Friday, March 15, 2013

Where are the Greek media, for crying out loud?!?

Over one month ago, I wrote this article about a most remarkable new investment, Systems Sunlight. My conclusion was a fairly aggressive one, namely:

"Let me phrase it politely: When public discussion goes overboard about what did or did not happen with Greek statistics back in 2009; when Greek brainpower dissects the question of whether the IMF had used the right multiplier; when members of the Greek intelligentsia write almost dissertations explaining that Greece can do nothing on its own in the present situation just like Ohio couldn't do anything on its own during the depression - well, when all such things are happening but no one finds time to spread positive news if and when they occur and to show how opportunties are used successfully, then one shouldn't be too surprised if surveys show that Greeks no longer have a future perspective."

The reader Sebastian Schröder has now alerted me to this article which appeared, of all places!, in DER SPIEGEL. It is, in a nutshell, an exhilerating praise of something which is happening in Greece.

Where in the world is the Greek media when they report, in seemingly infinite detail, everything which is or goes wrong in Greece but when it comes to something which could have a positive signal effect for everyone, well --- there is virtually nothing!


  1. In your original post, just above Sebastian's post, I wrote a one liner on Feb 12.

    Better coverage at To Vima (Greek) The Sunlight «recycles» profits in Komotini

    There is not much in the Der Spiegel item that is not in the To Vima item - the major difference is that one is in Greek and the other is in German. The Azeri or UEA media, I forget which, carried a very similar item in late Feb - it was in English.

    Please don't think I am accusing Der Speigel of plagiarism, all 3 reports are statements of fact - and facts speak for themselves.

    AAA to Der Speigel for printing good news from Greece in German (not for the time either).

    AAA to To Vima for being "first with the news' in Greece, in Greek.

    AAA to the Azeri or Arab site that published the news in English.

    SD to the English language Greek media for their paltry coverage at eKathimerini and, and nothing (as far as I can see) at Greek Reporter


    * SD? - Selective Default on obligations

  2. I also see this as potentially good news for Greece - Greek Terna mulls gas-fired thermal plant in Serbia

    My guess is Serbia will borrow some of the 400MEUR from the EIB and the rest from the gas supplier (Gazprom) or allied institutions.

    EIB has made credit lines for SME projects available to Serbian banks which are similar to those available to Greek banks. I wonder if any Serbians are borrowing the money. The total amount made available last year to Serbian Banks was 275 MEUR and to Greek Banks 290M.

    The EIB recently made 500 MEUR for Trade Finance available for Greek exporters - are they using it!

    The Monthly Minimum wage in Serbia is €121.70, and errata - the other day I wrote than in Lithuania it's €271 - my brain made a transposition error - it's €231.70.

    The difference between the Monthly Minimum wage in Greece and Malta provide insight of something

    Jul 2001 - €3.94
    Jul 2011 - €146.75
    Jul 2012 - €3.89

    Over that period Malta has made a series of structural reforms, privatizations etc, it is the ONLY Mediterranean Eurogroup country whose economy could be said to be 'healthy'.

    When I suggested on another site that Greece could maybe learn from Malta, I was told not too be silly, Greece was huge compared to Malta. When I pointed out that over the past 30 years China had learned a lot of things from Singapore, the answer came back - we don't want to copy the Chinese. «sigh»


    1. I should clarify when I say that the EIB does only project lending.

      In my time, the EIB had a product called 'global line' which they made available to banks at somewhat below-market interest rates provided that banks had enough long-term investment loans on their books to justify the take-down. But still, it was a 'global' funding facility and not tied to individual projects.

      I take it they now have new gobal facilities like the one for financing trade. Perhaps there are even other 'global' facilities for banks now.

      But overall, the focus of the EIB continues to be project financing with strict control over the application of its funds.

    2. Having just browsed the twitter/blogoshpere a bit, I am getting the sense that this could be the famous drop which makes the water flow over.

  3. Maybe that's because there's a lot of bad things happening, and very few good things happening.

    Btw, what are your views on what just happened in Cyprus?

