After many mixed messages in recent months, the Greek government seems to have alighted on one simple line: can’t pay, won’t pay.
The smart money has always been on a last-minute deal being done to keep Greece afloat with Athens making most of the concessions and the euro zone and IMF bending only a little. But the chances of a car crash are growing as each day passes.
The Greek government states that a cash-for-reforms deal with the EU and IMF can be finalized in the next 10 days but the other side is much less optimistic and there was no sign of a breakthrough at the EU summit in Riga which Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras had been pinning some hope on.
Greece’s European lenders have played down hopes of a swift end to aid negotiations and said talks must speed up before the country runs out of cash. That contrasted sharply with optimism in Athens where a series of top officials asserted that a deal was just days away.
In an epic late-night talk show appearance, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said his government was nearing a cash-for-reforms deal with its euro zone partners and the International Monetary Fund that would help it meet debt repayments next month.
An interesting weekend intervention by ECB policymaker Yves Mersch who said there was no question of winding up QE early and that inflation, still skulking around zero, would stay there until autumn then rise sharply late in the year towards 1.5 percent.