move is a clear precautionary measure to put into place firewalls around Greek system.

Meanwhile, here is a report suggesting that Greek banks are preparing for an aggressive bail-in of deposits in the case of a 'No' vote (assuming ELA cut off):

The Government denied the reports of preparations of bail-ins, and continues to insist that the banks will reopen on Tuesday, a day after the referendum results are published, but it is hard to imagine how this can be done (unless the banks start trading in drachma) without ECB hiking ELA, and it is even harder to imagine how ECB can hike ELA in current conditions.

Source: TheodoreZ

So far, public opinion polls in Greece show very tight vote for Sunday. The latest GPO poll has the "Yes" vote at 44.1% and "No" at 43.7%. Alco poll puts the “Yes” figure at 41.7% against 41.1% for “No”. All together, four opinion polls published yesterday put the 'Yes' vote marginally ahead, another poll fifth put the 'No' camp 0.5 percent in front. All polls results were well within the margin of error. At the same time, majority of polls also show Greeks favouring remaining in the euro by a roughly 75 percent margin.

Sunday 5th July:
Polls open – 0500BST/0000EDT
Polls close – 1700BST/1200EDT

First exit poll – Shortly after 1700BST/1200EDT

~20% of votes counted – 1900BST/1300EDT
~50% of votes counted – 2100BST/1600EDT
~70% of votes counted – 2200BST/1700EDT (markets open)
~90% of votes counted – 0000BST/1900EDT

Timeline source: Trading Signal Labs

The build up of tension ahead of the Sunday poll has been immense. Even international bodies are being convulsed by the potential for a 'No' vote. So much so, that, as reported by a number of media outlets, there was a major cat fight between European members of the IMF and other IMF board members.

As reported by Reuters at Wednesday board meeting of the IMF, European members of the board attempted to block IMF from publishing its analysis of debt sustainability for Greece.

Quoting from the report: ""It wasn't an easy decision," an IMF source involved in the debate over publication said. "We are not living in an ivory tower here. But the EU has to understand that not everything can be decided based on their own imperatives." The board had considered all arguments, including the risk that the document would be politicized, but the prevailing view was that all the evidence and figures should be laid out transparently before the referendum. "Facts are stubborn. You can't hide the facts because they may be exploited," the IMF source said."

If only European members of the IMF Board were as concerned with the reality of the Greek crisis on the ground as they are concerned with the appearances and public disclosures of that reality.

A neat reminder of how bad things are in Greece today, via @RBS_Economics

Source: @RBS_Economics

As numbers tell, Greece has posted one of the worst collapses in economy for any advanced economy since 1870, fourth worst for periods outside WW1 and WW2.

So what to expect?

  • In the event of a 'Yes' we are likely to see a significant bounce in the markets from the current levels, with euro strengthening on the news in the short run. But real re-pricing will only take place when there is more clarity on post-referendum bailout agreement. The key risk to that outlook is that a 'Yes' vote can trigger early elections - which will (1) extend the current mess for at least another 1-2 months, and (2) put new sources of uncertainty forward - as outcome of such elections will be highly unpredictable. I do not expect the EU to re-start new deal negotiations until after the elections, which means that there will be mounting, not abating pressures on the Greek voters to vote in 'the right' Government, acceptable to the Troika.
  • In the event of a 'No' we are likely to see serious run on the markets in Greece and some 'peripheral' states, especially Italy. Greek capital controls will have to be stepped up significantly. Euro is likely to weaken in the short run, especially if ECB aggressively moves to monetise risks via both accelerated QE purchases and lending to non-euro banks.

Beyond these two possible scenarios, everything else is in the realm of wild speculation.

3/7/15: Add ECB to IMF and Greek arrears can get ugly…

Ah, remember Brodsky's "Urania is old than sister Clio" bit? Well, not in finance. Apparently, or allegedly, as reported in press, Greece is now in arrears (err... default, or not or whatever) not only on IMF, but also on ECB. See this.

Which relates to 1993 loans, last repayment of which was due in June this year and amounted to EUR470mln. And which were not paid.

The gyrations of Greek and Troika positions are out of the league of the ordinary.

We had a threat to take EU to court over threats of forcing Grexit (see here). Which is quite bizarre (on the EU side), given the Institutions have already said that the very subject of the referendum is non-sensical as no deal exists to carry out referendum over (see here), though such statements did not preclude the EU leaders from calling for a 'Yes' vote in the referendum (see here).