    1. Russia's participation, far too small, is long overdue. I have always argued that the lending countries' participation should not be a function of their membership in the Eurozone and/or their percentage share of the ECB. Instead, the lending countries' participation should be driven by their exposure to the particular country. France was, by far, the biggest lender to Greece; the UK was lending but not being a member of the EZ, they did not have to participate; and Russia has, by very, very far, the largest exposure to Cyprus. So with only 2,5 BEUR, they got away cheaply, in my opinion.

      The 9,9% depositors' participation I need to learn more about. Offhand, I would say 'I believe it when I see it implemented' and my hunch is that a lot of lawyers may get rich here.

      I mean, the two parties involved are the depositor and his bank. The bank cannot unilaterally take a cut of 9,9% (at least not in an EU membership country). There will first have to be a law. Until such a law is in place, a lot of deposits will have left. But even then, the question will be the legality of that law and many people will contest it, I guess.

      In general, I would say the first ones to contribute should be shareholders and I haven't read about that.

      And then it shouldn't be depositors over/below 100 TEUR. Instead, one should split depositors (and other funders) along the lines of 'professional market paticipants' or not. The Cypriot whose life's savings amount to 200 TEUR should not be called upon to participate. The 'professional market participant' should be called upon regardless of the amount. The rule is that banks have to define professional market participants (and the customers must be informed of that), so they should be easy to identify. To start with, any depositor who is an anonymous holding company should, by definition, be considered a professional market participant.

      A lot of customers in Cyrus are anonymous companies. That will be interesting to watch how it plays out. By EU law, banks must 'know their customer'. Where the customer is an anonymous holding company, the bank must find out who the 'beneficial owner' is. Regardless how many holdings are in the ownership line, at the end of the line there must be a natural person and that is the beneficial owner. We'll see if Cyprus banks complied with these EU regulations. Incidentally, one of the reasons why depositors may hesitate to sue is because then they would have to reveal the beneficial owner. They might be willing to pay 9,9% for their anonymity.

      Still, this part looks shaky to me based on the information I have as of now. I definitely think that some of the depositors should share in the package. The question is which ones and how does one get them to participate. Or does it make sense to you that tax payers should bail-out oligarchs?

    2. I have now read that they also want to hit small depositors and that they have already frozen amount. I am afraid this may become THE boomerang of the year (right after the small Greek bondholders).

    3. This is getting more interesting by the minute. I now read that depositors will get equity for the tax they are hit with. I also read that bondholders, the ones who come first after shareholders in terms of risk, get away free of charge.

      I am beginning to believe that there was not one single financial practitioner taking part in those meetings. This really doesn't make sense by the normal standards of a bail-out. The swap into equity is generally a good idea but, again, this should have been limited to 'professional market participants'. If they had started with bondholders, they wouldn't have had to take all that much from professional depositors. But to hit the 'small man' and leave some of the professionals unscathed is really a terrible precedent.

      I also see that they want to pass laws over the weekend. I would expect that somebodey is going to get cold feet there. Meanwhile, lawyers are already preparing law suits before the European Court, I am sure.

      And, by golly, let Tuesday moring come around and get video cameras ready. There will be a lot to film!

    4. The talks about equity are still blur and appeared with much delay as a hypothesis, after the wave of anger in Cyprus. The "original" plan was "do the haircut on the deposits and pray". There is no mention of equity in the "official plan". The indications are it's a hypothesis of the panicked cypriot goverment, in an attempt to appease the population that a week ago was assured that "deposits won't be touched". Anastasiades already "lost his flight" towards Cyprus, in fear of angry crowd awaiting him at the airport.

      Christoforos Pissarides (part of the cypriot delegation and nobel prize laureate in economy), said the decision of haircut on the deposits was "political decision" (not of the Cypriot part of course). The Cypriot president Anastasiades, said he was faced with "fait accompli" and had no choice. According to greek and foreign (Faisal Islam) sources, the Germans said "take the deal, or leave eurozone, there has been no contagion indication from Cyprus in the last months).

      The Cypriot press is full of theories as to why the Germans were so "interested" in the size of the cypriot sector, which isn't much bigger than the irish one and in any case, it will mean the destruction of Cyprus as "banking destination" with long term repercussions to the economy (there are many private firms in the services sector working thanks to the banking there). Then of course, if Cyprus completely sinks, they could still pay the "new" loans with the money from natural gas that will be exploited in a few years and in the meantime, the bank deposits (80 bln), will flee towards "safer" destinations, like, for example, Germany, to the great displeasure of Mrs Merkel :)

      In order for the deal to pass, it will need 75% of votes in the cypriot parliament. In cypriot newspapers the 98% of comments are "traitors".

