Category Archives: Greece

(KeepTalkingGreece) Germany makes €2.9billion profit from Greece’s crisis since 2010

(KeepTalkingGreece) Germany has earned around 2.9 billion euros in profit from interest rate since the first bailout for Greece in 2010. This is the official response of the Federal Government to a request submitted by the Green party in Berlin. The profit was transmitted to the central Bundesbank and from there to the federal budget.

The revenues came mainly due to purchases of Greek government bonds under the so-called Securities Markets Program (SMP) of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Previous agreements between the government in Athens and the eurozone states foresaw that other states will pay out the profits from this program to Greece if  Athens would meet all the austerity and reform requirements. However, according to Berlin’s response, only in 2013 and 2014 such funds have been transferred to the Greek State and the ESM. The money to the euro bailout landed on a seggregated account.

As the Federal Government announced, the Bundesbank achieved by 2017 about 3.4 billion euros in interest gains from the SMP purchases. In 2013, approximately 527 million euros were transferred back to Greece and around 387 million to the ESM in 2014. Therefore, the overall profit is 2.5 billion euros.

In addition, there are interest profits of 400 million euros from a loan from the state bank KfW.

“Contrary to all right-wing myths, Germany has benefited massively from the crisis in Greece,” said Greens household expert Sven Christian Kindler said and demanded a debt relief for Greece.

“It can not be that the federal government with billions of revenues from the Greek interest the German budget recapitalize,” Kindler criticized. “Greece has saved hard and kept its commitments, now the Eurogroup must keep its promise,” he stressed.

“Sorry, Angie, I couldn’t make more, yet 2.9billion is not bad profit either…”

The Eurogroup is meeting today to approve the last bailout tranche for Greece and eventually take crucial decisions on a settlement of the Greek debt, before the country exits the 3. fiscal adjustment program in August.

According to ESM chief Klaus Regling, Greece has been given loans of over 270 billion euros.

(JN) Nós não fomos a Grécia – Pedro Ivo Carvalho*

(JN) Nós não somos a Grécia, nós não somos a Grécia, nós não somos a Grécia. Houve um tempo em que o fado lusitano se engrandecia vituperando aqueles que, como nós, se debatiam para desenlaçar um apertado nó no pescoço. Na verdade, era mais instinto de sobrevivência do que desejo de maledicência. Sempre que Bruxelas agitava um documento sombrio ou produzia uma declaração paternalista sobre a nossa propensão para o abismo orçamental, ouvíamos o primeiro-ministro e a ministra das Finanças entoar a cantilena. Não nos deu a vitória na Eurovisão, mas ajudou a abrir caminho para metermos um solista português no palco do Eurogrupo. A proclamação de Pedro Passos Coelho e Maria Luís Albuquerque veio a provar-se verdadeira.

Hoje, nós só não somos a Grécia, porque ontem não fomos a Grécia. A qual, pese embora o relevantíssimo papel desempenhado na confrontação política ao discurso único da austeridade, veio a revelar-se um doente aparentemente incurável padecendo de um mal altamente contagioso. No final, a batuta do malfadado diretório europeu levou a orquestra para onde bem quis. Em 2018, os gregos continuam de mão estendida, estruturalmente não resolveram nenhum dos problemas que obliteravam o progresso económico do país e vão a meio do enésimo programa de austeridade. Nós não fomos a Grécia. Mas livrámo-nos desse anátema da pior maneira.

Ora, a economia, por mais que se alimente das variações de espírito dos consumidores, vive sobretudo de ciclos e de carradas de pragmatismo. Quem diria, por exemplo, que, apenas quatro anos depois da saída da troika do nosso regaço, teríamos um presidente português do Eurogrupo a exigir mais esforço orçamental à mesmíssima Grécia? O “Ronaldo” do Eurogrupo – que ameaça relegar CR7 para a categoria profissional de Mário Centeno do Real Madrid – estreou-se no cadeirão de Bruxelas com a natural candura de sempre e o discurso musculado do costume: se a Grécia não cumprir o plano de ajustamento, e não o fizer antes do prazo estipulado, não verá a cor do próximo cheque. A vida dá mesmo muitas voltas.

Ter Mário Centeno como decisor bipolar (um pé nas cativações domésticas, outro nas comunitárias) pode, pois, ser de grande utilidade. Basta lembrar que os que hoje nos chamam “nórdicos do Sul” são os mesmos que, não há muito tempo, nos adornavam a campa quando definhávamos no lamaçal dos P.I.G.S. Não nos esqueçamos. E, sobretudo, não nos iludamos com música celestial criada à medida dos nossos ouvidos.

*SUBDIRETOR

(Reuters) EU Commission sees Greek primary surplus at 3.9% GDP in 2018

(Reuters)

  • Greece will also start running a budget surplus of 0.9 percent next year in a sharp reversal of a budget deficit of 1.2 percent seen this year
  • The Commission also forecast that Greek public debt would fall rapidly over the next two years to 170.1 percent of GDP in 2019

A protestor holds a banner outside the Greek parliament during in a demonstration by municipal contract workers in Athens, Greece, on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

Kostas Tsironis | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A protestor holds a banner outside the Greek parliament during in a demonstration by municipal contract workers in Athens, Greece, on Thursday, June 29, 2017.

Greece’s primary surplus is likely to rise to 3.9 percent of GDP, beating a target of 3.5 percent, next year when the country is to exit the latest euro zone bailout programme and return to market financing, the European Commission forecast on Thursday.

In a regular forecast for all European Union economies, the Commission said that Greece would have a primary surplus — the budget balance before debt servicing costs — of 2.0 percent this year. The surplus is projected to be 3.7 percent in 2019.

The Commission also forecast that Greek public debt, the highest in the European Union, would fall rapidly over the next two years to 170.1 percent of GDP in 2019 from 179.6 expected this year.

The country will also start running a budget surplus of 0.9 percent next year in a sharp reversal of a budget deficit of 1.2 percent seen this year.

(BBG) A Turning Point for Greece

(BBGGreece is taking a step closer to get the respect it deserves from Europe.

Yields on the country’s government bonds, which have already taken great strides lower this year, hit a new low last week on news the government is preparing a major debt swap. The exercise, first reported by Bloomberg News, should allow Greece to sell bonds in future — and help end its dependence on the largess of its main creditors.

It comes after Europe’s peripheral debt markets all made impressive gains in recent months. Spreads on Spanish, Italian and Portuguese bonds have all tightening against their German equivalents.

The European Central Bank’s gentle tapering its quantitative easing program has reassured investors that the buyer-of-last-resort won’t disappear soon. That’s helped Portuguese yields to drop by about half in the past six months to trade less than 30 basis points above Italy.

