ΓΙΑΤΙ Η CIA ΠΑΡΑΚΟΛΟΥΘΕΙ ΤΟΝ ΚΑΡΑΜΟΥΖΗ;

by on 11 Μάρτιος 2015

Του Νίκου Πάσχου

lobbystas@gmail.com

Ποιοι ήταν οι λόγοι που ανάγκασαν την CIA να παρακολουθεί και τον αμερικανό πρέσβη να συντάσσει πολυσέλιδες απόρρητες εκθέσεις για τον «αυτο-ορκισμένο υποστηρικτή του ΠΑΣΟΚ» !!! Νίκο Καραμούζη;  

Τον Οκτώβριο του 2009 με την ανάληψη της κυβέρνησης από τον ΓΑΠ τα «telex» της Αμερικανικής πρεσβείας άναψαν φωτιά. Εμπιστευτικές και απόρρητες εκθέσεις με την υπογραφή του τότε πρέσβη, Speckhard. Μεταξύ άλλων αυτές οι απόρρητες εκθέσεις έφταναν και στο DEPT OF TREASURY στη WASHINGTON DC.

Ήταν πολιτικό πρόσωπο ο Καραμούζης; Οι συνταγμένες εκθέσεις περιείχαν προσωπικές απόψεις του πρέσβη που διάβαζε τον ελληνικό τύπο; Σαφώς και όχι. Στο σύνολο των πληροφοριών οι πηγές ήταν και αυτές που προήρχοντο από την παρακολούθηση Καραμούζη από την CIA. Ενδεικτικά ένα και μόνο, ενα, «τηλεγράφημα» είναι 2.681 λέξεων !!! 2.681 λέξεις για να μάθουν στην WASHINGTON ότι ο Καραμούζης είναι ΠΑΣΟΚ;    

Πόσες ακόμη απόρρητες εκθέσεις υπάρχουν για τον Καραμούζη; Τι περιγράφουν και γιατί οι αμερικανοί παρακολουθούν στενά τον σημερινό πρόεδρο και τότε αντιπρόεδρο της EUROBANK ;

Τι να λέει άραγε, ο νέος πρέσβης στις απόρρητες εκθέσεις του, με την ανάληψη της εξουσίας από τον ΣΥΡΙΖΑ για τον Καραμούζη;

To be continued…

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ZNR UUUUU ZZH

 

R 271515Z OCT 09

 

FM AMEMBASSY ATHENS

 

TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 0906

 

INFO RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC

 

UNCLAS ATHENS 001583

 

SENSITIVE

 

SIPDIS

 

DESK PASS TO U.S. TREASURY LUKAS KOHLER

 

DESK PASS TO STATE/EUR/ERA MATTHEW BEH/JONATHAN KESSLER

 

DESK PASS TO STATE/EEB/OMA JOHN C. KELLEY

 

E.O. 12958: N/A

 

TAGS: ECON ECIN PREL GR EFIN

 

SUBJECT: SENIOR GREEK BANKER COMMENTS ON GREEK ECONOMY, NEW GOVERNMENT, BANK HEALTH

 

REF: A. ATHENS 1581; B. ATHENS 1451; C. ATHENS 371; D. ATHENS 339

 

¶E. ATHENS 216; F. ATHENS 176; G. 08 ATHENS 1655; H. 08 ATHENS 1515

 

 

SUMMARY

 

 

¶1. (SBU) In a recent conversation with DepEconCouns, Nikolaos B.

 

Karamouzis, the Deputy Chief Executive Officer of Eurobank EFG,

 

Greeces second largest private bank in terms of both deposits and

 

assets, discussed his views on Greeces economic and budget

 

situation, the new PASOK government and its reform capacity, and

 

the strength of Greeks banks.  Karamouzis, a self-proclaimed PASOK

 

supporter and an American-educated economist who also has served as

 

a Deputy CEO at the National Bank of Greece and a staff economist

 

at the Bank of Greece (Greeces central bank), indicated the new

 

government has inherited an economy on the brink of collapse and

 

has very few options open to it to rein-in public finances and very

 

little time to act before capital markets and the EU respond

 

While major expenditure cuts are needed, Karamouzis is

not optimistic that the new government has the capacity and

 

willingness to undertake such measures.  In his mind, the new

 

government has 100 days to prove to Greek citizens and

 

international markets that it has the capacity and willingness to

 

implement painful reforms.  But he believes that PASOK already lost

 

a key opportunity when it failed to act quickly and decisively to

 

end the 16-day strike by dockworkers opposed to the privatization

 

of the Piraeus port (see reftel A).  Karamouzis applauded

 

Papandreous decision to carve the Ministry of Finance from the

 

Ministry of Economy, but he believes that the lines of authority

 

have not been clearly delineated, which he believes will lead to

 

conflict and confusion in the management of economic policy

 

something Greece can ill afford.  Finally, on the health of Greek

 

banks, Karamouzis asserted that with the life-saving

 

interventions by the IMF in countries like Bulgaria and Romania,

 

concerns about Greek bank subsidiaries in the Balkans were

 

Concerns about bank operations in Greece, however, were

still high, since the impact of the crisis was only now beginning

 

to be felt in the real economy.  End Summary.

