17th April 2015

Greece ever closer to default

The Greek government is still unable to find a compromise on its reform plans with its eurozone creditors. Work on the reform list has been ongoing for weeks and Greece got until 20 April to submit the final list of reforms, taking into account the Orthodox Easter holidays in Greece. By setting the deadline for 20 April, the finance ministers aimed at a final approval of the reforms on their Eurogroup meeting in Riga on 24 April. In that way, the requirement of the interim deal with Greece – to have the reforms mutually agreed by the end of April, could have been observed. Agreement over a reforms list is a crucial condition for the disbursement of the last outstanding tranche of the Greek bailout, some €7.2 billion. According to European Commission officials, differences of opinion persist between Greece and the creditor institutions over reforms details. Greek PM Tsipras stated last week, that labor relations, social security system, a VAT increase and the rationale regarding the development of state property are the last pressing issues.

Without the last bailout tranche, Greece is heading for trouble. In the following weeks, the government must pay over €1.5 billion in state pensions and salaries at home, plus some €2.8 billion in bond repayments. Athens observed the deadline for a rather small IMF repayment this month, but a next, much higher one, is drawing near, too. It had been reported that the Greek government informally asked the IMF to postpone the deadline, although finance minister Varoufakis denied this. In any case, Christine Lagarde, the IMF director, made it clear that no extension would be possible.

If no agreement is found on 24 April at the Eurogroup meeting, as it seems will be the case, there are reports that officials are eyeing 10 May Eurogroup meeting as the last chance. On the one hand, the interim deal must be respected – and thus no deal, no money; on the other, according to S&P, without the last tranche landed in Athens by mid-May, Greece will run out of cash and will have to default.

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Members of the American Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic