Greece Is Just a Few Days Away From Unconditional Surrender to Germany

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Apparently the Greek prime minister is blinking:

In a letter sent on Tuesday to the creditors — the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund and other eurozone countries — Mr. Tsipras said Greece was “prepared to accept” a deal set out publicly over the weekend by the creditors, with small modifications to some of the central points of contention: pension cuts and tax increases. In the letter, released publicly on Wednesday, Mr. Tsipras linked Greece’s acceptance of the terms to a new package of bailout aid that would need to be negotiated.

The development initially raised the prospect of progress in resolving a financial crisis that has sent shudders through global markets and deeply strained European unity. President François Hollande of France called for talks in the hopes of getting a deal by the weekend, saying, according to Agence-France Presse: “We need to be clear. The time for a deal is now.”

But other European leaders, fed up with Mr. Tsipras and in no mood for quick compromise, dashed any hopes of an immediate breakthrough.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany responded by repeating her position that there should be no further negotiations until Greece holds the referendum on Sunday.

In other words, Merkel is not even willing to grant Tsipras a few meaningless face-saving concessions. Why? I think Merkel believes she now holds all the cards and has no reason to make any concessions at all, no matter how small. And I suspect she’s right. In the end, the Greek public will be unwilling to back Tsipras in Sunday’s referendum and will vote to accept the European deal as is. The potential catastrophe of default and leaving the euro is just too scary for most of them to contemplate.

So Tsipras will be out and Europe will effectively have total control of Greek finances. After six months of cage rattling, the Greek revolt will be over and future governments will simply have to accept whatever pain Merkel wants to deal out. At that point, with Tsipras gone, it’s actually possible she’ll agree to a few concessions here and there. Policy issues aside, there’s little doubt that Merkel’s personal contempt for Tsipras has done a lot to cement her hard line toward Greece.

So that’s my prediction. Unless Tsipras caves completely beforehand, the referendum will be held on Sunday and Greeks will vote to stay in the euro and accept Germany’s terms. It will basically be an unconditional surrender.

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