Greece has performed even better — despite the fact its bonds still don’t figure in the ECB’s Public Sector Purchasing Program. While they are technically eligible, the ECB’s governing council still has to decide that it’s confident that Greece’s debt load is sustainable. Letting Greece into the program would put the country back in the euro zone fold.

Success in the next round of talks with creditors, early in 2018, should finally provide the necessary conditions. The IMF is no longer the barrier to progress it was: It stepped out of the way to allow Greece to increase its debt-load in July. It also softened its requirements on stress tests and bank asset reviews. Domestic politics are also less of an issue. Elections aren’t due for two years, and the ruling Syriza party’s ratings in the polls are lifting as the economy improves.

In the meantime, it makes sense for Greece to establish a simpler yield curve, with larger and more liquid benchmarks. That ought to attract more investors back to what is at present a backwater. That will be of importance not only to the ECB, but most importantly, when it comes to raising new money, something Greece surely needs to do.

Greece hopes to raise at least 6 billion euros to establish a capital buffer for when it falls out of the formal protection of its bailout next year. If the bond swap is a success, expect it to be followed by another fundraising, creditors permitting.

2017 has been a watershed for the euro zone’s peripheral countries. Greece will be hoping 2018 will see a permanent transformation from being a semi-detached basket case into an integral member of the European project.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg LP and its owners.

(BBG) Greece Is Planning a EU30 Billion Debt-Swap Exercise

(BBG) The Greek government is planning an unprecedented debt swap worth 29.7 billion euros ($34.5 billion) aimed at boosting the liquidity of its paper and easing the sale of new bonds in the future.

Under a project that could be launched in mid November, the government plans to swap 20 bonds issued after a restructuring of Greek debt held by private investors in 2012 with as many as five new fixed-coupon bonds, according to two senior bankers with knowledge of the swap plan. The bank officials requested anonymity as the plan has yet to be made public. The maturities of the new bonds may be the same as for the existing notes, which range from 2023 to 2042.

“The move aims to address the current illiquidity of the Greek bond market,” according to analysts at Pantelakis Securities SA in Athens. It will also “establish a decent yield curve, thus facilitating the country’s return to public debt markets.”

The move comes as Greece prepares for life after the end of its current bailout program in August 2018. The debt swap is a step toward the country’s full return to markets required to avoid a new bailout program. The government plans to tap the bond market in 2018 to raise at least 6 billion euros to create an adequate buffer to honor debt obligations, according to a government official.

The government has yet to decide on the exact timing of the swap, the Greek official said on condition of anonymity. One of the bank officials said that transaction could start on Nov. 13 and the settlement could happen a week later. The goal is to conclude the swap before the next mission of the country’s creditors, which is scheduled for the last week of November.

Market access

Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos said in October that tapping markets soon wouldn’t be aimed at getting fresh money so much as to better manage the country’s debt and make its bonds more attractive. The new bonds, following the swap, are expected to have the same value as the old ones and will have a fixed coupon, one of the people with knowledge of the matter said.

Yields on Greek bonds dropped Wednesday with the 15-year tenor hitting a fresh year-to-date low at 6.03 percent, a level unseen since September 2014. Five-year notes yielded a six-week low of 4.39 percent. The Athens benchmark stock index rose by 1.4 percent as of 2:22 p.m. Athens time, after touching its highest level since Sept. 22.

Greece returned to markets in July for the first time since 2014, raising 3 billion euros through new five-year bonds. Now, with the swap plan, the government wants to ensure it can tap the market for enough funds to refinance its debt obligations in 2019, which originally amounted to 19 billion euros. The government managed to reduce this number by 1.6 billion euros with the July bond issuance.

The country’s third bailout review started last week. Both Greek and European officials estimate that the review could be completed at the end of January or in early February.

— With assistance by Viktoria Dendrinou, and Vassilis Karamanis

Before it’s here, i

(BBG) Why Germany’s Shakeup Won’t Help Greece

(BBG) Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble is on the way out. His replacement could prove even tougher.

Cash flow.

Photographer: Kostas Tsironis/Bloomberg

Those cheering the looming departure of Wolfgang Schaeuble from the German Ministry of Finance should hold the champagne. His successor may not be as ornery, but southern Europeans — and above all Greeks — shouldn’t expect any better treatment.

Schaeuble has held a wide range of positions since he was first elected to the German parliament in 1972; he’s been interior minister, chief of staff to the chancellor and the leader of the Christian Democratic Union, the party now headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel; he nearly became president at one point and chancellor at another. Only one of his post-World War II predecessors at the Ministry of Finance has served longer than his eight years, and not by much. But Schaeuble has always served his party in whatever position it could offer, and he’ll still be a formidable figure as speaker of the parliament, formally the second most senior office-holder in Germany after the president, just ahead of the chancellor.

Schaeuble’s protestant philosophy of political service is important for the understanding of his tenure as finance minister. Of course, it took personal conviction to steer his unwavering course of austerity, balanced budgets and respect for rules. Schaeuble was trained at the University of Freiburg, where ordoliberalism was developed in the 1930s through 1950s. This theory married a liberal, pro-market approach with a strong state, whose role is to maintain a high level of social security. Ordoliberalism has faded somewhat since the 1970s, but it still influences much of German economic thinking, and Schaeuble was close to its origins in his formative years. As finance minister late in his life, he tended to lean toward the “ordo” part. He once confessed to his brother: “The older I get and the more I see as finance minister, the more skeptical I get about capitalism.”

By and large, though, Schaeuble merely upheld his party’s long-standing political line, which was obvious long before he took up the finance minister’s job — as the economic foundations of the European Union and the euro area were being discussed. Markus Brunnermeier, Harold James and Jean-Pierre Landau described the “Rhine divide” between expansionist, pro-stimulus France and rules-loving Germany in their recent book, “The Euro and the Battle of Ideas.” More of a constitutional lawyer than an economist (although trained in economics, too), Schaeuble maintained continuity as best he could. His single-minded discipline has been his biggest asset to Merkel, whom he has served loyally though she had outmaneuvered him politically after Helmut Kohl was forced to give up party leadership in 1998.

This is not the end of the Schaeuble era in politics. This year, the parliament even changed the rules so he could open its first session after the election as the longest-serving member. Before, the oldest legislator got the honor, but in 2017, it would have been an Alternative for Germany (AfD) member — and the German establishment couldn’t allow it. It played the king of clubs: Schaeuble. Now that parliament includes an unruly group of nationalists elected from the AfD party and a Social Democratic faction that is determined to oppose Merkel, Schaeuble is in a better position to help the chancellor and the CDU. Keeping the debate in hand is suddenly important, and Schaeuble is a rock of fortitude, exuding a “natural authority,” as liberal Free Democratic Party leader Christian Lindner noted in a tweet supporting Schaeuble’s move.

