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What could possibly go wrong? Greece begins its path towards implementing Euro Summit agreement

The deal struck Monday after 17 hours of talks to keep Greece in the euro was just an agreement to negotiate an agreement. So there are still plenty of ways the mission can fall off a cliff.

Alex Christoforou

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We noted last week that reaching an agreement was the easy part. How Greece plans to implement near impossible reforms remains to be seen. Once again the hard part begins this week and when Greeks return from their summer holidays in September, expect mass protests, strikes, demonstrations, fires and all kinds of hell to break loose.

The Greek drama is just beginning.

Via Bloomberg…

Participants in the Greek saga have seen more than their share of false dawns and broken promises since the crisis broke out under Prime Minister George Papandreou in late 2009. If history is a guide, here is a list of all the things that could go wrong with Greece’s third bailout.

Greece needs cash now. It owes the European Central Bank about 7 billion euros ($7 billion) before the end of August and is in arrears to the International Monetary Fund by about $2 billion.

European finance ministers are discussing bridge financing to keep the country afloat until a final agreement is reached. That will involve more difficult negotiations: “It’s quite clear that it’s very difficult for any member states to put forward fresh money without any conditionality — basically money which would not even be a loan,” Finland’s Alexander Stubb says.

Monday’s agreement needs to pass at least seven other parliaments, where lawmakers are already skeptical about giving Greece more aid.

Germany’s Bundestag votes on Friday (assuming Greece passes it), while lawmakers in the Netherlands, Slovakia, Austria and Finland will also examine it.

Disagreements may resurface among the creditors too. The IMF will have to determine whether the country’s debt is sustainable before approving more loans.

The IMF’s insistence that Greece’s debt be made sustainable, possibly through a debt writedown that European governments reject, delayed the 2011 bailout agreement by several weeks and froze debt payments in 2012 for months.

Will the Bureaucrats Implement It?

Officials from the European Commission, the ECB and the IMF have blamed the failure of Greece’s two previous two bailouts on the inability of the country’s bureaucrats to carry out the political commitments.

Implementation may be even poorer now, since the government is led by a party that has opposed overhauls of social security, public administration, the tax system, judicial code, and sales taxes — all conditions demanded by creditors.

“Syriza’s raison d’etre has been against austerity and pro-market reforms, and for state expansion,” said Hari Tsoukas, professor of organizational studies at the U.K.’s Warwick Business School in Coventry. “How can its government own up to a program it has always protested against?”

Can Greece Really Sell $55 Billion of Assets?

Greece’s bailout requires it to sell up to 50 billion euros ($55 billion) of state assets. The problem is that Europe’s most indebted nation already tried that and failed.

After four years of efforts and five changes in government, Greece managed to muster only 3.5 billion euros of proceeds from privatizations.

Moreover, World Bank and World Economic Forum data show that Greece has one of Europe’s least attractive economies. Asset prices are depressed after the steepest recession in more than half-century, and it has failed to meet obligations to its creditors.

It is no wonder two international officials directly involved in the monitoring of Greece’s bailout program said the 50 billion euros target is “ambitious,” to say the least.

What happens when you ask a country sinking in a double-dip recession, with its banks closed and capital controls in place, to impose more austerity? Probably a deeper recession, making deficit and debt reduction targets even tougher to hit. It wouldn’t be a first for creditors to offer over-optimistic assumptions about Greece’s growth patterns.

The deteriorating economy “means that any present or future government will continue to face enormous resistance to the introduction of reforms in the short term,” Teneo Intelligence analysts Wolfango Piccoli and Carsten Nickel wrote in a note to clients on Monday. “As a result, building country ownership – probably the most important factor of success for program implementation – will remain challenging.”

Previous bailouts have been hobbled by political paralysis. Greece has had five prime ministers and eight finance ministers since the beginning of the crisis and political instability is already brewing again.

As many as 40 lawmakers in the so-called Left Platform of Syriza, along with the Independent Greeks party, are refusing to back the deal. While Tsipras enjoys the support of pro-European opposition parties, the loss of his base may lead to snap elections within the next few months.

“At a very minimum, there will be a government reshuffle,” Royal Bank of Scotland Group Plc analysts including Michael Michaelides wrote in a note to clients. “However this assumes that beyond the immediate legislative prerequisites that a Tsipras-led administration can continue to command a majority of MPs. This remains to be seen,” they wrote.

