Thursday, December 22, 2016

Record Capital Outflows Push Euro Toward Parity With Dollar

Higher interest rates in the U.S. are drawing money out of the eurozone

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Dec. 20, 2016 5:32 p.m. ET

More money has left eurozone financial markets this year than at any time in the bloc’s history, helping drive the euro toward parity with the dollar for the first time in 14 years.

The eurozone had its largest-ever net outflows in the 12 months to September, data from the European Central Bank showed Tuesday.

Eurozone investors bought €497.5 billion ($516.5 billion) of financial assets, such as stocks and bonds, outside the bloc in that period. Global investors, meanwhile, sold or let mature €31.3 billion of eurozone assets during the year. Together, that adds up to a net outflow of €528.8 billion, the most since the single currency was introduced in 1999.

Tunisian Migrant Investigated for Suspected Terror Ties Is Sought in Berlin Truck Attack

Revelation that authorities sought and failed to deport asylum seeker stokes criticism of Angela Merkel’s refugee policy

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Dec. 21, 2016 7:31 p.m. ET

BERLIN—Anis Amri, a Tunisian migrant whom authorities previously investigated for suspected terror ties and tried to deport, became Germany’s most wanted man as the new prime suspect in the capital’s deadly truck attack.

The revelation that the asylum seeker had been able to remain in Germany despite efforts to expel him stoked a furor over what many politicians called dangerous gaps in the country’s immigration policy and escalated the political crisis facing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government.

Greece’s New Year of Living Dangerously

Tsipras is antagonizing creditors again, setting the stage for a new bailout showdown and an election.

The Wall Street Journal

Dec. 21, 2016 3:05 p.m. ET
If last year was the year of upheaval and survival for Alexis Tsipras, this year has been the year of the slow grind. As we near the end of 2016, Mr. Tsipras finds himself squeezed—by Germany and the International Monetary Fund, by Turkey and the refugee crisis, by his false promises and collapsing popularity—to the point of political extinction.

Euro zone lenders confident on quick solution on Greek debt spat: source

Wed Dec 21, 2016 | 1:57pm EST


Greece's euro zone lenders are confident a solution can be found shortly on reactivating short-term debt relief measures that were suspended after Athens decided to make an unexpected payout to poor pensioners, a euro zone source said on Wednesday.

Lenders said last week they were suspending a deal clinched earlier this month to offer Greece short-term debt relief after leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he would grant low-income pensioners a pre-Christmas payout.

Greece's Debt Problem Has Reached A Dangerous Point

DEC 21, 2016 @ 07:12 PM

John Mauldin ,   CONTRIBUTOR
I write about how you can make sense of unpredictable markets

Before the Italian banking crisis and referendum, before Brexit… there was Greece. Greece’s debt crisis was really the first public crack in the European Union’s armor and one that has yet to be repaired.

Readers who want to understand why anti-EU sentiment and nationalism have developed in many of these countries don’t have to look at migration or other controversial topics. Simply look at Greece and how it has fared after adopting the EU’s austerity terms.

The Greek experience with austerity-linked financial support from the EU has been painful and—making matters worse—rather ineffective. While Greece is on the periphery, its problems are hardwired into the entire EU, and those problems are spreading.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

German Finance Minister tells paper euro zone will fall apart if don't follow rules

 Tue Dec 20, 2016 | 4:52am EST


German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, asked about Greece's plans to pay pensioners a Christmas bonus while it is in the midst of a bailout program, told Die Zeit paper that the euro zone would fall apart if countries did not stick to the rules.

Germany’s Merkel Says Full Force of Law to Bear in Berlin Attacks

by Patrick Donahue
December 2016, 1:12 μ.μ. EET

  • Germans in mourning after ‘horrific and unimaginable’ attack

  • Anti-immigration AfD party lays blame at Merkel’s door

Chancellor Angela Merkel said that German authorities were working on the assumption that the deaths of 12 people after a truck plowed into a Christmas market were a terrorist attack, and pledged to use the full force of German law to bring the perpetrators to justice.

In a nationally televised statement in Berlin, Merkel said that people across Germany were mourning after the “horrific and unimaginable” deaths and injuries sustained in the capital on Monday evening. She said she planned to tour the scene of the attack later on Tuesday.