    5. Yes, it sure looks like a storm is building up here. And then I read that Greeks who have deposits in Cyprus will also be hit. No better way to arouse two emotional people than that!

      My sense is that decision makers will get cold feet between now and Monday evening is getting stronger and stronger. And if they really require 75%, I can't see how that will work. And I presume the Cypriot Constitutional Court will also have to say something about such a 'mid-night law'. Amazing!

      I can see why some people had great desires to do something harsh with the Cypriot financial sector. After all, that has really been a magnet for all financial transactions which were not completely above board. We have had major corruption scandals in Austria in the last couple of years. What they all had in common was that money was channeled through accounts in Cyprus.

      But if one takes a legitimate shot and misses the target by so much, that speaks more against the shooters than against the target!

    6. I just saw this interesting article which confirms the concens which I have expressed.

    7. Yes, deposits of Greeks in Cyprus (several had diverted their savings there as "safe"), will be affected, while cypriot banks in Greece will not. They will be taken over from the "good bank" of Tahidromiko Tamieytirio.

      The coalition that elected the cypriot president is right now in complete disarray, there will be an immediate urgent meeting of the coalition leaders as soon as Anastasiades returns to Cyprus. In greek tv news, there is already reports, that "hundreds" of private companies have submitted "request" for transfer of their deposits on Tuesday morning. A private cypriot today tried to enter a bank with a bulldozer (the ATMs were not giving money this morning).

      Cyprus is known for hosting mainly russian and british deposits, which of course, include those of "dubious" to say politely, extraction.

      However, it is a rather bad time to "cleanse" it "by destruction", since it will only make the economy plummet.

    8. The funny thing of the whole story, is that the cyprus' banks in question (2 about to go bust), were hit because of the greek PSI, since they didn't have the time to "disengage" in time from greek bonds. On its turn, the greek PSI didn't exactly solve the debt situation of Greece either. A new haircut will come, either inside or outside the euro.

      The whole decision to "hit the deposits", is reminding more the initial eurogroup will to make Ireland "kill" its "golden goose", the corporate tax level, which for the other europeans was too "low". "Killing 2 birds with 1 stone"...

      The loser of the recent cypriot elections, Lilikas, asked for new elections or referendum. AKEL, the ex-goverment party, said that they must examine their option to return to the cypriot lira.

    9. According to Kathimerini, the issue of Cyprus was "solved" at 03:00 in the morning with the following dialogue:

      Sarris (cypriot minister): We do not accept and withdraw.

      Asmussen picking up the phone: "Mr. President (Mario Draghi), please prepare the ECB for the collapse of 2 cypriot banks".

      Sarris had a second thought...

      To be noted, the plan also forced the cypriot corporate tax to be raised to 12,5% (irish syndrome).

      The IMF was also particular eager to "hit" the deposits too, with Christine Lagarde initially throwing on the table a 30% hit on deposits.

    10. If only these people in Brussels had taken some time to check what Iceland had done! There it was shareholders, bondholders and interbank lenders who paid a VERY hefty price; not depositors.

    11. Mr. Kastner, what happened in Cyprus, is unprecedented in a "salvation" plan. I don't believe anymore in the "naive" decision-makers tale. What happened was carefully planned and fiercely insisted upon. One may claim that the Europeans were "naive" in 2010 when they ignored IMF's reccommendations on the greek program, because they were "amateurs" on such cases. But now? No... There was even a eurogroup spokesman who said plain and simple that "Cyprus' deposit to PIL ratio was higher than the usual in EU, so it had to go down". End of story. Good thing Switzerland isn't in the EU, because if she would ever seek the "solidarity", her deposits to PIL ratio might have been the priority for the "saviors" instead of solving her issue. Some in Cyprus speculate that a second attack on deposits will follow later, exactly because of that.

      At any case, 75% of parliament it is and the current goverment alliance has just above half these votes. In order for the agreement to pass, the opposition will have to vote in favour too.

      In the meatime, they have already frozen the part of the bank deposits that should be taken, even before the law is passed.

