As more eurospin cobblers poured out of Brussels this morning, yet more data popped up from independent sources to make it look the complete tosh it is.
‘Booming’ Spain issued deficit numbers showing it was a further €120m in the red, confounding the consensus of expectation totally.
Italy was ‘zooming into No 2 position’ on expectations, until revised figures today (March 31st) showed it forecast to still have negative growth by next September. The Q4 figures are left blank, either through embarrassment, or perhaps a feeling that the country will have defaulted by then. The company responsible for the forecast advised that ‘the public debt and budget deficit have reached unsustainable levels and the country is facing tough austerity measures and the second recession in four years’. So it’s good news again for plucky Rome.
Now that the almost blanket rejection by the eurogroupe of Syriza’s reform plans is official, the markets are losing faith (again) in the eurozone’s ability to survive….it has lost another cent against both the Pound and US Dollar so far today.
It appears also that more and more advisers, analysts and investors are catching on to the mayhem of splits and petty squabbles that the EU beyond Greece now represents. The fastest moving of these is that between the EC and Troika2, as Jean-Claude Drunker fights to get back power ceded to “the negotiators” and their coiffure-curling bumboy Jereboam Dieselbang. Merkel is watching all this with a carefully focused eye, and both Schäuble and Weidmann remain deeply suspicious of the ECB’s unaccountable power under Mario Draghi.
In fact, German contacts suggest that – between visits to her geliebte Fridge – Frau Doktor Merkel has intervened personally, since the eurogroupe’s negative leaks over the weekend, to say can we have less showboating and more compromise please. Juncker has, I know, been lobbying hard with her about this. I believe this feedback chiefly because the source is reliable, and also it reflects the reality of hard bargaining towards some form of patched-up accord that suddenly became the order of the day in the negotiations over the last 36 hours. In Berlin and Frankfurt, I understand, there is serious unease about how – for all their bluster – this might end.
There is a growing sense in Brussels too that this time Tsipras isn’t bluffing. Calling last night during an Athens parliamentary debate for “an honourable compromise, but no capitulation”, the Greek Prime Minister disappointed some naysayers by providing no detail on the progress of negotiations at all; but for myself, I see this as a good call from the Syriza leader. He seems convinced enough that genuine efforts are being made by the ramshackle EC/Eurogroupe/Berlin alliance to salvage something saleable to the markets with an announcement tomorrow – which, rather aptly, is April Fool’s Day.
But there is much that could still go wrong. Drizzleblood is more negative than most, and as always the ECB’s Dragula can wreak havoc as and when he emerges from his coffin.
Things are very finely balanced: the markets seem unwilling this time to swallow the bollocks, and the Athens stance gets tougher every week. On verra.