That Merkel is willing to move Schaeuble out of the finance minister’s job shows the seriousness of her intention to build a stable coalition with the FDP and the Greens. But the finance ministry will likely go to the FDP, which won more votes in the election than the Greens, and made clear its ambition to secure the finance post even before the election campaign was over. Unfortunately for Greece and other southern European nations seeking financial help, the party’s potential candidates are likely to be as tight-fisted as Schaeuble. The FDP is not ordoliberal — it’s unabashedly neoliberal. It is firmly opposed to fiscal stimulus, debt write-offs, transfers of German money to neighboring countries, and budget deficits, and its opposition has less to do with continuity than Schaeuble’s was: It’s a matter of principle.

Schaeuble could be expected to look for compromise within the established rules. Setting up the European Stability Mechanism, for example, was such a compromise, allowing the transfer of financial reputation to the distressed economies without the straight transfer of taxpayer cash. The FDP dislikes the ESM, mistrusts it as a dishonest trick. Its leaders’ belief in capitalism is stronger than Schaeuble’s; their belief in solidarity is weaker. The FDP wants to go after EU countries that don’t stick to their fiscal commitments; Schaeuble was willing to give them a pass. Eurogroup partners knew Schaeuble was hard to please, but they got used to his acerbic style and figured out how to work with him. That may be more difficult with an FDP minister, who, at least initially, is likely to be more of a zealot than a tradition-keeper in the Schaeuble vein. It’s likely that southern Europeans will be nostalgic for Schaeuble soon enough.

(Forbes) Portugal Is Back From The Brink Of Economic Collapse — Could Greece Be Next?

(Forbes)

Photographer: Henrique Almeida/Bloomberg

Seven years after sliding into the swamp of depression, Portugal is still a rich country, at least according to one measure, per capita GDP, which stood at 22347.03 U.S. dollars in 2016.

That’s 177% of the world’s average, and close to its all-time high of 22829.85 USD in 2008, according to Tradingeconomics.com.

Portugal’s Key Metrics

Metric Value
Per Capita GDP 22347*
Per Capita GDP PPP 27007*
GDP Annual Growth Rate 2.9%
Global X MSCI Portugal Index YTD (PGAL) 33.73%

*2016

Source: Tradingeconomics.com 9/21/17

Then there’s human development, an index in which Portugal ranks among the top fifty countries in the world, close to Spain and Greece.

Portugal’s Human Development Metrics (2015)

Country Overall Ranking Life Expectancy Expected Years of Schooling
Greece 29/188 81.10 17.2
Spain 27 82.38 17.7
Portugal 42 80.37 16.6
France 21 82.57 16.30

Source: Human Development Report

Portugal is recovering from the deep recession that accompanied the debt crisis of 2010-14. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) expanded by 2.90% in the second quarter of 2017, thanks to a rebound in investment spending. That’s well above the 1.22% 1996—2017 average, and a big comeback from the -5% during the bottom of  the 2010-14 depression.

Debt rating agencies have taken notice. Last week, S&P Global Ratings revised the country’s sovereign credit rating to “BBB-” from “BB+” and assigned a stable outlook.

My recent book The Ten Golden Rules Of Leadership is published by AMACOM, and can be found here.

(ECO) Grécia sai do Procedimento por Défice Excessivo

(ECO) O Conselho Europeu confirmou esta segunda-feira a recomendação da Comissão Europeia para retirar a Grécia do Procedimento por Défice Excessivo.

Portugal saiu oficialmente em junho. Três meses depois, é a vez de a Grécia sair do Procedimento por Défice Excessivo. O Conselho Europeu retificou esta segunda-feira a decisão de julho da Comissão Europeia.

Depois de muitos anos de dificuldades severas, as finanças gregas estão em muito melhor estado“, afirmou o representante da Estónia, Toomas Tõniste, cujo país ocupa neste momento na presidência do Conselho Europeu. “Estamos agora no último ano do programa de ajuda financeira, e o progresso que está a ser feito irá permitir à Grécia ter acesso ao financiamento nos mercados financeiros a juros sustentáveis”, explicou o ministro das Finanças estónio.

Tal como Portugal, a Grécia passará agora a estar sob as regras do braço preventivo das regras europeias. O país deixa de ter as suas finanças públicas sob vigilância reforçada de Bruxelas, goza de alguma flexibilização das regras orçamentais e liberta-se da ameaça das sanções por não cortar o défice.

Segundo o Conselho Europeu, as autoridades gregas comprometeram-se a manter um saldo primário de 3,5% do PIB até 2022. Ainda que para este ano esteja projetado um ligeiro défice, as autoridades europeias estão confiantes de que o equilíbrio orçamental foi atingido. Além disso, o Conselho Europeu espera que a Grécia diminua o seu rácio de dívida de 179%.

O Procedimento por Défice Excessivo à Grécia tinha sido aberto em abril de 2009. Nesse ano, o défice atingiu os 15,1%. Sete anos depois, em 2016, a Grécia atingiu um excedente orçamental de 0,7%. A Comissão Europeia prevê que o défice este ano seja de 1,2%.

Apesar das finanças públicas estarem em melhor estado, o mesmo não se pode dizer da economia grega. O PIB retraiu no final de 2016, tendo depois recuperado ligeiramente no primeiro trimestre deste ano. No segundo trimestre, a economia da Grécia avançou 0,8%, ainda aquém de crescimento mais significativos.

A 16 de junho, o Conselho de ministros das Finanças da União Europeia (Ecofin) formalizou, em Luxemburgo, a saída oficial de Portugal e da Croácia do PDE.

(ECO) Fundos dizem adeus à dívida portuguesa e olá à grega

(ECO) Com os juros da dívida portuguesa a descer e as obrigações a subir, os fundos de investimento começam a escolher dívidas de maior retorno como a grega ou a cipriota.

A Standard & Poor’s retirou a dívida portuguesa do “lixo”, considerando-a agora uma dívida de qualidade. Os juros da dívida atingiram mínimos de dois anos e as obrigações subiram. E embora estas pareçam boas notícias para os portugueses, para alguns fundos de investimento não são. É o caso do Blue Bay Asset Mangement e da Old Mutual Global Investors, que veem agora retornos mais altos em dívidas de mais risco, como a grega ou a cipriota.

A taxa a dez anos está a subir, mas continuam abaixo dos 2,50%, tendo já atingido os 2,387%, o valor mais baixo desde o final de setembro de 2015. E esta tendência de queda é transversal à maioria das maturidades, com a taxa do prazo a dois anos abaixo de zero. Mark Downing, investidor do Blue Bay, afirma à Bloomberg que “o dinheiro fácil” poderá já ter acabado. “Muitos dos retornos que tivemos vieram de Portugal e há mais a retirar de outras dívidas”, considera Dowding. “Temos fundos nos quais podemos investir, mas temos preferido o Chipre ou a Grécia a Portugal.”

