So far so good. The new Greek government has been touring the capitals of the EU, seeking to reassure and to push others to support them in a bid to extend the repayment dates of their debt and to make it easier to service. They have come up with sophisticated lines on how with agreement they could live with their debts, and all could believe they will ultimately meet the obligations, but not anytime soon.
They have also promise to live within their means month by month so they do need additional borrowings to pay for current spending. This forecast relies on getting in more tax revenue, and is despite their wish to increase certain spending programmes as part of their relief of austerity. Some will think this is feasible, others will worry lest the wish to spend outweighs the passion for prudence.
Meanwhile the day to day expenses of the government need cash. This is coming from issues of Treasury Bills as well as from revenue. The commercial banks can help by buying some of them. Germany is concerned, as the ECB is lending to the commercial banks, who in turn may be lending to the Greek government. That is not what Germany has in mind to continue Greece’s march to sound finance. The ECB’s decision to disallow Greek bonds as collateral for loans turns up the pressure and makes it more difficult for the Greek government to finance itself.
The Greek government has a point when it seeks a breathing space to construct new spending and taxing plans compatible with all the past debts. The EU and IMF have a point if they say there is to be no more additional borrowing for new spending, and there must be a sensible agreed plan for servicing and repaying the inherited debts. The irresistible force of Syriza has not yet directly hit the immovable object of German resistance to debt cancellation or rescheduling in effective partial cancellation. It is still too difficult to call how it will go, though much is riding on it for the EU economies and for the future of the Euro itself. If the lenders agree to some version of what Syriza wants, lengthening the repayment date and lowering the service charges, that is in effect cancelling some part of the debts. Why wouldn’t other states then want similar relief?