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Piraeus Bank will write off credit cards and retail loans up to 20,000 euros for Greeks who qualify

Piraeus Bank will write off credit cards and retail loans up to 20,000 euros ($21,484) for Greeks who qualify for help under a law the leftist government passed to provide relief to poverty-stricken borrowers, it said on Thursday.

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Zerohedge.

Over the past several months, as a result of their lockout from capital markets, Greek banks’ reliance on the ECB’s Emergency Liquidity Assistance has soared, and at last check was somewhere in the mid-€70 billion range.

The conventional wisdom was that the ECB was merely plugging the hole created weekly (and often, daily) as a result of the chronic Greek bank run which has seen tens of billions in deposits withdrawn from Greek banks since Syriza officially took power earlier this year.

However instead of merely plugging the hole left from declining liabilities (deposits), what the ECB’s ELA funding appears to also be doing is compensating for a rapid write down in bank assets (loans) as well, in the form of charged off Non-Performing Loans.

According to Reuters, one of the leading Greek financial institutions, Piraeus Bank will write off credit cards and retail loans up to 20,000 euros ($21,484) for Greeks who qualify for help under a law the leftist government passed to provide relief to poverty-stricken borrowers, it said on Thursday.

As a reminder, the tension over the Syriza’s treatment of “austerity” is precisely the reason why the government, which is now insolvent and demanding another European bailout without calling it a bailout, is being generous with one hand – such as writing off unrepayable debts – while confiscating pension funds and municipal cash reserves with the other.

Greece has also been engaging in other, less savory check kiting schemes. Several days ago the NYT reported that “Greek banks have even begun to issue bonds to themselves and, after securing a government guarantee, have used the securities to secure short-term financing — a practice that was excoriated by Yanis Varoufakis before he became the Greek finance minister.”

On April 8, for example, the National Bank of Greece self-issued €4.1 billion of six-month bonds that carried state backing. But with Greece on the verge of default — Mr. Varoufakis has frequently said his country is bankrupt — those guarantees are no longer worth much.

Subsequently the ECB, which had previously encouraged precisely this scheme to keep insolvent Italian and Spanish banks operating in 2012 and 2013, made it quite clear that it frowns upon such a circular creation of money out of thin air, especially when the only “guarantee” is that of a bankrupt state.

In any event, the big question now is: how will Greece, which every day is engaged in constant negotiations with the Troika, come up with an extension to the unpopular bailout/austerity program that is the hated legacy of the previous regime without calling it precisely that, while on the other hand, how will Europe cover up the fact that Greeks are now openly receiving a gift in the form of a debt charge, and how will Germans react when the German press covers the front pages with more news of German-funded bailouts of Greeks (even though the underlying motive, of course, is to keep the Euro and avoid a return to the hated Deutsche Mark).

And just to hammer that point in once again, earlier today Greek FinMin Yanis Varoufakis told a French magazine that the risk that Greece would have to leave the euro if it has to accept more austerity is no bluff, saying that no one could predict what the consequences of such an exit would be.

Or, back to square one, which as we explained in February, is a battle of leverage: is the threat to Europe from a Grexit higher than the threat to Greece from ending up without funds.

 

In a conversation with philosopher Jon Elster conducted at the end of March and published in France’s Philosophie Magazine, Varoufakis, a specialist in game theory, said this was not the time to bluff over Greece’s debt talks.

 

“We cannot bluff anymore. When I say that we’ll end up leaving the euro, if we have to accept more unsustainable austerity, this is no bluff,” Varoufakis is quoted as saying.

 

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called for a speeding up of work to conclude a reform-for-cash deal with euro zone creditors to keep his country afloat after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday.

 

The leftist Greek premier met the conservative German leader a day before euro zone finance ministers meet in Riga to review progress – or the lack of it – in slow-moving negotiations between Athens and its international lenders.

Unfortunately for Greece, in contrast to the height of the debt crisis in 2012, when Grexit fears spurred panic selling of other weak euro zone sovereigns, investors now seem relaxed about the fate of Greece, which accounts for just 2 percent of the region’s economy. “Asked what would happen if Greece was to leave the euro, Varoufakis mentioned comments made by European policymakers who say any contagion effect could be avoided and added that, on the contrary, he believed the consequences would be unpredictable. ‎ “Anyone who pretends they know what would happen the day we’ll be pushed over the cliff is talking nonsense and is working against Europe,” he said.

Still with the Eurostoxx rising to record highs with every passing day even as the Greek financial situation deteriorates, the market has effectively called the Greek bluff. As a result, Greece has been forced to pull its last remaining trump card. Russia.

