How Bad Is ‘No’ for Greek Banks? Analysts Split on ECB Lifeline

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Greece’s “no” vote, rejecting further austerity demanded by creditors, left analysts and financial researchers rushing to predict whether the European Central Bank will continue providing the nation’s banks with aid -- and what will happen without it.

The ECB meets Monday to discuss extending a new lifeline to Greek lenders, which have been closed for a week by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to stem withdrawals and preserve capital. Without an injection from the ECB -- or a lower withdrawal limit -- ATMs will start running dry soon, Louka Katseli, chairwoman of the National Bank of Greece, said Friday.

Below are excerpts from research notes and interviews, with some predicting the ECB will continue its Emergency Liquidity Assistance program, providing banks with cash to serve customers -- or that the facility will shut this month, retaining collateral already pledged and wiping out shareholders:

* Diego Iscaro, senior economist at IHS Global Insight in London:

“We expect the central bank to continue providing liquidity to Greece’s financial sector, although the small chance of the ECB increasing the cap on the Emergency Liquidity Assistance this week has disappeared with the referendum result.”

“This significantly raises the probability of banks running out of cash over the coming days. We estimate it is very likely banks will not reopen on 7 July as currently expected. Moreover, the limit on bank withdrawals, currently at 60 euros ($66), may also need to be reduced.”

* Barclays economics research, led by Francois Cabau, referring to the ECB’s general council:

“We would expect ECB’s GC to shut down ELA at the latest by 20 July. Assuming that all of the pledged collateral at the ECB is recorded at (close to) par on Greek banks’ balance sheets and that current average haircut on collateral is 50 percent, then retention of the collateral by the euro system would translate into a more than 30 billion-euro loss for the banks. This alone would wipe out shareholders’ equity. The Greek central bank will eventually need to print its own currency in order to inject new liquidity and capital.”

* Citigroup Inc. European banking analysts, led by Ronit Ghose:

“We estimate about 150 million euros to 250 million euros has left the banks daily in ATM withdrawals post capital controls were announced last Monday. At the current rate, Greek banks could run out of cash by the middle of the coming week.”

“Given that Greece is no longer in a program and the increased Grexit risk, the chance of ECB increasing the ELA ceiling further appears low.”

“Greek banks could easily require an additional 10 billion euros of equity capital if ‘Grimbo’ continues, perhaps more, diluting existing shareholders. In the context of Grexit, a full nationalization is likely.”

* Roy Smith, finance professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business:

“The ECB may not want to see the Greek banking system go down in flames overnight -- before some sort of smoothing exit arrangements can be made that could enable Greece to have a decent survival chance outside the euro. Maybe a 30-day line of credit to enable the banks to reopen, and to see for sure whether Greece is going to leave the euro or not. I don’t see how the troika can continue to work with Greece, but I do see a willingness to help them leave as gracefully as possible.”

* Arturo Bris, professor of finance at the Lausanne, Switzerland-based IMD business school:

“The ECB has to continue to provide liquidity; there is no other alternative.”

“As long as people believe there’s not going to be a bank run, a bank run will not happen.”

“Capital controls can be lifted once trust has returned.”

* Marco Troiano, an analyst at Scope Ratings in London:

“Greek banks are running short of liquidity by the day and are being kept afloat. If the ECB takes a hard stance on Greek banks’ liquidity, these banks would find themselves short of funding.”

“Would the ECB do it? It would send a message that the euro is reversible. It would be a change in its message and I don’t think the ECB wants to go down that way.”

* Padhraic Garvey, global head of rates strategy at ING Groep:

“In the absence of a debt restructuring, Greece would inevitably enter a state of default to the ECB as redemptions due on 20th July are missed, which would put severe pressure on the ECB to pull the ELA.”

“If the ELA were pulled it would create a real fissure between Greece and the rest of the euro zone. Capital controls would remain, Greek banks may have to be nationalized.”

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