Russian Ambassador Killed in Turkey by Gunman Invoking Syria

by Benjamin Harvey  and Selcan Hacaoglu
20 December 2016, 6:35 π.μ. EET


Russia’s ambassador was shot dead in the Turkish capital on Monday in an assassination apparently linked to Syria’s civil war, heightening tensions over a conflict that’s drawn in almost all the region’s main powers.

Andrey Karlov was shot in the back at an art exhibit in Ankara on Monday and died from his injuries, according to the Russian Foreign Ministry. “Allahu akbar,” the gunman shouted, and then “don’t forget Aleppo” -- a reference to the Syrian city where mostly Islamist rebels have been defeated this month by Russian-backed government troops. The attacker, who was killed by security forces, was a 22-year-old active-duty police officer. His possible connection with organized groups is being probed, Turkey’s Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu said.

Political Risks Leave Euro-Pound Analysts Most Divided on Record

by Anooja Debnath  and Charlotte Ryan
20 - 12 - 2016, 9:54 π.μ. EET


For analysts trying to plot the course of the pound against the euro in 2017, the key decision is judging which side of the English Channel will see greater political turbulence.

Strategists are trying to pinpoint whether the U.K.’s exit process from the European Union or the rise of populism in the rest of Europe carries the bigger risk. The dichotomy is evident in Bloomberg’s survey of currency analysts, where the range between the highest and lowest year-end forecasts for euro-sterling is the widest going into a new year since at least 2006.

Greece’s Long Winter

An early election would signal how much reform voters will support.

The Wall Street Journal

Dec. 19, 2016 7:11 p.m. ET
Europe has a packed election schedule for 2017, and it’s set to grow more crowded if Greece holds another vote. The snap parliamentary poll that looks increasingly likely won’t solve the country’s economic problems, but at least the exercise would have the virtue of clarifying for Greeks and the rest of the eurozone how much reform Athens will be able to undertake.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Opinion: Europe is failing, and Merkel can’t save it

Published: Dec 16, 2016 3:04 a.m. ET

Market Watch

Germany is at the center of both austerity economics and the refugee crisis


Europe may well have reached its tipping point and could now decline at an accelerated pace.

On top of economic stagnation from obtusely misguided austerity policies, the fabric of the European Union has been frayed by Britain’s vote last summer to exit the bloc and by Italian voters’ rejection this month of an overly ambitious constitutional reform, leading to the fall of the government and a fragile political situation.

France puts weight behind Greece in debt dispute

The Washington Post

By Associated Press December 15 at 9:06 AM
BRUSSELS — French President Francois Hollande has come to the defense of Greece after European creditors pulled a recently announced debt relief package for the country.

Hollande said ahead of Thursday’s summit of European Union leaders that “it is out of the question to ask for further additional efforts from Greece or prevent them from taking a number of sovereign measures that respect the commitments” that Greece previously took.

Greece Pushes Forward With Measures Opposed by Creditors

Eurozone froze debt-relief offer over plans for pensioner benefit and suspension of sales-tax rise

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Dec. 15, 2016 1:12 p.m. ET

ATHENS—Greece refused to back down in its rapidly escalating conflict with creditors, as lawmakers on Thursday passed measures to loosen the purse strings in a move that has angered Germany.

The fiscal largess, including a Christmas bonus for 1.6 million low-income pensioners and the suspension of a sales-tax increase on Aegean islands that have received refugees, led the eurozone to freeze debt-relief measures for Greece on Wednesday. Eurozone officials have criticized Athens for breaking promises to consult creditors before making any fiscal moves that could affect Greece’s bailout goals.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

German leader ‘insults’ Saudi Arabia by refusing to wear hijab

Von der Leyen 2010.jpg

By Jamie Schram December 14, 2016 | 11:43am

The New York Post

Germany’s defense minister refused to wear a traditional head covering during her visit with a Saudi Arabian prince, arguing that women have as much right as men do to wear whatever they choose.

Ursula von der Leyen declined to wear a hijab — a veil traditionally worn by Muslim women — or an abaya, a full-length robe, when she met with Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman al Saud in the Saudi capital of Riyadh last Wednesday, according to Sputnik International news.