And the EU and some internal Greek concerns about constitutionality of the Greek referendum (see here).

In simple terms, we have a mash of contradictions: a referendum that has no grounds in terms of its outcome is nonetheless of questionable constitutionality, though the voters should vote 'yes' regardless, because, presumably, an outcome that is not an outcome is preferred to a different outcome that is not a outcome... [someone should stop spinning the world around us]...

We also have IMF that was forced (by a leak) to release its (preliminary - aka... "we say so, but we don't say so") analysis of Greek debt sustainability (see simplified version here and full version from the source here). Surprise, surprise... those of us not paid lavish salaries by the IMF turned out to be right: Greek debt sustainability thesis is nonsense, a pipe dream made up of flour, feathers and water...

Meanwhile, the ECB - not to be outdone by the fellow jostlers or jousters - is entering a probabilistic game of guessing Greek banks solvency (condition for accessing ELA is solvency of the banks, which, until today was a concept of 0=insolvent, 1=solvent and is now 0.1%=solvent 49.9%='something of sorts' and the rest... err... well, we await holding our breath for a technical paper from the ECB staff on that one) on the basis of referendum outcome (see here).

Next turn will be for the EU or may be ESM/EFSF as ECB (rumoured above) default trigger for EFSF default is "Very Likely" and can only be 'corrected' for via a new deal agreement (see here).

Have fun deciphering the torrent of news, views and leaks that the Greek crisis has unleashed. In the mean time, the only conclusive statement to be made is that we are in a situation where headless chickens are trying to round up legless lambs... all performed in a quicksand pit...

23/6/15: In the parallel Universe of Greece: Strangulation is Cure

Greece has been 'repaired' with an application of yet another plaster to a gaping shark wound.

ECB hiked ELA once again, this time, reportedly, by 'just under' EUR1bn.

The terms of 'repairs' are sketchy for now, but for the economy that shrunk 23% since pre-crisis peak in real terms, we have novel - nay, breakthrough novel - measures to support growth included in the deal:
  1. Corporate tax is rising from rather un-competitive 26% to highly uncompetitive 29%
  2. Corporate profits in excess of EUR500K/pa are hit with 'solidarity' levy of 12%
  3. Personal taxes are up, VAT is up, pensions levies are up, property taxes are up
  4. Debt relief is not on the cards, as per Angela Merkel, the 180% GDP debt mountain " not an urgent question".
Summary of key financials on the 'deal' is here:

In short, we have an equivalent of economic idiocy here: an economy chocked by too much debt is being given a green light to get more debt. In exchange for this debt, the economy will be chocked some more (by some 2.7% of GDP on full year basis), so that more debt given to it can be rolled over with a pretence of sustainability.

As European leaders celebrate this crowning achievement of statism by replaying the same song for the 5th time whilst hoping for a different result. One has to wonder if there is something fundamentally, deeply, inexplicably wrong with the EU logic.

Or may be, just may be, the Greek 'reforms' are a herald of things to come under the Juncker-proposed, ECB et al approved, new Federalismo 2.0 plan? Why, check the leaks on that one: 

21/6/15: ECB ELA for Greece: Welcome to a Daily Drip of ‘Solvency’

Two days ago, I speculated on ECB's motives for drip-feeding ELA liquidity provisions to Greek banks ( And I have noted consistently that ELA is now running against available liquidity cushion, meaning Greek banks are now simultaneously, skirting close to ELA limits in terms of

  • Eligible collateral, and
  • ELA funds available to cover deposits outflows.
So, not surprisingly, two links come up today:
  1. Ekathimerini reports that Greek banks have enough ELA-supported liquidity to sustain capital outflows through Monday only: as on the day of EUR1.8 bn ELA extension approved by the ECB< Greek banks bled EUR1.7 billion in deposits, bringing week's total to EUR4.2 billion in outflows, and
  2. Reuters report that the ECB has been all along planning to review/upgrade ELA after Monday emergency summit:
Thing is, Greek banks are now solvent solely down to an almost daily drip-feeding of liquidity by the ECB. Which, sort of, shows up the entire charade of the dysfunctional euro system: the pretence of monetary and financial systems stability is being sustained by not just extraordinary measures, but by an ICU-like mechanics of assuring that a patient is not pronounced dead too soon...