While the broader market for Swiss stocks has risen modestly this year, one 'entity' has outperformed its peers by such a staggering margin, it has left bamboozled market experts struggling for an explanation. And that company is…the Swiss National Bank. The price of a share in Swiss National Bank in August rose above 3,000 francs ($3,143) for the first time, more than double the level of a year ago, and up 50% since mid-July, as the Financial Times noted in a story about its performance. Shares of the SNB trade like any other company listed on the Swiss stock exchange, though because of their price liquidity is somewhat thinner. The Swiss cantons together own 45% of the SNB while 15% is owned by cantonal banks and the remaining 40% by private individuals or companies. The Swiss Federal Government owns no shares. Given the SNB’s holdings – it has demonstrated a voracious appetite for Apple stock and currently holds more than $80 billion in US stocks – the shareholder-backed hedge fund is also having one hell of a year. Perhaps it’s understandable that shareholders see these gains as a driver of value. And of course, the FT has a few theories about what’s been driving the bank’s astounding gains. One is that, because of the bank’s stellar P&L, it will almost certainly make a dividend payment this year (it has occasionally failed to do so, like in 2015). Dividend payments are fixed by law at a maximum of 15 Swiss franc per share. If paid in full, that would amount to a yield of 50 basis points – far superior to the minus 15 basis-point yield on the country’s 10-year bond. Another is that some German investing newsletter issued what amounts to a “buy” call: “German investor newsletter Actien Börse encouraged a buying spurt after likening the shares in July to ultra-rare “Blue Mauritius” 19th century postage stamps. Trading in the 100,000 SNB shares is thin, so even modest buying or selling leads to significant price swings.” Of course, these arguments seem specious: Investors could still probably lock in higher yields by buying Treasurys and hedging their exposure, as one example. And the influence of that newsletter sounds like it’s being overstated. However, the FT hints at one possible driver that’s probably closer to the truth: Private investors are trying to front-run a possible share buyback by the central bank. As the FT notes, the SNB wouldn’t be the first central bank to buy back its shares. “Another theory is that investors are speculating they might be bought out. Central bank buybacks have happened before. In the early 2000s, the Basel-based Bank for International Settlements — which acts as a bank to central banks — bought out its private shareholders so it could focus on its public service functions, rather than the interests of financial investors.” Regardless of their motives, the stock’s gains are almost definitely being driven by private shareholders. As we reported last year during a smaller bout of appreciation in the SNB's stock, it’s unlikely that a canton or a cantonal bank would buy the shares en masse because their ownership has been carved in stone for many years. And as the FT notes… Harder to explain, however, is why the price of SNB shares has risen so steeply this summer. “Institutional investors do not invest in them, so there is no demand for analysis or coverage,” says Andreas Venditti, bank analyst at Vontobel in Zurich. “Since the impact of even small financial market moves on its financials is so huge, it would be difficult to do a reliable earnings estimate.” The alternative is that a private investor is quietly buying up all the stock available. The single largest private shareholder is a German national called Theo Siegert, a German business leader and professor at Munich University. He owns 6.7% of the Bank, more than any Swiss canton except Bern. Still, if the buyer was Siegert, he would have to file a new report as a large shareholder once he crosses a 10% threshold. While buybacks are unlikely, and a leveraged buyout of the central bank woud be impossible - though it'd make for an interesting case study - there’s only one probable conclusion left: The SNB is pushing global stock prices up, in the process creating the next bubble. And now private traders are gobbling up shares of the bank itself, adding a dangerous feedback loop to the equation. The SNB isn’t the only central bank that trades publicly. Both the Bank of Japan and the Bank of Greece are publicly traded, as is the Bank of Belgium; but when it comes to massive wealth-multiplying asset purchases, the BOJ is the real master. And we all know how that turned out.
FORMER Greek Prime Minister Loukas Papademos was recovering in an Athens hospital on Thursday after an attack against him which was unequivocally condemned by political parties as an attack on democracy. The
Roughly a year ago we wrote about perhaps the most notable bank heist in history in which a group of hackers used Swift, the interbank messaging system, to steal $81 million from the Central Bank of Bangladesh. Here's our recap: For those who missed the story, you can review it in all its James Bond-ish glory in the four posts linked below, but here is a brief summary of what happened to the $81 million: 1) it was transferred to four accounts at the Jupiter Street, Makati City, branch of Rizal Commercial Banking Corp (RCBC) in the Philippines, 2) $470,000 in cash went into the branch manager's trunk and the rest went to a possibly forged (but possibly not) account registered to one William Go, 3) the money was transferred to an FX broker called Philrem, 4) $50 million was split between two casinos and the remaining $31 was delivered to a "Weikang Xu" in cash. From there, the trail goes cold. Plot Thickens In New York Fed Heist As $30 Million In Cash Said Delivered To Mystery Chinese Man The Incredible Story Of How Hackers Stole $100 Million From The New York Fed Chinese Hackers Break Into NY Fed, Steal $100 Million From Bangladesh Central Bank Mystery Of New York Fed Robbery Has Central Banks Asking Who's Next But Bangladesh isn't the only country whose Central Bank has been targeted by a growing number of hackers seeking to score a quick, and massive, loot. As Bloomberg notes, hacks on global financial systems soared in 2016 and claimed Russia, Poland, Uruguay and Mexico, just to name a few, as victims. Over the course of last year, hackers looted up to $21 million from accounts opened with the Bank of Russia. Poland’s financial regulator was targeted in January by a suspected “watering hole” attack, where hackers target an often-used website, according to research from BAE Systems. In this instance, the hack originated from the website of Polish Financial Supervision Authority (KNF), where code was planted that would serve malware to certain visitors of the site. The malicious code was selectively targeted at financial institutions, and multiple banks were compromised via their users simply browsing the KNF website. Similar code was also believed to be present on the website of the state-owned Banco de la República Oriental del Uruguay, and the National Banking and Stock Commission of Mexico in late 2016, according to analysis from BAE Systems and U.S. software company Symantec Corp. Now, the hacking collective “Anonymous,” known for its activism against big corporations, security forces, and governments, has decided it wants to get in on the massive central bank scores and is actively recruiting new hackers that can assist in the effort. While the people wouldn’t say which banks are being targeted, they said the group has been busy recruiting new hackers to aid it in its forays, and renewed its attack against a number of central banks in February. The group last year attacked at least eight monetary authorities, including the Dutch Central Bank, the Bank of Greece, and the Bank of Mexico, the two people said. In a change of tack, it is also considering plans to sell on any confidential information it obtains, according to one of the people. The actions by non-state hacking and hacktivist groups such as Anonymous “are a wake-up call that should alert us to the critical weaknesses of global financial systems,” said Stefano Zanero, a professor of computer security at Italian university Politecnico di Milano. Janet Yellen recently warned in testimony before the congressional Joint Economic Committee in November that a successful cyber-security attack on the U.S. banking system is “one of the most significant risks our country faces." In fact, central banks all around the world are spending millions on cybersecurity experts and even buying startup companies to avoid being the next embarrassing victim of a multi-million dollar cyber heist. In response, central banks and related agencies have been busy attempting to stem the increasing number of attacks. In June Swift hired BAE Systems and U.K. cybersecurity adviser NCC Group Plc in a bid to improve its security defenses. BAE has since helped Swift analyze whether it needs to flag potential issues to correspondent banks. The Bank of England is even scooping up startups to help it battle online threats. It is currently running an accelerator, launched in June 2016, and is to start working with Anomali in order to “hunt and investigate cyber security intelligence data in a highly automated fashion,” according to a case study published in February by the Bank. Of course, try as they might, we suspect the world's bureaucratic central banks may be ill-equipped for a battle against an army of anonymous, international hackers fed up with their destructive policies aimed at continously inflating assets bubbles which serve only to help the rich get richer while enslaving the masses...