“The right to choose your own clothing is a right shared by men and women alike. It annoys me, when women are to be pushed into the Abaya,” Das Bild reported Leyen as saying.

Eurozone Suspends Short-Term Debt Relief for Greece Amid Growing Friction

Move comes in response to Tsipras’s surprise fiscal gifts for pensioners and other Greeks, which creditors say run afoul of Athens’s bailout commitments

The Wall Street Journal

Dec. 14, 2016 12:18 p.m. ET

BRUSSELS—Greece’s European creditors suspended proposed debt-relief measures for the country after the Greek government surprised them by announcing it would boost welfare benefits for low-income pensioners, a sign of escalating tensions over the country’s bailout.

The moves come as Athens and its international creditors—which include the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund—are struggling to conclude their latest review of the country’s rescue plan of as much as €86 billion ($92 billion) in loans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

U.S. ready to confront Beijing on South China Sea: admiral

Wed Dec 14, 2016 | 3:48am EST


By Colin Packham | SYDNEY
The United States is ready to confront China should it continue its overreaching maritime claims in the South China Sea, the head of the U.S. Pacific fleet said on Wednesday, comments that threaten to escalate tensions between the two global rivals.

China claims most of the resource-rich South China Sea through which about $5 trillion in ship-borne trade passes every year. Neighbors Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims.

The United States has called on China to respect the findings of the arbitration court in The Hague earlier this year which invalidated its vast territorial claims in the strategic waterway.

As Brexit approaches, signs of a gathering economic storm for Britain

The Washington Post

By Griff Witte December 13 at 5:16 PM
LONDON — From a modest office in a small town in northeastern England, Elliott Peckett’s family stocked the world with costumes.

Billowy white Marilyn Monroe dresses. Red velvet Santa caps. Rhinestone-studded Elvis jumpsuits.

They were shipped out by the millions to 42 countries across the globe, and they brought the profits of countless Halloween parties, Carnival parades and Christmas wonderlands back home to England.

But thanks to Brexit, not anymore. After 122 years, Peckett’s costume company, Smiffys, is moving its headquarters to the Netherlands.

Too big to fail: China maps out its Trump strategy

Wed Dec 14, 2016 | 2:15am EST


By Ben Blanchard and Christian Shepherd | BEIJING
When Donald Trump becomes U.S. president next month, one issue above all others could force his new administration to work closely with China and underscore why he and Beijing need each other - North Korea.

A nuclear armed North Korea, developing missiles that could hit the U.S. west coast, is clearly bad news for Washington but also Pyongyang's sometimes-reluctant ally Beijing, which fears one day those missiles could be aimed at them.

Greece Heads Toward New Crisis in Debt Saga as Support for Tsipras Slumps

The ruling Syriza party is considering calling snap elections in 2017, as it loses hope of winning concessions on debt relief or austerity from Greece’s creditors

The Wall Street Journal

Dec. 12, 2016 1:48 p.m. ET
ATHENS—Greece’s crisis is approaching a potential breaking point after a year of relative calm, as a government with declining political stamina confronts creditors’ unyielding demands.

The ruling left-wing Syriza party, grappling with slumping popularity, is considering the option of calling snap elections in 2017, as it loses hope of winning concessions on debt relief or austerity from the eurozone and International Monetary Fund.

No decision for elections has been made, said Greek officials, who added that they would review the state of negotiations in January, after pressing creditors again to show more flexibility.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

The IMF is Not Asking Greece for More Austerity

Posted on December 12, 2016 by iMFdirect
By Maurice Obstfeld and Poul M. Thomsen
Versions in عربي (Arabic); Français (French); Deutsch (German); ελληνικά (Greek); and Español (Spanish)
Greece is once again in the headlines as discussions for the second review of its European Stability Mechanism (ESM) program are gaining pace. Unfortunately, the discussions have also spurred some misinformation about the role and the views of the IMF. Above all, the IMF is being criticized for demanding more fiscal austerity, in particular for making this a condition for urgently needed debt relief. This is not true, and clarifications are in order.

Inside China’s Global Spending Spree

By Scott Cendrowski
Photograph by Teru Onishi for Fortune
DECEMBER 12, 2016, 6:30 AM EST


“One Belt, One Road,” China’s $3 trillion infrastructure-building campaign, could be a windfall for some Western companies and investors.

