Category: ΝΕΑ ΕΞΩΤΕΡΙΚΟΥ

21
Mar

Germany to raise €356bn in new borrowing to fight coronavirus impact

Germany is set to abandon six years of fiscal restraint with a blowout budget designed to save its economy from the brutal effects of the coronavirus pandemic and protect thousands of businesses from imminent ruin.

Angela Merkel’s cabinet is meeting on Monday to approve new borrowing of €356bn — equivalent to nearly 10 per cent of Germany’s gross domestic product — marking a new era in fiscal policy and a radical departure from Berlin’s long-held aversion to debt.

It reflects growing alarm in government circles at the profound impact the epidemic is having on the eurozone’s largest economy as big industrial companies shut down production, the service sector is disabled and economic activity melts away.

Ministers will consider plans for a €156bn supplementary budget for 2020, including a €50bn hardship fund to help small businesses and freelancers whose revenues are collapsing as the virus spreads.

They will also approve a €100bn economic stabilisation fund that will be used to take stakes in companies crippled by the fallout from the pandemic, according to a person familiar with the plans, paving the way for a radical state intervention in the workings of the market economy.

The blueprint also envisages a €100bn loan from the new stabilisation fund to the KfW, Germany’s state development bank, which is providing unlimited loans to firms facing a cash crunch under a programme announced by the finance minister Olaf Scholz earlier this month.

The stabilisation fund will also be equipped with €400bn in guarantees to underwrite the debts of companies affected by the turmoil.

The fund is a reactivation of Soffin, a government-backed vehicle set up in 2009 to bail out troubled banks. It will not only underwrite debts but also be able to inject fresh capital into stricken companies, effectively paving the way for a wave of partial state takeovers.

Just as the state helped the banks after the financial crisis, “we are now prepared to provide equity for the real economy,” Mr Scholz told German radio on Friday. The state had to help companies “that employ an incredible number of men and women and which all of a sudden have no business”.

The moves represent an extraordinary intervention by the state in the private sector. “We will not allow a bargain sale of German economic and industrial interests,” said economy Peter Altmaier. “There should be no taboos. Temporary state aid for a limited period, up to and including shareholdings and takeovers, must be possible.”

The huge increase in spending marks a radical break from the “schwarze Null” or black zero, the policy of balanced budgets and no new borrowing that has been part of German economic orthodoxy for years and has helped to deliver six consecutive annual surpluses.

The policy has become increasingly controversial in recent months, with leading economists both at home and abroad urging the government to take advantage of low interest rates to assume new debt and invest in Germany’s crumbling infrastructure.

But the black zero is now a thing of the past. Angela Merkel, chancellor, made it clear at the start of the coronavirus crisis that she was prepared to set it aside in order to ensure the survival of the German economy.

“We’re doing whatever is necessary,” she said on March 11. “And we won’t be asking every day what it means for our deficit.”

The new fiscal policy came as a number of German regions imposed a lockdown on their citizens and closed all restaurants, bars and beer-gardens. Bavaria said people would only be allowed to leave their homes to go to work, buy food or visit the doctor: they could exercise in the open air but only alone or with close family members. The German foreign ministry has also advised against any tourist travel abroad until the end of April.

As well as passing the supplementary budget and reactivating Soffin, ministers will also be asked to loosen one of the country’s most important fiscal rules — the constitutional debt brake. Introduced in 2009 it limits any new government borrowing to just 0.35 per cent of GDP, adjusted for the economic cycle.

But exceptions are allowed. Germany’s constitution says the Bundestag can relax the debt brake when Germany is hit by emergencies such as natural catastrophes that “significantly impact the government’s fiscal position”. Coronavirus is a clear example of such an eventuality. A Bundestag vote is expected in the next few days.

“This essentially paves the way for unlimited borrowing,” said the person familiar with Mr Scholz’s plans. He said it fitted in with the European Central Bank’s announcement last week that it would buy an extra €750bn of bonds in a bid to calm markets thrown into turmoil by the pandemic. “The ECB’s message to the EU member states was clear,” he said. “Fill your boots with debt.”

Though the proposals being put before the cabinet on Monday mark an extraordinary volte-face in policy terms, officials stress that Germany was only able to adopt such expansionary measures thanks to the budgetary restraint of the past few years.

“Even a few weeks ago people were saying we’d gone too far, that we were too focused on husbanding our resources,” Mr Scholz said on Friday. “Now you can see we acted correctly.”

Germany’s “economising” over the past few years had brought its debt-to-GDP ratio to below 60 per cent, he said. The equivalent figure in France is 98.9 per cent and 134.8 per cent in Italy.

Meanwhile, the public finances have rarely been in such robust health. There are reserves of €55bn in the federal budget, of €26bn in the federal labour office, which dispenses unemployment benefit, of €103in the social security system, and of nearly €20bn in the health service — the statutory “Krankenkassen”.

Jens Weidmann, head of the Bundesbank and a member of the ECB’s governing council, said that until recently there had been “passionate debate” in Germany about the wisdom of sound public finances. “Now we can see very clearly: it was exactly right that Germany consolidated its budget when the economy was doing well,” he told Die Welt on Saturday. “Now we have the latitude to deal with this crisis. Our starting position is advantageous.”