Authored by Maria Polizoidou, The Greek people have just about reached the limits of their strength. The economic situation is tragic. Illegal immigration is out of control, criminality increases day by day. The political system is steeped in corruption and the media have stopped being the communication channel between citizens and the political system. The Greek media are functioning as the praetorian guard of the euro; they favor the massive admission of Muslim populations into Greece and they fiercely attack every voice that disagrees with them. Bishop Ambrossios is urging people to revolt. He characterizes the illegal Muslim immigrants entering the country as conquerors. He also says that Christianity is under attack in Greece, while Islam is being daily reinforced. He says that Greek Orthodox churches are being desecrated, robbed and burned by Muslim immigrants while the state just sits by and looks on. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras does not fully control his political party; his biggest problem is his cabinet. When a political system is corrupt, when the media only put out propaganda and not information, when oligarchs control public life, when the political system seems repeatedly directed against the interests of its own people, when a political system ignores the constitution and the will of the majority but draws its legitimacy once every four years through elections, then, although it may be called "democratic", it is a democracy of junk. It is not the people's democracy anymore; instead, it belongs to the elites. If Greeks do not take back their homeland, wrote journalist Makis Andronopoulos on January 3, 2017, the guns may well have the last word. Andronopoulos wrote that he came to this conclusion after polls showed the detachment of the political system from the Greek people and their tragic way of life. The director of the newspaper Kathimerini, Alexis Papahelas, wrote on January 29, 2017 that the people are exhausted, that democracy still does not have solution to the problems of citizens and that the situation in Greece reminded him of 2012, when the old political system was wiped out. Bishop Ambrossios is urging people to revolt. He characterizes the illegal Muslim immigrants entering the country, as conquerors. He also says that Christianity is under attack in Greece while Islam is being daily reinforced. He says that Greek Orthodox churches are being desecrated, robbed and burned by Muslim immigrants while the state just sits by and looks. Members of the governing coalition say that Germany wants to bring down the Greek government and bring the New Democracy party to power. The leader of New Democracy, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is the most obedient and tenacious follower of the German policy in Greece. The Greek parliament has eight political parties, but if one excludes the Greek Communist party and the Golden Dawn party that have their own anti-establishment agenda, the remaining parties express exactly the same policies: All of them are enthusiasts of the eurozone and the European Union; they support open borders and globalization, and have no respect for Greece's religious or cultural roots. The Greeks, for the last seven years, have been requesting: strict measures against illegal immigration; mass deportations of illegal immigrants; parliamentary independence from supranational organizations; accountability from their leaders; transparency in political life; security and economic liberalization from their lenders; combating corruption and protecting the country's national identity. These requests, however, have been rejected for decades by the system -- with no debate. When those who make these requests are characterized as nationalists and racists and are socially stigmatized instead of being heard, such requests can burst outside the democratic framework. When a supposed democracy and the media do not allow people space to express these opinions and become part of the democratic process, citizens will ask to be heard by other means. The Greek people have just about reached the limits of their strength. The economic situation is tragic. Illegal immigration is out of control, criminality increases day by day. The political system is steeped in corruption and the media have stopped being the communication channel between citizens and the political system. The Greek media are functioning as the praetorian guard of the euro; they favor the massive admission of Muslim populations into Greece and they fiercely attack every voice that opposes their own. The country is rotting inside the EU and the eurozone. The Greek people have crashed economically. Greek cities, because of massive illegal immigration, look less like cities in Europe and more like cities in Afghanistan. Banks have begun the mass-confiscation of residences. The people are on the verge of revolt. The Financial and Industrial Research Foundation, in its latest report, stated that the per capita income of Greek citizens has declined to the level of year 2000. According to the Bank of Greece, the wealth of Greek households decreased by 37.5% between 2000 and 2015. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), in a report, characterizes the Greek people as the unhappiest in the EU. Unemployment is more than 25%, the highest in the eurozone. Scandals in Greece have been coming to the surface one after another. The Novartis pharmaceutical company, for example -- in one of the largest scandals in Greece -- was found to be giving money to politicians, government officials, journalists, publishers and doctors so that the public hospitals would use Novartis's products. According to the media, those involved are a former prime minister of Greece, who is currently the EU Immigration Commissioner), Dimitris Avramopoulos, and several former ministers. In addition, the German company Siemens is also alleged to have been bribing Greek politicians to win public contracts. The case is now being heard in court. The Siemens scandal may also end up having a huge impact on the political system. According to the accusations of May Zanni, Deputy Secretary for Strategic Planning and Communication (from the New Democracy party), Greece's opposition leader, Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and his family seem to have huge dealings with the German company. In fairness, the current government is working hard so that corruption and mismanagement cases are heard in court. Also in fairness, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is not a man with bad intentions and tries, within the limits the lenders leave, to negotiate as hard as he can for his country. He knows very well that Greece, to survive, should withdraw from the euro and the European Union. He also knows, as do the Greek people, that Greek history, Greek values and Greek geopolitics always lie close to the naval powers, the USA and Great Britain. Greece has never been able to join the European continental powers. But a powerless prime minister, even if he wants to lead his country towards salvation, away from the European Union, cannot do it. Tsipras does not fully control his political party; his biggest problem is his cabinet. SYRIZA is a political party that relates politically and ideologically to the US Democratic Party. So, he is committed to follow the US Democratic Party's policies about the European Union, the eurozone and globalization. Perhaps now, with the Trump Administration, at least some of these problems will be able to be addressed. The media's favorite target, meanwhile, is President Trump and the orderly, peaceful -- truly democratic -- political revolution that brought his presidency about. Poverty, criminality, corruption, illegal immigration and the delegitimization of the political system are the dots which, if one connects them, point to Article 48 of the Greek constitution. This article, which determines when the government can suspend the constitutional rights of citizens, can be activated when the state is under siege from internal or domestic enemies. With more taxes in the offing, with more pension and salary cuts, and with Turkey sending more immigrants to Greece, there is no way for Greece to be governed without the government declaring martial law to enforce its policies on the population. There are several ways this can happen. One possible scenario is that the Germans will force Tsipras to resign and go to elections. If that happens, the opposition parties will win the elections, but in order to deal with the rage of the left and the Greek people -- who will have to pay even more taxes, as the Germans asked -- the Greek government will have to declare a state of emergency. One possible scenario is that the Germans will force Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to resign and go to elections. Pictured: German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets with Tsipras, on December 16, 2016. (Image source: phoenix vor Ort video screenshot) Another scenario is that the EU will push Tsipras to co-operate with the opposition parties in order to create a broad government coalition that will enforce all the new taxes and pension cuts. In such an event, the Golden Dawn party and the Greek Communist party, along with rebellious citizens, will declare themselves against the entire political system, and take their fight not to the parliament but to the streets.
It didn't take much for the Greek bank run jog to return: with Greece once again stuck between an IMF rock and a Schauble hard case, and whispers that another bailout may be on the horizon, the local population took advantage of whatever capital controls loopholes they could find, and withdrew money from the local banking sector, which to this day remains on ECB life support, almost two years after the 3rd Greek bailout in the summer of 2015. According to Greece central bank data, Greek private sector bank deposits declined in January for the second month in a row, driven by renewed concerns over the country's neverending bailout. Business and household deposits fell by €1.63 billion, or 1.34% month-on-month to €119.75 billion ($126.8 billion), the lowest level since November 2001. The January outflow follows a "jog" of €3.4 billion in December, making the two-month drop the worst since the latest Greek bailout panic in July of 2015. And as concerns about the Greek fate only grew in February, it is likely that the next month's data will show another acceleration in outflows, especially since Greek non-performing loans remain at a staggering 70% of total bank assets and continue to grow. As Reuters further notes, starting in December, the Bank of Greece stopped counting deposits of 4.2 billion euros held in the Loans & Consignment Fund and another 2.1 billion euros in the Deposit Guarantee Fund (TEKE) as private sector deposits. The move followed a reclassification by the country's statistics service ELSTAT, which groups the two institutions under the general government sector. The latest two months of outflows put an end to a period of relative stability during which Greek banks had seen small deposit inflows in more than a year after the country clinched a third bailout to stay in the euro zone. Local banks, for the most part insolvent, remain dependent on central bank borrowing to plug their funding gaps. The gap between outstanding loans and deposits has forced banks to rely on borrowing from the European Central Bank and the Bank of Greece to plug their funding holes. Greece's banking sector saw a 42 billion euro deposit outflow from December 2015 to July last year. Capital controls imposed on June 2015 helped contain the flight but sharply increased banks' dependence on emergency liquidity assistance (ELA) from the Bank of Greece. Prior to the latest outflows, to signal confidence in the banking system the government has eased capital restrictions after making headway on bailout-mandated reforms and improved confidence in the banking system. Following the latest deposit outflow data, that may soon change. As part of the relaxation of controls, "mattress" cash that are returned to banks are not subject to the restrictions, meaning amounts deposited can be fully withdrawn. That is, of course, assuming the upcoming showdown between the members of the Troika ends amicably. Should the outflows persist as this rate, Greece will be back on the front pages, and demanding a 4th bailout by mid-Spring, and certainly ahead of the looming July 2017 debt maturities.