The high-rise coastal city of Dubai plays host to all kinds of luxury oddities: indoor ski slopes, gold-bar vending machines, vast artificial archipelagoes shaped like palm trees. But six miles inland, something just as unusual, if far less gaudy, is taking shape—the first coal-fired power plant in the Middle East.

Turkey Moves to Crush Kurdish Party After Deadly Bombing

Jared Malsin/Istanbul @jmalsin  Dec. 12, 2016    

Turkish government makes hundreds of arrests


Turkish authorities arrested at least 291 officials and members of a major parliamentary opposition party on terrorism charges Monday, following a deadly twin bomb attack in Istanbul that killed at least 44 people.

The arrests marked the continuation of government reprisals against the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party (known by the Turkish acronym HDP), which controls the third-largest bloc in Turkey’s parliament. The arrests come in the context of a broader crackdown on critics of the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who has moved to shore up his own power after surviving a deadly military coup attempt last July.

Trump draws rebukes after saying U.S. isn’t bound by one-China policy

The Washington Post

By Emily Rauhala December 12 at 9:43 AM
BEIJING — Donald Trump is talking about Taiwan again — and so is China, in angry and mocking ­comments Monday that questioned whether the president-elect grasps a core ­element of ­relations between the world’s top economic powers.

In an interview broadcast Sunday, Trump said the United States would not necessarily be bound by the one-China policy — the diplomatic understanding that underpins ties between Washington and Beijing and that leaves China’s ­rival Taiwan on the diplomatic sidelines with the United States.

Rex Tillerson’s Company, Exxon, Has Billions at Stake Over Sanctions on Russia


The New York Times

MOSCOW — Now that President-elect Donald J. Trump has chosen Rex W. Tillerson, the chief executive of Exxon Mobil, to be the next secretary of state, the giant oil company stands to make some major gains as well: It has billions of dollars in deals that can go forward only if the United States lifts sanctions against Russia.

As head of America’s largest oil company, Mr. Tillerson has earned a friendship award from Russia and voiced skepticism about American sanctions that have halted some of Exxon Mobil’s biggest projects in the country.

Monday, December 12, 2016

International migrant-smuggling ring dismantled in Greece

The Washington Post

By Associated Press December 12 at 10:20 AM
ATHENS, Greece — Greek and British authorities say they have dismantled an international ring suspected of smuggling hundreds of migrants to Britain and other European countries using falsified travel documents.

A Greek police statement says that 24 suspects were arrested last week in the Athens area, and another nine in Glasgow, Northampton and Manchester in Britain.

Greece Needs Fiscal Breathing Room

We’ve exceeded our targets and ended up with a surplus. The wise thing to do would be to give it back to the citizens.

The Wall Street journal

Dec. 12, 2016 3:17 p.m. ET
This will be the second year in a row that Greece has beaten its primary fiscal targets. In contrast to the pessimistic projections of its creditors, Greece’s authorities have proved themselves capable of delivering on the country’s promises.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Prime Minister Announces Handouts as Strike Cripples Greece


The New York Times

ATHENS, Greece — As thousands of Greeks protested against government spending cuts during a general strike that crippled the country Thursday, struggling Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras announced one-off measures to ease the burden on pensioners and island residents.

Tsipras said the government would distribute a total of 617 million euros this Christmas to some 1.6 million low-income pensioners, replacing a holiday bonus scrapped by Greece's bailout creditors.

In a nationally televised address, Tsipras said the cash would come from a larger-than-expected surplus in Greece's primary budget, which excludes the cost of servicing the country's crippling debt.

Tsipras has seen his popularity plummet after a series of income cuts and tax hikes demanded by creditors. His left-wing Syriza party trails the main opposition conservatives by more than 10 percentage points in opinion polls.

