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Greece ’s efforts to win a second bailout from international creditors teetered in the balance as negotiations in Athens failed to clinch an agreement. “The distance between success and failure, which could come from misfortune or misunderstanding, is very small,” Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos told reporters in Athens yesterday after consultations with euro area finance ministers. “We are on razor’s edge.”
And while the bankers (on both sides of the table) haggle about how to best leech Greece even dryer (with a solution due any hour , day , week now), the actual people are starting to wave the white flag of surrender. Because the opportunity cost of every additional coupon payment is having a direct, immediate and increasingly more dire impact on virtually every aspect of the economy. Kathimerini reports that " about 160,000 jobs will be lost this year in the commerce sector , according to the National Confederation of Greek Commerce (ESEE) as the constant decline in disposable income has led to a sharp drop in turnover and a steep rise in the number of enterprises shutting down." Indicatively, the latest Greek employment figures per the IMF, show that 4.156MM people are employed.
"The idea instead is that the Greek government should officially declare itself bankrupt and begin negotiating an even bigger cut with its creditors. For Schäuble, it is more a question of when, not if." The German finance minister's comments are certain to plunge the authorities in Athens into even deeper gloom. On Saturday they tried to sound optimistic, with a cabinet meeting to thrash out the final details of an austerity package. The cuts, including a reduction in the minimum wage, mass redundancies within the public sector, and a slashing of the health and defence budgets, sparked rage on the streets of Athens last week, with buildings set on fire amid angry protests.
Top German Economist: 'Restructuring Greece Within the Euro is Illusory' - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - InternationalThe finance ministers of the euro zone want to approve a new bailout for Greece this Monday. Can the additional €130 billion ($172 billion) save Greece? No, and the politicians know it can't. They want to gain time until the next election. I think we're wasting time by doing this.
European leaders stepped up pressure on Greek politicians to meet the conditions of a 130 billion- euro ($171 billion) bailout, saying time was running out. French President Nicolas Sarkozy met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris today as Greece’s interim prime minister, Lucas Papademos , prepared to negotiate with the so-called troika of international lenders in Athens for a second day. A gathering of Greek political leaders was delayed until tomorrow as they struggled for a unified response. Enlarge image Angela Merkel
Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press A protester kicks a tear gas canister at riot police during clashes in Athens on Friday. After a wave of defections from his cabinet, and as protests turned violent in Athens amid a general strike, Mr. Papademos told lawmakers that they must approve new austerity measures demanded by Greece’s creditors — including a 22 percent cut in the benchmark minimum wage and public-sector layoffs — or the country would suffer a disorderly default with social dislocation and would eventually leave the euro zone. After a five-hour meeting, the cabinet approved the package, sending it on to Parliament for final approval, perhaps as early as Sunday.
ATHENS, Greece (AP) -- Greece's parliament has approved measures allowing the government to close or merge roughly one of every five faculties at universities and higher education colleges. The landmark reform triggered student protests and dissent within the coalition government. Police used tear gas during brief clashes with student protesters outside parliament Thursday, as about 3,500 people joined rallies against the proposed legislation. Lawmakers voted 148-125 in favor of the reforms that will see the number of higher education faculties cut from 534 to 405, with members of the small, left-wing coalition party voting against the measures. The government argues the cuts will allow more effective education spending in the crisis-hit country, while the main opposition Syriza party says the changes were "dictated by accountants" without proper academic consultation. <p style="text-align:right;color:#A8A8A8"></p>
Greece's capacity to take the important decisions on its future is becoming very limited as decision-making on such matters as the choice of the Greek prime minister, the date for the next general election and the supervision of the expenditure of the bailout shifts to Berlin and Brussels. Greeks are now about to be hit by the sixth austerity package in five years. Acrimony reached a new peak in the last few days, as the German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble expressed doubts about Greece sticking to its promises and saying its appetite for foreign funds was like "a bottomless pit". "Who is Mr Schaeuble to insult Greece?" the Greek President Karolos Papoulias said furiously.
Good evening Ladies and Gentlemen: The banking cartel continued to launch their assault on the precious metals with gold falling by $13.00 to $1722.80 and silver slipping 1 cent to $33.72. The bankers are in no mood to see the rise in the precious metals. The lease rates lowered considerably Thursday night.
BRUSSELS (AP) - The countries that use the euro pulled Greece back from an imminent and potentially catastrophic default on Tuesday, when they finally stitched together a euro130 billion ($170 billion) rescue they hope will also provide a lifeline to their common currency. But the patchwork of measures - including the implementation of austerity measures in Greece and approval by skeptical German and Dutch Parliaments - required to give the rescue even a chance of success means it's unlikely to be the end of the continent's debt crisis. European markets edged lower, having enjoyed solid gains in the run-up to the meeting on expectations a deal would be secured, while the euro rose 0.2 percent. The finance ministers from Greece and the other 16 countries that use the euro wrangled until the early morning hours over the details of the rescue, squeezing last-minute concessions out of private holders of Greek debt.
Europe is still struggling to avoid the threat of default as investors warn Greece will soon risk violating the terms of its second bailout in three years. Seven months of negotiations ended in the pre-dawn hours in Brussels with Greece winning 130 billion euros ($172 billion) in aid it needs to avoid a March bankruptcy. Any respite may prove temporary after it signed up to a program of austerity and economic reform aimed at slashing debt to 120.5 percent of gross domestic product by 2020 from about 160 percent last year.
21 February 2012 Last updated at 07:04 ET Eurogroup chief: "We are making every effort so that a new programme will be a success" Eurozone finance ministers have agreed a second bailout for Greece after marathon talks in Brussels.
Several thousand demonstrators from the public and private-sector unions braved the heavy rainfall, gathering outside Parliament to voice their opposition at the latest proposed measures to secure a €130bn (£108bn) bailout package. Minor clashes broke out when protesters tried to remove a cordon near the parliament building. Police sprayed tear gas and at times clashed with strikers, whose anger intensified overnight when a further 15,000 job cuts were announced. Since the onset of the crisis, the austerity drive has sent unemployment to a record high of 18.2 per cent and the country's finances into a spiral of recession. Despite the deepening pain, crowds at protests have increasingly dwindled.
Approval of EU finance ministers is needed to unlock all parts of the complex €130bn loan package, including a 70pc "haircut" for private holders of Greek bonds, allowing the country to avoid default in March. Germany and Northern allies seem willing to force Greece out of the euro unless there is total compliance, calculating that the eurozone is now strong enough to stem any contagion. Luc Frieden, Luxembourg's foreign minister, spelled out the warning in crystal clear terms. "If the Greek people or the Greek political elite do not apply all of these conditions, I think they exclude themselves from the eurozone.
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