Some 300 mln left banks on Tuesday

No surprises are expected in Wednesday’s meeting of the European Central Bank’s executive council on the Greek credit sector, as Frankfurt examines the liquidity conditions of domestic lenders and the renewal of the emergency liquidity assistance (ELA). However, in the past few days, and on Tuesday in particular, there has been a fresh and significant spike in deposit outflows.

Statements suggesting the imposition of capital control measures over the upcoming long weekend, and Tuesday’s reference by the Finance Ministry to the possible imposition of a levy on cash machine withdrawals – later withdrawn – sent many to the ATM. At the same time, bank officials point to widespread concerns about the possibility of a rift between Greece and its creditors over the government’s failure to repay a scheduled installment to the International Monetary Fund next week.

Credit sector professionals reported that deposit outflows on Tuesday alone came to 300 million euros, against about 100 million euros per day in recent days. They said that while this amount is quite high, the situation is under control as citizens are remaining calm on the positive messages from Greek officials.

On Wednesday the ECB board is expected to decide on a fresh extension of the ELA mechanism following the addition of another 200 million euros last week to a total of 80.2 billion euros. Although pressure by certain ECB council members for a tougher stance toward Greece has grown, sources agree that the ECB will probably avoid making any decisions that could trigger any major developments.

Therefore, the most likely scenario for Wednesday is that the ECB once more avoids increasing the haircut to the collateral that Greek banks use to draw liquidity from the Eurosystem, which may otherwise shut them out of the ELA mechanism altogether.

As long as the country is locked in negotiations with its eurozone peers over the completion of an agreement and keeps covering its obligations to its creditors, the possibility of any capital controls being imposed remained unlikely. ECB head Mario Draghi has said that Frankfurt will ensure Greek lenders’ access to liquidity as long as they remain solvent and have acceptable collateral.

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