Βερολίνο: "Οι εξαγγελίες Τσίπρα δεν συζητήθηκαν στο Eurogroup"

Άγνοια των παροχών Τσίπρα είχε το γερμανικό υπουργείο Οικονομικών και το Eurogroup. Ως επικοινωνιακή φυγή προς τα εμπρός λόγω των εσωπολιτικών πιέσεων βλέπουν γερμανοί αρθρογράφοι τις χριστουγεννιάτικες παροχές του.

deutsche welle

Ούτε το γερμανικό υπουργείο των Οικονομικών, αλλά ούτε και το Eurogroup γνώριζε για τις χθεσινοβραδινές εξαγγελίες του έλληνα πρωθυπουργού σχετικά με τις παροχές προς τους χαμηλοσυνταξιούχους και το πάγωμα του ΦΠΑ στα νησιά των Αιγαίου με μεγάλη προσφυγική ροή. Σε ερώτησηπου απηύθυνε η Deutsche Welle προς την εκπρόσωπο του γερμανικού υπουργείου Οικονομικών, εάν είχε γνώση των εξαγγελιών Τσίπρα το υπουργείο της, η Φρεντερίκε φον Τιζενχάουζεν μας απάντησε ως εξής: «Όχι, το θέμα δεν συζητήθηκε ούτε και στο Eurogroup της περασμένης Δευτέρας. Αλλά είναι υπόθεση των θεσμών να αξιολογούν τέτοιου είδους μέτρα».
Ο γερμανικός τύπος κάνει αναφορά στο αιφνιδιαστικό, όπως το χαρακτηρίζει, διάγγελμα του έλληνα πρωθυπουργού προς τον ελληνικό λαό με παροχές προς τους συνταξιούχους και τους κατοίκους νησιών με πολλούς πρόσφυγες. Ορισμένοι αρθρογράφοι εκφράζουν έκπληξη για αυτήν την κίνηση του κ. Τσίπρα σε μια κρίσιμη περίοδο έντονων αντιπαραθέσεων και αγώνα δρόμου προκειμένου να κλείσει η δεύτερη αξιολόγηση.

Greece, Not Italy, Still Poses Biggest Challenge to Eurozone

A crisis in one country only becomes a crisis for the whole eurozone when a collective European response is required, Simon Nixon writes

The Wall Street Journal

Dec. 7, 2016 3:27 p.m. ET
Not for the first time this year, the doom-mongers have been confounded. The Italian referendum over the weekend resulted in a resounding defeat for Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, who promptly announced his resignation. Yet the sky didn’t fall in, the euro dipped and then rallied, and Italian bonds and bank stocks barely budged. Other European assets were also largely unmoved.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Give Greece Credit, Even Just for Treading Water

25DEC 6, 2016 1:23 AM EST
Mark Gilbert

Here are two things I'll bet most people don't know about Greece. The country's just-appointed minister of economy and development, Dimitri Papadimitriou, was lured away from his position as head of the Levy Economics Institute at Bard College in America. He's not a member of the ruling Syriza party. And the man appointed secretary general for public revenue in January is Giorgos Pitsillis, a professional tax lawyer. He's not a party member, either.

Europe's Still Dithering Over Greece

Editorial Board
DEC 7, 2016 12:30 AM EST
This week, the European Union’s finance ministers granted some new debt relief to Greece. The new “short-term” measures are better than nothing -- but they’re less than a convincing solution to a problem that has dragged on far too long.

The deal, sketched out and agreed to in principle earlier this year, should help the Greek government convince voters to keep accepting much-needed domestic reform. That’s good. It isn’t enough, though, to put the country’s debts and budget plans on a sustainable footing. That’s why the International Monetary Fund, whose support will be necessary to achieve that larger goal, isn’t yet on board. After years of muddling through, the issue still isn’t resolved.

EU Offers Greece Near-Term Debt Relief, Demands More Reforms

by Nikos Chrysoloras , Corina Ruhe , and Jonathan Stearns
December 5, 2016 — 2:59 PM EST December 5, 2016 — 4:12 PM EST
Regling says steps may cut debt by 20 percentage points of GDP
Debt measures ‘very promising,’ says Greece’s Tsakalotos

Euro-area finance ministers agreed to measures that will help ease Greece’s debt burden, while insisting that the government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras adopt “serious” reforms that will ensure the nation maintains a proper fiscal record after the end of its current bailout.

