Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Greece and the ECB

by Bill McBride on 2/04/2015 04:48:00 PM

From the ECB: Eligibility of Greek bonds used as collateral in Eurosystem monetary policy operations

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) today decided to lift the waiver affecting marketable debt instruments issued or fully guaranteed by the Hellenic Republic. The waiver allowed these instruments to be used in Eurosystem monetary policy operations despite the fact that they did not fulfil minimum credit rating requirements. The Governing Council decision is based on the fact that it is currently not possible to assume a successful conclusion of the programme review and is in line with existing Eurosystem rules.
Joseph Cotterill at FT AlphaVille explains: Greece and the ECB: the first cut
Greek sovereign bonds, T-bills and government-guaranteed debt will no longer be welcome at the ECB Tower as of 11 February.

The waiver — which let in Greek debt despite its junk-rated status for as long as Greece was in a programme — has been something of a merry-go-round before, in previous points of crisis between Greece and its official creditors. Bank bonds guaranteed by the government were also due to be kicked out at the end of this month because of a two year-old decision.

This is the first cut. As Karl Whelan has explained, Greece’s use of ELA will be closely watched by the ECB’s Governing Council from this point and the screws could be turned here too in time. ELA is costlier for Greek banks to use — and is genuine lending of last resort — so it’s a lot more important for Greece’s position for this bit of plumbing to stay on.