Greece’s Latest Drama Imperils Banks’ Baby Steps Toward Recovery

Now, fresh tensions over the country’s bailout are putting that progress at risk. About 1.3 percent of deposits were pulled from the banks in January, while bad loans crept higher, an increase Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras blamed on borrowers using the deadlock with creditors as an excuse to avoid making their payments.

That said, the [banking recovery] plan hinges on a robust economy, said Mantzarvas. Almost half the reductions in non-performing mortgages and bad business loans are slated to come in the second half of 2019. The structure is designed to provide enough time for a recovery to lift the country’s fortunes. That could be a gamble given the fundamental weaknesses in Greece’s economy, which has shrunk by a quarter since 2008.

Moreover, if European officials and the IMF can’t reach an agreement with Athens, Greece may not receive a vital payment from the rescue package. That would be a severe blow for a country that still can’t borrow from bond markets at affordable rates. And the clock is ticking: Greece must pay about 6 billion euros in sovereign bond principal by July.