“Muitos dos retornos que tivemos vieram de Portugal e há mais a retirar de outras dívidas. Temos fundos nos quais podemos investir, mas temos preferido o Chipre ou a Grécia a Portugal.”

Mark Dowding

Investidor do Blue Bay Asset Management

A dívida portuguesa continua a ser considerada “lixo” por duas das três principais agências de rating, mas também estas mantêm uma perspetiva positiva, com muitos a preverem uma subida de rating nos próximos 12 meses. Para Nicholas Wall, gestor de portefólio do Old Mutual, o fundo não está preparado para voltar a apostar nas obrigações nacionais, visto que “já aproveitámos a melhor parte do rally”. “Com estesspreads e tendo outras dívidas como da Grécia e do Chipre, não vamos atrás [da dívida portuguesa] por agora”, considera.

Ainda que existam dúvidas acerca da sustentabilidade da dívida grega quando o país terminar o programa de resgate, no próximo ano, os investidores têm contado com um retorno de 17% durante este ano, o valor mais alto da Europa, enquanto a dívida portuguesa tem gerado 11% de retorno.

Com o custos de financiamento a descer, os mercados estarão atentos à próxima emissão de dívida. A última vez que Portugal foi a mercado para se financiar em 1.750 milhões de euros obteve taxas negativas recorde. No prazo a 12 meses, a taxa ficou nos -0,345%. “Algumas pessoas que acompanham a história portuguesa poderão deixar de ser credores a longo prazo”, conclui Nicholas Wall, acrescentando que estes “se voltarão a envolver” se a pressão vendedora aumentar.

(BBG) The IMF Needs to Stop Torturing Greece

(BBG) The fund should write down the country’s debt, not demand another bank recapitalization.

Friend or frenemy?

 Photographer: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” wrote the ancient Roman poet Virgil. In the 21st century, it’s the Greeks who should have been more careful about accepting offerings — specifically from the International Monetary Fund, which is now torturing the country in a misguided effort to get its money back.

Greek officials have worked hard to shore up their economy and finances. From 2010 through 2016, the government achieved the all-but-impossible task of shrinking its primary budget deficit by nearly 18 percent of gross domestic product, and is finally in surplus. After a brutal contraction of almost 30 percent, the economy is exhibiting positive signs in almost every area — industrial production, new automobile registrations, construction permits, tourist arrivals.

The banking sector, too, has made great strides. After two full inspections of their loan books — first by BlackRock in 2013 and later by the European Central Bank’s Single Supervisory Mechanism — the banks have been fully recapitalized twice. They have bolstered their provisions against bad loans, and their capital ratios are now significantly higher than the European average, providing a buffer against any future losses.

Greece, however, still carries a heavy burden: the roughly 250 billion euros that the IMF and its European partners lent the country to save its economy and most likely the entire euro area. This stock of official bail-out debt remains due even though private creditors have been amply haircut, restructured and wiped out. In 2012, for example, the government’s private-sector bondholders were forced to accept a loss of nearly 80 percent. Greek bank shareholders have seen their investments wiped out twice in recapitalizations.

The IMF could write off its debt and lighten Greece’s burden. This would benefit the country’s long-term economic health, and therefore Europe’s, too. Instead, the fund is demanding further austerity measures and insisting on “structural” reforms of dubious value. By sticking to this economic ideology, it is neutering the nascent economic growth and stifling any hope of real prosperity.

The IMF came forward as Greece’s savior during Europe’s financial crisis, but now it looks more like a frenemy. Consider the history of the debt. When a country joins the IMF, it is assigned an initial “quota,” based primarily on its GDP. A member country can typically borrow up to 145 percent of its quota annually and up to 435 percent cumulatively — or possibly more in “exceptional circumstances.” These are essentially credit limits, designed to not overburden the borrower with debt. Yet amid the crisis, the IMF agreed to lend an eye-popping 3,212 percent of Greece’s quota. Together with loans from the fund’s European partners, Greece’s official-sector debt amounts to more than 135 percent of GDP.

The IMF knew perfectly well that its loans could never be repaid. I have heard this directly from officials involved in the process. All the participants at the time — including U.S. Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet and IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn — made a conscious and very political (not financial) decision to prevent the crisis from spreading and keep the euro area together. Without such an enormous loan, Greece would have certainly been forced to leave the currency union.

So what to do? Greece sorely needs to regain investor and consumer confidence today. For this to happen, the country’s official sector lenders need to write down the debt or convert it into equity, chalking it up to the cost of keeping the euro area together.

The IMF’s stance is preposterous. It is motivated by self-interest, rather than by what would be best for Greece. The fund has simultaneously tried to block Greece’s return to the capital markets and attempted to undermine Europe’s new banking union by demanding yet another recapitalization. Considering that the country — like all euro members — can’t achieve macroeconomic adjustment by devaluing its currency, extreme care must be taken. Consumer and investor confidence, not exports, will ultimately drive growth.

Lack of confidence is undermining the Greek economy. Sentiment indicators have remained in negative territory, even though industrial production has been growing since 2015. The gloom has prevented renascent growth from prompting a new cycle of investment, as it normally would. Without that positive feedback, growth can’t accelerate.

The banking system doesn’t need another recapitalization. Loans are best worked out by institutions that have a relationship with borrowers and can find solutions without creating unnecessary disruption. This is precisely how the U.S. went about restructuring troubled mortgages with its Home Affordable Refinance Program, which laid the foundation for an economic and housing recovery. This could be a model for Greece.

Greece has done its part, by pursuing legal reforms that provide banks with new tools to resolve troubled loans. But the IMF began undermining the new legislation even before it took effect, arguing that it would never work. This is counterproductive because it dissuades borrowers and lenders from cooperating to find solutions that make the debt burden manageable and ultimately allow businesses to return to growth. Backstabbing Greece as it tries to make progress is not responsible behavior.

Meanwhile, the negative effects of the IMF’s “plan” are easy to see: further erosion of investor confidence in Greece and an undermining of European banking regulators’ political independence. All parties need to focus on fostering stability and solvency, leaving past politics at the door. This is the missing ingredient which, when found, will bring the recovery that the Greek public has been waiting for.

Private investors have suffered. The Greek people have suffered mightily. Now the IMF has to do its part by writing off Greece’s debt, ceasing demands for another recapitalization and letting Europe’s leaders take charge.

(OBS) O caso do estatístico grego -Helena Garrido

(OBS) O homem que calculou o verdeiro défice público grego foi condenado a dois anos de pena suspensa. Um caso revelador das fragilidades da construção europeia. A independência passa a exigir heróis.