European, Asian stocks declined, halting a global rally that sent U.S. stocks surging to new all time highs faltered, weighing on the S&P although the index rebounded modestly after a kneejerk announcement lower overnight after Trump's National Security Advisor announced his unexpected resignation. The dollar dropped versus most of its Group-of-10 peers ahead of uncertainty surrounding Fed Chair Janet Yellen's testimony to Congress later Tuesday, while the pound declined after U.K. consumer-price inflation data missed economists’ forecasts. Oil gains, copper advances. Treasuries steadied. As a result, the DXY dipped 0.2 percent against a basket of currencies to 100.74 but was still near its strongest since Jan. 20, while the euro was 0.3 percent firmer after three sessions of losses to stand at $1.0626. Against the yen, the dollar weakened 0.2% on the day to stand at 113.38 yen, off Monday's high of 114.17 but well above a 10-week low of 111.59 yen touched a week ago. Adding to pressure on the dollar was the resignation of President Donald Trump's national security adviser Michael Flynn, who quit over revelations he had discussed U.S. sanctions against Moscow with the Russian ambassador to the United States before Trump took office, and misled Vice President Mike Pence about the conversations. As Reuters notes, the prospect of Trump-led economic stimulus in the United States has underpinned the dollar and stocks in recent days, powering U.S. equity markets to record highs on Monday and helping Asian shares to eke out 19-month peaks on Tuesday. But the buoyant mood in global markets was tempered somewhat as attention turned to semi-annual testimony by Yellen on Tuesday and Wednesday that could highlight the likelihood of two or more U.S. interest rate hikes this year. Attention now shifts to Yellen’s first Congress appearance since Trump was sworn in, as investors seek clues on whether the Fed will accelerate monetary tightening to make way for the administration’s promised fiscal stimulus. The market will be hoping Janet Yellen doesn't ruin Valentine's Day as today marks her semi-annual testimony to the Senate Banking Panel before she repeats it tomorrow to the House Financial Services Committee. There are probably too many unanswered questions of the new Trump administration’s fiscal plans and also not enough additional hard data to make Yellen deviate much from her January 19th speech and the February 1st FOMC statement. The testimony might instead be used to emphasise that the economy is close to reaching its dual mandate goal and it’s possible that we also get a repeat of the “every meeting is live” mantra, although it would be surprising if Yellen signalled strongly about a March rate hike. Perhaps the most interesting part for markets might be what Yellen says about the Fed’s balance sheet, which as we know has been a topical discussion amongst policymakers of late and also drawn scrutiny from congressional Republicans in the past. The testimony is scheduled for 10am. Dallas Fed President Robert Kaplan on Monday argued the Fed should move soon to avoid falling behind the curve, especially as fiscal policy could drive faster growth and inflation. "If Yellen wants March to be a live meeting as other Fed officials have suggested it is, she will have to adopt a more hawkish tone beyond the usual reference to data dependency," said ING senior rates strategist Martin van Vliet. "Currently we calculate a market implied probability of around 17 percent for a March rate hike." Europe reported Q4 GDP numbers, with German and Italian growth falling short of forecasts, casting doubt on the strength of two of the euro area’s biggest economies amid global uncertainties. German gross domestic product rose a seasonally-adjusted 0.4 percent in the three months through December, while Italian GDP expanded 0.2 percent, according to the nations’ statistics offices. Both figures missed predictions in Bloomberg surveys by 0.1 percentage point. As Bloomberg adds, while Italy has lagged growth in the 19-nation euro area, Germany -- which had annual growth of 1.9 percent last year -- has driven Europe’s slow but steady recovery, aided by a weak euro, cheap oil and the European Central Bank’s stimulus policies. While those tailwinds boosted consumer spending and supported exports, rising inflation pressures and uncertain prospects for global trade have cast doubt over whether the pace of expansion can be maintained. German fourth-quarter GDP was led by domestic demand, the statistics office said. Government spending increased markedly, and households raised consumption slightly. Investment also developed positively, bolstered by building. With imports outpacing exports, net trade was a drag on growth. “The data are alright -- German growth is solid, and impulses came exactly from where we expected them to do,” said Marco Wagner, an economist at Commerzbank AG in Frankfurt. “Growth drivers will be similar in 2017.” Meanwhile, Europe's most battered economy, Greece, suffered yet another unexpected economic contraction with Q4 growth dropping 0.4% after 0.9% growth in Q3, suggesting that once again the country’s stuttering bailout talks are doing nothing to help boost the real economy and dimming hopes that growth is finally back on track. Looking at global markets, the MSCI All-Country index was little changed at 441.02, near its all-time high of 442.70 reached in May 2015. The MSCI's broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan edged up 0.2 percent, trying for its fifth straight session of gains. Japanese shares ran into trouble after Toshiba Corp delayed an anxiously awaited earnings release. As reported earlier, Toshiba said it would take a 712.5 billion yen ($6.28 billion) writedown on its U.S. nuclear business, wiping out its shareholder equity and dragging the company to a full-year loss. There was also some eye-catching data from China, where producer price inflation picked up more than expected in January to near six-year highs, while consumer price inflation neared a three-year high. The Stoxx Europe 600 Index slipped 0.1 percent, after a five-day rally brought it to the highest level in more than a year. Japan’s Topix slipped 1 percent. Toshiba tumbled after delaying a scheduled earnings announcement meant to show how much of a loss the company was facing from its nuclear-equipment operations. Futures on the S&P 500 fell 0.1 percent, after the benchmark index closed up 0.5 percent at a record 2,328.25 on Monday. U.S. stock market futures pointed to a slightly weaker open on Wall Street stock indexes hit historic peaks on Monday, with the benchmark S&P 500's market value topping $20 trillion as investors bet tax cuts promised by Trump would boost the economy. In commodity markets, metals were on a tear thanks to supply disruptions and strong Chinese demand. Copper CMCU3 hit its highest since May 2015 after shipments from the world's two biggest copper mines were disrupted. Iron ore climbed to its since August 2014 amid reports China plans to cut steel capacity by at least half in 28 cities across five regions during the winter heating season. Oil recouped some ground on OPEC-led efforts to cut output, though rising production elsewhere kept prices to a narrow range that has contained them so far this year. U.S. West Texas crude added 22 cents to $53.15 a barrel, having shed 1.7 percent overnight. Brent futures LCOc1 rose 33 cents to $55.90 a barrel. Bulletin Headline Summary From RanSquawk European equities enter the North American crossover with little in the way of direction as market's await Fed Chair Yellen GBP has felt the squeeze during the European session as the latest inflation data hampers investor sentiment Looking ahead, highlights include Fed's Yellen, Lacker, Kaplan and Lockhart Market Snapshot S&P 500 futures down 0.09% to 2,324.25 STOXX Europe 600 down 0.1% to 369.63 German 10Y yield rose 0.5 bps to 0.336% Euro up 0.2% to 1.0619 per US$ Brent Futures up 0.8% to $56.05/bbl Italian 10Y yield fell 4.6 bps to 2.225% Spanish 10Y yield fell 1.1 bps to 1.651% MXAP down 0.2% to 144.03 MXAPJ up 0.1% to 463.54 Nikkei down 1.1% to 19,238.98 Topix down 1% to 1,539.12 Hang Seng Index down 0.03% to 23,703.01 Shanghai Composite up 0.03% to 3,217.93 Sensex down 0.03% to 28,342.16 Australia S&P/ASX 200 down 0.09% to 5,755.24 Kospi down 0.2% to 2,074.57 Brent Futures up 0.8% to $56.05/bbl Gold spot up 0.3% to $1,228.59 U.S. Dollar Index down 0.1% to 100.85 Top News from Bloomberg White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned Monday amid a snowballing controversy over whether he lied about his contacts with a Russian official, throwing President Donald Trump’s security team into turmoil just weeks into his term PSA Group, the maker of Peugeot and Citroen cars, is exploring an acquisition of General Motors Co.’s European business Toshiba Corp chairman Shigenori Shiga will step down amid a 7.125 billion yen ($6.3b) writedown in its nuclear power business, citing cost overruns at a U.S. unit and diminishing prospects for its atomic-energy operations Apple Inc. shares hit a record on optimism the next iPhone will drive a resurgence in sales and help the company’s services businesses grow After posting a 4Q loss of 2.35b francs and taking a charge to settle a U.S. investigation into the role of its mortgage securities business in the 2008 financial crisis, Credit Suisse pledged to cut between 5,500 and 6,500 jobs this year President Donald Trump assured Prime Minister Justin Trudeau that Canada isn’t the main target of his plans to reset U.S. trade relationships, as both leaders said they are committed to maintaining commercial ties and economic integration that support millions of jobs on both sides of the border German and Italian growth fell short of forecasts, casting doubt on the strength of two of the euro area’s biggest economies amid global uncertainties Asia equity markets traded subdued as the region failed to sustain the momentum from Wall Street where stocks extended on record highs and financials outperformed amid a continuation of the reflation trade. ASX 200 (+0.1%) was initially kept afloat by strength in real estate and the mining sector with the latter underpinned following continued advances in iron ore, but then failed to sustain early gains and finished marginally negative while Nikkei 225 (-1.1%) was dampened by a firmer JPY with Toshiba shares slumping after the Co. delayed its earnings release. Shanghai Comp (-0.3%) and Hang Seng (flat) traded subdued despite an increased liquidity injection by the PBoC and stronger than expected Chinese CPI and PPI data which printed multi-year highs, as the firm inflation figures spurred concerns of overheating prices and prospects of tighter policy. 