March 23rd: It Just Keeps On and On Turning Up…

By John Ward

One of many small details to have slipped out in the six hours since Greece was saved for posterity, or something, was this gem at 12.40 pm GMT today (Friday):

Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek finance minister (left), said Greece is still €7bn short of its targeted debt cut of €107bn. He confirmed all bonds issued under Greek law would be part of the deal because of the collective action clauses, while those holding bonds issued under foreign law would be given until March 23 to decide.’ (Daily Telegraph live blog)

The Bankfurters have made it brutally clear (as have the eurocrats) that no shortfalls or outstanding legal liabilities will be tolerated….see this morning’s Slogpost. Here’s a selection of Tepid Troika Taunts for everyone to chew on:

“The real risk of a crisis, of an acute crisis, has been, for the moment, removed,” gushed Former French Economy Minister and 3rd Grade Maths Student Frufru Lagarde (right).

Hmm. So the, um, non-acute crisis remains, and the, er, acute crisis has only temporarily gone missing then.

Phew. Thank God for that.

“Investors recognise that Europe has committed an important amount of funds to this voluntary debt exchange and to the Greek program to move forward. I now expect the Greek authorities to maintain their strong commitment to the economic adjustment programme and to rigorously and timely implement the policy package,” said EU Commissioner for the bits left after Barroso and van Rompuy have finished Olli Rehn (above) – or ‘Rehndeer’ as he is known to his friends,  for obvious reasons.

Feels to me like a classic case of, “There are two chances this will work, and if it does, we’ll be right behind you.” These are people inserting multiple wriggle-words into their syntax: for the record, and for when the accusations of stab-in-the-back start to fly.

But in the meantime, think hard about what Venizelos casually let drop at lunchtime. In his obfuscatory, roundabout, dissembling toady way, what the Greek Finance Minister has actually said is “There is a seven billion euro holdout under foreign law, and if it doesn’t come in we will be sued”. This will also give Brussels and Berlin the perfect excuse to pull the plug. On March 23rd.

The breaking news as we await the ISDA decision is that EU finance ministers have agreed to release an intial 35 billion euros to Athens solely for immediate debt relief. But they’re delaying the release of any more while they examine the debt swap and the Brussels Accord compliance in more detail. Fancy that. With a bit of luck they could keep this pot simmering until, oh, roughly, 9 pm on March 23rd – when the markets are all closed and there is only the weekend ahead….and the final foreign law holdout figure is known.

Not that I’m trying to make a point here, or anything.

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