How long can secret ECB meetings stay secret? Allowing time to write a story, the answer is something like 3 days, if that. The Wall Street Journal today reports on a secret meeting that took place Monday evening regarding Greece finances.

Please consider Greece Creditors, France, Germany Held Secret Meeting Monday.

Top officials peeled away from colleagues after a euro-zone finance ministers meeting in Brussels Monday evening for a secret meeting to discuss mounting concerns over Greece’s bailout.

Greek Finance Minister Yiannis Stournaras, who was briefing the press in a building across the street at the time, wasn’t invited.

High-level officials from the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission, the European Central Bank, senior euro-zone officials and the German and French finance ministers were present, according to people with direct knowledge of the situation. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they aren’t authorized to talk to the press.

They were trying to figure out how to tackle two issues threatening to unsettle the fragile economic recovery in Greece and the broader euro zone.

They discussed how to press the Greek government to forge ahead with unpopular structural reforms; and second, how to scramble together extra cash to cover a shortfall in the country’s financing for the second half of the year, estimated at €5 billion-€6 billion ($6.81 billion-$8.17 billion).

The meeting was inconclusive, the people familiar with the situation said.

Creditors Worried

Clearly, creditors are worried over Greece’s ability to pay back bailout money (loans). They should be worried because there is no possible way Greece can ever pay back those loans.

The best time to be worried about getting paid back is before stupid loans are made, not now. It’s far too late to be worried now about loans already made. There is still time to not compound the mistake of making further loans (something they have done several times already).


Support for Prime Minister Antonis Samaras’ New Democracy coalition has crumbled to pieces. If an election were held today, opposition party SYRIZA would win without a doubt.

Moreover, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras, who opposes the austerity measures and said his party wouldn’t repay the $325 billion in loans granted by the Troika of the European Union-International Monetary Fund-European Central Bank (EU-IMF-ECB) has predicted the Leftists will come to power.

For details, please see SYRIZA Surges in Greek Polls, Would Win Election if Held Today; Message People Want to Hear; Contagion Guarantee.

Tsipras has since backed off on some of his harsh threats, but I suspect only for the purpose of increasing his election chances.

Repeating what I have stated before …

Default Coming One Way or Another

Whether done properly, or with promises that cannot be met, Greece is going to default on that debt. When that happens, German citizens will discover that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s promise that German taxpayers won’t be impacted is as hollow as most chocolate Easter bunnies.

Calculating taxpayer responsibility percentages of various countries is simple enough.

Eurozone Financial Stability Contribution Weights

Country Guarantee Commitments (EUR) Millions Percentage
Austria € 21,639.19 2.78%
Belgium € 27,031.99 3.47%
Cyprus € 1,525.68 0.20%
Estonia € 1,994.86 0.26%
Finland € 13,974.03 1.79%
France € 158,487.53 20.32%
Germany € 211,045.90 27.06%
Greece € 21,897.74 2.81%
Ireland € 12,378.15 1.59%
Italy € 139,267.81 17.86%
Luxembourg € 1,946.94 0.25%
Malta € 704.33 0.09%
Netherlands € 44,446.32 5.70%
Portugal € 19,507.26 2.50%
Slovakia € 7,727.57 0.99%
Slovenia € 3,664.30 0.47%
Spain € 92,543.56 11.87%
Eurozone 17 € 779,783.14 100%

The above table from European Financial Stability Facility

Note that Greece is responsible for 2.81% of Greek defaults. How is that going to work?

It doesn’t. So take that percentage and spread it around according by revised weight. And what is Spain supposed to do with it’s 12% of €325 billion of defaults?

Contagion Guarantee

Thank the economic illiterates at Troika for this setup.

Greece could have defaulted in 2009 with perhaps a €40-50 billion mess to clean up. In a foolish attempt to prevent contagion, the nannycrats turned a relatively small mess into major €325 billion problem, virtually assuring the contagion they set out to prevent.

Expect to see much use of the word “contagion” in the coming months.

Here is a question I asked in Prisoner’s Dilemma Game in Greece; Contagion-Spread Eurozone Breakup More Likely Now; How will Greece NOT pay back €320 billion? So Angela Merkel, when are you going to admit this setup, and what are you going to do about it?

Results “Inconclusive”

Clearly she doesn’t know. Results of the meeting were “inconclusive”.

If the Troika wants to hold secret meetings on something realistic, they should include Greece, and discuss how best to contain the damage when Greece does default. Instead they focus on the delusional zero percent idea they can somehow prevent default or further writedowns.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock