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The load of Debt relief: ESM claims Greece already received debt relief from eurozone creditors

I am at the end of my understanding of the world and creditors’ games. The one moment the European Commission whispers to media ears, that it prepares a debt relief for Greece’ debt, the next moment, a financing mechanism from the same Europe, claims the opposite.

“Greece has already received debt relief from its euro zone creditors equal to half of its 2013 GDP in net present value terms, the euro zone bailout fund said in its annual report, noting Greek public debt was now high but sustainable.

The report from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) said that after various modifications made to the original terms of bailout loans over the last years, Athens had minimal payment obligations until 2023.

Greek debt is at 175 percent of its gross domestic product.

“It cannot be argued that the debt level is unsustainable by merely looking at the aggregate nominal debt to GDP ratio,” the ESM said.

The bailout fund said that Athens received debt relief equal to 49 percent of the country’s 2013 GDP in net present value (NPV) terms.

The NPV approach discounts the difference between the future cash flows of the loans benefiting from lower financing costs and debt relief measures and the cash flows of the same loans had they not benefited from the relief measures.

Greece is borrowing money from the bailout fund at 1.35 percent — a lower rate than many euro zone countries. This is also almost three times cheaper than borrowing from the International Monetary Fund, which charges 3.6 percent.

Before the crisis, Greece was able to borrow on the market at around 5 percent, the ESM said.

The average weighted maturity of the euro zone loans to Greece is 32.5 years and no interest or principal has to be paid back before 2023.” (full story Reuters)

And, of course, there was this PSI of March 2012, but that was apparently a “Bonds swaps only” and no debt relief.

And then, both the EC and the ECB and Bank of Greece refer to “renewal of a previous statement regarding debt relief issued at a Eurogroup meeting in November 2012.”

PS I wouldn’t know there was a Troll Spray…


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  1. Looking from the peanut gallery it looks like that we are at Plan B stage of this so called “negotiations” and that is default. Maybe in February there was a Plan A that had a plan to coral and tame the new Greek government but that did not work out. For a while the response to the Greeks on any negotiations from institutions have been “You got a eat less”.
    But everybody knows there are only crumbs left at the negotiating table. So to me this means forcing the Plan B is in effect. What is the idea behind forced default? Shake the chessboard and see if anybody relents? I have a feeling that is not 100% directed at Greek government and that since there are few parties that represent so called “institutions” it could be that this default plan is directed to one of the parties in that camp. But it is difficult to read all this from the peanut gallery 🙂

    • Default already and leave Eurozone.
      Nobody in their right mind will invest in Greece again, until Greece builds up history of governing her financial matters well.
      Either default or debt relief happens, the creditors’ (current or potential) thinking will be that Greece will get into too much debt (again) and default (or require debt restructuring), again. As the result – no investors, unless Eurozone guarantees Greece’s new loans. History of repayments is a critical indicator for ability to borrow more (or to borrow again). Might as well pull Iceland (don’t forget to send some Greek bankers and politicians to jail, that will signal willingness to fix corruption & reckless behavior).
      Then, a fool is born every day, like those hedge funds that bought up Greece’s current obligations.

    • According to GEAB (Global Economic Antecipation Bulletin), the camp to wich this default is directed is the IMF.
      I can’t add the link 🙁
      You can google “NATO, the IMF, divisions, Grexit… Looking out to 2020: the return of European wars ?”

  2. Giaourti Giaourtaki

    “And then we should have a look at what will happen in 2022. The debt of more than €200 billion from the first and second program will be mature from 2021 onwards in high sums, from about €20 billion a year. Why? Because they have pushed back the interest payments that far. There is a cliff there. You could say: Why should we care about what happens in six or seven years? But this is wrong because what happens in 2022 changes today. If creditors think that a Grexit is not off the table but just postponed to 2022, they will not invest.” (Varoufakis)
    Interview June 9 2015

  3. From finance perspective it is very simple, really. Let’s illustrate it through an example.

    Suppose you and your spouse borrow €100.000 from a bank to buy a house at fixed 3.6% interest (which is pretty good!) payable monthly over 30 years. The monthly payments of €455 are manageable, because both of you work and together you make €1.500 / month. Over the next 30 years you will pay a total €163.672 in principal and interest.

    A day later your spouse is injured and can no longer work. Your income alone (€1.000 / month) is no longer enough to cover the monthly payments and pay the other expenses. You negotiate with the bank, which shows understanding and does not want to evict you from your house and sell it to get their money back. Somehow you agree that the most you can pay is €338 / month. The bank can achieve that in two different ways:

    a) Write off more than a quarter of the mortgage principal and make you pay off €74,337.09 at the original interest of 3.6%. In 30 years you will pay a total of €121.669


    b) Keep the amount of principal at €100.000, but reduce the interest to 1.35%, much lower compared to what you can find at other banks. In 30 years you will pay a total of €121.669

    The end result is absolutely the same — in terms of monthly payments and the total amount you will pay. However, the bank might prefer option (a). This will not require the bank to recognize right away they have just lost more than 25% of the money they have lent you. I am not sure banks can legally do that, but that’s essentially what the European creditors did. It is probably more palatable politically, even though the benefit to Greece is all the same.

    In some cultures, of course, even such generosity of the bank could be considered “pillaging”. After all, in 30 years they will get €21.669 more than what they originally gave you to buy your house now.

    • P.S. Another possible interpretation of my example: The bank is making my family’s life miserable. After all, we lost a third of our income, but the bank reduced only a quarter of our monthly payments reducing disproportionately the money we have left for other expenses.

    • Giaourti Giaourtaki

      If they lent 100 and get 121 they don’t loose 25% of what they lent but have 21 more

    • Of course, I meant that the bank might prefer option (b), not (a). Sorry about the typo