Two days ago, a Greek government official was caught on the wires saying that Greece only has enough cash for the next 20 days. According to the Greek government, if the European Union (EU) does not give them money by December, they will have to default on more than 2.8 billion EUR worth of bond payments. On top of that, they won’t be able to pay government salaries and pensions.
If Greece needs the money badly, then why hasn’t the EU budged? Didn’t the EU already promise to give the money? What happened?
Well, apparently, the EU is hesitant in giving Greece the next tranche of aid because there’s absolutely no assurance that political leaders will support the new austerity measures that both parties made in the past.
Jean-Claude Junker, the person in charge of euro-area finance ministers, wants Greece to promise that whoever wins the scheduled election in February will actually implement the agreed reforms.
He is demanding that written and personally-signed pledges from the newly-appointed Greek prime minister and other main political leaders be submitted to the European Union by the November 29 Euro summit.
If Greek political leaders do not come to a consensus and Junker doesn’t receive the pledge he asks for, Junker will NOT give Greece any bailout funds in the future. Talk about playing hardball!
Even though Greece
wants needs the money, there is one big roadblock. This roadblock actually has a name – Antonis Samaras.
No, Samaras isn’t Antoinio Banderas’ long lost twin. He’s actually the leader of the New Democracy party, which was the main opposition party since 2009 but is now currently part of the new united coalition government.
The big problem is that Samaras has refused to pledge any written support for the EU and IMF‘s proposed austerity measures for Greece. He believes that by signing off on any agreements with the EU and IMF, he will be breaking his promise to the people that he’ll renegotiate new terms.
Just like the ousted George Papandreou, it appears that Samaras is afraid that by accepting the terms without a fight, he will lose the support of the Greek public and could eventually lose his seat in power. This has irked the European Commission, who have criticized Samaras and warned him to stop with the political mind games.
All this political turmoil in Greece has not been good for market sentiment and this can clearly be seen in the financial markets.
Last Tuesday, when Juncker gave his ultimatum, the Athens Exchange (ATHEX) index took a 0.29% hit, with 94 losers, 57 winners, and 30 unchanged. Meanwhile, turnover on the exchange also continued its recent decline, falling from 29.3 million EUR to 28.4 million EUR. This indicates that traders are getting more cautious and are unwilling to put their capital at risk.
These political games between European leaders are creating even more uncertainty in an already jittery market environment, which is why we’re seeing a lot of choppy trading lately. It’s no surprise that safe havens like the dollar and even the yen have benefitted, as nobody is quite sure what could happen next.
For now, be extremely cautious in trading higher-yielding currencies, particularly the euro. Risk aversion is still dominating the trading scene and any new catalysts could send the shared currency crashing down the charts once again.