Greek Bailout Deadline Looms As Euro Area Finance Ministers Meet With Greek Officials

EURO RESCUE

Greek government officials are heading to Brussels on Monday to meet for another round of talks with Euro area finance ministers after discussions last week ended with no new deal for Athens at a time when Greece’s bailout deadline is fast approaching and default concerns lurk on the horizon.

On Sunday nearly 20,000 Greeks took to the streets in front of Greece’s parliament to voice support for the government’s anti-austerity stance which is in direct opposition to the guidelines from Greece’s international creditors established by the European Central Bank (ECB), EU, and IMF.

Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told Greek newspaper Ekathimerini on Sunday that he expects a deal with Euro area finance ministers, even at the last minute when time is nearly running out for Athens to request an extension of their  €240 billion ($272 billion) bailout package that comes pre-loaded with austerity measures, or structural fiscal reforms, that Athens desperately wants to shake off.

“Developments over the last few days have given me a significant degree of hope that, despite the differences, there is an appetite on both sides for finding common ground between the previous program and a new agreement between Europe and Greece that will put and end to the self-perpetuating crisis and will create a relationship of trust between us and our partners,” said Varoufakis.

Since 2010 Greece has received 2 bailouts totaling €240 billion.

The current deadline for requesting an extension of its current bailout in Brussels is Monday February 16th.

Unless Athens receives a bailout extension by February 28th, Greece won’t be able to service its €320 billion debt and immediately receive €1.8 billion from the euro union’s bailout fund, €1.9 billion in ECB profits from Greek government bonds that Athens has requested of the 7.2 billion bailout tranche, or be eligible to tap into the €11.5 billion of Greece’s bank bailout fund.

Athens has 10 billion ($ 11 billion) in debt repayments over the summer and their tax revenues are currently falling well short of expectations.

Athens is requesting more time accompanied by a temporary funding bridge until May to renegotiate the terms of its bailout package.

But any revisions to the terms or expiration date of Greece’s  €240 billion bailout package will have to be done before Friday February 20th since parliaments in Germany, the Netherlands, and Finland need to approve them in advance.

On Wednesday February 18th the governing council from the European Central Bank (ECB) will convene and discuss Greece’s emergency liquidity assistance program for its weakened banks.

Last Thursday the ECB gave and extra  €5 billion worth of additional emergency finance support to support Greece’s banks through the Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) which is now set at  €65 billion and lasts until Wednesday February 18th when it will be reviewed again.

The move comes after the ECB removed a necessary waiver on February 5th that permitted junk status Greek bonds to be exchanged for liquidity from the ECB.

-Johnathan Schweitzer

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