Greece may be – as its Eurovision entry song puts it, be down to its last breath – as talks with international lenders linger, world press reports say.
The Hidden Cry for Help in Greece’s Eurovision Song
Market Watch – Sarah Sjolin
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” (acid trip). “Hotel California” (satanism). For years, music fans have hunted for hidden meanings in pop lyrics, and found them. And now it’s Greece’s turn: Could the debt-saddled country be trying to smuggle an appeal to other Europeans via its Eurovision Song Contest entry?
Take a look at the clues. First, the song is called “One Last Breath” — somewhat appropriate for a country being squeezed by international creditors to meet their demands or lose bailout cash. Greece is seen as only a few weeks away from a debt default.
Second, Greece’s vocalist Maria Elena Kyriakou accuses an unnamed “you” (Germany, perhaps?) of betrayal and drunken lying, leaving the wounded party struggling for survival alone in the dark. Not far from how many Greeks feel about the bailout negotiations with eurozone lenders.
“I’m begging you take me
out of this firing hell.
Come back and save me —
What happened wasn’t fair.
Nothing left. All that I have
is one last breath.
Only one last breath.”
On the face of it, it’s a ballad about romantic despair. But if you’re listening right, the lyrics couldn’t be a more pointed appeal to citizens of the eurozone — who will be tuning into the contest in their millions — to help end Greece’s financial agony.
The ECB Won’t Cut Greece Loose Yet
The New York Times – Jack Ewing
The European Central Bank is not ready to pull the plug on Greece — not yet at least.
Members of the central bank’s Governing Council are scheduled to meet in Frankfurt on Wednesday and are expected to conduct an intense discussion about the life support they are providing to Greek banks.
But despite being unhappy with the way the Greek government has been handling debt negotiations, the policy makers are not likely to do anything that would provoke a crisis, according to analysts and a person familiar with the governing council’s thinking.
The central bank has lent more than 110 billion euros, or about $125 billion, to struggling Greek lenders. If the Greek government went bankrupt and caused the country’s banking system to collapse, the central bank could suffer huge losses.
Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, said Friday that a debt deal for his country was “close.”Greek Prime Minister Rejects Further Austerity or Labor Changes
Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s finance minister, made statements on Thursday that were interpreted as a threat to not pay billions of euros owed to the European Central Bank. He also said that
But, despite having little patience remaining with the behavior of leaders of Greece’s leftist government, the central bank’s policy makers are not likely to further restrict the flow of emergency cash to Greek banks quite yet, analysts said.
The central bank has placed a ceiling of €80 billion on lending to Greek banks through a program known as emergency liquidity assistance. The central bank has been raising the ceiling in increments weekly, keeping the banks on a short leash.
Greece is in such a precarious position that any change in central bank policy could alarm markets and have serious consequences.
“That could be self-fulfilling,” perhaps forcing Athens to take drastic measures like imposing restrictions on bank withdrawals, said Lefteris Farmakis, an economist at Nomura in London. “Clearly it’s not a trivial thing to do.”
But, he said, the European Central Bank could soon run out of patience. “Next week, it’s quite likely,” Mr. Farmakis said, that the Governing Council will impose stricter conditions on lending to Greek banks, unless there is more progress toward a deal between Athens and its creditors.
Greece in Crisis as Officials Insist Deal Near
CNBC – Holly Ellyatt
Greek government officials are insisting that a deal with the country’s international lenders over reforms is imminent, but one key business leader told CNBC that Greece needs to implement reforms fast, whether a deal is on the cards or not.
“Greece is in a liquidity trap. We need to rectify the situation and agree on certain issues,” Costantine Michalos, president of the Union of Hellenic Chambers of Commerce & Industry, told CNBC Tuesday.
“You don’t need an agreement with your lenders and partners to improve your tax collecting mechanism, you don’t need an agreement to improve your labor laws based on European norms on flexibility, and you don’t need an agreement in order to proceed with privatizations,” he added.
It comes as Greece’s Labour Minister, Panos Skourletis, added his voice to that of the prime minister and finance minister, insisting that a deal with creditors was imminent “in the coming days,” Reuters reported Tuesday.
Greece has been negotiating with creditors for months over reforms that — when implemented — could unlock a last tranche of much-needed bailout aid, worth 7.2 billion euros ($8.14 billion).
Greek Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, on Monday ruled out further pension cuts, but said a list of proposals for an overhaul of the nation’s VAT (sales tax) regime had been sent to lenders and he claimed a deal was imminent.
Speaking at a meeting of the Greek Industrial Federation Monday, Tsipras said Greece had tabled proposals for a “viable deal with creditors” and that the country was “in the final straight for an agreement.”
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