Protesters are flocking to the central square of Athens again. As the economic situation deteriorates and austerity bites, a return to 2012, when daily demonstrations and riots hurt tourism and halted economic activity in the capital may be at hand.

The most recent Greek surveys show that backing for staying in the euro “at all costs” is still supported by the majority of Greeks, but the appeal of membership is declining. A survey by pollster GPO last month showed that 56.2 percent of respondents preferred a “bad” deal with creditors than euro exit, while 35.4 percent said a return to the national currency would be preferable to more austerity. If public opinion swings against the euro, then there’s very little, if anything, any government can do to keep the country in.

References:

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-07-14/greece-s-latest-bailout-deal-what-could-possibly-go-wrong-now-

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Trump’s speech in Miami plays up anti-socialism, as Bolton focuses on Venezuela regime change (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 180.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss Trump’s recent speech in Miami, Florida, where the US President condemned Venezuela’s socialist government and called on military command within the Latin American country to defect over to the Juan Guaido camp.

Venezuela’a elected president Maduro dismissed Trump’s remarks as an “almost Nazi-style” speech.

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Via Washington Times

Venezuela’s embattled president, Nicolas Maduro, is rejecting President Donald Trump’s call for a new day in Venezuela and comparing the tone of the American president’s speech in Miami to that of a Nazi.

Trump said Monday that the U.S. stands behind opposition leader Juan Guaido and condemns Maduro and his government’s socialist policies. Trump pleaded with Venezuela’s military to support Guaido and warned of dire consequences for standing with Maduro.

Maduro responded to Trump in comments broadcast on state television. He accused the U.S. president of speaking in an “almost Nazi-style” and lashed out at Trump for thinking he can deliver orders to Venezuela’s military.

Maduro said, “Who is the commander of the armed forces, Donald Trump from Miami?” and added, “They think they’re the owners of the country.”

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First Venezuela, now Nicaragua? Bolton says Ortega’s days ‘numbered’ & people ‘will soon be free’

The Central American nation has been rocked by unrest since April last year, with protesters demanding the resignation of Sandinista party leader Ortega.

RT

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Via RT…


US President Donald Trump’s top foreign policy advisor John Bolton appears dead set on resuming his decades-long stand-off with Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega, hinting that Washington-backed regime change may be in the offing.

“The Ortega regime has sentenced three farm leaders to 550 years in prison for their roles in protests in 2018, where Ortega’s police forces reportedly killed 300 activists. As President Trump said Monday, Ortega’s days are numbered and the Nicaraguan people will soon be free,” the national security advisor to the US president tweeted on Wednesday.

The leaders of anti-Ortega protests were given jail terms this week, after they were implicated in the deaths of four policemen and a teacher during a shootout last July.

The Central American nation has been rocked by unrest since April last year, with protesters demanding the resignation of Sandinista party leader Ortega, who has been president since 2007, and convincingly won another five-year term in 2016.

The US has repeatedly backed the uprising against the left-wing government, and last November Bolton made a keynote speech calling for the “crumbling” of what he called the “Troika of Tyranny” – Venezuela, Nicaragua, and Cuba – saying the states represented a “a sordid cradle of communism in the Western hemisphere.”

On Monday, Trump name-checked the same three countries, saying their “great potential” would be unlocked with the collapse of socialism. To expedite the process, Congress last year imposed financial measures that would make it difficult for the economically-stricken Nicaragua to obtain international loans, as well as slapping sanctions on top officials in Managua.

Revenge served ice-cold

Bolton’s history with Ortega goes back to the 1980s. Just as now, Ortega was the leader of Nicaragua, first as he spearheaded the revolution in 1979, and when he was elected president in 1985.

The Ronald Reagan administration spent significant financial resources backing the right-wing Contra rebels during the civil war, which lasted nearly the entire decade.

Bolton, at that time a legal specialist, held a number of senior positions in the Reagan White House, and was more than a witness to its shadowy CIA-aided schemes to bypass a Democrat-run Congress ban on helping the opposition militants.

He reportedly played a crucial part in hobbling both the scope of the Iran-Contra investigation and an inquiry into drug- and gun-running militants, who were enabled by Washington.

