ATHENS – Anxiety over Greece’s unsettled confrontation with international lenders has led to a spiked outflow in withdrawals and bad loans.
Uncertainty over whether the country will be pushed out of the Eurozone as well, Greeks have stopped paying loans, mortgages and credit cards and took out 15 billion euros in the last month.
Senior bank officials told Kathimerini the situation is deteriorating and urged the government to find a compromise with the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) as quickly as possible.
They added that banks experienced a major increase in new bad loans in January after months of decline, as the creation of new so-called Non-Performing Loans (NPLs) grew by between 20 and 30 percent for some and is about 80 billion euros.
Banks also slowed lending dramatically in December in the run-up to the Jan. 25 elections won by the anti-austerity Radical Left SYRIZA party that said it would seek renegotiation of harsh terms that came with 240 billion euros ($272 billion) in two bailouts from the Troika.
While the government has softened its stance, banks are still uneasy and said another 10 billion euros was yanked out by nervous customers in January, following four billion in December and more this month so far.
Besides the decreasing deposits, banks are bleeding from the halt in transactions on the interbank market as well as treasury bill issues that banks are forced to cover,, forcing them to request emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the Bank of Greece, which comes at a high cost.