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7
Mar

What You Need to Know About the Spreading Coronavirus: QuickTake

Friday, March 6, 2020 07:11 PM

By Jason Gale and John Lauerman

(Bloomberg) —

The newly identified virus that emerged late last year in the central Chinese city of Wuhan has quickly spread worldwide, with the number of infections topping 100,000. The contagiousness of the so-called coronavirus, which causes a lung illness dubbed Covid-19, has health experts worried it could become a pandemic to rival some of the most devastating in recent decades. Meanwhile, the outbreak is causing turmoil in the global economy and financial markets.

(This story updates with new infection toll and fresh details on what authorities are doing in section 10 and economic impact in section 12.)

1. What makes this virus so worrying?

It has been described as “insidious” because many infected people are well enough to go about their daily business, unwittingly spreading it to others. As of March 3, the fatality rate was about 3.4% based on globally reported cases, the World Health Organization said. Such numbers are unreliable in the early stages of an outbreak, however. Some disease-modeling experts project as many as hundreds of thousands of people are actually infected, most of whom don’t even know they have it. One study published Feb. 10 estimated a mortality rate of 1% once all cases, including those with no or only mild symptoms, are counted.

2. How does this compare with other outbreaks?

A related coronavirus killed 9.5% of patients in the 2002-2003 epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, or SARS, and another known as MERS-CoV has led to death in 34% of the 2,499 cases recorded since 2012. In those outbreaks, however, the viruses didn’t transmit from one person to another as efficiently as this new one appears to do. Certainly, they didn’t spread as widely as fast. In the worst pandemic in recent history, an estimated 50 million people died in the 1918 influenza pandemic that had a case-fatality ratio of about 2% but infected as much as a third of the world’s population.

3. What does the virus do?

Symptoms begin to appear on average five to six days after infection. Infections appear to cause a mild illness lasting about two weeks in children, adolescents and younger adults in most cases, and potentially more severe disease lasting three to six weeks in older people. Frequently reported early signs are fever, dry cough, tiredness and sputum production. In severe cases, studies suggest the virus invades cells in the lower respiratory tract, causing difficulty breathing and the inflammation and congestion associated with pneumonia. In an early study, more than a quarter of hospitalized patients developed a complication known as acute respiratory distress syndrome.

4. Who’s most at risk for complications?

It appears to be the elderly and those with other serious health issues. Many of the fatalities have been in patients with underlying illnesses such as cardiovascular disease. A Chinese study of 72,000 cases found most deaths occurred in patients over 60 years old. Of all confirmed cases, 81% were mild, 14% were severe and 4.7% critical. The last pandemic, an outbreak of a new strain of H1N1 flu in 2009, infected an estimated 61 million people in the U.S. alone and may have killed as many as 575,000 people worldwide in the first year it circulated — with about 80% of them younger than 65, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

5. How do people contract it?

By coming into contact with virus-containing droplets that are emitted when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the WHO’s first comprehensive report on Covid-19. These droplets can be transferred directly to someone else in close proximity or via hands and surfaces. How long it survives on surfaces is still not known, but preliminary studies suggest coronaviruses may remain infectious from a few hours to a few days. Simple disinfectants kill it. There’s a theoretical risk the virus can spread through feces or fartherthrough the air in tiny particles known as aerosols. People who are still incubating the virus and show no symptoms may spread it. Health authorities are concerned about what’s known as community spread, where the virus begins circulating freely among people outside of known contacts with other patients.

6. How contagious is it?

Epidemiologists try to gauge contagiousness by estimating the number of additional people a person who is infected is likely to infect. That measurement, called a basic reproduction number or r0 (pronounced “r naught”), is one indicator of how difficult an epidemic is to control. A study of an outbreak aboard a cruise ship estimated that the r0 for Covid-19 was 2.28 during the early stages. That would make it more infectious than seasonal flu, which has an r0 of about 1.3 and killed an estimated 61,000 people in the U.S. in the 2017-18 season.

6. Could warming weather help combat it?

The viruses responsible for influenza spread more easily during cold weather because they survive longer in cold, dry air. But there’s no evidence to suggest the Covid-19 virus would be affected by weather.

7. What’s a coronavirus?

Coronaviruses are named for their crown-like shape. There’s a large family of them, responsible for diseases that range in severity from the common cold to MERS. Some transmit easily from person to person, while others do not. The WHO says that new strains emerge periodically around the globe, and several known versions are circulating in animals and haven’t infected humans.

From the black death to the coronavirus, this is what we need to think about in order to tackle pandemics. (

8. Where did it come from?

The virus emerged in early December in Wuhan, an industrial city of 11 million and capital of Hubei province. Early attention focused on a seafood market where live animals were also sold, but about a third of the first 41 cases were found to have no link to it. The viral genome is closely related to several coronaviruses found in bats. Diseases transmissible from animals to humans, sometimes referred to as zoonoses, comprise a large percentage of all newly identified infectious diseases.

9. How alarming is a new virus?

There is always concern when a new human pathogen emerges because people typically lack immunity to it and there usually aren’t specific treatments or vaccines available. Novel coronaviruses — those unseen in humans before — represent a particular concern because they have been known to spark complicated outbreaks that have sickened thousands of people, as SARS did as it swept across the globe from southern China.

