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Greece must secure a funding backstop for its banking system before it becomes too late

Every day in which Athens does not have a funding backstop, be it the ECB or the BRIC bank, is a day which brings the Greek banking system to the edge of total collapse.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Zerohedge.

While the Greek government believes it may have won the battle, if not the war with Europe, the reality is that every additional day in which Athens does not have a funding backstop, be it the ECB (or the BRIC bank), is a day which brings the local banking system to total collapse.

As a reminder, Greek banks already depends on the ECB for some €80.7 billion in Emergency Liquidity Assistance which was about 60% of total deposits in the Greek financial system as of April 30. In other words, they are woefully insolvent and only the day to day generosity of the ECB prevents a roughly 40% forced “bail in” deposit haircut a la Cyprus.

ELA greece june 5_0

The problem is that a Greek deposit number as of a month and a half ago is hopefully inaccurate. It is also the biggest problem for Greece, which has been desperate to prevent an all out panic among those who still have money in the banking system.

Things got dangerously close to the edge last Friday (as noted before) when things for Greece suddenly looked very bleak ahead of this week’s IMF payment and politicians were forced to turn on the Hope Theory to the max, promising a deal with Europe had never been closer.

It wasn’t, and instead Greece admitted its sovereign coffers are totally empty this week when it “bundled” its modest €345 million payment to the IMF along with others, for a lump €1.5 billion payment, which may well never happen.

And the bigger problem for Greece is that after testing yesterday the faith and resolve of its depositors (not to mention the Troika, aka the Creditors) and found lacking, said depositors no longer believe in the full faith (ignore credit) of the Greek banking system.It may have been the Greek government’s final test.

Because accoring to banking sources cited by Intelligent News, things today went from bad to horrible for Greek banks, when Greeks “responded with massive outflows to the Greece’s government decision to bundle the four tranches to IMF into one by the end of the June.”

According to banking sources, the net outflows sharply increased on Friday and the available liquidity of the domestic banking system reduced at very low and dangerous levels.

The same sources estimate the outflows on Friday around 700 million Euros from 272 million Euros on Thursday. The available emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) for the Greek banks is estimated around 800 million Euros. In addition, the outstanding amount of the total deposits of the private sector (households and corporations) has declined under 130 billion Euros or lower than the levels at early 2004.

The total net outflows in the last 7 business days are estimated 3.4 billion Euros threatening the stability of the Greek banks.

This means 2.5% of all Greek deposits were pulled in just the past 5 days! Indicatively, this is the same as if US depositors had yanked $280 billion from US banks (where total deposits amount to about $10.7 trillion)

As further reported, the Bank of Greece is set to examine on Monday if Greece will urgently ask additional ELA. However, since one of the main conditions by the ECB to keep providing ELA to Greece is for its banks to be “solvent” (a condition which is only possible thanks to the ECB), one wonders at what point the Troika, whose clear intention it has been from day one to cause the Greek bank run in the process leading to the fall of the Tsipras government, will say “no more.”

For those interested, according to IN, the deposit (out)flows in the last 7 business days are as follows:

greek deposit flows_0

Finally, for those who missed it, here is the first hand account of the Greek bank run from precisely a week ago as retold by ZH contributor Tom Winnifrith:

Witnessing the great bank run first hand as I deposit money in Greece

Jim Mellon says that the Greeks should build a statue in my honour as on Friday I opened a bank account in Greece and made a deposit. Okay it was only 10 Euro, I need to put in another 3,990 Euro to get my residency papers so I can buy a car, a bike and a gun, but it was a start. But the scenes at the National Bank in Kalamata were of chaos, you could smell the panic and they were being replicated at banks across Greece.

For tomorrow is a Bank Holiday here and if you are going to default on your debts/ switch from Euros to New Drachmas a bank holiday weekend is the best time to do it. And with debt repayments that cannot be met due on June 5 (next Friday) Greece is clearly in the merde. If it defaults all its banks go bust.

But I had to open an account and make a deposit. Outside the bank in the main street of Kalamata there are two ATMs. The lines at both were ten deep when I arrived and when I left an hour later. Inside I was directed to the two desks marked “Deposit”. You go there to put in money, to open an account or if you are so senile that you cannot do basic admin of your account without assistance. As such it was me depositing cash and four octogenerians who had not got a clue about anything. Actually I lie. These folks may have been gaga but they were not so gaga that they were actually going to deposit cash, I was the sole depositer.

Friday was also the day when pensions are paid into bank accounts. On the Wednesday and Thursday it was reported that Greeks withdrew 800 million Euro from checking accounts. Friday’s number will dwarf that. Whe you go to a Greek bank you pull off a ticket and wait for your number to be called. The hall in my bank contains about 60 seats all of which were filled. There were folks standing behind the seats and in fact throughout the hall, all wanting to get their cash out before the bank closed at 2 PM.

