It was in the air for days. As anticipated by il manifesto a week ago, Greece today went back to the financial markets after more than three years by placing medium-term bonds with a five year maturity. This is a fundamental step that comes after a long economic crisis and is greeted enthusiastically by both the Tsipras government and the E.U. Commissioner for Economic and Monetary Affairs Pierre Moscovici.
This placement in the markets was possible thanks to some positive developments in the Greek economy in recent months. Since the Eurogroup’s decision, when E.U. finance ministers secured Athens the €8.5 billion needed to repay creditors, Moody’s changed its rating on Greece from “Caa3” to “Caa2.” Another positive factor was the exit from the excessive deficit procedure, decided by the E.U. Commission, as well as the “maximum” participation of the IMF in the aid program. A participation conditional to cuts in Greek public debt.
In the notice released from the government in Athens, this is a “key decision for Greece to recover a stable and sustainable access to international markets.” The government would aim to place the five-year government bonds with an interest rate around 4.2 percent or just below the 4 percent threshold.
Five banks were selected to place the bonds and manage the entire operation: the British HSBC; French Bnp-Paribas; the American institutions Bank of America, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup; and German Deutsche Bank.
The deal also involved holders of old securities that will expire in 2019, who will be allowed to trade them for the new five-year government bonds. According to the E.U. Commissioner Moscovici, today in Athens, “Greece is seeing the light at the end of the austerity tunnel.” By acknowledging the severity of the measures taken by the country, through a path of reform that he judged “perhaps too hard, but necessary,” Moscovici wanted to emphasize that the country “has been struck by an incredible economic and financial storm.” And today, with the beginning of the return to growth, the fall in the unemployment rate and the improved country’s rating, “things are much, much better.”
Moscovici is also looking forward to the fact that this new climate of confidence can facilitate a “solution to the old problem of public debt.” Washington is asking for a restructuring, but Germany, in full electoral campaign, does not want to hear about it again.
“We can now say with certainty that the economy is on the up,” said Alexis Tsipras with cautious enthusiasm, in an interview with The Guardian. “Slowly, slowly, what nobody believed could happen, will happen. We will extract the country from the crisis.” That is the promise of the Syriza leader, who concluded by saying that “our first priority is to regain our [economic] sovereignty.”
Tsipras is clearly thinking of boosting the geopolitical position of the country, transforming Greece into an international hub of energy, transport and telecommunications.
Finally, Tsipras acknowledges that he has made mistakes, including the appointment of some people for key positions. This is reference to former Minister Janis Varoufakis who did not miss any opportunity to attack Tsipras, defining Syriza as “the other face of the center-right of the New Democracy.”