10yr JGBs saw minor gains amid weakness in Japanese stocks, although gains were only minimal with a mixed 5yr auction failing to spur prices while the curve steepened amid underperformance in the super-long end. Top Asia News South Korean Prosecutor Again Seeks to Arrest Samsung’s Lee Noble Group Surges as Trader Confirms Strategic Investor Talks Bank Mandiri Posts First Annual Drop in Profits Since 2005 Top Nickel Shipper Intensifies Mine Crackdown as Prices Rise China H-Share Rally Falters as Inflation Fuels Liquidity Concern Maersk to Expand Online Freight Booking After Partnering Alibaba European stocks traded modestly lower for the majority of the morning, however much of the initial losses have been pared in recent trade. In terms of a stock specific basis, Roll Royce (-5%) lags in the FTSE 100 after announcing a record loss and as such is now on course for its largest one decline in 4-months. Elsewhere, Credit Suisse (+2.5%) outperforms in the SMI after the bank announced that profit before tax came ahead of analyst estimates. while material names are among the worst performers in Europe to pare some of yesterday's advances. Across fixed income markets, price action has been somewhat range bound thus far, however some of the initial downside has been reversed led by gilts amid the aforementioned UK inflation report. Top European News German Economy Grows Slower Than Forecast as Trade Drags Michelin to Raise Dividend as Europe Helps 2016 Profit Increase EDF Profit Beats Estimates After French Utility Lowers Costs U.K. Rejects 1.8 Million-Signature Petition Seeking Ban on Trump Bund Futures Dip, Flows Muted; Downside Bought in Options Germany, Italy Grow Less Than Forecast Amid Global Uncertainties Rolls-Royce Profit Beats Estimates on Cost Cuts, Airbus Lift In currency markets, AUD is firmer this morning in the wake of Chinese inflation figures overnight (Y/Y 2.5% vs. Exp. 2.45) subsequently eyeing last Friday's high (0.7689), while option related barriers are situated at 0.7700 which could curb a move to the upside. GBP has been pressured following a surprise miss on UK inflation (1.8% vs. Exp. 1.9%),which is a blow for the hawkish members of the Bank of England advocating a rate hike. Elsewhere, in terms of data, this morning's disappointing German ZEW survey and Eurozone GDP data failed to provide much in the way of traction for prices. In commodities, gold (+0.2%) prices were mildly higher amid a subdued USD and downturn in risk sentiment, with participants now looking ahead to Fed Chair Yellen's Semi-Annual testimony today. Copper has eroded some of its gains after the red metal reached its highest level since May 2015 due to supply disruptions, meanwhile, WTI crude futures nursed some of yesterday's losses to barely reclaim the USD 53.00/bbl level to the upside. Looking at the day ahead, the main focus will be on the January PPI report where headline PPI is expected to have increased +0.3% mom and the core +0.2%. Away from the data, the big focus for the market and as we mentioned at the top will be on Fed Chair Yellen’s semiannual testimony at 10am. It’s worth also highlighting that we’re due to hear separately from the Fed’s Lacker, Kaplan and Lockhart today too. US Event Calendar 6am: NFIB Small Business Optimism at 105.9, est. 105, prior 105.8 8:30am: PPI Final Demand MoM, est. 0.3%, prior 0.3% PPI Ex Food and Energy MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.2% PPI Ex Food, Energy, Trade MoM, est. 0.2%, prior 0.1% PPI Final Demand YoY, est. 1.5%, prior 1.6% PPI Ex Food and Energy YoY, est. 1.1%, prior 1.6% PPI Ex Food, Energy, Trade YoY, prior 1.7% Central Banks 8:50am: Fed’s Lacker to Speak at University of Delaware 10am: Fed’s Yellen Appears Before Senate Banking Panel 1pm: Dallas Fed’s Kaplan Speaks in Houston 1:15pm: Fed’s Lockhart to Speak on Economy in Huntsville, Alabama DB's Jim Reid concludes the overnight wrap The market will be hoping Mrs Yellen doesn't ruin this special day as today marks her semi-annual testimony to the Senate Banking Panel before she repeats it tomorrow to the House Financial Services Committee. As we discussed yesterday there are probably too many unanswered questions of the new Trump administration’s fiscal plans and also not enough additional hard data to make Yellen deviate much from her January 19th speech and the February 1st FOMC statement. The testimony might instead be used to emphasise that the economy is close to reaching its dual mandate goal and it’s possible that we also get a repeat of the “every meeting is live” mantra, although we’d be surprised if Yellen signalled strongly about a March rate hike. Perhaps the most interesting part for markets might be what Yellen says about the Fed’s balance sheet, which as we know has been a topical discussion amongst policymakers of late and also drawn scrutiny from congressional Republicans in the past. The testimony is scheduled for 10am. Markets look set to go in to today’s main event on a high after the four main US equity markets recorded fresh all time highs once again last night. Indeed the S&P 500 (+0.52%), Dow (+0.70%), Nasdaq (+0.52%) and Russell 2000 (+0.25%) indices all had another positive day with a rally for financials at the heart of that with the S&P 500 Banks index breaking out of the recent range to touch the highest level since February 2008. Tech stocks also had a decent day with Apple closing at its highest price ever, while the telecoms sector was the only sector to retreat. Prior to this moves in Europe had been even more impressive after the Stoxx 600 closed up +0.75% and FTSE MIB (+1.13%) and IBEX (+1.07%) alsorebounded. Meanwhile there appears to be no stopping the Greenback in recent days after the Dollar index (+0.19%) rose for the ninth consecutive session, the longest streak since November when the index rose for ten sessions in a row. Treasury yields also continue to inch higher with 10y yields finishing 2.9bps higher yesterday at 2.436%. Yields are now 11bps off the lows of last week. With newsflow light there wasn’t a huge amount to drive markets yesterday leaving investors to instead debate the potential for hawkish appointees to the FOMC. Former Fed official Alan Blinder said that Trump’s administration could “really transform the board” with three spots now to fill. Interestingly Blinder also said that Yellen could look to signal a possible March rate hike at the testimony today with the clue being if she talks more than usual about inflation. Markets barely responded to that comment though with the market pricing in a low 30% probability according to Bloomberg of a hike (although other measures suggest the probability is lower). Elsewhere, in commodity markets it was another overall decent day for base metals with Copper (+0.26%), Nickel (+0.66%) and Lead (+0.83%) continuing to edge higher. Even more eye catching was the rally for Iron Ore (+6.48%) which has now surged past $90/tn and touched the highest level since August 2014. Energy was however a bit of an underperformer yesterday with WTI Oil (-1.73%) back below $53/bbl despite Saudi Arabia announcing that it had cut production by more than it pledged last month under the OPEC agreement. This morning in Asia the positive momentum has generally faded as the session has progressed. The Nikkei (-0.55%), Shanghai Comp (-0.26%), ASX (-0.10%) and Kospi (-0.25%) are in the red while the Hang Seng is little changed. Despite markets being quiet there has been some data out of China this morning though with the January inflation numbers released. CPI has printed at +2.5% yoy which is not only up from +2.1% in December, but also a tenth ahead of expectations and the highest since May 2014. Meanwhile the remarkable increase in producer prices has continued with PPI rising to +6.9% (vs. +6.5% expected) from +5.5%. That is the highest rate of growth since August 2011, with last month’s rise helped by a 31% surge for mining products prices. After 54 months of negative PPI prints January marked the fifth consecutive month of expansion for producer prices. Away from that we’ve also had the news of the first personnel casualty from the Trump administration with National Security Adviser Michael Flynn announcing his resignation. This follows the controversy surrounding the allegations of improper conduct with Russian officials according to Bloomberg. Moving on. While yesterday was a fairly quiet day for newsflow, European politics continues to be one to watch. In France the latest Opinionway poll, released yesterday, showed that a second-round vote between Macron and Le Pen would have the former coming out on top at 63% versus 37%. Interestingly a second round vote between Fillon and Le Pen showed Fillon coming out on top at 58% versus 42% - that is the highest second round vote percentage for Fillon in Opinonway polls this year (a total of 7 separate polls). Meanwhile in Germany there was some criticism from the CDU about new SPD leader Schulz’s prior support for Eurobonds in the single currency bloc as a way of relieving its debt crisis. A CDU campaign manager said yesterday that the party intends to remind voters ahead of the election later this year that Schulz has long pushed for the introduction of EU wide debt. A reminder too then that German political developments will only likely pick up in the months to come. Elsewhere, in Greece there wasn’t much in the way of developments yesterday, rather it was some strong words from Bank of Greece Governor Stournaras which seemed to stoke a near 50bps sell off in Greek 2y yields. The Governor warned that “any further delay in completion beyond this month will feed a new circle of uncertainty” and that “such a vicious circle could return the economy to recession and a rerun of the negative developments that took place in the first half of 2015”. As we noted yesterday the ball is back with the Greek government and we’ll have to wait to see further response from Tsipras’ administration as to the route they decide to take in the face of the demands from creditors. Before we look at today’s calendar, the FT ran an interesting story yesterday suggesting that the EU and other US trading partners have already began early stage work for a potential legal challenge over the US border tax proposal in what the FT suggest could be the biggest case in WTO history. The article suggests that the basis of the argument is that the Republican plan is “definitely not compatible with global trade rules”, notwithstanding the fact that a tax change would lead to a major challenger to the global trading system. One to perhaps keep an eye on. Looking at the day ahead, there’s a fair bit of data to get through in Europe this morning. We’ll be kicking things off in Germany where we’ll get the preliminary Q4 GDP print (consensus for +0.5% qoq) and also the final revisions to the January CPI report. After that attention turns over to the UK where the January inflation data dump is due out with CPI, PPI and RPI prints all released. Thereafter we’ll get Euro area Q4 GDP (+0.5% qoq expected) and industrial production data, as well as the February ZEW survey out of Germany. Over in the US this afternoon the main focus will be on the January PPI report where headline PPI is expected to have increased +0.3% mom and the core +0.2%. The NFIB small business optimism reading will also be released. Away from the data, the big focus for the market and as we mentioned at the top will be on Fed Chair Yellen’s semiannual testimony at 3pm GMT. It’s worth also highlighting that we’re due to hear separately from the Fed’s Lacker (at 1.50pm GMT), Kaplan (at 6pm GMT) and Lockhart (at 6.15pm GMT) today too.
Бельгийский банк KBC Group заявил, что приобретет у греческого представителя отрасли National Bank of Greece кредитора United Bulgarian Bank и компанию Interlease. Сообщается, что сумма сделки составит 610 млн евро ($637,7 млн), а ее закрытие намечено на второй квартал 2017 г.