At the side of the room, shielded by a glass screen sat a man behind a big desk. He tapped away at his screen and made phone calls. Ocassionally folks wandered over, shook papers in his face and harangued him having got no joy elsewhere. So I guess he was the bank manager. I rather expected him to end one phone call and stand up to say “That was Athens – all the money has gone, its game over folks.” But he didn’t. He may well do so at some stage soon.

Eventually I got the the front of my five person queue of the senile and opened my account. Passport, tax number, phone number all in order. I handed over a 10 Euro note and the polite – if somewhat stressed – young man gave me about ten pieces of paper to sign and stamped my passbook. I have done my bit for Greece and have given it 10 Euro which I will lose one way or another in due course. So Jim – time to lobby for that statue.

The Government did not put up a default notice on Friday as I half expected. The can kicking goes on. The ATMs will be emptied this weekend and on Tuesday and in the run up to a potential default day next Friday the banks will be packed again with folks taking out whatever money they can.

It is not just the bank coffers that are being emptied. To get to The Greek Hovel where I sit now from my local village of Kambos is a two mile drive. On my side of the valley there is some concrete track but it is mainly a mud road. On the other side of the valley there is a deserted monastery so to honour the Church – even if there are no actual monks there – a concrete road was built in the good times. By last summer it was more pothole than road.

By law, since I have water and electricity, I can demand that the road be mended and so last summer I went to the Kambos town hall (4 full time staff serving a population of 536) and did just that. They said “the steam roller is broken and we have no money but will try to do it in the Autumn.” They did not.

But last week a gang of men appeared and the road is now pothole free, indeed in some places we have a whole new concrete surface. And as I head towards Kalamta there are extensive road mending programmes. At Kitries, the village has found money to renovate its beach front. It is a hive of activity across the Mani.

Quite simply each little municipality is spending every cent it has as fast as it can. The Greek State asked all the town halls to hand over spare cash a few weeks ago to help with the debt repayment. The town halls know that next time it will not be a request but an order. But by then all the money they had hoarded will have been spent. That is Greekeconomics for you.

Everyone knows that something has to give and that it will probanly happen this summer. The signs are everywhere

References:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-06-05/greek-banks-verge-total-collapse-bank-run-surges-massively-depositors-yank-%E2%82%AC700-mill

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Understanding the Holodomor and why Russia says nothing

A descendant of Holodomor victims takes the rest of us to school as to whether or not Russia needs to shoulder the blame.

Seraphim Hanisch

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One of the charges that nationalist Ukrainians often lodge against their Russian neighbors is that the Russian government has never acknowledged or formally apologized to Ukraine for the “Holodomor” that took place in Ukraine in 1932-1933. This was a man-made famine that killed an estimated seven to 10 million Ukrainians , though higher estimates claim 12.5 million and lower ones now claim 3.3 million.

No matter what the total was, it amounts to a lot of people that starved to death. The charge that modern-day Russia ought to apologize for this event is usually met with silence, which further enrages those Ukrainians that believe that this issue must be resolved by the Russian acknowledgement of responsibility for it. Indeed, the prime charge of these Ukrainians is that the Russians committed a genocide against the Ukrainian people. This is a claim Russia denies.

To the outside observer who does not know this history of Russia and Ukraine’s relationship, and who does not know or understand the characteristics of the Soviet Union, this charge seems as simple and laid out as that of the Native Americans or the blacks demanding some sort of recompense or restitution for the damages inflicted on these societies through conquest and / or slavery. But we discovered someone who had family connections involved in the Holodomor, and who offers her own perspective, which is instructive in why perhaps the Russian Federation does not say anything about this situation.

Scene in Kharkiv with dead from the famine 1932-33 lying along the street.

The speaker is Anna Vinogradova, a Russian Israeli-American, who answered the question through Quora of “Why doesn’t Russia recognize the Holodomor as a genocide?” She openly admits that she speaks only for herself, but her answer is still instructive. We offer it here, with some corrections for the sake of smooth and understandable English:

I can’t speak for Russia and what it does and doesn’t recognize. I can speak for myself.

I am a great-granddaughter of a “Kulak” (кулак), or well-to-do peasant, who lived close to the Russia/Ukraine border.

The word “кулак” means “fist” in Russian, and it wasn’t a good thing for a person to be called by this label. A кулак was an exploiter of peasants and a class enemy of the new state of workers and poor peasants. In other words, while under Communism, to be called a кулак was to bring a death sentence upon yourself.

At some point, every rural class enemy, every peasant who wasn’t a member of a collective farm was eliminated one way or another.

Because Ukraine has very fertile land and the Ukrainian style of agriculture often favors individual farms as opposed to villages, there is no question that many, many Ukrainian peasants were considered class enemies like my great grandfather, and eliminated in class warfare.

