A column of anti-austerity protesters are currently marching in a loop through central Thessaloniki, Greece’s second city, and its seafront.
The mood is calm, and not everyone is in the streets – the marchers just passed a pirate-themed ship full of revellers.
“Maybe there’s about a thousand here – with VAT,” jokes one protester, in a reference to the huge VAT hikes that the new bail-out will precipitate, inflating the cost of daily living.
There is a sense of anger, but also of disorientation – and uncertainty about what to do, and who to blame.
“I feel very confused about the situation,” says Giorgos, a middle-aged pharmacist who lost his job two weeks ago.
“I feel very angry about the memorandum, but also I have no problem for the moment with Tsipras. He was under a lot of pressure, and this is a coup.”
Giorgos is resentful of the EU, whose leaders have shown no compassion to a family like his – a family whose two breadwinners have lost their jobs. But equally he doesn’t want to leave the euro, not yet anyway.The feeling shared by other marchers.
“It’s more complicated than that,” says Varvara Kyrillidou, an Italian teacher and Syriza member protesting against her party leader’s decision.
“To leave Europe behind, we need a plan – without a plan it’s very risky for our people. And at the moment we haven’t got one.”
Greece ideally needs to sit down and have a rethink, says Kyrillidou – but she knows there isn’t time.
“We’re between two walls that are closing in on us.”
By JAMES KANTER and ANDREW HIGGINS
BRUSSELS — European leaders said Monday morning that they had reached a deal meant to resolve Greece’s debt crisis and avert a historic fracture in the Continent’s common currency project.
“EuroSummit has unanimously reached agreement,” Donald Tusk, the president of the European Council, wrote on his Twitter account shortly before 9 a.m. on Monday. The new bailout for Greece would involve “serious reforms” and “financial support,” he wrote.
The deal announced early Monday allows only the start of detailed negotiations on a new assistance package for Greece. But the prospect of a new bailout program was expected to give the European Central Bank the leeway to continue channeling sorely needed emergency funding to Greek banks hollowed out by a long economic slump and the withdrawal of billions of euros in recent months by panicky account holders as the country’s financial crisis worsened.
Riot police stood guard in front of the Greek Parliament, during an anti-austerity demonstration in Athens on Sunday.Greeks’ Anticipation Turns to Anxiety, Then Frustration in Weekend on EdgeJULY 12, 2015
Diners bowed their heads in prayer before eating at the Galini charity’s soup kitchen in Athens. Greece’s fiscal crisis has made many destitute and desperate, and is stretching the resources of charities and government agencies that help the poor.Greece Financial Crisis Hits Poorest and Hungriest the HardestJULY 11, 2015
At a bank in Athens, graffiti made clear the resentment some Greeks have against the Germans’ hard-line economic positions.Greek Debt Crisis Pits Greeks Against GermansJULY 11, 2015
A statue of the goddess Athena in Athens. Greece is struggling to avert bankruptcy.With Greeks Now Ready to Make a Deal, What Can We Expect?JULY 11, 2015
Christina Economou, 59, owns a restaurant named after herself in Hydra.Portraits From Greece as It Endures a CrisisJUNE 23, 2015
The agreement aims to provide Greece with its third bailout package in five years. Tough terms, demanded by Germany and others, are meant to balance Greece’s demands for a loan repayment system that will not keep it mired in recession and austerity budgets, against creditors’ insistence that loans worth tens of billions of euros not be money wasted. Months of testy negotiations, and the inability of Greece to live up to the promises made in its previous bailouts had put a cloud of distrust over the weekend’s discussions.
An accord would end five months of bitter negotiations that raised concerns that Greece would be the first country to be forced out of the euro currency union — a development that proponents of European unity had sought desperately to avoid.
“The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages,” Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany told a news conference, explaining her decision to accept the deal and recommend that the German Parliament also grant its approval.
“The country which we help has shown a willingness and readiness to carry out reforms,” said Ms. Merkel, referring to Greece.
As part of Greece’s commitments, Ms. Merkel said, a fund will be created to use the proceeds from selling off assets owned by the Greek government to help pay down the country’s debt. That fund would be “to the tune of” €50 billion, she said.
Greece will be required to also seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund and agree to let the organization continue to monitor the country’s adherence to its bailout commitments. The Greek government had resisted a continued role for the I.M.F., seeing the fund’s involvement as unwanted meddling.
The Greek Parliament will also be required to approve the terms of the agreement “without delay,” according to the draft document that was circulating Monday morning. One of the sticking points in the weekend negotiations had been a demand that the Parliament sign off on any deal by Wednesday, but that requirement appears to have been relaxed.
He added that eurozone finance ministers would “as a matter of urgency discuss how to help” Greece meet its short-term financing needs. That appeared to be a reference to ensuring that Greece, which is nearly bankrupt, can make large payments to lenders including the European Central Bank that are due in the coming weeks.
During the marathon negotiation session, Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, struggled with economic overhauls that were demanded by the creditors but that his left-wing government will find difficult to sell at home — just a week after Greek voters overwhelmingly rejected softer terms in a referendum.
European stocks rose and the bond market calmed on Monday morning just moments after European leaders said they had reached a deal. There was no euphoria, however, as investors waited to see how the tough agreement would be put in place.
