The largest banks in Greece—National, Alpha, Eurobank, and Piraeus—reported €28.2 billion in losses for the year 2011. Almost 13% of GDP! It included the bond swap that had saddled private-sector bondholders with a 74% loss.
But no worries. Rescue funds were already lined up at the Hellenic Financial Stability Fund, which had received €25 billion in bonds from the European Financial Stability Facility the day before—part of the second bailout package of €130 billion that the Troika of the ECB, IMF, and EU had orchestrated. The banks, not the Greeks themselves, are getting bailed out. The big money is rolling in—and the ever wily Greek political elite have figured it out. Read…. They’re Not Even Trying Anymore.
But “solidarity of the union has its limits,” said even soft-spoken Jens Weidmann, President of the Bundesbank on Saturday. “That’s why we linked the aid to conditions….”
A whole litany of them. And they have caused riots in the streets. But if they aren’t met, the bailout will stop. That’s the threat. A leaked report by European Commission President José Manuel Barroso includes a 15% cut in private sector wages and an overhaul of the system for collective bargaining—both of which will go over very well in Greece. It also calls for privatization of public gas and electric utilities, comprehensive reform of the tax system, reform of the pension system, including “fighting fraud in disability pensions,” and a “radical” overhaul of public procurement which is inefficient and costly.
And corrupt: former Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was thrown into the hoosegow just before the Orthodox Easter weekend, having been accused of extensive defense procurement fraud and money laundering that he’d conducted for years via a network of people and off-shore companies. Corruption on all levels haunts Greece. In the Corruption Perception Index, Greece is in 80th place, sharing that position with the likes of El Salvador. It is worse than China whose corruption is legendary. It is in last place within the Eurozone.
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- “Drachma Clauses”: Planning for Greece’s Exit from the Eurozone (zerohedge.com)
- Live From Athens: “You’ve Got To Pick A Pocket Or Two” (zerohedge.com)
- The PIIGS Get to Live Longer (zerohedge.com)