The CBI’s December manufacturing survey was stronger than expected, signalling strength in the economy as 2016 draws to a closeDrugs company Actavis scrutinised for price hikesIfo raises forecasts for German growthFTSE climbs back above 7,000Eurozone inflation confirmed at 0.6% in NovemberInsee: French business confidence rises 6.13pm GMT American drillers added oil rigs for the seventh week in a row last week.The Baker Hughes rig survey showed 12 oil rigs and one gas were added, as the crude price recovery encouraged further drilling activity. Oil rigs have been added in 26 of the past 29 weeks.US Oil Rig Count Surges As Crude Production Reaches 7-Month Highs https://t.co/JS8KQkB8Ib 4.58pm GMT Despite US markets coming off their best levels - perhaps following a report China seized an underwater US drone in the South China Sea - European shares have ended the week on a fairly positive note. The final scores showed: Continue reading...
*ECB LEAVES MAIN REFINANCING RATE UNCHANGED AT 0% *ECB WILL BUY EU60 BILLION ASSETS A MONTH FROM APR TO DEC *ECB REDUCES MONTHLY PACE OF QE TO EU60 BILLION STARTING APRIL *ECB SAYS IT MAY INCREASE SIZE OR DURATION OF PROGRAM IF NEEDED *ECB: MAY INCREASE PROGRAM IN TERMS OF SIZE, DURATION IF OUTLOOK LESS FAVORABLE *ECB LOWERS EMERGENCY FUNDING CAP FOR GREEK BANKS BY 200 MLN EUROS TO 50.7 BLN EUROS- BANK OF GREECE А тепреь по-русски.. ЕЦБ может увеличить объем программы выкупа или ее срок при необходимости, ставка неизменна, программу с апреля режут до 60 ярдов ( с апреля по декабрь ) Ждемс Драги в 16-30. Он дласт пояснения.. подписываемся на twitter.com/GusevSSergey и лайки лайки..
Maximos Mansion Athens, Greece 4:20 P.M. EET PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) I want to thank the American President, Barack Obama, very warmly for visiting Greece and for choosing Athens, the birthplace of democracy, for one of his last stops before concluding his eight-year term as the American President. The presidency, during which the image of the United States of America around the world has changed -- even in this country, where, during the Cold War era, Greek-American relations accumulated heavy, historical burden -- a very heavy, historical burden. And I think it was a historic moment when, during the previous visit of an American President in Greece in 1999, President Clinton recognized the errors of the U.S. as regards the dictatorship in Greece. Because the Americans -- the Greek people do not only relate to the ancient traditions; they have fought -- they have shed blood until recently to defend the values of democracy and freedom, which are our common values. Therefore, Greece is now welcoming an American President who, throughout his term in office, has strongly defended these values; who has fought for the rights of all people, irrespective of color, religion, or sexual orientation; who has worked in order to deal with climate change. A President who has integrated millions of Americans into health care. A President who has put his strength and his influence behind a humanitarian solution of the great refugee crisis, the greatest after World War II. And I should also like to point out -- because this is very important to Greece -- this is a President who, when he had to deal with the 2008 economic crisis, has led the American economy on a completely different path than the one that Europe has chosen. Eight years later, the result is more than visible -- (inaudible) easing, commitment to employment, which was the choice of the United States, have led to impressive growth rates and decline in unemployment. While on the other side, the insistence of European leaders to austerity policies keeps the European economies trapped in stagnation, and it, therefore, brings about huge political and social problems. And it is in this respect that I had the opportunity to discuss with President Obama about the huge challenges that our country but also the whole of Europe is dealing with. These are challenges that need to be dealt with collectively, decisively, and effectively. Otherwise we will be led backwards from a political and a social point of view. We have, therefore, agreed that for modern societies to have help and hope and aspirations is the only reply against the increasing trend in skepticism and inward-looking, which is a threat to modern democracies. The international community, when trying to avoid historic mistakes of the past, saw this issue clearly when, in 1953, and with the assistance and support of the United States of America, they settled the German debt and they linked it to a growth clause. Today, the strong Germany, which is the financial powerhouse of Europe, should think in the same manner. Greece and the Greek people have recently had to deal with the harshest consequences of the global and European economic crisis. As an economy and as a society, we have had to experience a program of disastrous austerity, which made the problems more acute instead of resolving them. Within a few years, we have lost 25 percent of our GDP while, in 2004, unemployment went up to 27 percent. Today, and despite what we have suffered, we are still standing. We were able, through great sacrifices, to avoid the threats and the threatened disaster, and we are, step by step, restoring our economy. Today, for the first time in years, we are back to growth. Slowly but surely, we are decreasing unemployment and we are restoring confidence to the future of the Greek economy. About 18 months ago, although we were a young government, we were asked to take very difficult decisions. And with this opportunity, I want to recognize publicly the role and the contribution of President Obama, during those difficult moments, to recognize his moral and political support he gave to my government in the effort to find a political solution. Difficult decisions were made not only in order to keep our country in the Eurozone but also in order to maintain the cohesion of the European Union. And I believe that our decisions were right, as shown by history. We have made difficult reforms in the social security, in taxation, in public administration, but we have always taken measures to fight corruption, to attract investment, to create a better context for investment in Greece. We will continue to decisively promote reforms that will promote growth. And at the same time, we will continue to negotiate hard in order to avoid any reforms that would undermine growth. But what is more important to all of us is that society should understand, should feel the results of all that and to make the burden to the weak members of society lighter, and also, for the younger and productive generation, because after seven years, people cannot take any more austerity. The important reduction of the Greek debt, the reduction of the surpluses which are expected of us in the future and the participation of the Bank of Greece in the quantitative easing program are rightfully -- should be rightfully different to Greece. And the time to do that is now. And from this point of view, I think that it is not only symbolic, but it is also very important that Barack Obama is now in Athens and the day after tomorrow will be in Berlin at this very critical point in time when decisions are expected -- decisions that not only concern Greece, they concern Europe and therefore the global economy. Cooperation and solidarity are necessary requirements in order to bring about the solutions that will once again bring stability to the European integration and bring it back to the track of growth. And in relation to that, President Obama and I discussed a number of important issues such as the continuation of our bilateral economic and business cooperation. More specifically, the important potential for investments in Greece in a series of sectors, such as energy, tourism, agro-food, research and technology. We also discussed the future where Greece, with its important shipping power, can become an important transit center for trade, transport and energy, linking Europe to Asia and to North Africa. We also discussed the important projects and the way which upgrade the role of our country on the energy map, such as the TAP, the IGB pipelines, the upgrading of the LNG terminal, and the FSRU -- which is now being designed. Also, we discussed the possibility of opening new natural gas corridors in the Eastern Mediterranean, which will play an important role to peace and stability in our region. We have also discussed the excellent Greek human potential -- human capital -- and especially young scientists. We have stressed the huge potential opening for the cooperation between the American and the Greek business communities in the fields of innovation and start-up companies in Greece. And we have also discussed the current regional developments, the great challenges in security, migration, the need to strengthen our cooperation on these issues. We have discussed the critical role that Greece plays as a pillar of peace and security in a region where stabilization is on the grow. It's a country of Europe, of the Eastern Mediterranean, of the Balkans, of the wider Black Sea neighborhood, which promotes -- steadily promotes bilateral and, alongside Cyprus, the tripartite cooperation with all the countries of the region on the basis of international law. A country which is using its role as an active member of the EU and NATO to promote peace, stability and security in the region, and which is gradually strengthening its role in order to promote border security and cooperation against terrorism. A country which, despite its financial difficulties, has offered support to hundreds of thousands of refugees who arrived on its shores. A country which, when the Balkan corridor was unilaterally closed, and despite the pressure exercised on it to violate our common values, still insists that the only way to deal with the refugee issue is respect for international law, cooperation with transit countries and countries of origin, and dealing with the origins of migration -- with the regions of migration. And in this framework, we have discussed the importance of implementing the EU-Turkey agreement and continuation of NATO operations in the Aegean. We have stressed the need to do whatever possible to promote peace and stability in Syria, Iraq and Libya. The hardship, the fighting against Libyans should stop, and terrorism should be fought decisively. We have also stressed the need to restart the talks on the Middle East issue. And in this framework, I have underscored my commitment to dialogue and cooperation with our neighbor in Turkey, a country that plays an important role for the future of our region. But I still stress that the promotion of these important relations can only take place on the basis of mutual respect, without threats of war and questioning of sovereign rights. And of course, we have discussed the Cyprus issue, the need to find a fair and viable solution on the basis of U.N. resolutions and compatible with the fact that Cyprus is an EU member state. We have therefore expressed our support for the very important, critical bicommunal talks which are underway. Tomorrow I will be meeting President Anastasiades who will be in Athens. We need to be very careful at this very critical point in relation to these talks, because important issues are still pending. Our objective is to achieve a solution that will benefit all of the Cypriots and a solution that will promote the confidence-building on the island. And this, in our view, cannot happen without the departure of the occupation army and without doing away with the obsolete system of guarantees. So before I conclude I should like to once more thank President Obama for opting to visit our country. I would like now to remember the words of another important American President, who, during the previous century, had to fight in order to deal with challenges similar to the current ones -- security, economic crisis or migration of movements of populations. And he had said that real freedom for people can only exist whenever there is security and independence. And he had also said that famine and unemployment are the raw material for dictatorships. These words are very topical nowadays. And I am certain about peoples who are committed to common values will fight in every way to deter any possibility of us going back to history. It is our duty to make a leap into the future, and I believe that we will make it. Thank you. PRESIDENT OBAMA: Kalispera. Thank you, Prime Minister Tsipras, for your kind words and for welcoming me to Athens today. I’ve always wanted to come to Greece, and