Monday, July 30, 2012

Haircut and Sovereignty

In exchange for debt forgiveness and austerity ease, euro zone partners may ask Greece to give up some sovereignty, economist says

Euro governments might be forced to accept a halving of the value of their Greek debt - known in the business as haircut, Peter Vanden Houte, chief economist at ING bank, told Reuters .
"If Greece is to be saved, we must see some debt forgiveness from euro zone governments in the coming years because otherwise Greece is never going to come out of the situation it is in now," he said. "We are talking about potentially a 50 percent haircut, which would still mean the Greek debt would be (proportionately) around the euro zone average."
The euro zone would want concessions from Athens. "Most probably in exchange, euro zone partners will be more strict on Greek compliance with structural reforms and may ask Greece to give up some sovereignty," said Vanden Houte.
While no official discussions are underway on another Greek debt restructuring, euro zone officials say privately it may be necessary if Greece is to have a fighting chance.
"The Greeks might say they are in such a mess that to survive they we need to ease up the austerity a bit, and to still regain debt sustainability they will have to default on 30-40 percent of the loans," one euro zone official said.
"There would be a lot of people saying this is understandable, so maybe this makes sense and maybe we could have a reasonable discussion among the member states on how Greece can move forward," the official said.
Greece is far behind with reforms to improve its finances and economy so it may need more time, more money and a debt reduction from euro zone governments.
Athens wants two more years than originally planned to cut its budget deficit to below 3 percent of GDP, so as not to impose yet more spending cuts on a country which is already in a depression
If Greek debt cannot be made sustainable, the country may have to leave the euro zone, sending a shockwave across financial markets and the European economy.

Ta Yp' Opsin (source: Reuters)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

July 29 Podcast

The July 29 podcast now available for download:

Τα Υπ’ Οψιν, εβδομαδιαίο podcast με την Ελενα Σπηλιώτη  και το Γιώργο Ζορμπά. Σχόλια στην επικαιρότητα, συζήτηση εφ’όλης της ύλης και πολλή, πολλή μουσική!

Ta Yp’Opsin (Consider These) weekly podcast with Greek Chicago journalists Elena Spilioti and George Zorbas. Discussion, interviews and great music.

Τα Υπ’ Οψιν Ta Yp’ Opsin (Consider These)

Τα Υπ’ Οψιν Ta Yp’Opsin (Consider These)
Multimedia News and Information
Ειδήσεις, Σχόλια, Ενημέρωση

Τα Υπ’ Οψιν με την Ελενα Σπηλιώτη  και το Γιώργο Ζορμπά  κάθε Κυριακή 10 με 12 το βράδυ (CST) στο Ελληνικό ραδιόφωνο του Σικάγου, Σχόλια στην επικαιρότητα, συζήτηση εφ’όλης της ύλης και πολλή, πολλή μουσική!

Ta Yp’Opsin (Consider These) weekly podcast with Greek Chicago journalists Elena Spilioti and George Zorbas. Discussion, interviews and great music.
Sundays from 10:00 p.m. to midnight (CST) at

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Πόσο Κοστίζει ενα Tweet The Cost of a Tweet

Στην Βούλα    Παπαχρήστου ενα tweet κόστισε  ένα μεγάλο όνειρο.
«Με τόσους Αφρικανούς στην Ελλάδα, τουλάχιστον τα κουνούπια του Δυτικού Νείλου θα τρώνε σπιτικό φαγητό». Αυτό το tweet της πρωταθλήτρια του τριπλούν Βούλας Παπαχρήστου κόστισε την συμμετοχή της στους Ολυμπιακούς Αγώνες του Λονδίνου.
H Ελληνική Ολυμπιακή Επιτροπή την έθεσε εκτός της Ολυμπιακής ομάδας μετά το θόρυβο που προκάλεσε το μήνυμά της στο «Twitter», το περιεχόμενο του οποίου θεωρήθηκε ρατσιστικό.
«Με απόφαση του αρχηγείου της ελληνικής Aποστολής στους Ολυμπιακούς Αγώνες του Λονδίνου, τίθεται εκτός Ολυμπιακής Ομάδος η αθλήτρια στίβου του άλματος τριπλούν Παρασκευή Παπαχρήστου για δηλώσεις της που αντίκεινται στις αξίες και τα ιδεώδη του Ολυμπισμού,» αναφέρει η ανακοίνωση της ΕΟΕ .
Η πρωταθλήτρια εξέδωσε δημόσια ανακοίνωση συγγνώμης.
Greek Olympic athlete Voula Papachristou first athlete sanctioned from the London Olympics for a social media offence.
Triple jumper Papachristou has been disqualified over a racist joke she posted on her Twitter account referring to the West Nile virus and immigrants in Greece.
«I would like to express my heartfelt apologies for the unfortunate and tasteless joke I published on my personal Twitter account. I am very sorry and ashamed for the negative responses I triggered, since I never wanted to offend anyone, or to encroach human rights," Papachristou said in her apology statement.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