Niki Kitsantonis contributed reporting from Athens, and Alison Smale from Berlin.
Positive news from overseas Greece-d Wall Street’s wheels on Friday, as traders cheered a possible resolution for the Greek economic crisis and a rebound in Chinese stocks.
The Dow climbed 212 points, or 1.2% to close at 17, 760. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq also rose more than 1%.
“You had positive news flow, whether it was China or Greece,” Todd Salamone, senior vice president of research at Schaeffer’s Investment Research, told the Daily News.
The market reacted favorably to a proposal submitted by Greece on Thursday that makes substantial concessions to the country’s lenders.
The proposal includes raising taxes and eliminating some tax breaks. In exchange, Greece is looking to get $59 billion to cover its debts. On Friday, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras appealed to his party to back his reform package to save Greece from a financial meltdown.
Euro zone finance ministers are set to meet on Saturday to consider the plan and determine whether Athens will get a bailout.
Wall Street also got a lift from China, where stocks rallied strongly for the second day in a row thanks to government support measures. As of mid-week, panic selling in China had slashed one-third of the market’s value since its peak in June.
“There is optimism that Greece is opening up to accepting a deal which would let it stay in the EU. But to me, the fact that China staged a late week bounce is more meaningful,” Ryan Detrick, strategist at See It Market, told the News. “With both of these worries calming, it allowed the bulls to take charge.”
But investors could be in for a bumpy ride as the U.S. stock market is expected to continue to respond to headlines from overseas, Salamone said.
“Unfortunately, we don’t know what that news will be,” he said.
On the domestic front, Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen said on Friday that she expects the Fed to raise rates this year. But she also noted that the U.S. labor markets remain weak and that more workers could be brought back into the workforce with stronger economic growth.
Greece’s parliament has backed a government package of economic reforms aimed at ending the country’s debt crisis and securing a new bailout.
In a late-night debate, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras admitted many proposals fell short of his party’s anti-austerity promises.
But he said there was a “national duty to keep our people alive and in the eurozone”.
The proposals are to be studied by eurozone finance ministers later.
EU sources says Greece’s creditors – the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund – believe the plan is positive.
Eurozone officials are also expected to discuss Greek requests for some of the debt to be rescheduled.
While a majority of the 300-member parliament backed the plans in the early hours of Saturday, several government MPs voted against or abstained.
Mr Tsipras is asking for €53.5bn ($59.47bn) to cover Greece’s debts until 2018.
In return, he has given in to demands for a pension overhaul, tax rises and privatisations – measures rejected in a referendum last Sunday.
Greek banks are days away from running out of money and unless a deal is struck the country faces exiting the euro.
The BBC’s Mark Lowen in Athens says the Greek reform package is a major climbdown for the prime minister, whose radical left-wing Syriza party was elected on a strong anti-austerity platform.
George Soros, the hedge fund manager credited with “bringing down the Bank of England,” is at it again, this time in Greece; although it does not seem the scale of the bet was anywhere near as large as Soros’ GBP bet.
Soros and his Quantum Fund are among 20 Hedge Funds who have waged a short war against Greek banks and Hellenic regulators are now fighting back. Quantum Fund, along with other major names such as Toscafund, Everest Capital and Abbeville Partners, have all received fines in the past three months from the Hellenic Republic Capital Market Commission, the Greek version of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.
Greek tragedy: 1 million euro short selling fine remains unpaid by Soros, hedge funds
The fines, totaling nearly 1 million euros, are related to “naked” short selling of stock in various Greek banks, the Financial Times is reporting. The fines have not been paid by the hedge funds, the FT reports, citing sources close to the funds.
The trades in question must have been profitable. Over the past year, for instance, the Piraeus Bank stock price lost nearly 75 percent of its value as has the National National Bank of Greece (ADR) (NYSE:NBG), which is currently trading near all-time lows.
The issue of Greek fines for short selling will be heard before the European Securities Markets Authority, as the Alternative Investment Management Association, a London-based lobby group that is representing the hedge funds, the FT report noted. A spokesperson for the ESMA, however, said a complaint has yet to be formally launched.
According to an April 2015 filing on the Greek regulatory website.
A fine of 65,000 euros to the company Quantum Partners LP because short selling of shares of National Bank of Greece AE without to cover the delivery obligation of openly sold shares clearing system (failed trade), in breach of Article 12 of Regulation 236/2012 of the European Parliament and of the Council of Europe.
Soros, hedge funds say Greek regulator overly strict, regulations not consistent with other EU market regs
The hedge funds are arguing that the Greek regulator has been unduly strict regarding short selling restriction and inconsistent for other market regulation in the EU region.
The moves come as Greece continues to play a game of chicken with European financial leaders as the nation teeters on the brink of exiting the Euro. In this environment the hedge funds have been engaged in the politically controversial method of selling stock the hedge funds don’t own.
The issue has reached a head of late. The Bank of Greek has requested 3 billion euros from the ECB to shore up their balance sheets, and the ECB is currently considering injecting $2 billion as Greek deposits flee in anticipation of capital controls being placed on the Greek population as emergency economic measures could be required if Greece walks away from the EU.
Many hedge funds have been on the long side of the Greek stock trade, as we have noted many times in the past.