31,2 BEUR is a rather large chunk of money. Suppose Greece had received the 31,2 BEUR in June, what would it have done with it?
Regrettably, and from the start, it was never publicly explained (at least not in detail) how much in new loans Greece needed to repay maturing loans/interest and how much for the financing of its ongoing operations (primary deficit). That was smart on the part of the Troika because, that way, there was little transparency about the fact that the needs for ongoing operations were small compared with the needs for refinancing maturing debt/interest.
The Ekathimerini reported yesterday that “Greece’s primary deficit, which excludes interest expenses, shrank to 490 million euros in the January-June period from 4 billion the same period a year earlier”.
Excuse me, please! A primary deficit of less than half a billion Euros for six months would suggest that the primary deficit for the whole year can’t be in the multi-billion Euro range. Certainly not 31,2 BEUR! So Greece needs to repay 3,2 BEUR to the ECB on August 20, but doesn’t have the money. Greece will thus sell T-bills which are expected to be bought by Greek banks. Where will the Greek banks get the money from? From the ECB, perhaps?
I have said over and over again: one cannot draw water from a dried-out well unless one first dumps that water into it. The latter does not seem to be a very smart excercise. In the process of dumping water into the well so that it can be drawn out again, people tend to see only the dumping-in part and wonder how the well can need so much water. They conclude that it is good water being thrown after bad.
My point is: if a primary deficit could be reduced from 4 BEUR to 490 MEUR within one year, one would have every reason in the world to be hopeful. Instead of focusing so much on the huge amounts of new loans which Greece needs to repay huge amounts of maturing loans/interest, one should focus much more on the operating results of the government’s policies.
There was one other sentence in the FT-article which caused me to smile. It quoted a senior finance ministry official as saying: “We have exhausted all the fat that remains in the public sector . . . There is no alternative to reducing wages and pensions”.
Well, excellent news! No more fat in the public sector. Which raises the question, of course, what fat Mr. Samaras had meant earlier this year when, during the election campaign, he stated that, simply by cutting waste (fat) out of the public sector, he would quickly raise 30 BEUR.