"Never believe anything until it's officially denied"

Since the eurozone crisis began, plenty of rumors have been robustly shot down by spokesman, officials, and elected leaders, only to eventually come true.
Now, Louise Cooper of BGC Partners has pulled together a list of "untruths" we've been told by the euro elite over the last few years:
• Greece would not default
• European banks had no problems with funding in Autumn 2011 (clearly they did otherwise the ECB wouldn’t have lent them €500bn)
• Pretty much any of the past growth forecasts (from IMF, Eurostat, OBR)
• Greece saying it did not need a bailout
• Ditto Ireland
• Ditto Portugal
• Spanish banks did not have a property problem
• Take your pick from almost any of the European Bank Stress Tests

Louise suggests a few:
• The Euro will not break up.
• Spain’s bank bailout will only cost E100bn.
• Greece’s debt is sustainable
• Greece is a “special case” for a debt writedown (other bailout countries will not ask for the same)
• Any Eurozone country (except Germany) will meet its austerity targets.
• Almost any GDP forecasts
• Austerity works
• and how about, the UK is a safe haven?

- Graeme Wearden Blogpost

Monday, July 23, 2012

Olympic Ode

This new Olympic flame behold, 
that once burned bright in Greece of old; 
with happy hearts receive once more 
these Games revived on London's shore. 
Praise rival teams, in sport allied,
as athletes stream from far and wide;the poet too must take the road 
conveying praise to victory owed.
Millions of watchers will embrace 
the passion of each close-run race, 
the efforts of the rowing teams 
and gymnasts balancing on beams. 
They will observe with rapt delight 
the archer draw his bowstring tight, 
the skilful rider guide her horse, 
and lightning bolt around the course. The pipes will play, the drum resound, 
as medallists are daily crowned; 
the crowd's hurrah will reach the skies 
when victors hoist the golden prize. 
Now welcome to this sea-girt land, 
with London's mayor and co at hand. 
Good luck to all who strive to win: 
applaud, and let the Games begin!

- a specially-written Olympic ode for the International Olympic Committee. The poem, written by Dr Armand D’Angour of the University of Oxford, will be engraved in bronze at the Olympic Park.

July 22 podcast

The July 22 podcast now available for download:

Friday, July 13, 2012

Euro Exit Theory

Italy and Ireland have more incentive to quit the euro than Greece, while Germany may have limited room to prevent departures from the currency union, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
Using cost-benefit analysis and game theory, BofA Merrill Lynch foreign exchange strategists David Woo and Athanasios Vamvakidis concluded in a July 10 report that investors “may be underpricing the voluntary exit of one or more countries” from the bloc.
“Our analysis produces a few surprising results that even readers who may disagree with our conclusion are likely to find interesting,” the strategists wrote.
Italy, the euro area’s third-largest economy, would enjoy a higher chance of achieving an orderly exit than others and would stand to benefit from improvements in competitiveness, economic growth and balance sheets, they said.
While Germany is the nation deemed able to leave the euro zone most easily, it has the least incentive of any country to quit because it would face weaker growth, possibly higher borrowing costs and a negative hit to its balance sheets, the strategists said. Austria, Finland and Belgium also have little reason to quit, they said, while Spain has the weakest case for leaving among economies most directly affected by the crisis.
The analysis is based on a framework which ranks eleven of the 17 euro-area nations on criteria such as how orderly their exit from the bloc would be and how it would affect economic growth, interest rates and balance sheets. Ireland and Italy received an average ranking of 3.5, while Greece was at 5.3 and Germany had the highest score at 8.5. The lower the number, the more there would be to gain from leaving.
Woo and Vamvakidis employ game theory to suggest that while Germany could “bribe” Italy to remain in the bloc and avoid the fallout from an exit, its ability to do so is limited. That’s because Italy has more reasons than Greece to leave so any compensation could become too expensive for Germany and Italians may be even more reluctant than the Greeks to accept the conditions for staying.
“If our inference turns out to be correct, this could have negative implications for markets in the months ahead,” they said.

- Bloomberg Businessweek

Thursday, July 12, 2012

A food superstition with a Last Supper association

When dropping salt, we throw some over our shoulder, to remove the curse it can bring. In Leonardo da Vinci's painting The Last Supper, Judas  has knocked over a salt cellar, a sign of bad luck.
Salt was once very valuable, so what better way to discourage waste than to promulgate the myth that spilling it will bring you bad luck? In order to get rid of the devil you invite in by spilling salt, you have to throw a bit over your left shoulder, where he is sitting, to blind him. Deliberate ritual waste thus becomes the way of atoning for accidental, occasional spillage.

