A Surprising Conversation with Athens
If you read me on a regular basis you know that I speak with a fellow in Athens who is connected to the shipping industry and the government. I provide links below to some of those articles to establish this person’s credibility. He’s been pretty much right on things that have happened in his hometown.
I called him today to discuss the (now definitive) fact that there is no new government and elections will take place on June 16. What he said completely blew my mind.
He started with the well-documented fact that 70-80% of Greeks do not want to give up the Euro. They are afraid for their future, and their ability to survive if that link is broken. The following are his words, not mine:
Athens - The results of the May election are in conflict with the people's desire to stay with the Euro.
The people voted in anger. They voted against those they had voted for in the past. Now they see whom they have elected.
Every day on TV the extreme right is interviewed. They are Nazi’s. People are frightened by this.
On the left you have Alexis Tsipras (Syriza). This man is an uneducated thug. The people understand that. They don’t want this man to be their leader.
When the next election comes, Greeks will not vote in anger and they will not vote for the idiots on the fringes. The centrist parties will rebound. A National Salvation Government will be formed.
BK - There are polls in the US press that say that Syriza will win a majority. (link)
Athens - I don’t think those polls are accurate. To me, things look much brighter today than a few weeks ago.
BK - But does it matter who wins? Can Greece be saved?
Athens - This up to Germany. Most of the debt is now with Germany and France. France’s Hollande would agree in one minute to reset the interest on the debt to zero for the next five years. If Germany agrees to do the same, there is a chance. The IMF would support Greece under these conditions. The restructured bank debt would get paid interest.
BK - Do you really believe that Greece can achieve a long-term recovery with this?
Athens - Not a chance. Everything will blow up again in less than one year.
The thrust of this conversation runs counter to what I believed likely to happen next in Greece. There is a six-week period before the election. Anything can happen. The scenario my friend outlined is not out of the question.
If this fellow is right that the Greek elections are going to produce a surprise result, one that will create another “Kick the can down the road” opportunity, then it's not in the market today. The exact opposite is.
Other articles based on conversations with "Athens".
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