The increasing pivot by Greece toward the Kremlin has also been extensively covered here, most recently in the form of a near-agreement between Athens and Gazprom to launch the Turkish Stream pipeline, a deal that would also see Russia giving Greece a €5 billion loan. It is precisely the threat that Russia will bypass Ukraine entirely and provide all of Europe’s gas via the Turkish Stream, that has finally gotten Europe’s, and America’s, attention.

According to the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “the US is scrambling to head off a Greek pipeline deal with Russia, fearing a disastrous change in the strategic balance of the Eastern Mediterranean as Greece’s radical-Left government drifts into the Kremlin’s orbit.

 Ernest Moniz, the US Energy Secretary, said his country is pushing for an alternative gas pipeline from Azerbaijan that would help break the stranglehold that Russian state-controlled firm Gazprom has on European markets.

“Diversified supplies are important and we strongly support the ‘Southern Corridor’ to bring Caspian gas to Europe,” he told a group of reporters on the margins of CERAWeek oil and gas forum in Houston. He insisted that it was vital to uphold “collective energy security” in Europe.

The concern is that Syriza’s flirtation with Moscow goes beyond normal diplomacy and may evolve over time into a strategic shift, causing Nato’s Eastern flank to unravel, and dooming any chance of maintaining a united EU stance against Mr Putin.

The Greeks know this. They seem determined to extract the maximum political leverage from the new Cold War.

The concern is that Syriza’s flirtation with Moscow goes beyond normal diplomacy and may evolve over time into a strategic shift, causing Nato’s Eastern flank to unravel, and dooming any chance of maintaining a united EU stance against Mr Putin.

The Greeks know this. They seem determined to extract the maximum political leverage from the new Cold War.

How this all plays out is still unclear with constantly moving pieces and negotiations in flux, although with Greece having run out of money and forced to impose soft capital controls, two things are certain: a conclusion will have to be reached soon and ii) should Greece complete its pivot toward Russia, everything in Europe will change, and in this case we wholeheartedly agree with the Greek finmin’s assessment that “anyone who pretends they know what would happen the day we’ll be pushed over the cliff is talking nonsense.”

References:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-04-23/greek-bank-will-write-%E2%82%AC20000-debt-poverty-stricken-borrowers-greece-uses-russian-piv

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EU leaders dictate Brexit terms to Theresa May (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 115.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss how EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the the Article 50 process which effectively postpones Brexit beyond the 29 March deadline.

The UK will now be offered a delay until the 22nd of May, only if MPs approve Theresa May’s withdrawal deal next week. If MPs do not approve May’s negotiated deal, then the EU will support a short delay until the 12th of April, allowing the UK extra time to get the deal passed or to “indicate a way forward”.

UK PM Theresa May said there was now a “clear choice” facing MPs, who could vote for a third time on her deal next week.

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Theresa May outlines four Brexit options, via Politico

In a letter to MPs, U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May set out the four options she believes the country has in light of Thursday’s decision by EU leaders to extend the Brexit deadline beyond next Friday.

The U.K. is faced with a four-way choice, May wrote late Friday.

The government could revoke Article 50 — which May called a betrayal of the Brexit vote; leave without a deal on April 12; pass her deal in a vote next week; or, “if it appears that there is not sufficient support” for a vote on her deal in parliament next week or if it is rejected for a third time, she could ask for an extension beyond April 12.

But this would require for the U.K. taking part in European elections in May, which the prime minister said “would be wrong.”

May wrote that she’s hoping for the deal to pass, allowing the U.K. to leave the EU “in an orderly way,” adding “I still believe there is a majority in the House for that course of action.”

“I hope we can all agree that we are now at the moment of decision,” she wrote.

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US media suffers panic attack after Mueller fails to deliver on much-anticipated Trump indictment

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

RT

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Important pundits and news networks have served up an impressive display of denials, evasions and on-air strokes after learning that Robert Mueller has ended his probe without issuing a single collusion-related indictment.

The Special Counsel delivered his final report to Attorney General William Barr for review on Friday, with the Justice Department confirming that there will be no further indictments related to the probe. The news dealt a devastating blow to the sensational prophesies of journalists, analysts and entire news networks, who for nearly two years reported ad nauseam that President Donald Trump and his inner circle were just days away from being carted off to prison for conspiring with the Kremlin to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Showing true integrity, journalists and television anchors took to Twitter and the airwaves on Friday night to acknowledge that the media severely misreported Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia, as well as what Mueller’s probe was likely to find. They are, after all, true professionals.

