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Tsipras: a resolution is coming “soon”… Merkel: there’s “a whole lot to do.”

Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics: “[Germany is ready] to take this brinkmanship very far [with Schaeuble as] attack dog. We’re in this game of chicken. The problem is that Alexis Tsipras is riding a scooter and Wolfgang Schaeuble is driving an armored BMW.”

Alex Christoforou

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Post originally appeared on Zerohedge.

In many ways, four months of negotiations between Greece and its creditors can be summed up with the following two headlines from this morning:

  • GREECE VERY CLOSE TO SEALING DEAL WITH CREDITORS: SPOKESMAN
  • GREECE WON’T COMPROMISE ON LABOR REFORMS, PENSIONS: SPOKESMAN

Those came back-to-back believe it or not, which underscores the whole problem: the Greek government wants money but doesn’t want the conditions which come with the money because those conditions entail the wholesale abandonment of the mandate that got them elected in January.

Despite it all, PM Alexis Tsipras still thought he could effectively secure a deal in Latvia this week by whispering to Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a Eurogroup meeting, a tactic he’s tried before to no avail. Unsurprisingly, these “sideline” talks produced exactly nothing after Tsipras kept Merkel and French President Francois Hollande up until 1 in the morning in Riga, proving that, to quote Jean-Claude Juncker, “Riga just isn’t the place” for eleventh hour bailout negotiations. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

With time running out for a deal to free up the remaining 7.2 billion-euro ($8 billion) tranche of aid, Merkel’s discussions in Latvia with Tsipras and French President Francois Hollande broke up in the early hours of Friday with an agreement only to keep talking. Tsipras talked of a resolution “soon,” whereas Merkel said there’s “a whole lot to do.”

“It was a very friendly, constructive discussion,” the chancellor told reporters on Friday as she arrived for the second day of a two-day European Union summit in the Latvian capital, Riga. “But it was very clear that further work has to be done with the three institutions.”

The meeting marked another rejection by Merkel of the latest Tsipras attempt to bypass finance ministers and strike a political deal at the level of government leaders, highlighting German insistence that Greece’s budget numbers must add up before aid can be released.

A short statement released separately by the French and German governments after more than two hours of talks with Tsipras was devoid of earlier optimism expressed by Hollande at paving the way for an accord as soon as the end of the month. In its place, the governments of the two biggest euro-area economies talked of agreement “to stay in close contact.”

A government official, in a debriefing after the talks broke up about 1 a.m., signaled Greek frustration by saying that a main obstacle is that the International Monetary Fund needs to be on board. The IMF is one of Greece’s creditors along with the European Central Bank and euro-area governments. “Open issues” remain with creditors, including pensions, sales-tax rates and targets for a primary budget surplus, the official told reporters.

The French and German statements lacked Hollande’s upbeat tone as he arrived in Riga, when he had opened the prospect of striking a political deal that could help lead to an accord by finance ministers at the end of May or early June. Without an agreement, Greece risks a default that would put in question its future in the 19-nation euro region.

Absent too from the final statements was any reference to an extraordinary finance ministers’ meeting on Greece. Hollande had said that the discussion with Tsipras would “help prepare for the expected deadline, especially the eurogroup” meeting of euro-area finance ministers “at the end of May or in early June.” That suggested a special meeting since the next regular gathering isn’t due until June 18.

France and Germany offered to provide assistance to Greece and Tsipras whenever questions come up, Merkel said. “But the accord must be reached with the three institutions and very, very intensive work has to be done.”

As for Germany — where Christian Democratic lawmakers have for weeks been pressuring Merkel to call it quits on Greece — the Finance Ministry and the central bank are out questioning the utility of continuing to negotiate with Syriza.

First there’s Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann…

“The prospect of a sustainable stabilization of Greece is decisive, that requires an improvement in competitiveness, solid state finances and better administrative structures. The IMF has also rightly advised this. Hence, the ball is clearly in the court of the Greek government.”

…and then the German finance ministry…

“International Monetary Fund participation in negotiations on Greece’s aid program is mandatory requirement.”

…and finally, the Schaeuble was unleashed…

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble conceded the possibility that Greece may need a parallel currency alongside the euro if the country’s talks with creditors fail, people familiar with his views said.

Yes, “conceded the possibility,” and while those who actually witnessed the German FinMin’s comments claim he “didn’t endorse the idea”, we imagine his feelings wouldn’t be hurt if it came to pass because as we’ve seen, Schaeuble is no fan of radical socialist shenanigans.

Meanwhile, Commerzbank says the country’s economy (which, as a reminder, is losing €22.3 million a day) not to mention its citizens, simply can’t take the pain any longer and when comparing Greece to other historical instances of EM “turmoil”, the country doesn’t come out so well.

Via Bloomberg:

As another round of aid talks between the Mediterranean nation and its creditors ends without a deal, its economy is faring even worse than a string of developing countries which suffered traumas in the last two decades. That leaves Commerzbank AG declaring the country is in little position to pare its debt and that default or a restructuring may loom.

“Just as with emerging markets in the past there is a point in time where you need to move on to the next stage rather than being paralyzed,” Simon Quijano-Evans, head of emerging market research at Commerzbank in London, said in a telephone interview. “In Greece, we need to think of next steps and be innovative.”

To illustrate Greece’s pain, he published a report this month comparing how the economic fallout from its five-year-old crisis compared with the bouts of turmoil suffered in the last two decades by Turkey, Argentina, Latvia and Thailand. The result illustrates why Commerzbank sees a 50 percent chance of Greece ultimately leaving the euro area.

“Comparing Greece’s experience so far with that of EM crisis countries shows very simply that the country’s already stressed economy and electorate are unable to cope with more pain,” said the Commerzbank economist.

While Athens has imposed the tightest fiscal squeeze of the five and pushed its budget balance excluding interest payments into surplus from a deficit of about 10 percent of gross domestic product in 2009, Turkey and Argentina were doing better at the same stage.

Yeah… about that budget balance…

  • GREEK MARCH CURRENT ACCOUNT DEFICIT WIDENS TO EU404M

References:

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2015-05-22/greece-may-need-issue-ious-schaeuble-says-after-latest-failure-reach-deal

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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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Via Zerohedge

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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