Tudo começou em 2010. Andreas Georgiou, um grego a viver nos Estados Unidos e a trabalhar para o FMI, resolve aceitar a liderança da autoridade estatística grega, que passaria a ter o estatuto de independência há muito exigido pelas entidades europeias. Nesta altura já estava identificado o problema das contas públicas gregas. O défice público estimado para o ano de 2009 era de 13,6% do PIB em Abril de 2010. O novo presidente limita-se a voltar a avaliar os números, na sequência até de reservas que ainda eram colocadas pelas autoridades europeias – que nesta altura já estão a emprestar dinheiro à Grécia. E em Outubro de 2010 Georgiou entrega um novo valor: 15,4% do PIB, mais 1,8 pontos percentuais que a estimativa anterior. E é aqui a origem de todo o processo judicial que cai sobre Andreas Georgiou a partir de 2011 e do qual se tem defendido com recursos próprios.

Numa história que envolve pormenores tão rocambolescos como a espionagem do seu mail — e que pode ser lida em pormenor aqui –, o então presidente do instituto de estatística começa a viver um pesadelo em 2011. É nesta altura que a justiça grega aceita investigar a acusação de que Andreas Georgiou inflacionou o défice público grego de 2009 prejudicando o país. Entre os mais variados processos, com recursos e anulações, a última decisão condena Andreas Georgiou a dois anos de prisão, neste caso por não ter levado a votação o valor que apurou para o défice público.

Nestes seis anos, o homem que desempenhou a sua profissão de estatístico de forma independente, que expôs a realidade financeira que os governos gregos anteriores tinham escondido, tem sido obrigado a defender-se por sua conta e risco, sem qualquer apoio institucional.Neste artigo da Bloomberg são revelados os apoios que tem tido de colegas e amigos para suportar os custos da sua defesa.

O caso do estatístico Georgiou mostra até que ponto pode ser perigoso exercer com independência a liderança de instituições e cumprir as regras europeias ou até estatísticas. Para respeitar as regras europeias – que deveriam aliás ser as de qualquer democracia -, o presidente de uma instituição pode enfrentar pena de prisão no seu país, pode ser acusado de trair a pátria. E se isso acontecer tem de se defender sozinho, tem de arranjar dinheiro para advogados.

Nenhum caso foi tão longe como este. Em Portugal também ouvimos e lemos, em momentos mais dramáticos, acusações de traição da pátria quando quem está a governar quer esconder informação. Na realidade, o que se está é a ameaçar os interesses do governo instalado na altura. Nunca se chegou ao ponto de processar ninguém mas, no último ano, por exemplo, assistimos ao condicionamento de instituições como o Conselho de Finanças Públicas.

O que aconteceu ao ex-presidente daquele que é o equivalente grego do nosso Instituto Nacional de Estatística (INE) expõe, de forma kafkiana, as incongruências da construção europeia. Enquanto presidente da autoridade nacional de estatística, que responde perante o Eurostat, entidade independente ligada à Comissão Europeia, Georgiou, como todos os seus colegas, é obrigado a respeitar as regras e as metodologias europeias. Mas perante o sistema judicial nacional está exposto a acusações de “inflacionar” números, transformado no “culpado” que desculpabiliza os erros dos governos.

Foi a falta de independência e poder das entidades que contabilizam o défice público que nos conduziu à “surpresa” da crise das dívidas soberanas na Zona Euro. Em Portugal, ainda que numa dimensão mais reduzida e sem o mesmo dramatismo, também se descobriu em 2011 que havia despesa não contabilizada, que o défice afinal era maior do que se dizia. A falta de transparência das contas públicas jogou até contra nós na altura do pedido do empréstimo – demasiado curto para as necessidades que tínhamos.

Como a independência política das instituições parece requerer cada vez mais heróis e o tempo não é de heróis, corremos um risco sério de assistirmos à repetição do passado. Por aqui, em Portugal, condiciona-se atacando ou tentando descredibilizar quem tem poder para ser independente ou não dando às instituições os recursos necessários. É a primeira fase de limitação da independência que dá aos governos o poder absoluto que não deveriam ter. As regras europeias podiam e devia dar uma ajuda, protegendo quem como Georgiu luta pela independência e transparência da informação.

(EUobserver) Macron to ‘rebuild’ EU with citizen conventions

(EUobserver)

Macron in Athens: “we must have the courage to find again the path of democracy.” (Photo: Emmanuel Macron/Twitter)

French president Emmanuel Macron wants to launch citizens’ debates across Europe in order to “rebuild” the EU in a more democratic way.

“Europe can continue its destiny only if it is chosen and wanted,” he said in Athens on Thursday (7 September).

In a speech symbolically delivered in “the cradle of democracy”, on the Pnyx hill, with the Acropolis behind him, the French leader called on Europeans to “have the courage to find again the path of democracy.”

He said that he wanted to organise a series of “democratic conventions” in the first half of 2018 in EU countries that were willing to do so.

He explained that “the peoples of Europe will be consulted and will debate on principles proposed by the governments.”

Then a “roadmap for Europe in the next 10 or 15 years” would be elaborated upon the citizens’ ideas.

Referring to previously lost EU referendums in France, Netherlands, and Ireland, he noted that “the European project was turned down by peoples” but that those peoples “were not heard”.

“In Europe today, sovereignty, democracy, and trust are in danger,” Macron said.

“We must rediscover the enthusiasm that the union was founded upon and change, not with technocrats and not with bureaucracy,” he added.

Macron’s proposal on conventions was reminiscent of how he launched his own political career last year.

He started with a questionnaire to citizens when he created his political movement, which helped him to make a “diagnosis” of voters’ expectations ahead of the 2017 elections.

His Athens gambit was also part of a strategy to shape EU politics, and to put France and Macron himself centre stage.

Macron, who has met almost all EU leaders in recent weeks, has said he will soon make 10 “concrete propositions” to rebuild Europe.

He intends to present them after the German elections on 24 September, but before German coalition talks start, so that they can be taken into account in the discussions to elaborate the next German government’s programme.

Macron gave some indications on Thursday of what he will propose.

He said he was in favour of transnational lists for the European elections. He also said that he wanted a eurozone parliament “which would enable the creation of democratic responsibility.”

The strengthening of the eurozone will form the bulk of Macron’s propositions.

Jab at IMF

Repeating ideas first aired last week, the French president said in Athens that he wanted a eurozone budget and a European finance minister. He added that the eurozone should have its own capacity to manage financial crises.

He criticised the EU management of the Greek crisis, in particular its call to involve the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in 2010.

“I don’t think it was the right method for the IMF to supervise European programmes and intervene in the way it did,” he said, pleasing his Greek hosts.

“The IMF had no place in EU matters,” Macron said.

Macron, who received the Order of the Redeemer, Greece’s highest decoration, said: “We still find in Greece the exacerbated problems Europe is suffering from.”

He called for debt relief for Greece and urged the IMF not to ask for new requirements to go down that path.

