Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is not having a good start to the week.
According to the Financial Times, Varoufakis is “increasingly isolated,” and Eurogroup chief Jeroen Dijsselbloem is contacting Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras directly to try to negotiate, bypassing the finance ministry.
At the Eurogroup summit in Riga that finished last week, Greece had hoped to finalise a €7.2 billion ($US7.8 billion, £5.16 billion) bailout tranche. However, Athens seems nowhere near a mutually acceptable agreement with its European creditors.
Spanish finance minister Luis de Guindos even broke protocol by talking to Bloomberg about the events of the meeting:
“All the ministers told him: this can’t go on,” Spain’s Luis de Guindos said the following day. “The feeling among the 18 was exactly the same. There was no kind of divergence.” The others who provided an account of the meeting in interviews asked not to be named, citing the privacy of the talks.
Varoufakis is rapidly becoming the Mario Balotelli of European finance ministers. Over the weekend he tweeted a Roosevelt quote: “They are unanimous in their hate for me; and I welcome their hatred,” which seems like a slightly wordier version of Balotelli’s more succinct “WHY ALWAYS ME“.
Analysts are pretty much united on how the situation looks. Here’s Deutsche Bank’s Jim Reid early Monday:
In terms of the latest on Greece key EU stakeholders are still in a deadlock after the meeting at Riga last Friday. Indeed there are also signs that Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis is increasingly being isolated both in Brussels and in Athens which has prompted officials to bypass the finance minister in upcoming debt talks.
And here’s Daiwa Capital Markets’ Chris Scicluna:
The pressure on the Greek government to speed up the formulation of acceptable fiscal and structural reforms intensified following the reported “hammering” Varoufakis received at Friday’s Eurogroup meeting.
And here’s Michael Every at Rabobank:
The news-flow over the weekend itself was already notable regarding Greece, with Eurozone finance ministers lashing out at their Greek counterpart as a “time-waster”; to which Mr. Varoufakis used Twitter to quote F.D. Roosevelt’s response to those who opposed his New Deal during the Great Depression, “They are unanimous in their hatred for me; and I welcome their hatred.” Clearly, tensions on that front continue to rise as Greece’s looming payments to creditors come due.
According to a variety of estimates, without the bailout deal Greece may have until June or July before it runs out of cash to meet debt repayments. Whether Varoufakis makes it to that point in the summer in his current position is an open question right now.