The last time we opined on the possibility of a Cyprus-style "bail-in" in Greece, which is essentially a legally-mandated confiscation of private sector assets held hostage by the local financial system, until such time as the balance sheet of said financial system is viable, we were joking. Well, not really joking.
But not even we thought that a banking sector "bail in", in which unsecured bank liabilities, which include bonds and of course deposits, are used as a matched source of extinguishment of non-performing bad debt "assets" could spread to the broader economy, and specifically to unencumbered private sector assets. Alas, this is precisely what Greece, which is desperately to delay the inevitable and announce it needs not only a third but fourth bailout, appears keen on doing.
As Kathimerini reports, the Greek Labor and Social Insurance Ministry is "seriously considering drastic measures in order to obtain the social security contributions owed by enterprises and to avoid having to slash pensions and benefits." What drastic measures? "The ministry is planning to force companies to pay up or face having their assets seized, so that the 14 billion euros of contributions due can be recouped."
After all, it's only "fair."
Kathimerini is kind enough to layout the clear-cut problems with this plan which will further crush any potential rebound in the Greek economy:
While this amount – equal to 8 percent of the country’s gross domestic product – may be easy to calculate on paper, it is virtually impossible to collect even if the state attempts to confiscate all the real estate properties of debtors and the debts of third parties to them.The ministry has been forced to consider asset repossessions as a result of the very poor state of social security funds. The fiscal gap expected at the end of the year from social security will at best be equal to 1.06 billion euros. This also constitutes a bad start for next year, too, when the budget will also provide for a reduction in state subsidies to social security funds by 1.8 billion euros.
Aside from the obvious, namely that this "plan" will be merely the latest disaster to hit the long-suffering Greek economy, now caught in the worst depression in history, and where greedy and corrupt politicians will promptly "confiscate" whatever benefits there are to have been made from this confiscation plan (however instead of accusing corruption all blame will be once again fall on (f)austerity), the greater problem is that any entrepreneurial confidence that Greece just may be a sound place to do business, has just gone out of the window as nobody will know if they are safe from arbitrary persecution, and subject to a wholesale asset confiscation at any moment in time.
However, none of the above gives us more confidence that things in Greece are about to go from horrifying to nightmarish, than the following FT story: "John Paulson and a clutch of bullish US hedge funds are leading a charge into Greek banks, confident that Greece, long seen as the weakest economy of the eurozone periphery, is on the turn."
Right. A 360-degree turn.
The good news: at least the Greek government will have a lot of "greater fool" assets to pick and choose from when the confiscation hammer hits.