It was just a short bit ago that traders were focused on Spain, Italy and the constitutionality of the ESM. But, it seems that Greece has returned to take the attention away once again, especially with the country running short of cash in the next few weeks. So, what has been going on with Greece that has prolonged the European Union’s fiscal crisis?
Recently, attention has been focused on the fact that the Troika (European Central Bank, European Commission and the International Monetary Fund) continues to demand further concessions on labor and tax reform in order to ensure that Greece meets the required deficit targets. Only then will policymakers allow the disbursement of approximately $40.1 billion in aid this month. However, the current administration seems to be in complete disarray, with recent resignations from the Socialist party muddling a key austerity vote scheduled for next week. Without the Greek coalition government agreeing to a required $17.5 billion in further spending cuts and tax increases, the country would fall short of its mandates and be denied the next bailout disbursement – which the country desperately needs before November 16th.
Troika discussions with Greek officials have additionally hit a snag when it comes to the financing program. Although the program has mostly been agreed upon by officials on both sides, the contention remains focused on how to deal with a situation where Greece recovers a bit quicker than anticipated. Although the general consensus is to lower interest rates on existing loans, IMF officials contend that it is against their mandate to change existing interest rates. However, officials have suggested a further extension of maturities as well as a potential bond buyback option for Greek officials – which may not sit well with private investors. The debate has pushed back the timeframe for a Greek decision to November 12th, as stated by Euro Group chief Jean Claude Juncker.
With indecision once again in the air, it seems that Greece will become the topic du jour at least for the next two weeks. The notion is being supported by the admission of Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy that no bailout would be sought this year. Although Rajoy hasn’t ruled out the possibility of seeking a bailout next year, he remains convinced that bond yields remain at a level conducive to recovery without assistance. This is likely to shift trader focus away from Spain, and on to Greece for the time being.