Thursday, July 16, 2015

16/7/15: Lifting Greek ELA by Eur900mln: Tiny Step, Strong Signaling

So ECB lifted Greek banks' ELA by EUR900mln to EUR89.9 billion today for the first time since June 23rd.

This suggests that Mario Draghi and the team ECB have found a way, for now, to set aside all concerns about Greek banks solvency and extend the lifeline to Greek banks until at least the end of July. The lifeline, however is not sufficient to cover deposits withdrawals that would occur if the Greek government were to lift capital controls.

Going forward - two-three weeks time, the ECB will have to deal with two issues at the same time:

  • Increase ELA once again and do it either in small drip format (as today) - sustaining capital controls and possibly even extending these to cover corporate sector - or increase ELA by EUR5-7 billion to cover built up of demand for deposits monetisation and corporates' operational pressures; and
  • Addressing the severity of ECB haircuts on Greek banks' collateral eligible for ELA. Here, the problem is severe: even before the mess with capital controls, Greek banks held poor cushion of eligible collateral. With capital controls, this cushion is even weaker as many households and companies have stopped funding their loans. The ECB will have to lower haircuts on collateral and/or broaden collateral pool - both moves would be hard to pass as it is now publicly apparent to all that Greek banks health is deteriorating rapidly. 
So today's moves is a small positive of largely symbolic size. Much work is yet to be done...

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