 

 

 

THE GREEK ECONOMY: TWIN CHALLENGES OF DEFICIT AND DEBT; GROWTH

 

PROSPECTS

 

 

 

¶2. (SBU) Karamouzis indicated in a recent conversation with

 

DepEconCouns that dealing with Greeces twin deficits (e.g., the

 

budget deficit and the public debt) is the most urgent and acute

 

challenge facing the new government.  He projects that public debt

 

will reach almost 300 billion euros, or 115 percent of GDP, by the

 

end of 2009 (according to new GoG data, the debt in 2008 was 99.2

 

percent of GDP; for 2009 through end-June, the level of debt had

 

increased to 111.5 percent of GDP).  The size of the interest

 

component alone (12 billion euros for 2009) is challenging the

 

governments ability to service it without resorting to further

 

[Note: A key factor in assessing whether a countrys

debt burden is sustainable is whether it can service the annual

 

interest coming due without borrowing more and thereby adding to

 

the debt load.  End Note.]  Rising interest rates, which are almost

 

certainly around the corner in Karamouziss view, will aggravate

 

Greeces ability to continue to service this debt without continued

 

borrowing.

 

¶3. (SBU) Karamouzis regards narrowing the budget deficit as crucial

 

if Greece is to continue to be able to service this debt and,

 

ultimately, get on the path towards reducing it.  Karamouzis

 

explained that to comply with the 3 percent deficit cap under the

 

EUs Growth and Stability Pact (SGP), Greece will need to find

 

budgetary savings on the order of 18-20 billion euros over the next

 

three years.  Karamouzis underscored that because the governments

 

new 2009 deficit projection (12.5 percent of GDP, or approximately

 

30 billion euros) was over half of the expected 2009 revenue base

 

of 50-60 billion euros, finding these savings could not come from

 

additional taxes alone.  The government will need to implement

 

major spending cuts in addition to improving tax collection and

 

tackling tax evasion.

 

¶4. (SBU) Karamouzis believes that the economy will shrink this year

 

by approximately 1.5 percent (GoG projects the same), despite

 

factors that have supported demand and growth (e.g., a large budget

 

deficit exacerbated by government spending and 2 percent growth in

 

nominal wages).   Notwithstanding a potentially strong recovery in

 

the EU next year, he forecasts that the Greek economy will shrink

 

again in 2010 by 0.5 to 1 percent as a result of flat real wages, a

 

continued deceleration in credit, and the measures that the GoG

 

must take to shrink the deficit.

 

 

IS THE NEW GOVERNMENT UP TO THE TASK?

 

 

¶5. (SBU) Karamouzis, who is a self-proclaimed PASOK supporter and

 

claims he has close ties with many in the new government (including

 

the Minister of Finance Giorgos Papakonstantinou and Minister of

 

Citizens Protection Michalis Chrysochoidis), is hoping for the

 

best, but he sees a very difficult road ahead and increasingly

 

limited options for the government.  He regards this as the most

 

difficult economic environment that Greece has faced in over 50

 

years, and it will require years of persistent, focused, and

 

unpopular policies.  PASOK, Karamouzis believes, has a very limited

 

window of opportunity in which to act to convince Greek citizens

 

and the markets that it is committed to undertaking serious public

 

finance and structural reforms.  In his opinion, the context in

 

which the GoG acts will become increasingly constrained for several

 

reasons: (1) a high level of frustration and low level of patience

 

among people as a result of the lack of action taken by the

 

previous government; (2) intensifying calls from the EU for

 

immediate reforms; (3) weakening bargaining power with labor

 

unions, as the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) and SYRIZA seek to

 

foment and take advantage of labor union discontent; and (4)

 

increasing social discontent as people feel more personal impact

 

from the crisis.  If PASOK does not act decisively in the first 100

 

days, Karamouzis fears the government will lose popularity, the

 

economic environment will continue to deteriorate, and it will be

 

all the more difficult to sell reforms to an angry and disheartened

 

public.