I’m delighted to be able to make this part of my last trip overseas as President of the United States. I think we all know that the world owes an enormous debt to Greece and the Greek people. So many of our ideas of democracy, so much of our literature and philosophy and science can be traced back to roots right here in Athens. I’m told there is a saying from those ancient times -- kalos kai agathos -- when someone or something is good and beautiful on the outside, but also good and noble on the inside, in terms of character and in terms of purpose. And I think that’s a fine description of the friendship that exists between the Greek people and the American people. The ideas of ancient Greece helped inspire America’s Founding Fathers as they reached for democracy. Our revolutionary ideas helped inspire Greeks as they sought their own freedom, and Americans came here to help fight for Greek independence. At the dawn of the Cold War, when President Truman committed the United States to the defense of Greece, he said, “I believe that we must assist free peoples to work out their own destinies in their own way.” To this day, the United States is profoundly grateful for our friendship and alliance with Greece. And I’m personally very grateful to my many friends in the Greek American community --sons and daughters of Hellenes who have found success in every walk of American life. And, Alexis, I want to thank you for your commitment to our alliance and for the good work that we did today. As the Prime Minister already noted, we spent much of our time discussing the economic situation here in Greece and how Greece can continue to move forward. I know this has been a painful and difficult time, especially for Greek workers and families, pensioners and young people. This crisis is not an abstraction, but has had a very concrete and devastating impact on the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across this country. In our meeting, Alexis outlined next steps, including reforms to make Greece more attractive to investment and to prevent the kind of imbalances that led to the debt crisis in the first place. In other words, Greece, under his leadership, continues to do the hard work necessary to recover. At the same time, I’ve been clear from the beginning of this crisis that in order to make reforms sustainable, the Greek economy needs the space to return to growth and start creating jobs again. We cannot simply look to austerity as a strategy. And it is incredibly important that the Greek people see improvements in their daily lives, so that they can carry with them the hope that their lives will get better. And in this context, as Greece continues reform, the IMF has said that debt relief is crucial. I will continue to urge creditors to take the steps needed to put Greece on a path towards a durable economic recovery, because it is in all of our interests that Greece succeeds. We all want the Greek people to prosper, to be able to provide a good life for their families and their children. That would be good for Greece. That would be good for the European Union, good for the United States, and ultimately, good for the world. Beyond economic issues, we discussed the pressing security challenges that we face as NATO allies. I want to take this opportunity to commend Greece for being one of the five NATO allies that spends 2 percent of GDP of defense -- a goal that we have consistently set, but not everybody has met. Greece has done this even during difficult economic times. If Greece can meet this NATO commitment, all our allies should be able to do so. We also discussed the need to continue sharing intelligence to help prevent terrorist attacks; the importance of keeping sanctions, including EU sanctions, in place until Russia is fully implemented the Minsk agreement, along with Ukraine. As I did privately with Alexis, I want to thank the Greek people publicly for their humanitarian response to the crisis of so many migrants and refugees seeking safety in Europe. Greeks, especially on the islands, have shown extraordinary compassion and they’ve rightly earned the admiration of the world. Again, Greeks have done so even as they’ve faced their own great economic hardships. And that's a testament, I think, to their solidarity and commitment to treating people with kindness and fairness. Prime Minister Tsipras has made commitments to increase housing for unaccompanied children and to improve access to education for children who are migrants and refugees. And in these goals, it's an obligation of the United States to help because this cannot be viewed just as a Greek problem, this is an international problem. And I reaffirmed my support to help in any ways that we can, including reaffirming support for the deal between the EU and Turkey that can manage arrivals in Europe in a way that is orderly and humane. Finally, as Alexis mentioned, we discussed Cyprus, where the prospects for a just, comprehensive and lasting settlement are the best that they've been for some time. It doesn't mean that success is guaranteed, but the possibility of resolving a decades' long conflict is there. And we urge the parties to continue their work. The interests of all Cypriots would be advanced with a bi-zonal, bi-communal federation. We’re hopeful that a solution that’s durable, which would create new economic opportunities for all the people across Cyprus is within reach. And it would be a powerful example to the world of what’s possible with diplomacy and compromise. So, again, Mr. Prime Minister, thank you for welcoming me. Thank you for your partnership. The Greek people have gone through some very difficult times, and there's still a hard road ahead. But despite those hardships, Greece has continued to be a reliable ally, has shown true compassion to fellow human beings in need. It's an example of the Greek character. And I'm looking forward to the opportunity to say more to the Greek people in a speech that I'll deliver tomorrow. For now, on behalf of the American people, just let me say that we are proud to count Greece as one of our closest allies and one of our greatest friends. Efharisto. Q I want to take you seven, eight years back, when you entered the White House, the unemployment -- the rate of the unemployment was 6 percent, the next two years up to 11.6, and today you manage to leave it back with 5 percent, which is the lowest ever -- 4.9. But typically of your country, you want us to- 2.6 per year. So on the contrary -- of course, there is nothing to compare between Greek and United States economy -- but on the contrary, Greece the last seven years is following the treatment of the financial institutions -- the foreign financial institutions, and we're still in the eye of the storm of the recession. So at the same time, there is no discussion about the debt relief. So my question is, how far this economy can go with this reform programs without any discussion of debt relief? How far this relationship between Greece and the foreign institutions can last? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, you're right that you can't entirely compare between the United States and Greece for a range of reasons -- not just because of the size of the economy. We went through a very severe contraction. We were losing 800,000 jobs a month when I came into office. In fact, the economy was contracting faster than it did during the Great Depression. But we were able to intervene, apply lessons learned, and stabilize and then begin growth again. But I do believe that one of the lessons we tried to apply is that it is important to combine structural reforms and good fiscal stewardship with a growth strategy. Because when your economy is growing and more revenue is coming in, that helps relieve debt. And sometimes if your only approach is cutting spending at a time when the economy is contracting, then the economy will contract further and that could add debt. Now, the advantage we had is that the dollar is the reserve currency in the world. Even in the midst of crisis, people were still buying U.S. Treasury bills. We were not part of a broader arrangement like the Eurozone. So it gave us some additional flexibility. But the key lesson that we've drawn from our experience -- and it's true that we recovered faster and better, frankly, than most of Europe -- is that particularly when the economy is still struggling, putting people back to work, finding ways to spur economic activity ultimately can help to reduce the structural deficits and debts that countries experience. I think the path that Greece is currently on is the right one. You've engaged in some very difficult structural reforms. And I think the Greek people, although it is difficult and challenging and the politics of it I know are not good, should appreciate the fact that in this global economy, the Greek economy was going to have to go through some structural reforms. We all do, all the time. The United States has to go through structural reforms in terms of improving our education system, or revamping our infrastructure, or looking at some regulations that weren't properly controlling excesses on Wall Street. So we initiated more health care reform -- we had to initiate a whole range of structural reforms. They're not the same as the ones that Greece has had to do, but these were necessary reforms. And the Prime Minister and his government being willing to move forward on those I think will lead to Greece being more competitive and a more attractive place for investment in the future. And the Greek people are entrepreneurial. There are enormous resources in this country. My hope is, is that more and more investors around the world see an opportunity to do business here in Greece. But even as you have those structural reforms, our argument has always been that when an economy contracted this fast, when unemployment is this high, that there also has to be a growth agenda to go with it. And it is very difficult to imagine the kind of growth strategy that's needed without some debt-relief mechanism. Now, the politics of this are difficult in Europe. And I think in fairness to some of the governments up north that I know are not always popular here in Greece, it's important to recognize that they have their own politics. And their populations and their institutions often are resistant to some of these debt-relief formulas. But I think that having seen Greece begin many of these difficult steps toward structural reform, having shown a commitment to change, with the Greek people having endured some significant hardships for many years now, there should be an opportunity I think for both sides to recognize that if we can come up with a durable solution, as opposed to each year or every six months having a new negotiation, that that could potentially be good for everyone. And now that the Greek economy is growing again, the timing may be right. Q Thank you, Mr. President. A lot of people in Europe are still struggling to understand what happened on November 8th in the United States. Do you believe it's the exact same dynamic as Brexit, which happened six months before? And does it have to do with leaders struggling to read the mood of their country? Do you have the feeling that, while in power, you underestimated anger or resentment or fear in America? And to you, Prime Minister Tsipras, President Obama has you repeatedly said, including today, that Greece should get substantial debt relief. From your conversation with him today, are you hopeful that he might convince Chancellor Merkel to make the move in that regard later this week? PRESIDENT OBAMA: No two countries are identical. And obviously there's a difference between a referendum on a very complex relationship between Great Britain and the rest of Europe, and a presidential election in the United States. Presidential elections always turn on personalities. They turn on how campaigns are run. They turn on natural desires for change. If you've had an incumbent who has been there for eight years, there's a temptation to think, well, let's maybe make a change. I think there are a whole range of factors involved. But I do think that there is a common theme that we've seen in a lot of advanced economies and that we've seen around the world, although they manifest themselves in different ways. Globalization, combined with technology, combined with social media and constant information, have disrupted people’s lives, sometimes in very concrete ways -- a manufacturing plant closes and suddenly an entire town no longer has what was the primary source of employment -- but also psychologically. People