10. What are authorities doing?

China’s government imposed a quarantine on Wuhan and more than a dozen other cities in the region that’s keeping some 60 million people sealed off. New hospitals were built from the ground up in days, and the production of medical equipment was ramped up. (Some makeshift centers in stadiums, hotels and office buildings have started to fold up as patients have recovered.) The WHO declared a global health emergency, a designation that can help mobilize international responses. The World Bank has allocated $12 billion in virus aid for developing economies. Many countries are denying or restrictingentry for non-citizens arriving from China and other especially affected areas. With Covid-19 showing up in more places, officials began to switch their goal from stopping its spread to preparing for it amid shortages of testing kits, face masks and other equipment. U.S. President Donald Trump appointedVice President Mike Pence to lead the federal response as local governments stepped up readiness efforts. Globally, governments are using a mix of cash handouts, tax breaks and transfers to counter the virus’s impact.

11. How are they faring?

Early praise for China’s response has ebbed. The country did not immediately release genetic information about the virus and has struggled to explain changes in the way it counts new cases. In a nation where the internet is heavily censored, there was a rare outpouring of social media fury over the death from the virus of a Chinese doctor who had waved an early red flag about the outbreak but was silenced by police. The top officials in Wuhan and Hubei were later removed from their posts. But China’s strict quarantine likely bought the rest of the world two to three weeks to prepare for the virus and averted many infections, according to the WHO.

12. What about the economy?

Reductions in travel, work-from-home orders and disruptions in supply chains have slowed economic activity, especially in China and among its many trading partners. The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development warned that the Covid-19 crisis posed the “greatest danger” to the world economy since the financial crisis more than a decade ago. Global stock markets have been volatileand the U.S. Federal Reserve cut interest rates in its first emergency move since the 2008 financial crisis. Group of Seven finance chiefs pledged to use “all appropriate policy tools” to safeguard economic growth.

The Reference Shelf

  • Related QuickTakes on efforts to contain the virus, how it spreads, the effectiveness of travel bans, efforts to develop treatments and a vaccine, the meaning of a “pandemic,” and the reallocation of capital into haven assets.
  • The WHO’s first comprehensive report on the crisis.
  • Doubts persist about whether China’s statisticson the outbreak show the full picture.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a coronavirus web page, and the Journal of the American Medical Association offers advicefor clinicians.
  • Bill Gates offers proposals for combating Covid-19 in the New England Journal of Medicine.
  • A top airline doctor says forget face masks, wash your hands.
23
Feb

ECB Officials Pressure Governments to Ready Virus Response

European Central Bank policy makers from two of the euro area’s biggest economies said governments must shoulder most of the burden for rebooting economies if the coronavirus has a deeper impact on growth.

France’s Francois Villeroy de Galhau and Italy’s Ignazio Visco were speaking at the Group of 20 meeting of central bankers and finance ministers in Riyadh, where the threat from the outbreak was front and center.

“If we don’t see a rapid V-shaped effect there must be some decision to act in a coordinated way,” Visco told Bloomberg on the sidelines of the G-20. “We must use fiscal policy because monetary policy is already very very accommodative around the world, and it’s uncertain that we can do more on that.”

Villeroy said delegates at the meeting spoke a lot about daily monitoring and contingency plans, even if the central scenario remains for now a V-shaped recovery.

“There was the feeling that if the policy mix needed to be strengthened in the face of coronavirus, it couldn’t be only monetary policy. There is still monetary space but it is more limited than before,” Villeroy told Bloomberg. “It is even true in the U.S., so therefore questions of fiscal space and structural reforms are back in force.”

Trade has been severely disrupted by factory closures in China’s Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, and companies from Apple Inc. in the U.S. to Europe’s largest tiremaker Michelin have warned that profits could suffer.

The blow is all the more harsh as G-20 delegates otherwise had reason to see the world economy turning a corner. Villeroy noted that “nobody seriously fears a recession,” and the U.S. -China trade tensions that dominated previous meetings have declined.

“If there is one concern about the economy at this G-20, it’s coronavirus,” he said.

Visco said the world economy has two quarters to bounce back from the coronavirus hit before policy makers should unleash coordinated fiscal stimulus. Back-of-the-envelop calculations by finance chiefs at the Riyadh meetings suggest the outbreak could knock by 0.1 percentage point off global growth this year, Visco said.

The hit to the Italian economy could be as high as a quarter of a percent, reflecting the economy’s integration into global value chains and its reliance on tourism.

“I’m already worried now but if we don’t see a material improvement by September, I’d be really worried,” Visco said. “You need two quarters to realize and understand.”

Visco lent weight to his argument by warning there’s a risk of a “mini de-globalization” if pessimism and fears about further supply-chain interruptions leave the economy suffering for a protracted period. “This shouldn’t be ignored.”

Visco said central bankers haven’t discussed joining forces to deliver a coordinated monetary-policy response. The ECB’s deposit rate is already at a record-low -0.5%.

“If there’s a need for liquidity assistance, it can be provided through various measures like swaps — of course,” he said. “If you think about interest rates, it’s much more complicated. There are limits which are not explored.”

On climate, Visco said he saw “reasoned considerations” at the meeting in Riyadh that it’s important to pay attention to the risks global warming can pose for financial stability.

“What looked quite new two years ago is now almost a G-20 consensus, so this is a very significant move,” Villeroy said.

