I have the impression that the Greeks are not bluffing here:
As Deutsche Bank’s George Saravelos politely puts it, “Developments since the Greek election on Sunday have moved very fast.” And indeed, so far the new Tsipras cabinet, and here we focus on the words and deeds of the new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, has shown that the market’s greatest hope – that the status quo in Greece will continue – has been crushed into a pulp (and so have Greek stock and bond prices) especially following yesterday’s most recent comments by the finmin in which he said that Greece “does not want the $7 billion” from the Troika agreement and that it wants to “rethink the whole program”, culminating with an epic exchange with Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem in which Greece made it clear that the “constructive talks” are over.
And suddenly the Eurozone is stunned, because what had until now been its greatest carrot when it comes to dealing with Greece, has become completely useless when the impoverished, insolvent nation itself says it no longer needs a bailout, seemingly blissfully unaware of the consequences.
So earlier today the ECB’s Erikki Liikanen, tired of pleasantries and dealing with what to Europe is a completely incomprehensible and illogical stance, one which is essentially a massive defection by Greece in the European “prisoner’s dilemma”, and which while leading to a Greek financial collapse and Grexit – both prerequisites to a subsequent Greek economic recovery unburdened by the shackles of the Euro – would also unleash a European depression, came out and directly threatened Greece that it now has 1 month until the end of February to reach a deal with the Troika, or else the ECB would cut off lending to Greek banks, in the process destroying the otherwise insolvent Greek banking sector.
And since only the ECB backstop has prevented a banking sector panic, the ECB is essentially betting the house, and the sanctity of the Eurozone (because after a Grexit all bets are off which peripheral leaves next) that the threat, and soon reality, of a bank run (at last check Greece had about €145 billion in deposits still left in its bank after JPM’s latest estimate of €15 billion in outflows in January) will finally force Varoufakis and Tsipras to sit at the negotiating table with the understanding that not they but the Troika has all the leverage.
Meanwhile, Germany has already ruled out any debt cancellation: “German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out any cancellation of Greece’s debt and said the country has already received substantial cuts from banks and creditors.”
The challenge that the EU faces is that they have nothing. Their only argument is that of a coven of vampires arguing with their victim: “you need to keep letting us bleed you, because if we die, you die.” But that argument means nothing to a dying man.
Once it’s clear that they can’t get any more out of the EU, it costs Greece nothing to allow the entire Euro edifice to collapse. They are already bankrupt, and it is no longer in their interest to permit the EU to continue concealing that simple fact.