Over the past several weeks we’ve documented the acute cash crunch that’s crippled the Greek banking sector and ultimately brought the country to its knees.
As the crisis unfolded and Athens’ negotiations with creditors became increasingly contentious, Greek banks began to bleed cash. Eventually it became clear that the banks were relying entirely on the Eurosystem to meet outflows.
Meanwhile, banknotes in circulation surged, as cash usage jumped 44%, prompting Barclays to note that “the amount of banknotes in excess of the quota for Greece represents a liability of the BoG to the Eurosystem.” Essentially, we said, Greece was quietly printing billions of euros.
Now, with the ECB holding steady on the ELA cap and the banking system still hemorrhaging deposits despite the imposition of capital controls, Greek banks are running out of cash — literally.
WSJ has more:…
As of Wednesday, Greece’s banking system had about €1 billion in cash left, according to a person familiar with the situation. Even with the €60-a-day limit on ATM withdrawals from Greek’s closed banks, “it’s a matter of a few days” until the money runs out, this person said.
Ellie Tzortzi, a partner at a Vienna-based digital-design and market research firm, is flying to Athens this weekend to pay her employees here in cash. “The last time I traveled with a wad of cash to pay someone’s salary was 10 years ago in Kosovo,” she said.
And AFP has more color on the crisis facing Greek businesses:
As unease spreads, getting ones hands on cash has become a sort of national sport, with businesses from restaurants to car mechanics telling customers paying by card is no longer an option.
So there you have it. The unthinkable — which we have of course been warning about for months — is unfolding before Europe’s very eyes.
The crisis has officially moved beyond the negotiating table and has now manifested itself in a shortage of physical banknotes and the inability of Greek businesses to stock the shelves, leaving all of those who accused the tin foil hat crowd of fearmongering to look on in horror as the ATMs go dark, imports grind to a halt, and Greece rapidly descends into the Third World.
This is no longer speculation, it is a stark reality, and as Constantine Michalos, the president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry told WSJ, “in one week, two weeks, three weeks, it will be finished.”
Full article: Greek Banks To Run Out Of Physical Cash “In A Matter Of Days” (Zero Hedge)