We Are Watching The Greek Banking System Die Right In Front Of Our Eyes
Money is being pulled out of Greek banks at an alarming rate, and if something dramatic is not done quickly Greek banks are going to start dropping like flies. As I detailed yesterday, people do not want to be stuck with euros in Greek banks when Greece leaves the euro and converts back to the drachma. The fear is that all existing euros in Greek banks would be converted over to drachmas which would then rapidly lose value after the transition. So right now euros are being pulled out of Greek banks at a staggering pace. According to MSNBC, Greeks withdrew $894 million from Greek banks on Monday alone and a similar amount was withdrawn on Tuesday. But this is just an acceleration of a trend that has been going on for a couple of years. It has been reported that approximately a third of all Greek bank deposits were withdrawn between January 2010 and March 2012. So where has all of the cash for these withdrawals been coming from? Well, the European Central Bank has been providing liquidity for Greek banks, but on Tuesday it was reported that the ECB is going to stop providing liquidity to some Greek banks. It was not announced which Greek banks are being cut off. For now, the Greek Central Bank will continue to provide euros to those banks, but the Greek Central Bank will not be able to funnel euros into insolvent banks indefinitely.
This is a major move by the European Central Bank, and it is going to shake confidence in the Greek banking system even more.
There are already rumors that the Greek government is considering placing limits on bank withdrawals, and many Greeks will be tempted to go grab their money while they still can.
Once strict currency controls are put in place, the population is likely to respond very angrily. If people can’t get their money there is no telling what they might do.
We are reaching a critical moment. Many fear that a full-blown “bank panic” could happen at any time. The following is from a recent Forbes article….
The pressing problem isn’t a splintered legislature that may balk at delivering the reforms that the IMF and European Community are demanding in exchange for the next tranche of bailout money. It’s a disastrous, old-fashioned run-on-the bank. “For a year, Greeks have been sending their savings from Greek banks to foreign banks,” says Robert Aliber, retired professor of international economics from the University of Chicago. “Now, the flood has reached a crescendo.” Indeed on Monday alone, outflows from the Greek banks reached almost $900 million.