Update 2: Greece’s Skai reports that if/when banks reopen (supposedly on Tuesday), a 60€ withdrawal limit will be imposed.
Update: In a televised address to the nation, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras assured Greeks that their deposits are safe despite an upcoming bank holiday and despite the fact that Greek stocks will not open for trading on Monday. Tsipras also said Athens has re-applied for a bailout extension and urged Greeks to “remain calm” in the face of what is sure to be a turbulent week.
- GREEK PRIME MINISTER SAYS GREEK PEOPLE SHOULD REMAIN CALM
- GREEK PM: BANK OF GREECE PROPOSED BANK TRANSACTION RESTRICTIONS
- GREEK PRIME SAID GREECE RE-APPLIED FOR BAILOUT EXTENSION
- GREEK PRIME MINISTER SAYS DEPOSITS ARE COMPLETELY SAFE
Despite the reassurances from any and all elected (and unelected) officials, given the run on bank ATMs in Greece has turned into a stampede, it is not surprising that:
- GREEK BANKS TO REMAIN CLOSED FROM MONDAY FOR A WEEK: PIRAEUS BANK CEO
- PIRAEUS BANK CEO THOMOPOULOS SPEAKS TO REPORTERS IN ATHENS
The announcement was made when Piraeus Bank CEO Anthimos Thomopoulos told reporters after a meeting of the government’s financial-stability panel on Sunday. The launch of capital controls just as the Greek summer tourism season starts, is sure to be the final crushing blow to Greece, whose entire economy will now grind to a halt.
At the same time, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said an announcement would be made after a Cabinet meeting due to start imminently in Athens. Which is ironic considering just earlier today Varoufakis said he is opposed to the “very concept” of capital controls:
Banks will remain shut until at least after a July 5 referendum called by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on whether to accept austerity in exchange for a European bailout, Kathemerini newspaper reported, citing unnamed sources.
Reuters is also reporting that the Greek stock market will not open on Monday (leaving us wondering just what that will do to the Greek ETFs liquidity in US markets) as hedgers scramble to protect un-closable losses wherever they can.
More from Reuters, which reports that “Greece’s banks, kept afloat by emergency funding from the European Central Bank, are on the front line as Athens moves towards defaulting on a 1.6 billion euros payment due to the International Monetary Fund on Tuesday.”
The ECB had made it difficult for the banks to open on Monday because it decided to freeze the level of funding support it gives the banking system, rather than increasing it to cover a rise in withdrawals from worried depositors.
Amid drama in Greece, where a clear majority of people want to remain inside the euro, the next few days present a major challenge to the integrity of the 16-year-old euro zone currency bloc. The consequences for markets and the wider financial system are unclear.
The head of Piraeus Bank, one of Greece’s top four banks, speaking after a meeting of the country’s financial stability council, said banks would be shut on Monday while a financial industry source told Reuters the Athens stock exchange would not open.
“It is a dark hour for Europe….nevertheless from where we’re sitting we have a clear conscience,” Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said earlier in an interview with the BBC.
Greece’s left-wing Syriza government had for months been negotiating a deal to release funding in time for its IMF payment. Then suddenly, in the early hours of Saturday, Tspiras asked for extra time to enable Greeks to vote in a referendum on the terms of the deal.
Creditors turned down this request, leaving little option for Greece but to default, piling further pressure on the country’s banking system.
The creditors want Greece to cut pensions and raise taxes in ways that Tsipras has long argued would deepen one of the worst economic crises of modern times in a country where a quarter of the workforce is already unemployed.
Pro-European Greek opposition parties have united in condemning the decision to call the referendum on the bailout terms, but people on the streets of Athens backed the decision.
“I want him (Tsipras) to knock his fist on the table and to say ‘enough!’,” said resident Evgenoula.
Many leading economists have voiced sympathy with the Greek government’s argument that further cuts in spending risk choking off the growth which would give Greece some prospect of servicing debts worth nearly twice its annual national income.
The IMF has pressed European governments to ease Athens’ debt burden, something most say they will only do when Greece first shows it is trimming its budget.
Long lines formed outside many ATMs on Sunday, including some of 40 to 50 people outside some in central Athens.
The Bank of Greece said it was making “huge efforts” to ensure the machines remained stocked.
The German foreign ministry said tourists heading to Greece should take plenty of cash to avoid possible problems with local banks and some tourists said they were joining the ATM queues.
“I am trying to go over to the bigger banks,” said Cassandra Preston, a Canadian tourist. “I am here for another month and I would like to make sure I have some cash on me.”
* * *
In other words, Greek speculators (and of course, those depositors who were dumb enough to still have money in local banks) just got CYNK’d – you can buy stocks all you want, but if the market is about to fall out of the bottom, you simply are not allowed to sell.
Which, incidentally, is coming to every centrally-planned, banana “market” near you…