Athens Digest 27.07.2018

• ECB: no waiver, no QE

• Capital controls “fully over” soon, says Finance Ministry

• Deadly fires: No one is to blame?

• After Brexit bombshell, Barnier in Athens

• The Trump tariffs and the… Greek exemption

# ECB President Mario Draghi scotched Greek hopes of joining the eurozone QE stimulus programme after the bailout. He ruled out extending the –needed for the QE- waiver that gives Greek lenders access to cheap credit, despite the country having a sovereign bond rating that is below investment grade. “The waiver for Greek bonds expires upon the end of the programme,” Draghi said (video here, time 36:04).

# In its regular bulletin of financial developments in Greece, the Finance Ministry has said that capital controls are expected to be “fully over” soon after the end of the bailout. Meanwhile, the IMF Executive Board will today discuss the state of the Greek economy and its debt sustainability (Article IV).

# Satellite and surveillance aircraft data have revealed “strong indications” or arson in fires that killed 84 people, the government said. As the search for bodies continues at sea and inside gutted homes, political parties, local government agencies, and government departments became embroiled in competing accusations of inadequate planning.

# In a press conference, government spokesperson Dimitris Tzanakopoulos said that it was impossible to evacuate the fire-stricken area. “I wouldn’t have done anything different” the head of the Fire Service added. Greek Defence Minister, and leader of ANEL the junior government coalition party, Panos Kammenos has told the BBC (video here) illegal construction was the reason of the disaster. “After this tragedy, they (the residents) have to understand that it is dangerous for them and for their families not to follow the rules,” he claimed.

# Chief EU negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier will visit Athens today for meetings with Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras and political leaders. Barnier will at noon address a joint session of Parliament’s standing committees of National Defence, Foreign Affairs, and Economic Affairs.

# A Texas-based midstream company has reportedly sought exemption from US-imposed tariffs for high-grade steel delivered from a pipe manufacturer in South Greece, as it prepares to begin building a new pipeline, scheduled to start shipping crude from the Permian Basin late next year. According to comments by the pipeline builder to the US Congress on Tuesday, a rejection of their exemption request for Greek steel products would add a USD40M ‘’tax’’ to the project meant to alleviate a bottleneck in the US shale hotbed, which has widened the discount between Midland oil and WTI.

On our Radar: Salary Bill Killed
Draft legislation to increase salaries of directors at public corporation has been withdrawn by the government following the strong criticism by opposition parties. The bill concerned executives at firms included in the new privatization “super-fund” HCAP. Critics accused the government of attempting to push the measure through parliament while the country remained focused on the deadly forest fires east of Athens. The government said it would re-submit the draft legislation after making changes to its working.