Greece and its eurozone bailout lenders agreed [to] an 11th hour deal to extend the country's €172 billion rescue programme for four months avoiding bankruptcy for Athens but setting up another potential stand-off in June when a €3.5 billion debt payment comes due...
The decision to request an extension of the current programme is a significant U-turn for Alexis Tsipras, the Greece prime minister, who had promised in his election campaign to kill the existing bailout.
In addition, it includes no reduction of Greece's sovereign debt levels, another campaign promise. Discussion on debt restructuring are likely as part of follow-on talks ahead of another bailout programme, which must now be agreed before June.
As part of the agreement, Athens vowed that it would continue to produce a primary budget surplus--taking in more than it spends when interest on debt is not counted--but Mr. Dijsselbloem left open the possibility that the surplus targets could be lowered.
'The Greek authorities commit to refrain from any rollback of measures and unilateral changes to the policies and structural reforms that would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability as assessed by [bailout monitors]," the eurogroup agreement read. '
Critically, the agreement commits Athens to the 'successful completion' of the current bailout review, although it allows for Greece to negotiate its economic reform agenda. The reforms must be approved by bailout monitors, and the final agreement on the measure is to be completed by April.
The deal also unexpectedly requires the eurozone's bailout fund to take back €10.9 billion in funds currently sitting in Greece's bank rescue facility, an unusual move that reflect the lack of trust between Athens and its eurozone lenders. The money would still be available for bank recapitalisation, but it would be disbursed by eurozone authorities rather than Athens, as was previously the case.
I take no pleasure in the abject capitulation of the Syriza ministers to the petty, vicious, and miserable system they serve. Whatever humiliation our pretty boy ministers experience is nothing compared to the continued and forthcoming immiseration of the workers and poor of Greece.
Nor do I think this abject capitulation and humiliation will have the slightest influence on the dilettante dabblers and babblers, the very-important-bloggers, the self-important-posers, the know- nothing and see-less, the unrepentant morons, the "green leftists," the Link-ers, the international socialists, erratic marxists, semi-Trotskyists, sort-of Leninists who endorsed the "spirit of Athens," and who found in Syriza's equivocation and ignorance a "new entry" for revolutionary organization and action.
Nothing solidifies a repetition compulsion like failure. So when Podemos advances its campaign for "left government," proclaiming as it will that it, Podemos, "has learned the lessons of Syriza," that entire bozo circus will pack itself, floppy feet, bulb noses, squirt bottles and all into that Volkswagen Beetle, provided by Frau Merkel, and drive on the same road, but off different cliff, this one in Spain.
I am here to say what I've said before: repudiate the debt in its entirety, and immediately-- in Greece, Spain, Germany, France, the UK-- everywhere.
February 20, 2015