-from an article in The Guardian on the Friday the 13th effect: why so many restaurants are missing a table 13.
Photo: TYO/George Zorbas

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Waiting Game

Greece is expected to run out of cash in late July and remains unclear whether it will be given cash to meet funding needs over the summer.
Speaking to reporters in Brussels Tursday Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras said he had been given assurances that Greece would get "some kind" of interim funding over the summer to repay a 3.1-billion-euro bond, held by the European Central Bank, maturing Aug. 20.
The country will not get fresh bailout money before September and doesn't expect to get more time to meet creditor-imposed fiscal targets until the country gets its austerity program back on track, Stournaras said after a two-day euro-zone finance ministers meeting.
Any changes to the bailout terms would be hammered out only after the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund make an assessment on where Greece stands in relation to meeting its targets, said Luc Frieden, Luxembourg's finance minister. He added that officials from the so-called troika of creditors were expected back in Athens July 24 to assess the country’s short-term financing needs.
To meet 2012 fiscal targets under the "tough demands", Greece would have to find another 3 billion euros ($3.7 billion) of savings "in the coming weeks," Stournaras said.
After a prolonged period of political instability, culminating in elections in May and June, Greece now needs to find the savings urgently.

Ta Yp' Opsin 
Sources: AP, Dow Jones Newswires

Monday, July 9, 2012

A Protest Resignation

Deputy minister resigns over debt talks

Nikos Nikolopoulos, deputy labor minister, resigned on Monday as a protest for the handling of debt talks. He said the new coalition government should have pressed harder to renegotiate the terms of the country's bailout agreements.
Debt inspectors held talks in Athens last week to "correct serious distortions in the labor, pension and benefit systems." Known as the troika, the inspectors from the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, visit Greece frequently to check on the state of its struggling public finances.
Nikolopoulos announced his resignation hours after the new conservative-led government won a confidence vote in parliament.

Παραιτήθηκε ο υφυπουργός Εργασίας Ν. Νικολόπουλος

Στην επιστολή παραίτησής του ο Νικολόπουλος αναφέρει ότι μόνη αιτία της παραίτησής του είναι η πεποίθησή του «πως το ζήτημα της επαναδιαπραγμάτευσης με την Τρόικα και η διόρθωση των σημαντικών στρεβλώσεων στα εργασιακά, συνταξιοδοτικά, ασφαλιστικά και προνοιακά ζητήματα, θα έπρεπε να έχουν τεθεί εμφατικά στο τραπέζι των συζητήσεων από την αρχή. Εύχομαι να κάνω λάθος," συνεχίζει στην επιστολή, "Ωστόσο, επειδή προσωπικά μου είναι αδύνατο, να αισθάνομαι ανακόλουθος με τα πιστεύω μου και σε όσα διεκήρυττα ως Τομεάρχης Εργασίας της Ν.Δ., προτίμησα να αποχωρήσω από την κυβέρνηση, μη θέλοντας να της δημιουργώ εγγενή προβλήματα από την αρχή κιόλας του βίου της. "
Ο πρωθυπουργός Αντώνης Σαμαράς όρισε νέο υφυπουργό Εργασίας, Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης και Πρόνοιας τον βουλευτή Καβάλας, Νίκο Παναγιωτόπουλο.

Consider These   Source: AP

Τα υπ' όψιν  Πηγή: ΑΜΠΕ

Friday, July 6, 2012

Sad, Humane Goodbyes

Taiwan photographer hopes images of doomed shelter dogs encourage pet owners to be responsible
By Tassanee Vejpongsa, The Associated Press 
Taiwanese photographer Tou Chih-kang has been visiting dog shelters for two years now, making human-like portraits that give a sense of dignity and esteem to some 400 canines, in hopes of educating the public on the proper care of pets. This year Taiwanese authorities will kill an estimated 80,000 stray dogs at 38 pounds scattered throughout the island. In the photo, taken on Monday, April 9, 2012, in a makeshift studio, Tou Chih-kang and his assistant steady a scared dog for a portrait in the final moments of its life before being put down by lethal injection at a shelter in Taoyuan, northern Taiwan. (AP Photo/Wally Santana)

Thursday, July 5, 2012


Rain brings temporary relief to hot, hot Chicago!

Photo George Zorbas/TYO

Ας αρχίσει με την Καρυάτιδα

Έξυπνη απάντηση απο χρήστες του διαδικτύου στον Ντέιβιντ Κάμερον, πρωθυπουργό της Βρετανίας, για δηλώσεις ότι «αν πτωχεύσει η Ελλάδα θα κλείσουν τα σύνορα της Βρετανίας για τους Έλληνες".