(EUobserver) EU brushes off ‘democratic scandal’ of Greek bailout

(EUobserver)

The European Commission has defended its role in the Greek bailout despite Pierre Moscovici, the EU finance commissioner, having called the Eurogroup “a democratic scandal.”

The Eurogroup is a club of eurozone states’ finance ministers presided over by Dutch finance minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem but dominated in practice by his German counterpart, Wolfgang Schaeuble.

  • Moscovici (l) reportedly caved into Dijsselbloem demands on the Greek bailout (Photo: eu2017mt/Flickr)

It imposed its will on Greece when the country was teetering on the verge of economic collapse and a eurozone exit in 2015, in exchange for access to bailout funds from the European Commission, the European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund.

A Commission spokesperson on Tuesday (5 September) noted that the EU executive had “invested a lot of time and effort and resources to keep Greece in the eurozone.”

But Pierre Moscovici, the EU finance commissioner, took a more critical line.

Over the weekend, he described the Eurogroup as a “democratic scandal”, given that its talks are held behind closed doors and without any public accountability.

“Let’s face it, the Eurogroup as we know it is rather a pale imitation of a democratic body,” he said in his blog on Saturday (2 September).

Moscovici said the governance behind the EU’s economic and monetary union had also lacked proper democratic oversight.

“Sometimes in the past, when we look at Greece, it has been close to a democratic scandal,” he said.

Double standards

Moscovici’s admission is all the more striking given the recent publication of a book by Greece’s former finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis.

Varoufakis, who steered Greek talks at the Eurogroup until his resignation in July 2015, provides a detailed account of the Commission’s double-standards during the initial rounds.

He said that Moscovici would agree in private to easing the austerity measures but, in the Eurogroup, the Commission’s representative would then reject everything in favour of harsh measures driven by Dijsselbloem and Schaeuble.

In one private meeting in Dijsselbloem’s office, Varoufakis said that Moscovici had even capitulated to Dijsselbloem, despite having previously agreed to concessions that would render the Greek programme more flexible.

Dijsselbloem refused to agree to the measures proposed by the Commission. Varoufakis said that Moscovici had responded to Dijsselbloem with “whatever the Eurogroup president says” in a voice that quavered with dejection.

“During the Eurogroup meeting, whenever I looked at him [Moscovici] I imagined the horror Jacques Delors or any of the EU’s founding fathers would have felt had they observed the scene in Jeroen’s [Dijsselbloem’s] office,” writes Varoufakis.

Greece is now facing years of austerity as its international creditors continue to dispute how to grapple the recession-hit country’s mountain of debt.

The International Monetary Fund, one of Greece’s three creditors, is pushing for concessions for debt relief against a resistance led by Germany and some other EU states.

Most of the bailout funds have gone towards paying off international loans and proved beneficial to German and French banks that were massively exposed to Greek public debt in the lead up to the financial crisis.

According to one study, Germany had also ended up with large profits, yielding interest savings on German bonds of more that €100 billion during the period of 2010 to 2015 from the Greek debt crisis.

(JE) Syriza retoma agenda política ‘radical’ para atrair apoiantes

(JE) “Tornou-se importante para o Syriza lembrar ao seu círculo eleitoral que ainda tem uma agenda ativista radical e que não amoleceu perante a pressão dos monitores de resgate financeiro”, explica o comentador político Aris Hatzis.

Os sucessivos apertos financeiros e reformas impostas pelo programa de resgate financeiro foram um golpe duro para a Grécia e para o partido no poder, o Syriza. Com a popularidade em queda vertiginosa nas sondagens, a coligação da esquerda radical, liderada por Alexis Tsipras, primeiro-ministro grego, procura agora reavivar algumas das suas ideologias consideradas radicais para atrair os seus principais apoiantes.

“Tornou-se importante para o Syriza lembrar ao seu círculo eleitoral que ainda tem uma agenda ativista radical e que não amoleceu perante a pressão dos monitores de resgate financeiro”, explica Aris Hatzis, professor de direito da Universidade de Atenas e comentador político.

Entre as medidas que o Syriza tem vindo a adotar nos últimos meses está o apertar do cerco aos tradicionais “inimigos do partido”: advogados e médicos de classes abastadas, académicos formados no estrangeiro e investidores privados. A nova legislação aprovada por Alexis Tsipras estipula um reforço do volume de impostos sobre estes profissionais e dos padrões académicos.

Os analistas acreditam que o Syriza quer, com estas medidas adotadas, recuperar o seu posicionamento na fação mais à esquerda e mostrar que este não ficou comprometido com o programa de assistência financeira ao país. Isto acontece depois de a Grécia concluir com sucesso a segunda revisão do resgate, com amplos elogios dos credores, União Europeia e Fundo Monetário Internacional (FMI).

Nas pesquisas de opinião, o partido conservador da Nova Democracia lidera as preferências dos gregos com dois dígitos de avanço sobre a Syriza. Nas ruas, a onda de protestos contra o Governo e as medidas de austeridade não para de aumentar, apesar dos sinais de retoma na economia.

Atenas voltou ao mercado de dívida soberana, pela primeira vez em três anos, em julho, com uma emissão de títulos de 3 mil milhões de euros. O Governo grego está concentrado na implementação de reformas económicas, depois de ter chegado a acordo com os parceiros europeus para continuar a receber financiamento do Banco Central Europeu (BCE) e Comissão Europeia no valor de 86 mil milhões de euros.

(Ekathimerini) Gov’t sources see Erdogan tactics behind increase in migrant arrivals

(Ekathimerini)

There are fears within the ranks of the government that a new intensified influx of undocumented migrants from neighboring Turkey is happening with the blessings of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan though the development is also being viewed as potential leverage with the European Union with which Ankara’s relations are being sorely tested.

Although arrivals from Turkey are still way below the heights they reached at the peak of the refugee crisis in 2015, they have increased in recent weeks with more than 1,000 migrants and refugees landing on the islands of the eastern Aegean last week.

Government sources believe this increase is not accidental, but is occurring as Turkish authorities turn a blind eye to human smuggling along the country’s coastline, and is expected to continue. The same sources do not connect Ankara’s stance on the refugee issue to its cultivation of tensions with Athens in the Aegean – recent weeks have seen a spike in Turkish violations of Greek air space despite the moratorium that usually applies over summer – but with the recent deterioration of relations between Ankara and Brussels.

As government sources note, by allowing the increased influx of migrants heading to Europe, Erdogan is seeking to send a warning as Turkey’s EU membership talks appear to be headed for collapse.

Meanwhile the government is bracing for the beginning of returns to Greece of migrants from Germany and other European countries.

