Thursday, March 30, 2017

In historic break, Britain plunges into Brexit with hard negotiations still to come

The Washington Post

By Griff Witte and Michael Birnbaum March 29 at 4:17 PM
LONDON — The end came not with a bang but a letter.

Over six crisp and unsentimental pages, Britain said goodbye to the European Union on Wednesday, spelling out its hopes, ­wishes, threats and demands for divorce talks that will strain ­alliances, roil ­economies and consume attention across the continent over the next two years.

Coming a little over nine months after British voters stunned the world by choosing to withdraw from the E.U., the hand-delivery of the letter in Brussels officially triggered Article 50, the bloc’s never-before-used escape hatch.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

'Grexit' is back

Business Insider UK
Jim Edwards, Business Insider UK
Mar. 23, 2017, 12:16 PM

Greece's banks lost about €4 billion in bank deposits since the turn of the year as Greeks fear a return of capital controls that ban them from making cash withdrawals over set limits. Separately, the country looks as if it is tipping back into recession — GDP shrank by 1.2% in Q4 2016.

Does this story sound familiar?

It should. A collapsing economy followed by a run on the banks were the signal events of the Greek debt crisis that began in 2009 and never really ended.

So now people are asking — again — whether Greece might be forced out of the eurozone:

UPDATE 1-Lenders do not confirm preliminary deal on Greek bailout


Wed Mar 29, 2017 | 7:03am EDT

Greece's lenders on Wednesday could not confirm what sources said was a preliminary deal on open issues of the country's bailout and said possible debt relief measures will be decided only at the end of the financial aid programme, contrary to Athens' will.

Negotiations between Greece, the European Union and the International Monetary Fund - which has yet to decide if it will participate in Greece's current bailout - have dragged on for months, rekindling fears of a new financial crisis in the euro zone.

British PM May to fire starting gun on Brexit

Wed Mar 29, 2017 | 7:15am EDT


By Guy Faulconbridge and Elizabeth Piper | LONDON
Prime Minister Theresa May will file formal Brexit divorce papers on Wednesday, pitching the United Kingdom into the unknown and triggering years of uncertain negotiations that will test the endurance of the European Union.

Nine months after Britons voted to leave, May will notify EU Council President Donald Tusk in a letter that the UK really is quitting the bloc it joined in 1973.

The prime minister, an initial opponent of Brexit who won the top job in the political turmoil that followed the referendum vote, will then have two years to settle the terms of the divorce before it comes into effect in late March 2019.

Friday, March 24, 2017

London Attack Echoes, Faintly, in a Europe Anxious but Inured


The New York Times

LONDON — The terrorist attack in London, with its combination of random deaths and the strong symbolism of Parliament shut down, comes in an important election year in critical European countries, as well as at a moment of high anxiety — about the rise of populism, migration and the integration of Muslims.

With France, Germany and possibly Italy going to the polls, analysts have long wondered whether an act of terrorism could jolt electoral dynamics and boost the broader “Europe in crisis” narrative that has elevated far-right parties across the Continent.

“This will have an echo in France and in Germany,” said Mark Leonard, the director of the European Council on Foreign Relations. “It becomes part of a pattern. It’s another link in the chain.”

A Bad Brexit Deal May Be Better Than No Deal After All

by Simon Kennedy
24 Μαρτίου 2017, 2:01 π.μ. EET 24 Μαρτίου 2017, 11:24 π.μ. EET


The mantra within the British government as it prepares to hammer out the terms of its break-up with the European Union is that no deal is better than a bad deal.

Walking away with no regime for 230 billion pounds ($287 billion) of annual exports to the bloc and the 3.3 million Europeans in the U.K would be “perfectly OK,” says Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Not “frightening” at all, says Brexit czar David Davis.

Greece to draw up boundaries for huge Athens riviera resort

BUSINESS NEWS | Thu Mar 23, 2017 | 11:01am EDT


Greece will soon define the boundaries of a site where investors plan to spend 7.9 billion euros ($8.5 billion) to build one of Europe's biggest coastal resorts, the culture ministry said, in a sign the delayed project may eventually go ahead.

A consortium of Abu Dhabi and Chinese investors (0656.HK), led by Greece's Lamda (LMDr.AT), signed a deal in 2014 for the 99-year lease of a sprawling area at the former Athens airport in Hellenikon and the development of a coastal town.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Greece, creditors stepping up talks as debt deadline looms

The Washington Post

By Associated Press March 20
BRUSSELS — Greece and its international creditors are stepping up talks on issues holding up the release of more loans to keep the country’s debt-wracked economy afloat.

Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem said finance ministers from the 19 nations that used the shared euro currency agreed Monday on more talks “intensified in the coming days here in Brussels.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lenders and Greece 'wide apart' on bailout review: euro zone official

 Thu Mar 16, 2017 | 12:44pm EDT


By Francesco Guarascio and Lefteris Papadimas | BRUSSELS/ATHENS
Greece and its international creditors remain divided over the terms of a review of the country's bailout program, a senior euro zone official said on Thursday, a gap that will prevent Athens from getting fresh financial support.

Police find 8 parcel bombs in Greece headed to EU countries

No one was hurt when the parcels were discovered. Police gave no further details.

The Toronto Star

By The Associated Press
Mon., March 20, 2017

ATHENS, GREECE—Police in Greece have discovered and neutralized eight parcel bombs, addressed to European Union finance officials and businesses in various European countries, at a postal sorting office near Athens.

