It is not common knowledge (as the EU tries to suppress news that sheds light on the misery of being an EU member state), but Greek citizens have been living with capital controls since 2015.
What does this mean? Simply put it means that Greek people, EU citizens, cannot withdraw more than a designated amount of cash from their own bank accounts.
In the case of Greece, you can only withdraw €840 every two weeks from a bank ATM or in person at a bank teller. If you wish to withdraw more than the designated €840, then you need special permission to access your money held at the bank of your choice.
It was supposed to be a temporary safeguard to avoid capital flight amidst a pathetic Tsipras driven EU revolt, but the capital controls remain to this day and now news is trickling in that the controls will not only last longer, but may even toughen up.
Expect another EU bailout in exchange for more failed Tsipras austerity, as everyday Greeks suffer just a little bit more and a lot longer.
The capital controls were originally supposed to be a one-off measure that would be removed in a matter of months, with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stating in September 2015 that they would be lifted in early 2017. Today, 21 months since they were imposed, the capital controls are still here, and with the drop in bank deposits, it appears more likely they will be tightened than relaxed or lifted.
The truth is that a full Greek recovery will not be possible as long as the capital controls remain, but the economy remains mired in uncertainty and the banks have not seen their CCC+ credit rating improve.
Bank officials note it will be a long time before the restrictions are removed, and this will require the consolidation of a basic sense of confidence among citizens that the worst is over. This is particularly difficult today given that few bailout reviews have been completed according to schedule in the last seven years – and the ongoing second review of the third bailout program was supposed to have finished 13 months ago, in February 2016.
Banks therefore fear that if deposit outflow continues as it has done in the first quarter of the year, further controls are quite likely.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.