“How could they let Trump off the hook?” an inconsolable Chris Matthews asked NBC reporter Ken Dilanian during a segment on CNN’s ‘Hardball’.

Dilanian tried to comfort the CNN host with some of his signature NBC punditry.

“My only conclusion is that the president transmitted to Mueller that he would take the Fifth. He would never talk to him and therefore, Mueller decided it wasn’t worth the subpoena fight,” he expertly mused.

Actually, there were several Serious Journalists who used their unsurpassed analytical abilities to conjure up a reason why Mueller didn’t throw the book at Trump, even though the president is clearly a Putin puppet.

“It’s certainly possible that Trump may emerge from this better than many anticipated. However! Consensus has been that Mueller would follow DOJ rules and not indict a sitting president. I.e. it’s also possible his report could be very bad for Trump, despite ‘no more indictments,'” concluded Mark Follman, national affairs editor at Mother Jones, who presumably, and very sadly, was not being facetious.

Revered news organs were quick to artfully modify their expectations regarding Mueller’s findings.

“What is collusion and why is Robert Mueller unlikely to mention it in his report on Trump and Russia?” a Newsweek headline asked following Friday’s tragic announcement.

Three months earlier, Newsweek had meticulously documented all the terrible “collusion” committed by Donald Trump and his inner circle.

But perhaps the most sobering reactions to the no-indictment news came from those who seemed completely unfazed by the fact that Mueller’s investigation, aimed at uncovering a criminal conspiracy between Trump and the Kremlin, ended without digging up a single case of “collusion.”

The denials, evasions and bizarre hot takes are made even more poignant by the fact that just days ago, there was still serious talk about Trump’s entire family being hauled off to prison.

“You can’t blame MSNBC viewers for being confused. They largely kept dissenters from their Trump/Russia spy tale off the air for 2 years. As recently as 2 weeks ago, they had @JohnBrennan strongly suggesting Mueller would indict Trump family members on collusion as his last act,” journalist Glenn Greenwald tweeted.

While the Mueller report has yet to be released to the public, the lack of indictments makes it clear that whatever was found, nothing came close to the vast criminal conspiracy alleged by virtually the entire American media establishment.

“You have been lied to for 2 years by the MSM. No Russian collusion by Trump or anyone else. Who lied? Head of the CIA, NSA,FBI,DOJ, every pundit every anchor. All lies,” wrote conservative activist Chuck Woolery.

Internet mogul Kim Dotcom was more blunt, but said it all: “Mueller – The name that ended all mainstream media credibility.”

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Canadian Lawmaker Accuses Trudeau Of Being A “Fake Feminist” (Video)

Rempel segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career

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Canada’s feminist-in-chief Justin Trudeau wants to support and empower women…but his support stops at the point where said women start creating problems for his political agenda.

That was the criticism levied against the prime minister on Friday by a conservative lawmaker, who took the PM to task for “muzzling strong, principled women” during a debate in the House of Commons.

“He asked for strong women, and this is what they look like!” said conservative MP Michelle Rempel, referring to the former justice minister and attorney general Jody Wilson-Raybould, who has accused Trudeau and his cronies of pushing her out of the cabinet after she refused to grant a deferred prosecution agreement to a Quebec-based engineering firm.

She then accused Trudeau of being a “fake feminist”.

“That’s not what a feminist looks like…Every day that he refuses to allow the attorney general to testify and tell her story is another day he’s a fake feminist!”

Trudeau was so taken aback by Rempel’s tirade, that he apparently forgot which language he should respond in.

But Rempel wasn’t finished. She then segued to Trudeau’s push to quash an investigation into allegations that he once groped a young journalist early in his political career. This from a man who once objected to the continued use of the word “mankind” (suggesting we use “peoplekind” instead).

The conservative opposition then tried to summon Wilson-Raybould to appear before the Commons for another hearing (during her last appearance, she shared her account of how the PM and employees in the PM’s office and privy council barraged her with demands that she quash the government’s pursuit of SNC-Lavalin over charges that the firm bribed Libyan government officials). Wilson-Raybould left the Trudeau cabinet after she was abruptly moved to a different ministerial post – a move that was widely seen as a demotion.

Trudeau has acknowledged that he put in a good word on the firm’s behalf with Wilson-Raybould, but insists that he always maintained the final decision on the case was hers and hers alone.

Fortunately for Canadians who agree with Rempel, it’s very possible that Trudeau – who has so far resisted calls to resign – won’t be in power much longer, as the scandal has cost Trudeau’s liberals the lead in the polls for the October election.

 

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