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Despite Tsipras Complaining That "ECB Has Rope Around Our Neck" Greece Finds Enough Cash To Make IMF Payment

While the biggest economic event of the week was the US February jobs report, one of the lingering concerns following last week's report that Greece is in financial dire straits, is whether the Eurozone member nation would default on its IMF loan as soon as today when it had a scheduled €310 million payment due to the IMF. Earlier today, in the build up to the NFP report, it was reported that indeed Greece had managed to dig deep under the cushion and find just enough cash to make the required partial loan repayment thus avoiding a technical default.

It was unclear how much if any of the funds paid to the IMF, which in turn will likely use some if not all of the cash to promptly give Ukraine a stabilizing loan and prevent the all out collapse of that particular economy, came courtesy of Greek pensioners which as also previously reported, is one place where the Greek government was looking for a source of funds.

As Reuters reports, "struggling to scrape together cash and avoid possible default, Athens made a 310 million euro (223.37 million pounds) partial loan repayment to the International Monetary Fund, while Tsipras pleaded to be allowed to issue more short-term debt to plug a funding gap."

This is happening as Greece sent its euro zone partners an augmented list of proposed reforms on Friday ahead of a Eurozone meeting on Monday, "but EU officials said several more steps were required before any release of aid funds."

 

Greece is running out of options to fund itself despite striking a deal with the euro zone in February to extend its EU/IMF bailout by four months.

 

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has refused to raise a limit on Athens' issuance of three-month treasury bills which Greek banks buy with emergency central bank funds. He said on Thursday the EU treaty prohibited indirect monetary financing of governments.

No matter the reality, Greece continued its defiant, if only on paper (literally) ways after Greek premier Tsipras complained in an interview with Germany's Der Spiegel that "the ECB has still got a rope around our neck" adding that if the ECB continued to object, it would be assuming a grave responsibility.

"Then it would be back to the thriller we saw before Feb. 20," Tsipras said, referring to the date when Greece agreed a four-month extension of its bailout with euro zone partners after market jitters ignited by political uncertainty.

That said, the thriller will continue on a weekly basis absent further Eurozone funding because even with this payment down, Greece has weekly IMF payments amounting to 350 million on March 13, 580 million on March 16 and another 350 million on March 20.

Where it will get the required funding if the Eurogroup continues to humiliate the now groveling government, is unclear. What is clear is that the tragicomedy is set to repeat again next week when Greece will again auction €1 billion of three-month treasury bills on March 11 to refinance a maturing issue, debt agency PDMA said on Friday, announcing its second sale this month as the government faces a cash crunch, Kathimerini reported.

Issuing T-bills is the only source of commercial borrowing for the left-right coalition government of Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. The country's EU/IMF creditors have set a 15 billion-euro cap on such issues which has already been reached.

 

The settlement date of the new T-bills will be March 13, when a previous 1.6 billion-euro issue of three-month paper matures. Only primary dealers will be allowed to participate and no commission is to be paid.

Earlier this week Athens sold six-month paper, successfully rolling over a maturing issue but at the highest yield in 11 months. Since foreign investors refused to participate in the auction the Greek government was forced to use part of the reserves of the Greek Social Security fund and other public entities held at Bank of Greece, to complete the required payment. 

According to some sellside estimate, there is no more public entity funds available to "swap" for payment liquidity on a short term basis, so unless the Eurozone agrees to boost Greek funding, the country may run out of money as soon as its next IMF payment.