21
Feb

EU Leaders Gear Up for Money Clash to Fill Post-Brexit Hole

(Bloomberg) —

The European Union‘s first high-level meeting since Brexit risks ending in acrimony, with member states at odds over how to cover a gaping budget hole caused by the loss of British contributions.

The extraordinary summit in Brussels to nail down a seven-year spending plan kicks off on Thursday afternoon, but no end time has been set and diplomats fear negotiations could drag on through the weekend. Even then failure remains the likeliest outcome.

The trillion-euro budget is a cornerstone of EU policy that lets farmers compete against imports from the developing world, helps poorer states catch up with the rich ones and underpins projects that bind the union together. But it’s also a lightning rod for the tensions running through the bloc and after three years of uncharacteristic unity during the Brexit negotiations, passions are now running high.

“There is a way forward to find an agreement during this summit,” French President Emmanuel Macronsaid on his way into the meeting, adding that he would spend as much time as needed to get an ambitious agreement. “This pathway can take a few days, a few nights, I am ready.”

The outcome of the battle will signal if Europe is prepared to spend more collectively to further its goals, whether it wants to prioritize innovation over handouts to traditional industries and whether it’s prepared to wield its financial muscle to force member states like Hungary and Poland to respect the rule of law.

Britain’s departure from the EU leaves a hole of at least 60 billion euros ($65 billion) in the budget that needs to be plugged by either cutting spending or making others pay more.

But the EU’s shifting priorities also require more money for issues like climate change and migration and those who gain from the traditional focus on agriculture and regional development are fighting to keep their benefits.

Essentially though, the EU is split into two basic camps: those who want to spend more, and those who can see they’ll get stuck with the bill.

Two Camps

The Netherlands, Austria, Denmark and Sweden have argued for keeping the spending ceiling at 1% of the EU’s gross national income and for a permanent system of rebates to limit their contributions. They want to focus on new priorities and to curb the outlay in traditional areas and have called for tougher conditions on adhering to the rule of law.

“Our countries are firm in our priorities. We cannot accept a drastic increase in our fees. We are willing to continue to pay significantly, but there are limits,” Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofventweeted after a meeting with the other three so-called frugal leaders. “It will be a tough negotiation.”

Charles Michel

@eucopresident

I am grateful to the EU leaders for the hard work we’ve done together.

There are many legitimate concerns, but I am convinced that it is possible to make progress.

Everything is on the table in order to decide #EUCO #MFF

27
Jan

China Death Toll Rises to at Least 80 from 56: Virus Update

By Bloomberg News
(Bloomberg) — 
The novel coronavirus spread further as China reported an increase in fatalities and infections, and the country extended the Lunar New Year holiday for an unspecified period of time.

Canada confirmed its first case while the U.S. announced a fifth. President Xi Jinping on Saturday ordered a faster response, sending teams into hard-hit areas to push local officials to strengthen prevention and containment.

More than 2,000 cases have been reported in 15 countries and territories.

  • About 2,051 cases in China, at least 56 deaths: Tracking the outbreak
  • Track business and travel disruptions
  • QuickTake: Learn more about the virus

Here are the latest developments:

China reports rise in Hubei deaths (9:19 a.m. HKT)

Another 24 people have died in Hubei province, according to China’s CCTV. The latest information brings the total death toll in mainland China to 80, based on latest information.

The report said 371 new cases have been confirmed in the province as of Jan. 26. Wuhan, which is at the center of the virus outbreak, is located in Hubei.

China CDC advises extending holiday (5:01 p.m. HKT)

Gao Fu, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told reporters that the agency is advising that the Lunar New Year holiday ending Jan. 30 be extended due to the virus. The decision will depend on how the situation develops, he said.

Beijing will lengthen the winter break for schools from kindergarten to college, People’s Daily reported, citing the city’s education bureau.

Hong Kong confirms sixth virus patient (4:50 p.m. HKT)

A Hong Kong health official confirmed the sixth case of the coronavirus in the city.

The South China Morning Post earlier reported that the man had been to Wuhan and arrived in Hong Kong by high-speed rail. He will undergo more tests. It was not known when he returned from China, the newspaper said.

Protest over proposed quarantine center (4:15 p.m. HKT)

Government plans to use a newly built, unoccupied public estate in the New Territories district of Fanling for possible patients under quarantine and medical staff drew an angry response from residents and district councillors.

A couple dozen masked people barricaded a road in Fanling in protest at the government proposal to use Fai Ming Estate as an emergency medical facility. Some of the protesters said the building is too close to their homes, while others complained that approved applicants would lose their flats in the estate.

China says pathogen’s transmission is increasing (4:25 p.m. HKT)

Chinese authorities on Sunday told reporters the virus isn’t yet under control despite aggressive steps by authorities to limit movement for millions of people who live in cities near the center of the outbreak. Officials said information on the new virus is limited even though the pathogen was identified relatively quickly, and its transmission is increasing.

The government said it will hold daily press briefings on the situation.

China bans wildlife trade (2:36 p.m. HKT)

China banned the shipping and sale of wild animals starting Sunday and said it will quarantine breeding sites. Trade will be forbidden in markets, supermarkets, restaurants and online, the market supervision administration, agricultural ministry and forestry bureau said in a statement.