    12. On a more humourous note, money that must be laundered, needs a home too, according to an article, Malta and Latvia prepare already for influx of bank deposits after the misfortune will hit Cyprus on Tuesday. As long as they don't have to seek "german mercy", they 're safe :)))

    13. Here's a summary:

      - Representative of the president's party said: "The EU, after the huge mistaker of the greek PSI, that costed 4,5 bln to the cypriot economy, commited a 2nd, even greater mistake, by imposing haircut on bank deposits. The president was forced to accept the deal, after being threatened with the collapse of the banking system. On Sunday, the political committee of the party will hold a reunion to decide on the vote". He said that "if the bill doesn't pass, we must all think what it will mean for the economy and the permanence or not in the eurozone".

      - General secretary of AKEL (main opposition party): "what the EU imposes, violate the sovereignty of Cyprus. They try to kneel us not just economically, but also politically". He implied that they will vote against and that the demands of the troika won't end here, but will continue with new ones down the road.

      - President of Democratic party (supports goverment): "unprecedented demands" and said "the game is not just economical". He ended saying "the dilemmas are tough and tough will be the decisions".

      - Socialists (opposition): "they try to drive us to exhaustion, with target either to control the natural gas deposits or to impose an unacceptable solution to the Cyprus problem".

      - Green party: annouced that under the current conditions they can't vote in favour. "The pressure is unbearable. We are with the gun on our head and they 're asking us to load also the bullet".

      According to a greek article of few minutes ago, the quorum is not 75% but simple majority, 29 out of 56 seats and the goverment parties have 28 votes. Probably insufficient data by greek journalists led to mentioning 75% before...

    14. My prediction, the bill will pass. In a way or the other, they will find 29 votes. AKEL will voted in favour if needed.

    15. The Eurogroup Statement on Cyprus

      They're either insane or on something - maybe its time to start drug testing the politicians and eurocrats.

      I thought the ECB and the IMF attended the Eurogroup meetings surely they count as financial institutions. The Eurogroup website has photos that include Mrs Lagarde and Mr Draghi with Mr Juncker and Mr Schauble etc, and didn't Mr Geithner once gate crash one of their meetings.

      The Eurogroup (ie the Eurozone FinMins) that met on Friday are advised by the Eurogroup Working Group, the President of which is Mr Tom Weiser.

      Mr Weiser is also President of the EU Commission's Economic and Financial Committee. He's an Austrian economist, who worked in banking in Vienna at some time or other.

      Klaus if you know Mr Wieser maybe you could ask him the 'what the ....' question were all asking ourselves.


    16. @ Canutely King,

      Please do not undermine the intelligence of chief EU economists, mrs. Lagard, the ECB, etc. The fact that you find it odd, doesn't mean it doesn't have its specific target. This wasn't a decision that "rained upon" their heads in one night. The issue has been risen in bilateral talks with the previous cypriot goverment already. There are at least 5 statements of the cypriot ministers, that go back to the pre-electoral period, saying that "they will deny such a proposal", "hitting the deposits is insane", "it would be a disaster for Cyprus", etc. This is also why there is outrage in Cyprus. If you go read readers' comments in cypriot newspapers, you can find the cypriot ministers' (and even Anastasiades was elected in February assuring that deposits are safe) by date. So, the European authorities have been putting the issue on the table at least since February and in the Eurogroup, Cyprus fell under coordinated fire by EU+ECB+IMF, with Lagard playing the role of the maximalistic player (asking 30% or 40% according to other account haircut), while the "Fellowship of the Northern Ring", played the role of the "catalyst" and the rest of euro-leaders the role of "neutral spectators". Only the greek goverment took the defence of the cypriot position.

      The only thing that may save Cyprus, is that they 've seen how the greek "salvation" went. In fact, in cypriot newspaper reader comments, you read "we 'll be saved the greek way". Cyprus should either default or seek assistance from Russia, in exchange for rights or future profits on the cypriot gas. I wouldn't be surprised if the european plan, aimed to destroy the cypriot economy, in order to avoid Cyprus giving exploit rights to Gazprom. The gas deposits in cyprus are huge and of strategic importance (EU wants independence from russian gas) and many have loathed glory, few have loathed natural resources.