are less certain of their national identities or their place in the world. It starts looking different and disoriented. And there is no doubt that that has produced populist movements, both from the left and the right, in many countries in Europe. When you see a Donald Trump and a Bernie Sanders -- very unconventional candidates -- have considerable success, then obviously there's something there that's being tapped into. A suspicion of globalization, a desire to rein in its excesses, a suspicion of elites and governing institutions that people feel may not be responsive to their immediate needs. And that sometimes gets wrapped up in issues of ethnic identity or religious identity or cultural identity. And that can be a volatile mix. It's important to recognize, though, that those trends have always been there. And it's the job I think of leaders to try to address people's real, legitimate concerns and channel them in the most constructive ways possible. Did I recognize that there was anger or frustration in the American population? Of course, I did. First of all, we had to fight back from the worst recession since the Great Depression, and I can guarantee you, if your housing values have crashed and you've lost most of your pension and you've lost your job, you're going to be pretty angry. And so we fought back and recovered. But that left I think fear and anxiety in a lot of people -- a sense that the economy wasn't as certain as it could be, and maybe the game was rigged on Wall Street or by special interests in Washington, or what have you. And that's been there. I was also aware of it because of the fact that you've seen some of the rhetoric among public and elected officials and activists and media -- some of it pretty troubling and not necessarily connected to facts, but being used effectively to mobilize people. And obviously President-elect Trump tapped into that particular strain within the Republican Party and then was able to broaden that enough and get enough votes to win the election. The lesson I draw -- and I think people can draw a lot of lessons, but maybe one that cuts across countries is we have to deal with issues like inequality. We have to deal with issues of economic dislocation. We have to deal with people's fears that their children won't do as well as they have. The more aggressively and effectively we deal with those issues, the less those fears may channel themselves into counterproductive approaches that pit people against each other. And frankly, that's been my agenda for the last eight years. I think raising wages, investing in infrastructure, making sure that people have access to a good education that will equip them for the jobs of the future -- those are all agenda items that would help alleviate some of those economic pressures and dislocations that people are experiencing. The problem was I couldn't convince the Republican Congress to pass a lot of them. Now, having said that, people seem to think I did a pretty good job. And so there is this mismatch I think between frustration and anger. Perhaps the view of the American people was that we just need to shake things up. Time will now tell whether the prescriptions that are being offered -- whether Brexit or with respect to the U.S. election -- ends up actually satisfying those people who have been fearful or angry or concerned. And I think that's going to be an interesting test, because I think I can make a pretty strong argument that the policies we put forward were the right ones and we've grown faster than just about any advanced economy. The country is indisputably better off, and those folks who voted for the President-elect are better off than they were when I came into office, for the most part. But we'll see whether those facts affect people's calculations in the next election. PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: You asked if I believe that Angela Merkel could be convinced to make which are the necessary steps for the recovery of the Greek economy. Well, my answer is I'm very optimistic, and this for two reasons. Number one, Angela Merkel is a German politician, and Germans sometimes insist -- sometimes they are disagreeable but they insist that the agreements must be honored. And what is expected to happen with Greece is that which was agreed last July-August in the summer of 2015, that was as soon as Greece shows that it has decided to proceed with the courageous and difficult reforms, that when the first and most difficult review is completed, then decisions will be taken, measures will be implemented to reduce -- to provide debt relief to Greece, so that Greece can go out into the money markets and for growth to return at a very high rate in the Greek eco. So the first reason for my optimism is that just like the German finance minister used to say -- this is a Latin expression, which we sometimes use, where although we have learned not Latin but Ancient Greek in our schools. The second reason for which I'm optimistic is that I have met Angela Merkel in person -- so has Barack Obama. We worked very close together during the period of the huge refugee crisis. Our cooperation is very good, and therefore I'm of the opinion that she is a responsible politician, a politician who has a sense of responsibility for Europe, and not only for Germany or for her political party. And this was the manner in which she dealt with the refugee crisis, with a deep sense of responsibility on the future of Europe and on stability. And for these two important reasons, I do expect that she will be convinced that these two necessary steps must be made -- two steps that will not be a burden to German taxpayers -- so that Greece can become not a part of the problem but a part of the solution for security, for growth and for solving the refugee issue, for which Greece plays an important role. And that is why I'm optimistic, and I expect my optimism to be realized. Q You said many times, Mr. President, that the way the Europeans handled the economy -- the economic crisis had the opposite effect. And also, you talked many times against the austerity. And, of course, you are right. Why, in your opinion, you didn’t succeed to convince the Europeans to follow your way? And what are you going to do the last two months to help Greece and the Greek people? Also, I have a short question about Cyprus -- both of you, you talk about Cyprus. And it's an issue for me because I was born in Cyprus. How can you convince the President of Turkey to end the occupation of Cyprus, Mr. President? PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, let me take the second question first. This is ultimately a negotiation between Cypriots -- Turkish Cypriots and Greek Cypriots. And the good news is that you have two leaders who seem genuinely committed to finding compromises and an approach that would serve both their peoples well. If, in fact, you can see a meeting of the minds between them, then the issue will be can we make sure that all of us, the international community -- Turkey, Greece, the United States -- support that agreement in a way that can be ratified by both sides. And we have invested a lot of time. Vice President Biden has been actively involved in this. We are encouraged by the progress that's been made. I think there's a window in the next few weeks, months, where this issue was actually resolved. And I think if we can find an equitable solution, it won't provide 100 percent of what either side wants, there may be some mechanisms for a transition from the status quo to the future that both sides envision, but I think it's achievable. And we're going to do everything we can to support the process. With respect to the economy and Europe, again, I think it's important to recognize that in some ways my job was simpler because, at least in the first two years, I had majorities of my party controlling Congress. And I'm just one country. So Congress is hard to deal with. Dealing with multiple parliaments and commissions and unions, and this and that and the other -- that's very complicated. And so the need, I think, to operate by consensus, the fact that not all European countries were similarly situated, even though their economy shared a currency, that made their task more difficult. And so I want to make sure that I'm clear that I don't envy the hard job that each European leader had in circumstances that oftentimes they had inherited. What I've tried to do is just offer our best thinking, whether it's in resolving problems in banks quickly -- because the quicker you resolve the problems with banks and there's transparency in that process, the faster they recapitalize and are able to make investments. When the economy is shrinking, providing jobs, spending on things like infrastructure can actually increase revenue and drive down debt. And then there's going to be a time at which point that has to be taken care of. I mean, for example, in the United States, our deficits went up in those first two years because we were engaging in a lot of emergency spending. Our deficit has now been reduced by two-thirds, primarily because we started growing again and we started taking in more tax revenue. So there's some lessons I think that are applicable for all countries. And what we've just tried to do is offer the best advice that we can, understanding that when you're dealing with multiple nations but a single currency, and then a European Union, where some people are in the currency and some people are not in the currency, and a European Parliament and European Council -- that's a lot of meetings. PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) I will fully agree with what President Obama has just said in answering the question about Cyprus. It is not a bilateral issue. It is not a problem between Greece and Turkey. It's an international problem, which has been going on for 42 years -- as long as I'm alive -- and it is a problem of illegal invasion and occupation of the northern part of Cyprus. We make our best, we do our best to encourage both sides to help them reach a fair and equitable solution. In my first visit to Cyprus as a Prime Minister, I tried and I did meet over and above the leaders of the Republic of Cyprus, a number of representatives of the Turkish Cypriot community. And I think that that was the first time that a Greek Prime Minister was meeting with them. We are interested in making sure that the people of Cyprus will be able to live in a reunited Cyprus where they are free, where there's a democracy, freedom, and Cyprus is a member of the European Union. So I would like to make it clear that as it regards Greece, we are in favor of a solution. We stand by the side of President Anastasiades, who is making the effort, and we are only ready to discuss with Turkey the part which is relevant to us -- that is the guarantees. Because since 1959, since 1960, this obsolete issue of guarantees also concerns Greece. But Greece is not the country which has occupied and illegally -- invaded and illegally occupied Cyprus. So I believe that a fair and sustainable solution means a solution without the permanent presence of Turkish troops on the island. And at the same time, I think that the best guarantee for the Cypriot people to feel safe is the potential of a fair and sustainable solution. And if this happens, things will change not only for Cyprus but for the wider region in general Greek-Turkish relations. This is how we are proceeding. I believe that, yes, President Erdogan plays an important role, but it is not my responsibility to convince him. Q Mr. President, ever since the election there have been protests on the streets of the United States. And earlier this year, Matt Lauer asked you if you believed you helped create the environment for Donald Trump to run. And you answered, talk to me if he wins about how responsible I feel about it. I wonder, do you feel any responsibility for the election of Donald Trump? And in the broader context, when you see his election, when you look at politicians like Theresa May, Marine Le Pen, do you believe that it is either a movement away from or an outright rejection of your world view? And, Mr. Prime Minister, you've also talked about your concerns about the rise of the extreme right in general. And about Donald Trump, in particular, you said, I hope we will not face this evil. Do you believe Donald Trump or his ideas are still evil? And if so, do you believe your comments and the comments of other European leaders will make it more difficult for you to work with him? Thank you. PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, first of