Athens Digest 29.03.2019

• Government makes changes to insolvency bill to get creditors’ green light for next debt relief measures

• New Poll: Conservatives maintain double-digit lead over Syriza

• Bank deposits suffer second straight drop

# The government has tightened criteria in a household insolvency bill due to be put to the vote today. Business loans worth up to EUR 100,000 will be eligible for protection in cases involving primary homes used as collateral. That amount was reduced from EUR 130,000 to address a concern expressed by European institutions. The Eurogroup will decide next Friday on whether Greece has done enough to receive a debt relief payout worth nearly EUR 1 billion. Ahead of today’s vote, an EU senior official said talks with Greece were ongoing and focused on resolving remaining differences.

# New Democracy has attracted a section of Syriza voters according to a new poll gauging general election intent. Skai television published the Pulse poll that kept the conservatives 10 points ahead with 32.5 percent of the projected vote. Golden Dawn and the Socialist Movement for Change both garnered 7.5 percent, while the Greek Communist Party was at 6 percent. Syriza is struggling to retain its 2015 voting base, with 14 percent of its previous support switching to New Democracy.

# Total bank deposits from businesses and households fell for a second straight month in February to EUR 132.18 billion from the January figure of 132.93 billion, the Bank of Greece reported. However, deposits from households and non-profit institutions increased by EUR 277 million, an amount that was offset by business withdrawals. Credit figures were also mixed, with the good news coming from the private sector. The monthly net credit flow of credit to corporations was EUR 603 million in February, following a negative net flow of EUR 408 million the previous month.

On our Radar: Greece’s Hedge Fund Cheerleader 
Many in Greece still have doubts about the reality of the country’s recovery but that’s not the view at Amber Capital. The London-based hedge fund was highlighted by Bloomberg as an enthusiastic believer in the potential of Greek stocks. Founder Joseph Oughourlian is sorry there aren’t more Greek shares the asset manager can snap up. “I’m super optimistic about the Greek economy,” he told Bloomberg. “It’s got all the catalysts in reverse versus a lot of the countries … It’s got populism receding, it has the economy in a very, very strong footing, it’s got incredibly strong fundamentals.”