Migration Policy Minister Yiannis Mouzalas confirmed, in comments to The Guardian last week, that returns are to begin in September. Mouzalas said he was unsure where the new arrivals would be hosted but insisted that conditions at state-run reception centers have improved.

Human rights groups have consistently decried conditions at many venues, particularly on the islands of the eastern Aegean, which are currently operating at double their capacity as thousands of migrants await the outcome of asylum applications or deportation.

Tensions have been building on Lesvos, Samos and Chios, both in the centers and in the local communities where tolerance of growing migrant populations is being tested.

(JN) Grécia suspende publicação dos dados preliminares do PIB

(JN“Divergências” no apuramento dos dados estão por detrás da decisão. A última vez que a Grécia divulgou dados do PIB anunciou uma contracção da economia de 0,1%. 15 dias depois, quando revelou os dados mais pormenorizados anunciou que a economia afinal tinha crescido 0,4%.

Grécia suspende publicação dos dados preliminares do PIB

Os países da Zona Euro reportam sempre uma primeira leitura do produto interno bruto (PIB), que se trata da estimativa rápida, onde apenas revelam a evolução da economia, sem mais dados. 15 dias depois reportam mais informação. No caso de Atenas, nos últimos trimestres estas duas datas de publicação têm ditado números muito diferentes. Esta é a razão de a Grécia ter decidido suspender a publicação destes dados iniciais, revela a Reuters.

A última que a Grécia publicou dados do PIB foi em Maio, revelando a estimativa para o PIB do primeiro trimestre do ano. Na altura reportou uma contracção da economia de 0,1%. 15 dias depois publicou a actualização dos dados, reportando um crescimento económico de 0,4%. E este não foi um caso isolado. Em Março, o instituto de estatística do país, o ELSTAT, revelou que a economia helénica tinha contraído 1,2% no último trimestre do ano passado. 15 dias depois, quando publicou os dados mais detalhados revelou que, afinal, a economia tinha contraído apenas 0,4%.

Fonte oficial do ELSTAT explicou à Reuters que esta discrepância de leituras levou a que fosse decidido suspender esta primeira leitura. E justificou a diferença de valores com o facto de não haver informação completa na primeira publicação.

“Não temos todos os dados necessários a tempo das estimativas rápidas. Só temos dados para os dois primeiros meses do trimestre do desemprego e não temos os dados finais da balança de conta corrente”, explicou fonte oficial do instituto de estatísticas helénico.

“Queremos avaliar a disponibilidade das fontes de informação necessárias e melhorar a consistência das estimativas”.

A maioria dos países da Zona Euro publica a estimativa do PIB 45 dias depois do trimestre terminar e 15 depois publicado os dados mais detalhados. Portugal é um deles. A estimativa rápida do PIB do segundo trimestre do ano será conhecida a 14 de Agosto. E a leitura seguinte é publicada a 31 de Agosto.

A Reuters adianta que a Grécia não ficará como o único país a não reportar a estimativa rápida do PIB. Irlanda e Luxemburgo não revelam estes dados.

(BBG) Editorial Board:The Scandalous Persecution of a Greek Whistle-Blower

(BBG) Andreas Georgiou is still being punished for cleaning up his country’s public accounts.

Just doing his job.

Photographer: Roy Gutman/MCT via Getty Images

The statistician who exposed the true extent of Greece’s fiscal collapse must think that doing the right thing was the worst decision he ever made. Andreas Georgiou has been vilified at home and charged with multiple violations of the country’s civil and criminal law. An appeals court has just upheld his conviction for a minor procedural offense, giving him a suspended sentence, and with more serious charges still pending, his protracted legal ordeal isn’t over yet.

This officially sanctioned persecution is disgraceful and ought to stop. The European Union has criticized the Greek authorities for their actions in the case, but to no great effect. That needs to change.

Georgiou was recruited in 2010 from the International Monetary Fund to clean up Greece’s public accounts. For years, Greek politicians had leaned on national statisticians to disguise the extent of public borrowing. When Athens asked the EU and the IMF for help, they demanded an accurate accounting. Georgiou found that the budget deficit was 15.4 percent of gross domestic product, much higher than previously thought.

That number was the benchmark used to calculate the size of Greece’s bailout and the degree of budget tightening demanded in return — prompting allegations that Georgiou had manipulated the figures, siding with foreign creditors against his country. His persecution at the hands of the press and his own government began.

The appeals court found Georgiou guilty of failing to consult the board of the statistical agency he led. (Georgiou suspended board meetings after finding that one of its members had hacked into his emails.) Further appeals are possible so the conviction may yet be overturned. Meanwhile, much more serious charges of cooking the books and acting against the national interest have not been resolved.

Throughout Georgiou’s time in charge, the EU’s own statistical agency, Eurostat, approved his work. That work was undertaken in the first place because the EU deemed it essential. The Greek government, under EU pressure, is paying only part of his heavy legal costs, and the administration of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras continues to make him a scapegoat for Greece’s economic disaster.

This travesty has gone on far too long. The Greek government should recognize Georgiou as a brave civil servant who did his job, indemnify him for his legal costs, and press for a prompt resolution of the remaining issues. And the European Union should insist more firmly on all of the above.

+++ P.O. (FT) Euro-zone officials in warning on Greece statistics trial ‘farce’

P.O.

A statistics trial “farce” as correctly the FT puts it, is the kind of “show” we usually see in Third World dictatorships, that want to maintain appearances, even if they are the only ones that believe in them.

In this Greek affair every single party involved, with no exceptions, is to be blamed, for indecent behavior, or even a criminal one.

The former Greek governments, the current one, Mr Aléxis Tsípras that rejected a first proposed deal only to accept a second one much worse, the SYRISA Party, the International Monetary Fund, Goldman Sachs that helped manipulate accounts, all the European Union entities that were always aware of what was going on, France and Germany that did nothing except bailout their own banks and financially profit from the crisis, the European Central Bank, and finally all the other Euro zone Countries that allowed this Greek tragedy to continue just to keep this virtual reality game going on.

There are no innocents!

Not even the Greeks!

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

 

Eurozone officials in warning on Greece statistics trial ‘farce’

By Jim Brunsden and Arthur Beesley in Brussels and Kerin Hope in Athens, Source: FT.com

Senior eurozone officials have warned that the continued prosecution in Greece of its former statistics chief is threatening to drive a wedge between Athens and its euro area creditors, only weeks after the country brokered a deal on the next stages of its €86bn bailout.

A suspended sentence handed down this week against Andreas Georgiou has prompted consternation among EU policymakers, reviving what many capitals fear is a series of politically motivated trials intended to restore the economic reputation of previous governments.

The long-running affair is likely to be put on the agenda of eurozone finance ministers in September amid “concern about the conviction across institutions”, said a diplomat. The judicial proceedings centre on Mr Georgiou’s time in charge of Elstat, the independent statistics agency set up as a condition of the first Greek bailout.

