With more than 150 hours left before the expiry of Greece’s bailout program sends the country deeper into financial purgatory, the euro-area leaders’ summit in Brussels tonight is far from the last gasp at a deal. In fact, there’s another summit in three days -- and plenty of deadlines ahead.
Since the unwritten rule of the euro crisis has been that nothing gets done until the final seconds, here’s a guide to judging today’s events in real time:
* Timing: Delayed plenary meetings among finance ministers and leaders suggest talks among the core policy makers -- Tsipras, Merkel, Draghi, Lagarde -- are making progress. (See Cyprus, 2013)
* Insults: If officials, especially from the north and east of the euro zone, start openly expressing their frustration -- at Greek intransigence, unprofessionalism or a hectoring tone -- progress is not being made. (See Riga, 2015)
* Homework: Resolute expressions that more “homework” needs to be done indicate the door is not closed to a deal but Germany is unpersuaded by Greek proposals.
* Tone: As there probably won’t be a deal tonight, pay attention to the post-meeting statements. Is it shrugs, dejection and threats -- veiled or unveiled -- or nodding, back-patting and a promise to hammer out the details.
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