    17. Here's also another interesting thing, that you won't certainly read in european newspapers (just like, when you go to war, you go to "bring democracy", not for the oil).

      The CEO of Gazprom, Alexey Miller, visited Samaras in Greece. In all newspapers, the report was the same. While Gazprom has made by far the best offer for buying "DEPA" (the state gas company), it is also known that there are political pressures (by both EU and USA) to the greek gov, to prefer someone else. Miller visited Samaras to ask "a fair game". In particular, according to this, Miller, is afraid, that even if Gazprom wins, the deal will be cancelled by the EU Commission and will be found to lose money on that.

      There is a saying, "you can own a country by war or you can own it by debt". Sending the tanks, is so old-fashioned nowdays. Now, it's more "chic", to send "democracy", "help", etc.

  4. Cyprus - Prelude to the Afternoon of the Fall... out of the Euro - maybe?

    It seems that the SME credit lines
    are now the only Intermediate Loans available from the EIB - everything else seems to be project based.

    As I read the press release on the Trade Finance funding its a 'one off special' revolving line of credit, for Greece only.

    I bet most people imagine that the EIB (assuming they've heard of it) only operates it Europe - uh, huh - how about Nigeria, Vietnam, Argentina (to upgrade a VW factory).

    But I really like this one AFRICAN LION MINING FUND III now I know why some Europeans think money grows on trees «grin»

    You recently wrote something like "rules can always be broken" with respect to SEZ's. Maybe the EBRD could bend its rules and make some 'loans for growth only' to Greece. The Baltic states, Poland and Eurogroup countries Estonia and Slovenia are eligible for EBRD funds - so why not Greece - according to some its now an Emerging Economy.


  5. Sunlight may be "news" to you, but for the average Greek, it is "old news". It's a quite old company in Greece, you could find sunlight batteries in supermarket even 25 years ago.

    Τhe "news" is that now it offers 50 new job posts:

    (state tv site).

    Soon, in Greece there will be founded the "drachma party", which will officially advocate the Grexit. It will be leaded by the mentor of Mr. Tsipras, Alekos Alavanos. What happened today in Cyprus too, made many masks fall for those who still were deluding themselves.

    Greece sooner or later, should get out of the german madhouse. The current goverment has time until it will ask for new cuts. When it does, it will be over and all bets are open.

    1. @Anonymous I'm getting the feeling that more than a few Germans would agree with you. Except in their case its Germany that should get out of the madhouse and leave it too the French to sort out. It was after all a French socialist who invented the Emu and Euro.

      BTW are you able to post a link to the ΑΠΕ news agency - my searching skills in Greek are limited, its the source of the Sunlight item you posted.

      Thanks CK

    2. @ Canutley King,

      The French wouldn't sort anything. Everyone would return to the national currency. You think that the Italians are actually happy with the euro? The only reason the population "wants" the euro, is because they fear of their bank deposits... I know one thing. It's the bigger countries that strategically need the euro, to counter the Chinese and BRICS, not the smaller ones. Greece has nothing to gain by having hard euro, high taxes and 23% VAT, while all around corporate tax is 10-12%, VAT for touristic products goes as low as 8% and currencies are "soft". Then let the Germans, French and Co, sort it out on their own with the Chinese.

      Here is the ΑΠΕ

    3. Part of an economic analyst's article about Cyprus:

      "To the question of whether EU had another way to deal with the situation of the cypriot banks, the answer is yes. But didn't want to. And once more, it is proven, there isn't a Europe of the Institutions, but a Europe of the Germans. The haircut of the deposits is however you look at it, an unjust measure, due to the horizontal nature of it. If they really wanted to legality of the deposits, they could have done it. But that was only the pretext. The real reason is they wanted to put a locket to the fiscal paradise.

      The problem is that they open a dangerous precedent. I personally never believed that they would arrive to hit the deposits. I thought they were using the issue as a means of pressure.I was wrong. They meant it. And seems they don't worry about the conseguences. They 're absolutely certain that things will flow exactly the way they have them in their minds. And in deed, this may very well happen in the case of Cyprus. However, it will be very hard, to convince others, of the necessity to follow the path of "customary conduct", in the case some other, will decide in the future that won't follow his customary obbligations."