Finance ministers from the currency bloc meeting in Brussels clinched steps that could cumulatively reduce Greece’s debt by 20 percentage points relative to gross domestic product through 2060, Klaus Regling, managing director of the European Stability Mechanism, said Monday. The measures include easing the repayment schedule of bailout loans, waiving a coupon penalty that would amount to about 200 million euros ($215 million) and swapping debt to mitigate interest rate risk.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Greece gets short-term debt relief from eurozone

By Pan Pylas | AP December 5 at 4:14 PM

The Washington Post

BRUSSELS — Greece won some short-term debt relief from European creditors on Monday even though it failed to clear the latest hurdle in its bailout program that has prevented the country going bankrupt and crashing out of the euro.

At a meeting of the 19 eurozone finance ministers in Brussels that was largely overshadowed by the Italian referendum result that forced Premier Matteo Renzi to offer his resignation, Greece’s creditors offered some immediate help to the cash-strapped Greek government.

Eurozone Finance Ministers Agree to Some Debt Relief for Greece’s Bailout

Maturities extended and interest rates locked on some Greek debt but no agreement yet on IMF participation

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Dec. 5, 2016 4:10 p.m. ET

BRUSSELS—Eurozone finance ministers, seeking to get the International Monetary Fund to participate in Greece’s bailout, agreed on a package of short-term measures that could ease the country’s debt load by around a fifth in 2060.

The ministers, gathering in Brussels for their monthly meeting on Monday, had hoped to move closer to agreeing on a set of overhauls Greece must enact under its bailout—which could reach €86 billion ($92.3 billion)—as well as a series of debt-relief measures from its European creditors. Both steps are required to get the IMF to participate in the bailout.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Fearing abandonment by Trump, CIA-backed rebels in Syria mull alternatives

The Washington Post

By Karen DeYoung and Louisa Loveluck December 3 at 6:03 PM
Three years after the CIA began secretly shipping lethal aid to rebels fighting against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, battlefield losses and fears that a Donald Trump administration will abandon them have left tens of thousands of opposition fighters weighing their alternatives.

Among the options, say U.S. officials, regional experts and the rebels themselves, are a closer alliance with better-armed al-Qaeda and other extremist groups, receipt of more sophisticated weaponry from Sunni states in the Persian Gulf region opposed to a U.S. pullback, and adoption of more traditional guerrilla tactics, including sniper and other small-scale attacks on both Syrian and Russian targets.

China says Trump clear about Taiwan, in touch with his team

Mon Dec 5, 2016 | 5:20am EST


By Ben Blanchard and Roberta Rampton | BEIJING/WASHINGTON
U.S. President-elect Trump is clear about China's position on the Taiwan issue and China has maintained contacts with his team, the foreign ministry said on Monday, as Trump took to Twitter to complain about Chinese economic and military policy.

Trump's unusual call with Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday prompted a diplomatic protest on Saturday, though U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence played down the telephone conversation, saying it was a "courtesy" call, not intended to show a shift in U.S. policy on China.

Markets stabilise after Italian referendum


The euro was hit after Mr Renzi announced his intention to resign. At one stage the euro hit $1.0505, its lowest level against the US currency since March 2015.
But it rebounded from that low to stand at $1.0634, a fall of just 0.3%.
Shares in Italian banks opened lower before recovering ground.
The troubled Monte dei Paschi was down by more than 5% in the first few minutes of trade, but then rebounded and had edged into positive territory. Shares in Unicredit and Intesa also fell sharply at first before recovering.

Greece sees final solution on debt crisis amid euro uncertainty

Sun Dec 4, 2016 | 12:22pm EST


Political uncertainty in Europe has created fresh momentum for a "comprehensive and permanent" solution to the Greek debt crisis before the year ends, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

Euro zone finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss short-term debt relief for Greece, and Germany's Wolfgang Schaeuble said it must implement reforms instead of hoping for further debt forgiveness.

Greece remained optimistic for a final debt deal, however, just as Italians are voting on a constitutional referendum on Sunday and a victory for the opposition 'No' camp may push the euro zone toward fresh crisis.

Greece and Its Creditors Get Back on a Collision Course

Greece’s woes oblige the eurozone to do something it has rarely appeared capable of doing: take a collective political decision, Simon Nixon writes.