In remarks on Twitter that reflect deep unease in Brussels at Mr Georgiou’s conviction, Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission vice-president, said he was following developments with concern. It was “important that [the] independence of Elstat and people who do their jobs are protected in line with the law”, said Mr Dombrovskis, who has responsibility for euro affairs.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Dombrovskis said the independence of national statistics offices was a “key pillar of the proper functioning” of the euro and “one of the main elements forming the trust amongst euro area member states”.

“This is why it is protected in EU law. This is why it cannot be challenged.”

In an informal, written account of Mr Georgiou’s trial in an Athens appeal court, a European statistics expert called as a defence witness described the case as “an intimidating pre-set farce”.

The account, mailed to some EU officials and seen by the Financial Times, lays bare the extent of the worries within European institutions about the affair. “It was blatantly clear that no one listened to our declarations,” the expert wrote.

The account described “open threatening behaviour” in court and a “horribly hostile” atmosphere, saying the proceedings had to be stopped for 45 minutes because people were shouting and screaming during the expert’s evidence. “I would have never thought that ‘trials’ like this could happen in a democratic EU country.”

Mr Georgiou has so far faced six closed-door deliberations by the supreme court and four open trials over claims that he inflated the size of the country’s budget deficit in 2009.

In addition, he has faced linked claims that he damaged the country’s interests, violated internal procedures, defamed Elstat colleagues and continued working for his former employers, the International Monetary Fund, even after he joined the new agency.

The affair dates back to 2011 when a junior financial prosecutor ordered an inquiry into whether Mr Georgiou had been working against Greek interests. Separate cases were later filed by two sacked Elstat board members and a senior Elstat employee.

He denies all the charges, and has been supported by European institutions which accepted Elstat data without reservation when he was in charge from 2010 until 2015. Mr Dombrovskisreiterated that “we have full confidence in the reliability and accuracy” of that data.

Contrary to prosecution claims against Mr Georgiou, EU officials have repeatedly argued that he played a decisive role in improving the reputation of Greek statistics that had been shattered by Athens’ repeated understating of the deficit in the years before the crisis erupted in the country in 2009.

In the latest case, three appeal court judges ruled unanimously that Mr Georgiou was at fault for failing to inform and discuss statistical issues with fellow board members, even though this would have gone against the EU’s code of statistical practice.

The re-emergence of the Georgiou affair comes at a time of mounting optimism around Greece and its bailout.

Last month, the commission said that Athens should no longer be considered as being in breach of EU deficit rules, proposing to close an “excessive deficit procedure” opened when Greeceplunged into its sovereign debt crisis in 2009. In recent weeks, the country also succeeded in carrying out its first bond sale for three years.

One senior EU diplomat said it was not certain that the affair would go so far as to disrupt the bailout. “But [the] general position would be one of strong support for Georgiou.”

“The figures which he returned were validated by Eurostat,” the senior diplomat said, in reference to the EU’s statistics office. “I would be surprised if there were not unanimity on this approach.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017

(c) 2017 The Financial Times Ltd. All rights reserved. Please do not cut and paste FT articles and redistribute by email or post to the web.

 

(Reuters) Former Greek statistics chief found guilty of breach of duty

 

(Reuters) Greece’s former chief statistician was convicted on Tuesday of “breach of duty” for having failed to tell the statistics agency’s board that he had sent Greek fiscal data for 2009 to its European counterpart Eurostat.

Andreas Georgiou, a former International Monetary Fund economist, was found guilty by an appeals court and handed a two-year suspended sentence. He was acquitted of charges that he did not convene board meetings and that, while at statistics agency ELSTAT, he kept a job at the IMF for a few months.

Lawyers for Georgiou, who stepped down in 2015 after five years running ELSTAT through the height of the Greek and euro zone debt crisis, said he would appeal.

“Mr. Andreas Georgiou believes fully in his innocence, for which he will fight for as long as it takes… until his final and complete acquittal,” the lawyers said in a statement.

The ruling can be appealed at Greece’s top court.

The prosecutor said in court that Georgiou’s actions displayed “substantial moral disdain”.

Some Greek politicians have said his recalculation of the country’s public finances in 2009 showed Greece was seriously fiscally derailed and needed to be bailed out.

Discrepancies in the way the budget deficit was calculated before 2010 — which angry euro zone partners say concealed the extent of the deficit — helped trigger the financial crisis that subsequently engulfed Greece and the euro zone.

Georgiou has denied allegations that he exaggerated Greece’s debt problems or helped Athens’ foreign creditors, including the IMF, his former employer.

In 2013, Georgiou was charged with inflating figures for the 2009 budget deficit, which he denied. Those charges were dropped in May but a Supreme Court prosecutor has proposed that the case be reopened.

Georgiou’s case has seen fellow senior economists and statisticians from around the world rally behind him. Some are helping to pay for his defense costs.

International lenders who have extended three bailout loans worth a total 260 billion euros to Greece since 2010 have also expressed concerns over the case.

An EU Commission spokeswoman told a news briefing after Tuesday’s ruling: “We have full confidence in the reliability and accuracy of ELSTAT data during 2010 to 2015 and beyond.”

 

(ECO) Grécia coloca dívida a seis meses a um juro inferior de 2,5%

(ECO) O ministro das Finanças grego anunciou que nos próximos meses haverá novos leilões de dívida de longo prazo.

A Grécia colocou esta quarta-feira 812,5 milhões de euros em dívida a seis meses a uma taxa de juro de 2,50%, claramente abaixo da de 2,78% do anterior leilão comparável de 5 de julho, foi anunciado.

Segundo informou a Autoridade de Gestão da Dívida Pública grega (PDMA), a procura foi de 1.163 milhões de euros, 1,86 vezes a oferta inicial de 625 milhões de euros.

Nos últimos leilões a taxa de juro tem estado a descer ligeiramente à medida que a procura tem aumentado, depois de quase ano e meio sem alterações devido à ausência de investidores estrangeiros. A Grécia tem um limite máximo de dívida pública de curto prazo em circulação, de 15.000 milhões de euros, montante alcançado em 2014, pelo que só pode colocar no mercado títulos na mesma quantidade da dos que se vão vencendo.

O leilão desta quarta-feira foi o primeiro de dívida de curto prazo depois de na semana passada a Grécia ter emitido títulos a cinco anos, no primeiro teste aos mercados financeiros em três anos. O Tesouro colocou um total de 3.000 milhões de euros a uma taxa de juro de 4,625% e a procura foi superior a 6.500 milhões de euros.

Na altura, o Governo de Alexis Tsipras mostrou-se satisfeito com este teste, cujo objetivo é atrair investidores para criar uma ‘almofada financeira’ tendo em vista o final do programa de resgate, que vence em agosto de 2018.