It also warned people against consuming wild animals. The new coronavirus was first found in people who shopped or worked at a so-called wet market in the central city of Wuhan, where live animals were sold.

China has tightened controls on the sale of exotic animals, considered nourishing in some parts of the country, though some are still sold surreptitiously.

 

16
Jan

Erdogan Says Turkish Energy Exploration to Follow Libya Deal

Erdogan Says Turkish Energy Exploration to Follow Libya Deal

Thursday, January 16, 2020 02:09 PM

Turkey will issue new exploration licenses in the eastern Mediterranean now that it’s set a maritime border with Libya, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Thursday, a step liable to exacerbate strains with Greece and the European Union.

Erdogan’s remarks underlined Turkey’s determination to press its claims in contested waters of the energy-rich eastern Mediterranean, where European nations, Egypt and Israel have built a forum to promote their interests. Turkey insists it has rights to energy finds there due to its claims to Cyprus’s north, which it seized in 1974. Greece, Cyprus and the EU oppose Ankara’s drilling operations within the island’s exclusive economic zone.

Tensions over the conflicting claims have escalated since Turkey and Libya signed a contentious agreement in November that delineates maritime borders and affirms claims of sovereignty over areas of the Mediterranean. Turkey’s demands could make it more difficult and costly to build a planned natural-gas pipeline that could link the eastern Mediterranean basin with European markets through Cyprus, Greece and Italy.

Leaders From Israel, Cyprus, Greece Sign EastMed Gas Pipe Deal

“From now on, it is not legally possible to carry out any exploration activity or construction of a pipeline in areas between Turkey and Libya without the permission of both countries,” Erdogan told a televised conference in Ankara. “We will issue licenses for these areas and start exploration work in 2020.”

Greece, Cyprus and Egypt see the deal with Libya as a brazen Turkish bid for dominance in the contested waters. Libya is also in conflict with Greece over off-shore exploration licenses Athens issued for waters south of Crete, which is located between Turkey and Libya.

Turkey extracted the maritime agreement from Libya’s internationally recognized government in exchange for military assistance in the North African nation’s civil war. Ankara and Moscow are now trying to bring the warring sides to a truce, which would also protect the accord.

The eastern Mediterranean has been one of the world’s most prolific spots for major gas discoveries during the past decade. Noble Energy Inc. found the Leviathan gas field in Israeli waters in 2010 and Italy’s Eni SpA discovered the giant Zohr deposit off the Egyptian coast in 2015. Exxon made a discovery off the southwest coast of Cyprus last year.

Turkey Starts Naval Drills in Disputed Mediterranean Waters

Turkish drilling ships are currently operating off Cyprus in waters declared by Turkey as its own economic exclusive zone, under agreements with the northern Turkish Cypriot state, which is recognized only by Turkey. The EU is weighing sanctions against Turkey over its oil and natural-gas exploration off Cyprus, and Cyprus wants the International Court of Justice to resolve its dispute with Turkey.

2
Dec

Italy’s Divided Populists Unite Over EU Bailout Fund Reform

By John Follain and Alessandro Speciale
(Bloomberg) — 
A common Euroskeptic cause is bringing Italy’s rival populists closer and threatening the country’s coalition government.

The issue at hand — a relatively minor reform of the European Union’s bailout fund — is usually the preserve of Brussels and treasury bureaucrats. But Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio, who became bitter enemies this summer after their governing alliance fell apart, are both opposed to it.

Caught in the middle are Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the pro-EU Democratic Party, partners in the current government with Di Maio’s Five Star Movement. Conte is due to appear in parliament on Monday to respond to suggestions he explicitly violated lawmakers’ demands when he struck a deal on the EU fund at a summit last June.

“Conte has carried out an attack that harms Italians,” Salvini, head of the rightist League, told reporters last week, accusing the premier of agreeing to the changes in secret. “Let Salvini file a suit, and I’ll sue him for slander,” Conte retorted on a visit to Ghana.

Read More: Italy’s Messy Coalition Could Delay EU Bailout Fund Reform

Five Star leader Di Maio, who’s also foreign minister and is trying to reverse his party’s decline in the polls, has fueled tensions with his coalition partner by demanding changes to the European Stability Mechanism reform. Conte so far has stuck by Roberto Gualtieri, his finance minister and a former EU lawmaker for the Democrats who closely followed the negotiations in Brussels.

“Five Star is seeking a constructive approach and aims to find an agreement,” despite our opposition to the reform, the party said in a statement late Saturday. “Let’s get to work, improve this reform and make Europe respect us.”

Amendments in Focus

EU leaders are poised to give a unanimous, final go-ahead to the reform of the ESM in Brussels on Dec. 12-13, but Italian media reported Saturday that Conte may ask to delay the approval and seek to introduce some changes. Gualtieri has prepared proposals for amendments to the reform draft that would allow it to pass without a delay and yet respect Di Maio’s call for changes, La Repubblica reported on Sunday.

Nicola Zingaretti, leader of Italy’s Democrats, called Di Maio’s request to change the reforms a “senseless challenge to Europe,” in comments cited by newspaper La Repubblica. Paolo Gentiloni, Italy’s former premier who is now the European commissioner for economic affairs, said there is no “technical or political reason to define the reform as a risk for Italy,” according to his interview with Corriere della Sera on Sunday.

