Greece’s Explosive Expulsion Exclamation

Greek shares continued to slip as Euro-group Finance Ministers met to consider program status with fund release “unthinkable” ahead of a big July repayment according to its head, and the IMF still not on board against fierce criticism from top bilateral creditor Germany. EU Commissioner Moscovici reiterated support for its single currency membership, as the central bank governor warned of a repeat of 2015’s “vicious cycle” of previous suspension and an “explosive” debt burden toward aid’s 2030 end. The economy again tipped into recession in the last quarter, but 2-3 percent growth is projected this year with debt at 180 percent of GDP the Fund describes as “unsustainably high.” The statistics do not capture the informal sector believed to account for one-quarter of output, with anecdotal evidence suggesting an increase as small firms enter to escape harsher tax collection. The 2016 half a percent budget primary surplus target was beat by almost 2 percent, but the 2014 commercial bond yield spiked to 15 percent ahead of July’s overall $7 billion due to external holders, including the European Stability Mechanism on the hook for two-thirds of the load after transferring EUR 175 billion. Prime Minister Tsipras vowed “not a euro more” in austerity as opinion polls show the reinvented conservative New Democrats ahead 10-15 percent in possible early elections. The IMF periodic staff review urged more “realistic” forecasts and goals, and additional debt and primary surplus relief, but German Finance Minister Schaueble led the rebuttal with insistence on the existing reform and stabilization strategy to stay in the Eurozone. Dutch counterpart Dijsselbloem joined the counter in questioning the “dated, too gloomy” report as these officials turned attention to potentially ore overwhelming core blowups in Italy and France.

In the former both resigned prime minister Renzi’s PD party and the 5 Star movement calling for a euro referendum have 30 percent voter backing before new elections, with banks responsible for one-third of the bloc’s bad credit. Growth is flat, and Monte de Paschi and Unicredit, with a once extensive Eastern Europe network, are struggling to raise private capital within guidelines set by the regional supervisory authority. French benchmark bond yields passed 1 percent and reached a 4-year high versus German peers as National Front standard-bearer Le Pen may be in striking distance of eventual presidential victory with the mushrooming scandal surrounding rightist candidate Fillon, who allegedly had his spouse on the official payroll without documented work. The Front’s trade and monetary plans have spooked investors, with recommended contract redenomination in the old local franc currency to assert “sovereignty” and import and immigrant bans as elements of “intelligent protectionism.” Portugal and Spain remain on the periphery watch list with persistent banking and debt troubles as well. Portugal’s growth is just 1.5 percent, and the OECD noted that investment is one-third lower than a decade ago with bad loans 15 percent of the total after a Chinese capital injection into system heavyweight BCP.  Spain’s expansion was over 3 percent last year in a “cyclical recovery” in the IMF’s view helped by cheap oil imports. Unemployment lingers around 20 percent, and multinational bank BBVA earnings greatly rely on Mexico and Turkey in dizzying political and geopolitical cycles.

Posted in