 

¶6. (SBU) While the new PASOK government has stated that it intends

 

to narrow the budget deficit to a single digit in 2010 through a

 

combination of measures, including aggressively fighting tax

 

evasion, cutting spending and increasing taxes on only the wealthy,

 

Karamouzis is not optimistic that PASOK will have the political

 

room or willingness to implement these measures.  He believes that

 

spending cuts will be fought hard by PASOK traditionalists desire

 

to play to the partys established constituencies like labor and,

 

in particular, the civil service.  On tax evasion, he is not

 

certain the GoG has the resolve and the technical capacity to solve

 

the prolific problems that contribute to it.  Finally, Karamouzis

 

believes that there will be strong pressure to resort to additional

 

taxes if it becomes increasingly clear that the other measures are

 

simply too difficult to effect.

 

 

 

 HANDLING OF THE PORT STRIKE: PORTENT OF THINGS TO COME?

 

 

 

¶7. (SBU) Karamouzis stated that he was disappointed by the GoGs

 

handling of the recent strike by Port of Piraeus dockworkers

 

protesting the privatization of the ports management to

 

Beijing-based China Ocean Shipping Company (COSCO) Pacific (see

 

reftel A).  While he understands that Prime Minister Papandreou

 

promised during the election campaign to reexamine various

 

privatization deals negotiated by the previous government in order

 

to gain the support of labor unions, he believes this rhetoric

 

backfired on PASOK.  In his opinion, it created an air of

 

expectation and galvanized dockworkers to go back on strike

 

(following months of relative quiet) with the aim of forcing the

 

new government to abrogate the COSCO deal.  Now that PASOK is in

 

office, campaign rhetoric aside, Karamouzis would have liked to see

 

PM Papandreou prioritize the needs of the Greek economy and all

 

Greek citizens above the selfish demands of one small group.  By

 

acting quickly and decisively to quash the strike (Karamouzis did

 

not suggest how the GoG might have done so), Papandreou could have

 

shown investors that contract rights and foreign direct investment

 

(FDI) were respected and supported.  Karamouzis expressed concern

 

that companies looking to invest their dwindling resources will

 

interpret the GoGs actions as not business-friendly and decide

 

against investing in Greece at a time when Greece desperately needs

 

FDI to help it recover from the global financial crisis.

 

¶8. (SBU) Karamouzis also fears the tentative way the GoG dealt

 

with a strike that had paralyzed Greeces busiest seaport and cost

 

the Greek economy millions of euros a day plays right into the

 

hands of other labor groups looking to exploit the GoGs pro-labor

 

Karamouzis gave as an example a series of upcoming

strikes by bank labor unions, which are seeking to force the

 

government to enter into a collective bargaining agreement for

 

automatic wage hikes.  [Note: Collective wage agreements, which

 

unite different unions seeking various benefits like wage increases

 

against the GoG, are common in Greece.  They often weaken the GoGs

 

bargaining position by forcing it to deal with an entire sectors

 

employees as a block versus dealing with each union on an

 

individual basis.  The IMF and others point to these collective

 

agreements as a key constraint to improving competitiveness, as

 

they lead to wage hikes above the rates of inflation and

 

End Note.]  Unless PASOK gets tough on labor unions

and their demands immediately, Karamouzis expressed fear that the

 

KKE and SYRIZA will use labor discontent to challenge and goad

 

PASOK to live up to its socialist ideals, making it more and more

 

difficult for PASOK to achieve its stated reforms.  This could

 

reach a head by December, as Greece approaches the one-year

 

anniversary of the shooting death by police of a teenager and the

 

riots that followed.

 

 

THE NEW ECONOMIC MINISTRIES

 

 

¶9. (SBU) Karamouzis applauded PM Papandreous move to separate the

 

Ministry of Finance from the Ministry of National Economy and to

 

create a new Ministry of Economy, Competitiveness and Merchant

 

He is concerned, however, that the lines of authority have

not been clearly delineated.  According to Karamouziss discussions

 

with senior members of the government, Minister of Finance Giorgos

 

Papakonstantinou will be responsible for revenues and spending,

 

taxation policy, dealings with international institutions like the

 

IMF and the European Commission, the finances of Greek state

 

organizations, debt management, the stock exchange and banks, and

 

overall economic policy.  His GoG interlocutors have told him that

 

the new Ministry of Economy is supposed to function like the U.S.