all, I think it's fair to say that I was surprised by the election results, and I've said so. I still don't feel responsible for what the President-elect says or does. But I do feel a responsibility as President of the United States to make sure that I facilitate a good transition and I present to him as well as the American people my best thinking, my best ideas about how you move the country forward, to speak out with respect to areas where I think the Republican Party is wrong, but to pledge to work with them on those things that I think will advance the causes of security and prosperity and justice and inclusiveness in America. I think it's important not to start drawing parallels, for example, between Theresa May -- a fairly traditional conservative politician, who is now prime minister -- and Le Pen in France. Those aren't the same, and the situation in each country is different. I do think, as I've said before, that history doesn't move in a straight line. It zigs and zags and sometimes goes forward and sometimes moves back, sideways. I think at times of significant stress, people are going to be looking for something -- and they don't always know exactly what it is that they're looking for -- and they may opt for change even if they're not entirely confident what that change will bring. As you know, throughout my presidency, I'm sure as a matter of convenience, I generally haven't paid a lot of attention to the polls. But since your question is directly related to the notion of a rejection of my world view, last I checked a pretty healthy majority of the American people agree with my world view on a whole bunch of things. And I know that that begs the question, well, how is it that somebody who appears to have a very different world view just got elected? As I said, sometimes people just feel as if we want to try something to see if we can shake things up. And that, I suspect, was a significant phenomenon. I do believe, separate and apart from any particular election or movement, that we are going to have to guard against a rise in a crude sort of nationalism or ethnic identity or tribalism that is built around an "us" and a "them." And I will never apologize for saying that the future of humanity and the future of the world is going to be defined by what we have in common as opposed to those things that separate us and ultimately lead us into conflict. Take Europe. We know what happens when Europeans start dividing themselves up, and emphasizing their differences, and seeing a competition between various countries in a zero-sum way. The 20th century was a bloodbath. And for all the frustrations and failures of the project to unify Europe, the last five decades have been periods of unprecedented peace, growth and prosperity in Europe. In the United States, we know what happens when we start dividing ourselves along lines of race or religion or ethnicity. It's dangerous. Not just for the minority groups that are subjected to that kind of discrimination or, in some cases in the past, violence, but because we then don't realize our potential as a country when we're preventing blacks or Latinos or Asians or gays or women from fully participating in the project of building American life. So my vision is right on that issue. And it may not always win the day in the short term in any particular political circumstance, but I'm confident it will win the day over the long term. Because societies in which we are able to unify ourselves around values and ideals and character, and how we treat each other, and cooperation and innovation ultimately are going to be more successful than societies that don’t. That's my strong belief. And I think I've got pretty good evidence to prove it. PRIME MINISTER TSIPRAS: (As interpreted.) To be honest, I know very little of Donald Trump. I got to know his aggressive manner and the manner in which he defended some unconventional points of view during the election period. Some have told me that I should have read his book before going to bargain in Brussels -- "The Art of the Deal." I didn't. But I don't think that that was decisive to the result. Still, let me point out that it was one thing what we knew about Donald Trump when he was seeking to become the candidate for the Republican Party; another thing during the election period; and now that he is the President-elect; and it's quite another when he will be the President of a country that is a major player, a global player. So that is why, contrary to some of my colleagues in Europe, I did not rush to repeat some of the criticisms that many of us have made during the election period about Donald Trump. Ultimately, that if someone would want to rapidly change the foreign policy of a country such as the United States -- which is very difficult -- although some of us in Europe may fear that this may happen, what we should be doing is build bridges, not walls. We are proceeding on the basis of common values. We have more to gain from partnership, from promoting our partnership in dealing with the big global challenges. I, therefore, believe in the near future, not much is going to change in the relations between the EU, Greece and the United States of America. These are relations that were forged under very difficult conditions and rely on the common values of our people. END 5:25 P.M. EET
People are turning their backs on what used to be a pillar of the country’s economy and society: real estate.
Греческий кредитор National Bank of Greece зафиксировал убыток во втором квартале в связи с увеличением резервов на покрытие "плохих" кредитов. Так, убыток составил 23 млн евро ($25,7 млн) по сравнению с чистой прибылью в 26 млн евро кварталом ранее.
Греческий кредитор National Bank of Greece зафиксировал убыток во втором квартале в связи с увеличением резервов на покрытие "плохих" кредитов. Так, убыток составил 23 млн евро ($25,7 млн) по сравнению с чистой прибылью в 26 млн евро кварталом ранее.
ATHENS, Greece ― Several hundred radical activists and labor union members gathered Tuesday on the anniversary of last summer’s Greek referendum vote to protest the government’s agreement to a new European austerity package against what they say were the Greek public’s wishes. In the wake of the British public’s vote for a Brexit, or exit from the European Union, the protest was a reminder that the wave of Euroscepticism sweeping the continent is as much rooted in anger over the EU’s program of fiscal austerity and disregard for public opinion as it is in xenophobia and concern about immigration. The crowd grew larger as marchers paraded past the Greek parliament building and the National Garden of Athens, a short distance from Maximos Mansion, the Greek prime minister’s residence. Nevertheless, at its peak, the throng of demonstrators, holding banners, waving the flags of various socialist factions and chanting anti-austerity slogans, was just a fraction of the much larger crowds that dominated Athens during Greek debt talks last summer. Police clad in riot gear massed on cross streets, apparently prepared to confront demonstrators who decided to adopt violence. The march remained peaceful. Minas Chronopoulos, a university student and supporter of the Front of the Greek Anticapitalist Left who led marchers in chants with a megaphone, said that the Brexit vote reflected the extent of frustration with austerity across Europe. “A lot of people both in Britain and in Greece ― from what I have heard at least, in Britain ― voted ‘no,’ not in a chauvinistic way, but to oppose austerity in Britain, to oppose an establishment that oppresses people,” Chronopoulos said. A lot of people both in Britain and in Greece -- from what I have heard at least, in Britain -- voted ‘no,’ not in a chauvinistic way, but to oppose austerity in Britain, to oppose an establishment that oppresses people. Minas Chronopoulos, demonstrator It is an analysis of Brexit shared by many American progressives, including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a Democratic presidential candidate. Polling suggests that concern over immigration and national self-determination were the top priorities of British voters who opted to leave the EU. But many observers note that voters’ opposition to immigration is often rooted in the perceived economic harm it causes, a fact reflected in the disproportionate share of working-class Britons that opted to “leave” the European Union. It is hard to remember now, but instead of a Brexit, last summer the world was consumed with the drama of a potential “Grexit,” or Greek exit from the euro currency union. Rather than submit to new pension cuts and tax increases demanded by Greece’s European creditors, progressive Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras put the lenders’ controversial proposals to a popular referendum vote in July, vowing that a rejection would give his government more leverage to negotiate. While the referendum was over the narrow question of a new austerity package in exchange for emergency loans, it was widely framed by its detractors as a vote on a Grexit, since it would represent a rejection of Europe’s sovereignty over Greece’s economy and likely plunge Greece into an uncertain future outside the joint currency zone. Greek voters listened to Tsipras, voting down the European proposal by a wide margin. But the Europeans reacted with anger, denying emergency aid to Greek banks and forcing Tsipras to accept the most dramatic austerity measures yet. Voters nonetheless returned Tsipras and his Syriza party to power after the new memorandum with Europe on the promise not of preventing austerity but distributing it more equitably. International attention may have shifted since then, but the financial stress on Greek citizens has only deepened and the frustration of the country still burns hot. The tax hikes and pension cuts the government has continued to implement at the behest of European leaders have taken an added bite out of ordinary Greeks’ already-depleted bank accounts. One-half of Greeks under age 25 are out of work, leaving them little hope for the future. Nearly half a million Greeks have left the country for greener pastures since 2008, according to a report released by the Bank of Greece, the country’s central bank, earlier this month. Even the views of fiercely ideological Greeks like Chronopoulos are shaped by economic desperation. Chronopoulos said he has been unable to find work to sustain him during his studies and aid his mother with medical bills. In the past, like many Greeks, Chronopoulos has relied on the pension of his aging mother to help make ends meet. He now worries that future government cuts will strip him and his mother of that safety net. It was not clear how the demonstrators believed Tsipras could have prevailed against the European creditors without submerging the country into even greater economic calamity. When Tsipras conceded defeat to lenders, weeks of government-imposed capital controls had sent the economy into a tailspin. Mostly, protesters seemed to think that whatever the outcome, it could not be much worse than the current miserable state of affairs. Peggy Vaveli voted for Syriza in January 2015, but was so disappointed in their capitulation that she did not support their re-election. Vaveli owns a film distribution company that employed 12 people before the financial crisis in 2008, but now employs only one person besides herself. Vaveli said she was unfazed by the prospect of letting Greek banks collapse, the outcome that seemed imminent last summer. “There is no money for people now. The banks have collapsed and been recapitalized three times by our tax money,” she said. One alternative to a new round of austerity, known as “Plan B” or “Plan X,” however, has sparked political outrage in Greece this week following revelations by the economist James Galbraith, who was a senior advisor to former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis. As has been reported in the past, Galbraith helped Varoufakis develop a plan in the event that negotiations came to a standstill, the Europeans allowed Greek banks to fail and the country ran out of money entirely. The plan centered on developing an alternative currency to replace the euro while the country recovered economically. In Galbraith’s new book, Welcome to the Poisoned Chalice: The Destruction of Greece and the Future of Europe, he gives new details of what the plan would have entailed. The country would have had to nationalize the Bank of Greece, convert bank deposits into a new currency and pay pensions and wages with IOUs. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.