February 10th, 2012
04:34 PM GMT
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London (CNN) – Give eurozone finance ministers credit.

Markets had been rising. The euro was at a two month high. The banks had apparently agreed to take a steep loss on the Greek bonds they hold, or bought in the secondary market for cents on the euro.

Then, they snapped defeat from the jaws of victory. Why?

Greek politicians have now been told they need to put austerity pledges in writing and then into law, all by next Wednesday; the new deadline.

And they need to find another $400 million of savings to fill the gap.

This is all for Greece to start drawing on the second bailout of some $167 billion agreed last October; the old deadline.

Meanwhile, the banks need to sign off on an agreement to reduce Greece’s debt burden to the private sector by some $100 billion before the next payment comes due March 20th; the next deadline.

Look, don’t believe the deadlines. If, come March 20th, Greece can’t pay its bill, there are two options; default or get a loan.

Will Europe allow Greece to have a messy default? Will the International Monetary Fund or the European Central Bank give Greece a bridge loan or some respite?

Will this mess be resolved so that the $18 billion bill due on March 20th is minimized by virtue of the "hair-cut" under negotiation, or paid from the second bailout?

All this happens as people are starting to talk about the very fabric of Greek society coming apart. I saw none of that when I was in Athens in November. But of course it can happen.

Greece has to find more cuts because the economy is shrinking much more than predicted back in October. The paymasters are not budging; the European Union, ECB and IMF (the troika) agreed the second bailout as long as Greek cuts will bring the deficit target down to 120% of GDP by 2020.

While that target has not moved, the gap is widening because austerity in Europe is happening while (or because of) recession takes hold again.

So, unless Greece is given a break, it will just be quarterly bailouts and more deadlines missed, for years to come.

Enough. Can we please have a deadline which draws a line under this mess.

soundoff (12 Responses)
  1. george argiriou


    February 10, 2012 at 6:10 pm |
  2. Peter

    Greek politicians are interested more in their political career rather then saving the country. Anyone who is following the news from close distance will understand that for 2 years Greek politicians where playing the cat & mouse game with Brussels just to get the bailout without implementing the changes required by the EU commission. It's about time to be online with Europe and for Greek politicians to answer to the law for looting Greece's wealth in which they are immunized from prosecution.

    February 11, 2012 at 5:21 am |
  3. Ken

    Greece must leave the EU within 60 days. How's that for a deadline? They got in based on big fibs about their financial condition. Other than easier travel through borders and widespread currency, both of which could be worked out with treaties, the EU is an elitist game. A "control game" by the elites of Europe. Greece would be better off drifting back to Zorba, as long as Zorba gets 60 days paid vacation every year. Let Greeks work it out. Stop the good money of others from chasing the bad money that has already been given. If I were a bank I would write Greece off and concentrate on brighter prospects...

    February 11, 2012 at 6:08 am |
  4. Daniel Anagnostopoulos

    "Finally, Greece must also find a further €325 million in "structural expenditure" cuts for 2012."

    Radical solution 1: Ministry of Culture to apply a 'Visit Tax' for all foreigners visiting Greece that will be evaluated based upon a) country of their origin and b) duration of their visit. The Visit Tax will cover as income and not as cuts the €325 million needed.

    February 11, 2012 at 6:23 am |
  5. Diamantis

    Daniel Anagnostopoulos, or solution 2, howabout some of you greeks payiing some of your tax owed to your government ?

    February 11, 2012 at 8:00 am |
  6. .

    The problem with socialism is that eventually you run out of other people's money. Greece is no different than California, New York, Illinois or Connecticut. They've made promises to their public sector unions for pension plans that are simply not sustainable. Now it's time to cull them back, and the unionistas are fire bombing the police.

    Any way you look at it, socialism sucks. Just look at Western Europe. It's in the toilet, too.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:12 pm |
  7. george

    Greece she be thrown out of eurozone they are useless

    February 11, 2012 at 2:29 pm |
  8. jakson

    Lighting engineer played the minds of the masses

    February 13, 2012 at 2:35 am |
  9. Stavros

    The new Greek currency will be the Gyro (please pronounce yee-ro).

    February 15, 2012 at 2:47 pm |
  10. tina

    I ve seen many nasty comments about Greeks.Being a greek myself i find these comments really insulting cause everyone has the people of greece stereotyped. we are not lazy who just want to have fun . we try to get by on less than 900euro a month, we have mortgages on our homes,we pay a ton of money on health care, we want the best for our country and yes .... what a surprise we do pay taxes! the debt is not entirely domestic , the countries which now want to manipulate us-the people-not the politicians are the ones who years ago let everyone believe that we could have a solid economy. of course we are greatly to be blamed but please dont act as if corruption is a greek asset. corruption is everywher and it's among every politician , greek german or dutch. So just because there have been many mistakes made in the past by POLITICIANS dont see the greek people as the ones who try to get everyone elses money. we protest because we have had enough of all those who decide for us without us, we protest because with the new reduction in payments we will be paid 500 euro and we will have to support out families and pay our home loans. and you know what else? we are the the first ones who want out of the eurozone but they wont let us..so the people of greece are not corrupted we are fighters and we are up against two monsters....the eu and our politicians. so stop categorising the people of my country as corrupted and lazy, you have no idea what its like to fear about whether you ll be able to raise your children in dignity.So to everyone else who has an opinion on greece and is an expert... try living under our conditions for just a few days and you ll see how lazy and unwilling we are!

    February 17, 2012 at 9:13 am |
  11. Joris

    You choose your politicians, Tina... We didn't choose them for you. Other countries did not file fraudulous numbers about their states finances, Greece did. It is time for many changes in Greece, so that people that didn't pay taxes finally have to pay, and corruption is reduced. You should protest for that, not against Europe.

    February 28, 2012 at 8:20 pm |

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