 

Department of Commerce, with its new head, Louka Katseli,

 

responsible for trade and commerce, competition policy, antitrust

 

issues, and shipping issues.   This division will only work,

 

according to Karamouzis, if the two new ministers have good

 

Karamouzis shared frankly with DepEconCouns that the

two Ministers in question are known to collide on a personality and

 

policy basis.  According to Karamouzis, it is well known within

 

PASOK that Katseli expected to become the economy czar, with a

 

range of power and responsibilities similar to that of her husband,

 

Gerasimos Arsenis, who was the Minister of Economy and Finance and

 

head of Greeces central bank in the early 1980s under PM Andreas

 

Karamouzis thinks that PM Papandreou made the right

choice in making Papakonstantinou responsible for the most

 

important part of economic policy.  He is viewed, according to

 

Karamouzis, as more free-market minded, friendlier to investors,

 

and more favorably by capital markets and ratings agencies.

 

Katseli, on the other hand, Karamouzis indicated, is viewed as

 

supporting more pro-labor and populist economic policies.

 

Karamouzis stated that Katseli is supposed to have an undefined

 

role in advising PM Papandreou on economic policy a situation

 

which he believes will create conflict and confusion in the

 

management of economic policy both of which Greece can ill afford

 

at this crucial time.

 

 

 

BANKS: PASOK POLICIES TOWARDS; GENERAL HEALTH

 

 

 

¶10. (SBU)  Despite PASOKs rhetoric while in the opposition and

 

during the election to nationalize banks and their profits,

 

Karamouzis does not believe PASOK will attempt to intervene in the

 

market operation of Greeces banks.  He thinks that, at most, PASOK

 

will undertake the following vis-C -vis the banks: (1) impose an

 

extra tax on banks 2009 profits; (2) pass a consumer protection

 

law that most banks favor as long as it does not encourage people

 

to default on their debts; (3) support bank unions in their demands

 

for wage hikes; and (4) merge two state-owned banks (Agricultural

 

Bank of Greece, or ATEBank, and Postal Savings Bank) to create a

 

state-development bank along the lines of Germanys KfW

 

(Reconstruction Credit Institute, formed after World War II as part

 

of the Marshall Plan).  Karamouzis believes without a doubt that

 

the GoG also will appoint a new head of Greeces largest private

 

bank, the National Bank of Greece (NBG).  Karamouzis said that this

 

is a tradition given that state pension funds control 17 percent of

 

the NBGs stock, and it is not one PASOK is likely to forego.

 

[Note: DepEconCouns has heard from two trusted sources at NBG that

 

Karamouziss name is being bandied about as the potential new head

 

of NBG.  End Note.]

 

¶11. (SBU) On the health of Greek banks in the aftermath of the

 

global financial crisis, Karamouzis stated that the sector as a

 

whole is doing well.  Most large Greek banks are returning to

 

profit, but these are the result more of trading activities in the

 

capital markets and less traditional banking (mortgages, consumer

 

lending, etc.).  Credit expansion continues to decelerate for

 

Greece as a whole, having fallen to 6 percent in August from 6.6

 

percent in July.  Concerns over Greek bank subsidiaries in the

 

Balkans have abated, according to Karamouzis, largely due to the

 

various IMF interventions in the region, particularly in Romania

 

and Bulgaria.  Karamouzis indicated that Greek banks today are more

 

concerned with the situation in Greece itself than that in the

 

This is due to the fact that the real economy in Greece

has only begun to be hit by the effects of the global crisis.

 

Eurobank and other Greek banks are watching non-performing loans

 

(NPLs) carefully in Greece, fearing that as the economy continues

 

to shrink and unemployment rises, more and more businesses and

 

people will not be able to service their loans.  Karamouzis

 

outlined that Eurobanks NPL ratio for loans 90 days or more past

 

due for the Balkans was deteriorating at a slower pace (6.5 percent

 

at the end of the 3Q 2009), while its NPL ratio for Greece was

 

beginning to deteriorate at a faster pace (5.5 percent at the end

 

of 3Q2009).  [Note:  Eurobank EFG is the second largest bank in

 

Greece in terms of both assets and deposits.  It has a banking

 

presence in Bulgaria, Serbia, Romania, Turkey, Poland, Ukraine,

 

United Kingdom, Luxembourg, and Cyprus.  Its loan-to-deposits ratio

 

for the group as a whole at end 2Q2009 was 117 percent, while it

 

was 143 percent in New Europe (Balkans, Turkey, Poland, Ukraine).

 

The capital position of the group at the end of 2Q2009 is as

 

follows: Total Tier 1: 10.2 percent;  Total Capital Adequacy Ratio:

 

12.1 percent.  End Note.]

 

 

COMMENT

 

 

¶12. (SBU) As a self-avowed supporter of PASOK, Karamouziss views

 

are a sign that the new government has its work cut out for it if

 

it is to convince the Greek electorate and markets that it is able

 

and willing to take on reforms.  PASOK rhetoric has set the bar

 

high regarding public expectations, potentially complicating the

 

governments efforts to balance competing priorities.

 

Speckhard

 

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