The changes are set to give the ESM broader powers, including allowing it to serve as the lifeline for the currency bloc’s crisis fund for failing banks. Bureaucrats consider that generally less controversial than other potential tweaks to the framework of the euro area, such as a small common budget and joint insurance for bank deposits.

Leaders of the Democrats agree there is no need to ask the EU for further amendments to the measure and back the finance minister in his efforts to approve the existing deal, Minister of Culture Dario Franceschini said after a meeting on Sunday. PD officials said after the meeting that Italy will request any delay.

Italian opponents of ESM reform have seized upon the apparent coldness toward some parts of it by leading technocrats including Ignazio Visco, governor of the Bank of Italy, and Maria Cannata, the former head of the debt agency.

Debt Crisis Response

Among the items under scrutiny are norms that might make it theoretically easier to restructure Italy’s public debt, Europe’s largest, spooking investors and potentially pushing yields higher. Both Visco and Cannata have clarified that they support the final version of the ESM reform.

The debate has ballooned into all-out criticism of the ESM and of its procedures, set up by euro-area countries in 2012 after the years-long sovereign debt crisis to bail out countries in exchange for strict reforms.

“We have sparked a debate on the ESM. Finally Italians know something about it, and only thanks to the League,” Salvini said on Saturday. “It’s good that Di Maio finally woke up to it; we count on the coherence of Five Star and of some of the Democrats. Conte, on the other hand, has long stopped defending Italy’s national interests.”

 

19
Nov

Greece’s Alpha Bank to Securitize $13 Billion of Soured Debt

  • Bond sale, loan-servicing carve out part of restructuring plan
  • Lender will seek to use upcoming government guarantee program
By Sotiris Nikas and Paul Tugwell

(Bloomberg) — 

Alpha Bank AE plans to sell 12 billion euros ($13.3 billion) of bad loans, more than half of the soured debt on its books, through a securitization that’s part of a wider restructuring plan.

The three-year revamp will also include a Tier 2 bond sale, a carve out of its loan-servicing business and changes to the management team, the Athens-based lender said on Tuesday. Alpha Bank plans to tap a planned government guarantee program for part of the loan sale.

“We are embarking today on a comprehensive transformation plan, designed to leave the financial crisis behind us by dealing decisively with legacy asset quality issues and by improving significantly our profitability going forward,” Chief Executive Officer Vassilios Psaltis said in a statement.

Greek banks are struggling to offload bad loans, which limit their ability to provide new credit. The government has received European Union approval for a program known as Hercules that will provide as much as 12 billion euros to help lenders repackage bad debt into securities with the state guaranteeing the safest portions.

Read More: Mezzanines, Waterfalls and Fees in Greece’s Bank Rescue Plan

Alpha Bank said that it will use Hercules to reduce its soured debt, with a target of cutting non-performing exposures to less than 10% of total loans by the end of 2022 from around 44% in September. The lender intends to apply for up to 3.7 billion euros of guarantees under the scheme, it said.

The securitization project, named Galaxy, will be accompanied by a carve out of the bank’s bad-loan management business. It will be combined with Cepal Hellas, Greece’s largest third-party servicer, to create a company called New Cepal, the CEO said.

Alpha expects 14 billion euros of new loans through 2022 to support retail and businesses including as infrastructure, energy, real estate, hospitality, manufacturing and shipping.

The lender’s shares have gained 73% this year while the benchmark banking index has more than doubled.

3Q 2Q
Net income (million euros) 4.8 59.4
Net interest income (million euros) 383.2 388.6
NPE ratio (end-September) 45.5% 48.1%
CET1 ratio (end-September) 18% 17.8%

Alpha Bank plans to sell as much as 900 million euros of Tier 2 notes by 2022 to boost its capital position. The lender expects its key CET1 capital ratio to fall to around 15% after the completion of Galaxy project.

 

16
Sep

Παγκόσμιος συναγερμός μετά την επίθεση στη Σαουδική Αραβία

Εκτοξεύθηκαν οι τιμές του πετρελαίου μετά τις επιθέσεις εναντίον των πετρελαϊκών εγκαταστάσεων της εταιρείας Aramco στη Σαουδική Αραβία, σύμφωνα με το Bloomberg.

Τις πρώτες ώρες μετά την επίθεση η τιμή του πετρελαίου κατέγραφαν άλμα κοντά στο +20% ενώ τώρα οι τιμές βρίσκονται κοντά στο +10%.

Οι τιμές του μπρεντ και του αμερικανικού αργού ανήλθαν στο υψηλότερο επίπεδό τους από τον Μάιο. Ωστόσο, υποχώρησαν από τα υψηλά τους επίπεδα αφού ο Αμερικανός Πρόεδρος Ντόναλντ Τραμπ ενέκρινε τη χρήση των στρατηγικών αποθεμάτων πετρελαίου της χώρας για να διασφαλιστεί η ομαλή τροφοδοσία.

Στις 09:40 ώρα Ελλάδας, τα futures για το μπρεντ κατέγραψαν άνοδο 10% στα 66,31 δολάρια το βαρέλι, ενώ η τιμή του αμερικανικού αργού ενισχύθηκε κατά 9% στα 59,82 δολάρια το βαρέλι.