 

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After he returned to prominence under George W. Bush in yet another chapter of an unsinkable career, Bolton failed to dislodge Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, the Sandinistas, or Cuba’s Fidel Castro (at one point, he accused Havana of developing biological weapons, without solid evidence). But as a man who with permission from Donald Trump now seems to be steering US foreign policy on dozens of key issues, Bolton has more resources than ever before to settle his lifelong ideological grudges.

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Hungary Prime Minister Attacks Juncker and Soros in Billboard Ad

Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán attacked EC President Jean Claude Jucker and George Soros in a billboard ad.

The Duran

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Via MishTalk:


The EU has never seen anything quite like this. Orbán has a billboard campaign that claims European Commission president Juncker and and George Soros are “Endangering Hungary’s Safety”.

Opening a new front against Brussels a few months before European [parliament] elections, the poster shows the European commission president alongside the Hungarian-American philanthropist George Soros, a familiar target in Hungary.

“You have the right to know what Brussels is planning to do,” the poster says. On its official Facebook page, the Hungarian government says the poster is part of an information campaign to tell the public about Brussels’ migration plans, which it claims “fundamentally endangered Hungary’s safety”.

Although the government has previously run a “Stop Brussels” campaign, the decision to use an image of Junker is an escalation in the Orbán government’s public relations war with the EU’s most senior leaders.

It also exposes the rift in the centre-right European People’s party in the European parliament, which counts Juncker and Orbán, as members.

Orbán was re-elected for a third straight term last April, after a campaign dominated by immigration. A long-term critic of the EU, Orbán has accused NGOs and critical media of being part of a plot orchestrated by Soros to send millions of people to Hungary.

In recent weeks, Orbán has spoken of his hopes that the next European parliament will be dominated by anti-immigration parties.

Birds of a Feather Not

​Juncker once met Orbán with the jokey greeting “hello, dictator” and playfully tapped his face.

Today, Juncker responded Orban Should Leave Europe’s Centre-Right.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has said Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban’s ruling Fidesz party should leave the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) group in the European Parliament (EP).

“Against lies there’s not much you can do,” Juncker was quoted as saying by the Reuters news agency, adding that he had called for Fidesz’s expulsion from the EPP.

​”They didn’t vote for me in the European Parliament,” he said in Stuttgart, Germany, in a speech. “The far right didn’t either. I remember Ms. Le Pen, she said: ‘I’m not voting for you.’ I said: ‘I don’t want your vote.’ There are certain votes you just don’t want,” Juncker said, referring to the French far-right leader Marine Le Pen.

Eurointelligence Comments

Looking at Orbán’s previous record, and noting that one cannot of be sure, we continue doubt that Hungary’s Prime Minister has changed his European strategy and is now working to provoke the exclusion of his party from the EPP. Rather, Orbán seems to be doing one his classic hit-and-runs.

There is little doubt that the new smear campaign will make life on the campaign trail much more difficult for Manfred Weber, the CSU MEP and EPP spitzenkandidat. Juncker himself has now declared more forcefully than ever before that the EPP values are not consistent with keeping Fidesz in.

But we note that the CSU leadership in Munich has in the past consistently worked to maintain close and even warm ties with Orban.

Spitzenkandidat

US readers no doubt need an explanation of Spitzenkandidat. The following video explains.

In short, the term refers to an election process instead of an appointment process to determine the head of the European Commission.

63% of Europeans want the commission president determined by vote. Those in power still support the behind closed doors process for obvious reasons.

Orbán’s mission

Orbán’s mission is to weaken the EU from within. Italy has the same mission, for different reasons, as does President Trump.

EU Splintering

Two days ago I reported a Commerce Study Deems “European Cars a Threat to US National Security”. That’s nonsensical, of course. But Trump’s mission is easy to spot. He is doing his best to bust up the EU.

And now Trump has a lot of help on the inside: Marine Le Pen in France, Victor Orbán in Hungary, and Matteo Salvini in Italy.

I response to Trump, I noted, EU Pokes Trump Again, This Time Over Huawei’ s 5G Technology.

In the UK, Seven UK MPs Split from Labour Party Over Brexit. More MPs joined that parade today.

The splintering of the EU continues with escalating infighting at unprecedented levels.

It is illogical for the UK to want to part of this mess. Yet, the UK Remainers want to stay in.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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