EU Pressures Greece to Resolve Issues as New Debt Crisis Looms

by Nikos Chrysoloras , Corina Ruhe , and Rainer Buergin
March 20, 2017, 2:00 AM GMT+2 March 20, 2017, 8:29 PM GMT+2
Further delay would hurt investor, consumer confidence
Eurogroup reiterates calls for Greece to meet loan clauses

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

‘Brexit’ Fuels Feeling in Scotland That Time Is Right for Independence


LONDON — Scotland’s nationalists wasted no time: Just minutes after the country’s leader, Nicola Sturgeon, called on Monday for a new independence referendum, a website went live asking people to show their support on Twitter and donate to the campaign.

By Tuesday morning, 204,345 pounds, or about $249,000 — more than a fifth of the £1 million target — had been raised; pro-independence banners in Scotland’s blue-and-white colors had gone up across the country; and celebrities were offering support, including the actor Alan Cumming, who shared a Twitter post by Ms. Sturgeon, with the comment “It’s showtime!”

It was an early glimpse of the Scottish nationalists’ formidable campaign machine, evidently little diminished since the last referendum, in 2014. Support for independence rose from about 27 percent at the start of that campaign to 45 percent at the final count.

IMF Said to Move Toward Greek Bailout Loan in Merkel Boost

by Rainer Buergin  and Birgit Jennen
10 March 2017, 5:46 μ.μ.

The International Monetary Fund is moving toward rejoining Greece’s bailout, according to people familiar with the discussions, suggesting it will meet a condition set by Germany and other euro-area nations for continued aid.

In a shift that may help break the impasse over its participation, the IMF is ready to offer Greece a smaller loan than the last one provided five years ago, two people said, making it easier for the fund to justify its involvement to its shareholder countries. The amount under discussion is $3 billion to $6 billion, one of the people said, compared with a 29 billion-euro ($31 billion) IMF credit line under Greece’s second bailout in 2012.

Monday, March 13, 2017

How does jailing the statisticians fix Greece’s financial crisis? It doesn’t.

By Anbar Aizenman, Anisha Chinwalla and Benjamin A.T. Graham
 March 13 at 5:00 AM

The Washington Post

The Greek government’s ongoing attempts to imprison Andreas Georgiou will reshape the Greek economy — in ways that may last for decades. Georgiou is a statistician who’s been accused by the government of inflating data on the size of the Greek deficit. He’s awaiting trial — for telling the truth about the Greek economy.

Georgiou has been acquitted in four trials since 2011, most recently in December. Greek politicians are still pushing the case, which is now at the Greek Supreme Court. Georgiou appears to be a convenient scapegoat for Greek politicians trying to avoid blame for their country’s ongoing financial crisis.

Monday, March 6, 2017

The Time Has Come To Cut Greece Loose

 06/03/2017 00:48

Dr Ioannis Glinavos
Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Westminster

The beginning of March saw Athens grudgingly welcome back the “Troika” inspectors. After months of haggling over Greece’s progress towards the goals of its bailout programme and following non-stop negotiations since January 2015, we are back where we started, the creditor inspectors are allowed in to investigate. However, something is different this time. Greece’s cash-for-reforms deal is coming apart while at the same time relationships between its creditors are breaking down. We now face a situation where Greece, the IMF and the Eurozone are operating at cross purposes. It is legitimate to ask therefore whether 2017 will be the year when this all stops. Is Greece still worth saving?

North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into sea, angering Japan and South

Mon Mar 6, 2017 | 3:43am EST


By Ju-min Park and Kaori Kaneko | SEOUL/TOKYO
North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan's northwest on Monday, angering South Korea and Japan, days after it promised retaliation over U.S.-South Korea military drills it sees as a preparation for war.

South Korea's military said the missiles were unlikely to have been intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), which can reach the United States. The missiles flew on average 1,000 km (620 miles) and reached a height of 260 km (160 miles).

Greece's fiscal targets should be eased to help growth, central bank chief says

Sat Mar 4, 2017 | 9:17am EST


Greece's international lenders should lower the country's fiscal targets from 2021 onwards to help boost its growth potential, central bank governor Yannis Stournaras said on Saturday.

Stournaras told an economic forum in Delphi that primary surplus targets - excluding debt servicing costs - should be lowered to 2 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) from 2021 onwards from 3.5 percent that is now envisaged.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Carl Bildt: In defence of globalization

World Economic Forum

I must confess that I am a firm believer in the benefits of globalization. To my mind, the gradual interlinking of regions, countries, and people is the most profoundly positive development of our time.

But a populist has now assumed the United States presidency by campaigning on a platform of stark economic nationalism and protectionism. And in many countries, public discourse is dominated by talk of globalization’s alleged “losers,” and the perceived need for new policies to stem the rise of populist discontent.

When I was born, the world’s population was 2.5 billion. I vividly recall a time in my life when many people feared that starvation would soon run rampant, gaps between the rich and poor would grow ever wider, and everything would eventually come crashing down.

Paul Krugman: The Economic Fallout


The New York Times

2016-11-09T00:42:44-05:0012:42 AM ET

It really does now look like President Donald J. Trump, and markets are plunging. When might we expect them to recover?

Frankly, I find it hard to care much, even though this is my specialty. The disaster for America and the world has so many aspects that the economic ramifications are way down my list of things to fear.

Still, I guess people want an answer: If the question is when markets will recover, a first-pass answer is never.