ECB Threatens Athens With Bank Funding Cutoff If No Deal In One Month: February 28 Is Now D-Day For Greece

As Deutsche Bank’s George Saravelos politely puts it, “Developments since the Greek election on Sunday have moved very fast.” And indeed, so far the new Tsipras cabinet, and here we focus on the words and deeds of the new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, has shown that the market’s greatest hope – that the status quo in Greece will continue – has been crushed into a pulp (and so have Greek stock and bond prices) especially following yesterday’s most recent comments by the finmin in which he said that Greece “does not want the $7 billion” from the Troika agreement and that it wants to “rethink the whole program”, culminating with an epic exchange with Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem in which Greece made it clear that the “constructive talks” are over.

And suddenly the Eurozone is stunned, because what had until now been its greatest carrot when it comes to dealing with Greece, has become completely useless when the impoverished, insolvent nation itself says it no longer needs a bailout, seemingly blissfully unaware of the consequences.

So earlier today the ECB’s Erikki Liikanen, tired of pleasantries and dealing with what to Europe is a completely incomprehensible and illogical stance, one which is essentially a massive defection by Greece in the European “prisoner’s dilemma”, and which while leading to a Greek financial collapse and Grexit – both prerequisites to a subsequent Greek economic recovery unburdened by the shackles of the Euro – would also unleash a European depression, came out and directly threatened Greece that it now has 1 month until the end of February to reach a deal with the Troika, or else the ECB would cut off lending to Greek banks, in the process destroying the otherwise insolvent Greek banking sector.

And since only the ECB backstop has prevented a banking sector panic, the ECB is essentially betting the house, and the sanctity of the Eurozone (because after a Grexit all bets are off which peripheral leaves next) that the threat, and soon reality, of a bank run (at last check Greece had about €145 billion in deposits still left in its bank after JPM’s latest estimate of €15 billion in outflows in January) will finally force Varoufakis and Tsipras to sit at the negotiating table with the understanding that not they but the Troika has all the leverage.

Reuters explains:

A deal on extending Greece’s bailout deal must be found by the end of February or the European Central Bank will not be able to continue lending to its banks, ECB council member Erkki Liikanen said on Saturday. Europe’s bailout programme for Greece, part of a 240-billion-euro ($270 billion) rescue package along with the International Monetary Fund, expires on Feb. 28 and a failure to renew it could leave Athens unable to meet its financing needs and cut its banks off from ECB liquidity support.

In sum, developments and pressure on Greece have accelerated over the last few days, with a very large degree of uncertainty around both the Greek government’s and Troika’s position on how negotiations will proceed. We expect this to be ultimately resolved by a Troika request from the Greek side to commit to program completion and the broad contours of previously committed policy, particularly with regard to structural reform. In turn, program extension may itself be linked to ongoing ECB/ELA financing of Greek banks. The precise form this request takes and the Greek government’s reaction will ultimately determine the path Greece takes in coming weeks and months.

Full article: ECB Threatens Athens With Bank Funding Cutoff If No Deal In One Month: February 28 Is Now D-Day For Greece (Zero Hedge)

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