Η επίθεση στην Aramco παρόλ’ αυτά προκαλεί έντονη ανησυχία καθώς επηρεάζει την παγκόσμια οικονομία και τις οικονομίες άλλων χωρών.
Οι δηλώσεις Τραμπ ότι οι ΗΠΑ είναι έτοιμες για πιθανή απάντηση στα χτυπήματα στις σαουδαραβικές εγκαταστάσεις, που διέκοψαν την εξόρυξη 5,7 εκατομμυρίων βαρελιών αργού, ήτοι σχεδόν του 50% του συνόλου της παραγωγής ή πάνω από το 5% του παγκόσμιου εφοδιασμού προκάλεσαν έντονες ανησυχίες για ένταση στη Μέση Ανατολή και την επιδείνωση των σχέσεων μεταξύ του Ιράν και των ΗΠΑ, στρέφοντας τους επενδυτές στα λεγόμενα ασφαλή καταφύγια, με την τιμή του χρυσού να αυξάνεται κατά 1% στα 1.503,4 δολάρια η ουγγιά.

It May Take Months For Saudi Aramco To Fully Return Oil Production Volumes To Normal Levels – RTRS Citing Sources

Το κίνημα Χούτι της Υεμένης ανακοίνωσε σήμερα πως τα εργοστάσια επεξεργασίας πετρελαίου της σαουδαραβικής Aramco εξακολουθούν να αποτελούν στόχο και μπορεί να δεχθούν επίθεση «ανά πάσα στιγμή», ενώ προειδοποίησε επίσης τους ξένους να εγκαταλείψουν την περιοχή.

 

Με πληροφορίες από Bloomberg και ΑΠΕ- ΜΠΕ

18
Jun

Δημοσιεύτηκε στο ΦΕΚ η απόφαση για την ένταξη στον εξωδικαστικό

18 Ιούνιου (ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ) — Δημοσιεύθηκε στο ΦΕΚ η απόφαση 61654/ 2019 η οποία τροποποιεί την 130060/ 2017 και αυξάνεται το όριο για την εφαρμογή της απλοποιημένης διαδικασίας ρύθμισης οφειλών των επιχειρήσεων από τις 50.000 ευρώ στις 300.000 ευρώ, αντικαθιστά το άρθρο 3 για τον τυποποιημένο τρόπο αξιολόγησης βιωσιμότητας κ.ά.
Υπενθυμίζεται ότι η Κοινή Υπουργική Απόφαση η οποία δημοσιεύτηκε στο ΦΕΚ (Αρ. Φύλλου 2324/14-6-2019) καταλαμβάνει και τις εκκρεμείς αιτήσεις από το στάδιο, στο οποίο αυτές βρίσκονται.

Αναλυτικά η απόφαση ορίζει τα εξής σχετικά με τον τυποποιημένο τρόπο αξιολόγησης βιωσιμότητας:

Η υπ’ αριθμ. 130060/27.11.2017 (ΦΕΚ 4158 Β’) απόφαση τροποποιείται ως ακολούθως προκειμένου να ενταχθούν στο πεδίο εφαρμογής της οφειλές έως τριακόσιες χιλιάδες (300.000) ευρώ:
1. Στον τίτλο της απόφασης, οι λέξεις «δεν ξεπερνούν συνολικά το ποσό των πενήντα χιλιάδων ευρώ (50.000 ευρώ)» αντικαθίσταται από τις λέξεις «δεν ξεπερνούν συνολικά το ποσό των τριακοσίων χιλιάδων ευρώ (300.000 ευρώ)»

2. Στο άρθρο 1 οι λέξεις «το ύψος των οποίων δεν ξεπερνά συνολικά το ποσό των πενήντα χιλιάδων ευρώ (50.000,00 ευρώ)» αντικαθίσταται από τις λέξεις «το ύψος των οποίων δεν ξεπερνά συνολικά το ποσό των τριακοσίων χιλιάδων ευρώ (300.000,00 ευρώ)».

3. Το άρθρο 3 αντικαθίσταται ως εξής :

«’Αρθρο 3
Τυποποιημένος τρόπος αξιολόγησης βιωσιμότητας
1. Για τους σκοπούς της εφαρμογής της παρούσας απόφασης, προκειμένου ένας οφειλέτης να κριθεί βιώσιμος για την τυποποιημένη πρόταση ρύθμισης, πρέπει να πληροί σωρευτικά τα παρακάτω κριτήρια:

α) Θετικό καθαρό αποτέλεσμα προ φόρων, τόκων και αποσβέσεων κατά την τελευταία χρήση ή σε δύο (2) από τις τρεις (3) τελευταίες χρήσεις πριν από την υποβολή της αίτησης υπαγωγής στο ν. 4469/2017, και

β) Ο λόγος του συνόλου των οφειλών, μετά την αφαίρεση των ποσών της περίπτ. α ́ της παρ. 1 του άρθρου 4, προς το καθαρό αποτέλεσμα προ φόρων, τόκων και αποσβέσεων να είναι ίσος ή μικρότερος από δέκα (10). Για την εφαρμογή της παρούσας προϋπόθεσης λαμβάνεται υπόψη το μεγαλύτερο ποσό που προκύπτει από τη σύγκριση των εξής ποσών:
αα) του καθαρού αποτελέσματος προ φόρων τόκων και αποσβέσεων της τελευταίας χρήσης και