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Dec. 4, 2016 1:44 p.m. ET
In a continent beset by multiple crises, Greece remains the cradle of European dysfunction. The country may have dropped out of the headlines in recent months, its multiple challenges seemingly buried under a tide of bailout cash. Yet it still presents the greatest risk to the survival of the eurozone. That is because Greece’s circumstances oblige the eurozone to do something it has so far appeared incapable of doing, except under conditions of extreme financial stress: take a collective political decision.

Sunday, December 4, 2016


A crunch summit with creditors begins Monday.
BY JOSH LOWE ON 12/3/16 AT 2:59 PM


It was late November in Athens, and the city felt empty. A string of surprise thunderstorms kept people imprisoned indoors and outside the Greek parliament in Syntagma Square—where anti-austerity protests raged throughout the summer of 2015—was bare but for a few brave tourists and one quizzical-looking stray dog watching the Evzones guards perform their distinctive, shuffling shift change routine, complete with pom-pom shoes and kilts. With so much unrest elsewhere in Europe, it would be easy to think Greece is heading toward relative quietude.

The coming weeks could change all that. On December 5, the finance ministers of the Eurozone will meet in Brussels for their last scheduled summit of the year. On the agenda is the ongoing second review of Greece’s bailout program, which since 2015 has allowed the country to receive financial assistance from European creditors that will eventually total €86 billion ($91.7 billion) in exchange for carrying out reforms including shrinking the public sector, reining in government spending and raising taxes.

Greece needs reforms, not debt relief: Germany's Schaeuble

 Sat Dec 3, 2016 | 6:30pm EST


Structural reforms rather than debt relief will help Greece to achieve sustainable growth and stay in the euro zone because rates and repayment are putting hardly any burden on its budget, Gerany's finance minister was quoted as saying on Sunday.

Euro zone finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss short-term measures to lighten Greece's debt burden and to assess Athens' progress in reforms required within its third bailout program.

Asked in an interview by Bild am Sonntag newspaper whether it might be time to tell German voters that a debt cut for Greece was inevitable, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said: "That would not help Greece."

Friday, December 2, 2016

Eurozone Bailout Fund Proposes Short-Term Debt Relief for Greece

ESM proposes extension on some maturities and locking in the interest on some loans to ease Greece’s debt load

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Nov. 30, 2016 7:57 a.m. ET
BRUSSELS—Confidential proposals drawn up by the eurozone’s bailout fund could reduce Greece’s debt load by about a fifth in 2060.

A six-page document, dated Nov. 25 and seen by The Wall Street Journal, was produced by the European Stability Mechanism, the Luxembourg-based eurozone bailout fund. It outlines measures that could be taken in the near future to reduce Greece’s large debt load.

The paper proposes to ease Greece’s debt load by extending some maturities and locking in the interest on some of Greece’s loans to shield it from future interest-rate increases.

The Latest, Greatest Threat to the Euro: Populism

Elections and referendums in the year ahead pose a far different challenge from the financial crisis of recent years

The Wall Street Journal

Updated Nov. 30, 2016 11:32 a.m. ET

The euro has survived sovereign default, recessions, banking crises and bailouts. It may not survive populism.

In the coming year, the eurozone will host at least five elections or referendums that could bring a populist, euroskeptic party to power. In effect, the common currency is about to play multiple rounds of Russian roulette.

The populist threat is qualitatively different from the financial crisis that first erupted in Greece in 2009 and eventually engulfed half the region. In that case, what worried private investors was that a country, or its banks, would default on its debt and be forced to leave the euro. Investors fled, driving interest rates sky-high and plunging the continent into recession.

Tired of Syriza, Greece embraces a mainstream party

The centre-right New Democracy party is dull, technocratic and leading the polls
Dec 3rd 2016 | ATHENS

The Economist

THE headquarters of New Democracy, a centre-right political party, is in an unexpected part of Athens. The building, surrounded by warehouses, housed a branch of a Japanese technology firm before standing derelict for years. Few other political types are nearby. The rent, at €9,800 ($10,400) a month, is a tenth of what the party’s old office used to cost. Yet the relocation, which happened in August, is also symbolic. As the opposition party has moved to a cheaper part of town, so too does it hope that it can present itself to the public as a new, improved alternative to the Greek government. With Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister (pictured, on the left), growing less popular, New Democracy may well have a chance.