I have no doubt that class warfare included starvation, among other things.

The catch? My great grandfather was an ethnic Russian living in Russia. What nationality were the communists who persecuted and eventually shot him? They were of every nationality there was (in the Soviet Union), and they were led by a Ukrainian, who was taking orders from a Georgian.

Now, tell me, why I, a descendant of an unjustly killed Russian peasant, need to apologize to the descendants of the Ukrainians who killed him on the orders of a Georgian?

What about the Russian, Kazakh golodomor (Russian rendering of the same famine)? What about the butchers, who came from all ethnicities? Can someone explain why it’s only okay to talk about Ukrainian victims and Russian persecutors? Why do we need to rewrite history decades later to convert that brutal class war into an ethnic war that it wasn’t?

Ethnic warfare did not start in Russia until after WWII, when some ethnicities were accused of collaboration with the Nazis and brutal group punishments were implemented. It was all based on class up to that time.

The communists of those years were fanatically internationalist. “Working people of all countries, unite!” was their slogan and they were fanatical about it.

As for the crimes of Communism, Russia has been healing this wound for decades, and Russia’s government has made its anticommunist position very clear.

This testimony is most instructive. First, it points out information that the charge of the Holodomor as “genocide!” neatly leaves out. In identifying the internationalist aspects of the Soviet Union, Ukraine further was not a country identified as somehow worthy of genocidal actions. Such a thought makes no sense, especially given the great importance of Ukraine as the “breadbasket” of the Soviet Union, which it was.

Secondly, it shows a very western-style of “divide to conquer” with a conveniently incendiary single-word propaganda tool that is no doubt able to excite any Ukrainian who may be neutral to slightly disaffected about Russia, and then after that, all Ukrainians are now victims of the mighty evil overlords in Moscow.

How convenient is this when the evil overlords in Kyiv don’t want their citizens to know what they are doing?

We saw this on Saturday – taken to a very high peak when President Petro Poroshenko announced the new leading “Hierarch” of the “Ukrainian National Church” and said not one single word about Christ, but only:

“This day will go down in history as the day of the creation of an autocephalous Orthodox church in Ukraine… This is the day of the creation of the church as an independent structure… What is this church? It is a church without Putin. It is a church without Kirill, without prayer for the Russian authorities and the Russian army.”

But as long as Russia is made the “problem”, millions of scandalized Ukrainians will not care what this new Church actually does or teaches, which means it is likely to teach just about anything.

Russia had its own Holodomor. The history of the event shows that this was a result of several factors – imposed socialist economics on a deeply individualized form of agrarian capitalism (bad for morale and worse for food production), really inane centralized planning of cropland use, and a governmental structure that really did not exist to serve the governed, but to impose an ideology on people who really were not all that interested in it.

Personal blame might well lay with Stalin, a Georgian, but the biggest source of the famine lay in the structures imposed under communism as a way of economic strategy. This is not Russia’s fault. It is the economic model that failed.

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Mueller Finally Releases Heavily Redacted Key Flynn Memo On Eve Of Sentencing

Alex Christoforou

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Via Zerohedge


Having initially snubbed Judge Emmet Sullivan’s order to release the original 302 report from the Michael Flynn interrogation in January 2017, Special Counsel Robert Mueller has finally produced the heavily redacted document, just hours before sentencing is due to be handed down.

The memo  – in full below – details then-national security adviser Michael Flynn’s interview with FBI agents Peter Strzok and Joe Pientka, and shows Flynn was repeatedly asked about his contacts with former Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak and in each instance, Flynn denied (or did not recall) any such conversations.

The agents had transcripts of Flynn’s phone calls to Russian Ambassador Kislyak, thus showing Flynn to be lying.

Flynn pleaded guilty guilty last December to lying to the FBI agents about those conversations with Kislyak.

The redactions in the document seem oddly placed but otherwise, there is nothing remarkable about the content…

Aside from perhaps Flynn’s incredulity at the media attention…

Flynn is set to be sentenced in that federal court on Tuesday.

Of course, as Christina Laila notes, the real crime is that Flynn was unmasked during his phone calls to Kislyak and his calls were illegally leaked by a senior Obama official to the Washington Post.

*  *  *

Full document below…

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Don’t Laugh : It’s Giving Putin What He Wants

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself.

Caitlin Johnstone

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Authored by Caitlin Johnstone:


The BBC has published an article titled “How Putin’s Russia turned humour into a weapon” about the Kremlin’s latest addition to its horrifying deadly hybrid warfare arsenal: comedy.

The article is authored by Olga Robinson, whom the BBC, unhindered by any trace of self-awareness, has titled “Senior Journalist (Disinformation)”. Robinson demonstrates the qualifications and acumen which earned her that title by warning the BBC’s audience that the Kremlin has been using humor to dismiss and ridicule accusations that have been leveled against it by western governments, a “form of trolling” that she reports is designed to “deliberately lower the level of discussion”.