ββ) του μέσου όρου των δύο (2) πλέον θετικών καθαρών αποτελεσμάτων προ φόρων τόκων και αποσβέσεων από τις τρεις (3) τελευταίες χρήσεις.
2. Αν η αίτηση έχει υποβληθεί από ομόρρυθμο εταίρο, ο οποίος δεν έχει παράλληλα και ατομική επιχείρηση ή την ιδιότητα του επιτηδευματία, προκειμένου αυτός να κριθεί βιώσιμος για την τυποποιημένη πρόταση ρύθμισης, πρέπει να πληροί σωρευτικά τα παρακάτω κριτήρια:
α) Θετικό καθαρό αποτέλεσμα προ φόρων, τόκων και αποσβέσεων κατά την τελευταία χρήση ή σε δύο (2) από τις τρεις (3) τελευταίες χρήσεις πριν από την υποβολή της αίτησης υπαγωγής στο ν.4469/17 στο πρόσωπο της εταιρείας και

β) Ο λόγος του συνόλου των οφειλών της αίτησης, μετά την αφαίρεση των ποσών της περίπτ. α ́ της παρ. 1 του άρθρου 4, προς το μέσο όρο των πραγματικών ατομικών του εισοδημάτων των τριών (3) τελευταίων ετών πριν την υποβολή της αίτησης να είναι ίσος ή μικρότερος από δέκα (10).

3. Οι πιστωτές του δημόσιου και του ιδιωτικού τομέα διατηρούν σε κάθε περίπτωση το δικαίωμα να προβούν σε εξατομικευμένη αξιολόγηση βιωσιμότητας, σύμφωνα με τις εσωτερικές διαδικασίες οργάνωσής τους, προκειμένου να εκτιμήσουν την ικανότητα αποπληρωμής του οφειλέτη. Εάν πιστωτής, ο οποίος κατέχει την πλειοψηφία επί του συνόλου των απαιτήσεων, εκτιμήσει τον οφειλέτη ως μη βιώσιμο, δεν προτείνεται καμία ρύθμιση των οφειλών στο πλαίσιο της απλοποιημένης διαδικασίας.»

1. Το πρώτο εδάφιο της περίπτ. γ ́ της παρ. 1 του άρθρου 4 αντικαθίσταται ως εξής: «Ο αριθμός των μηνιαίων δόσεων στην περίπτωση των πιστωτών του ιδιωτικού τομέα, του Δημοσίου και των Φορέων Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης δεν επιτρέπεται να ξεπερνά τις εκατόν είκοσι (120)».

2. Στην περίπτ. δ ́ της παρ. 1 του άρθρου 4 οι λέξεις «σε όλους τους θεσμικούς πιστωτές», αντικαθίστανται με τις λέξεις «σε όλους τους πιστωτές, πλην των πιστωτών που προέρχονται από συμβάσεις παροχής εργασίας οποιουδήποτε τύπου».

3. Στο τελευταίο εδάφιο της περίπτ. ε ́ της παρ. 1 του άρθρου 4 οι λέξεις «για όλους τους θεσμικούς πιστωτές» αντικαθίστανται με τις λέξεις «για όλους τους πιστωτές».

4. Στο δεύτερο εδάφιο της περίπτ. στ ́ της παρ. 1 του άρθρου 4 οι λέξεις «στους θεσμικούς πιστωτές» αντικαθίστανται με τις λέξεις «σε όλους τους πιστωτές».

5. Η παρ. 3 του άρθρου 4 αντικαθίσταται ως εξής: «3. Το Δημόσιο και οι Φορείς Κοινωνικής Ασφάλισης δεν επιτρέπεται να υποβάλλουν προτάσεις αναδιάρθρωσης οφειλών ή να ψηφίζουν υπέρ προτάσεων αναδιάρθρωσης οφειλών που έχουν συνταχθεί σύμφωνα με τα αναφερόμενα στην παρ. 1 εφόσον:

α) η προς ρύθμιση οφειλή είναι έως 50.000 ευρώ και η συνολική περιουσία του οφειλέτη υπερβαίνει το εικοσαπενταπλάσιο αυτής,

β) η προς ρύθμιση συνολική οφειλή υπερβαίνει τις 50.000 ευρώ αλλά όχι τις 200.000 ευρώ και η συνολική αξία των περιουσιακών στοιχείων του οφειλέτη υπερβαίνει τόσο το εικοσαπλάσιο αυτής όσο και τα 1.250.000 ευρώ, ή

γ) η προς ρύθμιση συνολική οφειλή υπερβαίνει τις 200.000 ευρώ και η συνολική αξία των περιουσιακών στοιχείων του οφειλέτη υπερβαίνει τόσο το δεκαπενταπλάσιο αυτής όσο και τα 4.000.000 ευρώ».

Η παρούσα απόφαση ισχύει από τη δημοσίευσή της στην Εφημερίδα της Κυβερνήσεως και καταλαμβάνει και τις εκκρεμείς αιτήσεις από το στάδιο, στο οποίο αυτές βρίσκονται.

© ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ ΑΕ. Τα πνευματικά δικαιώματα ανήκουν στο ΑΠΕ-ΜΠΕ ΑΕ και παραχωρούνται σε συνδρομητές μόνον για συγκεκριμένη χρήση.
-0- Jun/18/2019 13:04 GMT

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