What is the Capital of Greece Today?
All over Athens people have been queuing tonight, but the lines outside the National Bank branches were by some distance the longest, reports Jon Henley.
And that’s because the National Bank supplies the banknotes, and lots of other Greek banks, by midnight on Sunday, had no more of those.
“People are feeling very concerned … very insecure, ” said Maria Poulimeniou, outside the National Bank on Eleftherios Venizelos street in Kallithea, a southern Athens suburb.
“The situation changes from one minute to the next. First they say the banks will be closed on Monday, now for the whole week.”
Pouleminou, who works in the finance department of a shipping company, said she had tried the local branch of her bank, Alpha, but “they had nothing left. Empty. So I’m here. I’m taking out the limit – €600, it is here. But they say after midnight it will be €60. That’s why there’s a queue.”People queue up to withdraw money from an ATM outside a branch of Greece’s National Bank in Athens, Greece, 28 June 2015. Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi/EPA
While Greece’s government announced on Sunday night that the country’s banks would not open on Monday, that capital controls would be introduced and limits set on withdrawals, there was no official confirmation yet of what those limits would be. But there were at least 70 people queuing outside this one branch, and most National Bank branches on the way back into town had similar lines.
As their debt-laden, all but insolvent country – and the eurozone – entered uncharted territory last night, it seemed plenty of Greeks were taking no chances.“I’m not taking out all I have, ” said Stathis, 58, who described himself as a private sector employee.
“But the government has just said the banks will stay shut for a week, so I’m here to take out what I need for that – maybe a couple of hundred euros.” He was quite clear about who he though was responsible.
“We should never even have tried to negotiate, ” he said.
“Whatever the government did, I think we would probably have ended up exactly where we are right now. This whole thing has been planned, from the start, by the Germans.”People walk by a graffiti reading ‘People say NO’ on the wall of a closed bank in Athens tonight. Photograph: Simela Pantzartzi/EPA
Yannis, a postgraduate finance student, was more phlegmatic. “I just want to withdraw what I can now, ” he said. “It’s far from clear to me when we will be able to take money out again. I’m aiming for €300 – enough for at least a week, I hope.”
But he said he had “no idea” what would happen after that.
“(Prime minister Alexis) Tsipras says he’ll be able to go back to Brussels in a better position after this referendum, and reopen negotiations with the institutions from a position of strength...But nobody knows if that will be the case. Nobody knows anything, in fact.”
Anna, 63, a pensioner, wanted to make clear she was not standing in a bank queue just before midnight because she had panicked. “Look, ” she said.
“I had no cash, and I obviously need some. My pension has just been paid, and I’m here with my neighbout to take some of it out. Not all of it – just some. That’s all. I’m not scared, not in the least. We’ve seen worse, here. We will come through this.”
The Big, Big question isn’t whether shareholders lose money.
It is whether investors are still confident that debt issued by Italy, Spain, Portugal, et al is safe.
Three years ago, Mario Draghi calmed the crisis by vowing to do ‘whatever it takes’ to save the euro. We are about to find out if people believe him.— David Ferreira (@Igualitarista)
what people should be watching isn't the euro exchange rate, it's the periphery bond market tomorrow.— Lorcan Roche Kelly (@LorcanRK)
Draghi probably has the bond markets' back here. Equities, not so much..
Markets facing 'unknown unknowns'
Sam Tuck, a senior currency strategist at ANZ Bank New Zealand Ltd, has told Bloomberg that we’re entering a “very very volatile” time.
“The knee-jerk reaction is for flight out of the euro and into safety. Defaulting to the IMF tomorrow looks like a certainty and when that happens there is no proposal, there is no legal mandate for Europe to bail out Greece.
There are a whole bunch of unknown unknowns.”
Here’s their early take:
In the early hours of Saturday, the PM announced plans for a referendum. Events have accelerated since then. The euro is trading significantly weaker at the Asia open (spot 1.0970) and risk aversion seems likely to dominate the day ahead