“Russia’s move towards using humour to influence its campaigns is a relatively recent phenomenon,” Robinson explains, without speculating as to why Russians might have suddenly begun laughing at their western accusers. She gives no consideration to the possibility that the tightly knit alliance of western nations who suddenly began hysterically shrieking about Russia two years ago have simply gotten much more ridiculous and easier to make fun of during that time.

Couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the emergence of a demented media environment wherein everything around the world from French protests to American culture wars to British discontent with the European Union gets blamed on Russia without any facts or evidence. Wherein BBC reporters now correct guests and caution them against voicing skepticism of anti-Russia narratives because the UK is in “an information war” with that nation. Wherein the same cable news Russiagate pundit can claim that both Rex Tillerson’s hiring and his later firing were the result of a Russian conspiracy to benefit the Kremlin. Wherein mainstream outlets can circulate blatantly false information about Julian Assange and unnamed “Russians” and then blame the falseness of that reporting on Russian disinformation. Wherein Pokemon Go, cutesy Facebook memes and $4,700 in Google ads are sincerely cited as methods by which Hillary Clinton’s $1.2 billion presidential campaign was outdone. Wherein conspiracy theories that Putin has infiltrated the highest levels of the US government have been blaring on mainstream headline news for two years with absolutely nothing to show for it to this day.

Nope, the only possibility is that the Kremlin suddenly figured out that humor is a thing.

The fact of the matter is that humorous lampooning of western establishment Russia narratives writes itself. The hypocrisy is so cartoonish, the emotions are so breathlessly over-the-top, the stories so riddled with plot holes and the agendas underlying them so glaringly obvious that they translate very easily into laughs. I myself recently authored a satire piece that a lot of people loved and which got picked up by numerous alternative media outlets, and all I did was write down all the various escalations this administration has made against Russia as though they were commands being given to Trump by Putin. It was extremely easy to write, and it was pretty damn funny if I do say so myself. And it didn’t take any Kremlin rubles or dezinformatsiya from St Petersburg to figure out how to write it.

“Ben Nimmo, an Atlantic Council researcher on Russian disinformation, told the BBC that attempts to create funny memes were part of the strategy as ‘disinformation for the information age’,” the article warns. Nimmo, ironically, is himself intimately involved with the British domestic disinformation firm Integrity Initiative, whose shady government-sponsored psyops against the Labour Party have sparked a national scandal that is likely far from reaching peak intensity.

“Most comedy programmes on Russian state television these days are anodyne affairs which either do not touch on political topics, or direct humour at the Kremlin’s perceived enemies abroad,” Robinson writes, which I found funny since I’d just recently read an excellent essay by Michael Tracey titled “Why has late night swapped laughs for lusting after Mueller?”

“If the late night ‘comedy’ of the Trump era has something resembling a ‘message,’ it’s that large segments of the nation’s liberal TV viewership are nervously tracking every Russia development with a passion that cannot be conducive to mental health – or for that matter, political efficacy,” Tracey writes, documenting numerous examples of the ways late night comedy now has audiences cheering for a US intelligence insider and Bush appointee instead of challenging power-serving media orthodoxies as programs like The Daily Show once did.

If you wanted the opposite of “anodyne affairs”, it would be comedians ridiculing the way all the establishment talking heads are manipulating their audiences into supporting the US intelligence community and FBI insiders. It would be excoriating the media environment in which unfathomably powerful world-dominating government agencies are subject to less scrutiny and criticism than a man trapped in an embassy who published inconvenient facts about those agencies. It certainly wouldn’t be the cast of Saturday Night Live singing “All I Want for Christmas Is You” to a framed portrait if Robert Mueller wearing a Santa hat. It doesn’t get much more anodyne than that.

Russia makes fun of western establishment narratives about it because those narratives are so incredibly easy to make fun of that they are essentially asking for it, and the nerdy way empire loyalists are suddenly crying victim about it is itself more comedy. When Guardian writer Carole Cadwalladr began insinuating that RT covering standard newsworthy people like Julian Assange and Nigel Farage was a conspiracy to “boost” those people for the advancement of Russian agendas instead of a news outlet doing the thing that news reporting is, RT rightly made fun of her for it. Cadwalladr reacted to RT’s mockery with a claim that she was a victim of “attacks”, instead of the recipient of perfectly justified ridicule for circulating an intensely moronic conspiracy theory.

Ah well. People are nuts and we’re hurtling toward a direct confrontation with a nuclear superpower. Sometimes there’s nothing else to do but laugh. As Wavy Gravy said, “Keep your sense of humor, my friend; if you don’t have a sense of humor it just isn’t funny anymore.”

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