- Greek Central Bank Chief Warns Bailout Delay Risks Rerun of 2015
Greece must immediately reach an agreement with creditors on the release of bailout funds or risk another recession and even more austerity measures, the country’s central bank chief said.
“Any further delay in completion beyond this month will feed a new circle of uncertainty,” Bank of Greece Governor Yannis Stournaras told lawmakers in Athens on Monday, saying this could make reaching a deal harder. “Such a vicious cycle could return the economy to recession and a rerun of the negative developments that took place in the first half of 2015.”
Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is heading toward a reprise of the antagonistic relationship with Greece’s creditors that previously almost knocked the nation out of the euro. Over the weekend, he lashed out again at the International Monetary Fund, one of the institutions monitoring Greece’s rescue, after auditors insisted on legislation that would trigger further budget cuts if fiscal targets are missed.
Greece “significantly” beat its 2016 fiscal target, the European Commission said Monday, achieving a budget surplus before interest of 2.3 percent of gross domestic product, compared with a goal of 0.5 percent. The surplus will widen to 3.7 percent in 2018, in line with targets, provided the government implements the terms of its 86 billion-euro ($91 billion) bailout program, the Commission said.
That’s at odds with the IMF’s view that the surplus won’t get above 1.5 percent without more cuts.
The EU projections underpin the government’s frustration with the IMF’s stance. European Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici will visit Athens on Wednesday for talks with Tsipras and Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos to find a way to break the impasse, he told reporters in Brussels Monday.
Germany and the Netherlands have threatened to end the Greek program if a deal isn’t reached that included the IMF. German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble’s vocal insistence gave the IMF leverage when lobbying for its demands, according to a European official involved in the discussions.
“Tsipras’ room for action is very limited,” said Patrick Esteruelas, head of research at Emso Asset Management. “He can either comply with the creditors’ latest requests and attempt to spin them positively, or call new elections in the knowledge that he will lose them and he will be out of government. He has no other options.”
The yield on Greece’s two-year notes rose 33 basis points to 9.2 percent at 4:02 p.m. on Monday after reaching a five-month high on Thursday. The benchmark Athens Stock Exchange rose 0.7 percent.
The German government’s goal is to complete the Greek bailout program with the IMF on board, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin on Monday.
EU officials set an informal Feb. 20 deadline for Greece to complete the review, before the start of a busy national election season that will make additional negotiations with Tsipras’s government politically difficult. Failure means Greece may not be able to repay about 6 billion euros of bonds it has coming due in July.
Crude Oil Drops on Wednesday as U.S. Oil Inventories Jump Unexpectedly
Global oil prices fell by 1 percent on Wednesday after data from the U.S. Energy Department showed that the United States oil inventories unexpectedly rose by 4.3 million barrels last week. More than the 1.9 million barrels predicted by experts.
The unexpected increase in United States inventories weighed on crude oil prices on Wednesday, erasing $1.31 or 1.5 percent from Brent crude oil after it rose to a seven-year high on Tuesday. While the U.S West Texas Intermediate (WTI) dipped by $1.09 or 1.3 percent to $83.56 a barrel.
Still, gasoline stocks declined by 2 million barrels across the United States, a situation likely to push pump prices even higher.
“The market continues to deplete Cushing crude oil inventories and that is impacting the Brent-WTI spread and ultimately we’re going to see crude oil diverted from the Permian up to Cushing rather than going to the Gulf Coast,” said Andrew Lipow, president of Lipow Oil Associates in Houston.
However, the shaky COVID-19 recovery in most economies has led to doubts over the sustainability of rising oil prices.
“(Some) countries are falling into an autumn Covid-19 case spike,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy, “which poses downside risk for oil demand growth in the very near-term and could provide a soft pressure on oil prices.”
Brent Crude Oil Extends Gain to $86.66 a Barrel Amid Tight Supply
Tight global oil supply pushed Brent crude oil, against which Nigeria oil is priced, to a multi-year high of $86.66 per barrel on Monday at 3:30 pm Nigerian time.
Oil price was lifted by rising fuel demand in the United States and tight global supply as economies recover from pandemic-induced slumps.
“The global energy supply crunch continues to show its teeth, as oil prices extend their upward march this week, a result of traders pricing in the ongoing rise in fuel demand – which amid limited supply response is depleting global stockpiles,” said Louise Dickson, senior oil markets analyst at Rystad Energy.
Goldman Sachs on the other hand is predicting a further increase in Brent crude oil to $90 a barrel, citing a strong rebound in global oil demand due to switching from gas to oil. This the bank estimated may contribute about 1 million barrels per day to global oil demand.
The investment bank said it expects oil demand to reach around 100 million barrels per day as consumption in Asia increases after the devastating effect of COVID-19.
“While not our base-case, such persistence would pose upside risk to our $90/bbl year-end Brent price forecast,” Goldman said in a research note dated Oct. 24.
Earlier this month, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, Russia and their allies, known as OPEC+ agreed to continue increasing oil supply by 400,000 bpd a month until April 2022 despite calls for an increase in global oil supplies.
The decision bolstered the price of Brent crude oil above $84 per barrel and expected to push the price even further to $90 a barrel. Low global oil supply amid rising demand for crude oil will continue to support oil prices in the near term.
“Despite the recent power cuts and impacts to industrial activity in China, oil demand is likely instead supported by switching to diesel powered generators and diesel engines in LNG trucks, as well as by a ramp up in coal production,” Goldman Sachs stated.
U.S. and Ghana Inaugurate New $64.7 Million Energy Infrastructure Investment at Pokuase
U.S. Ambassador to Ghana Stephanie Sullivan joined the President of Ghana H.E. Nana Akufo-Addo and other Ghana government officials to formally inaugurate the Pokuase Bulk Supply Point (BSP) in Accra today. The U.S. Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funded the $64.7 million (GH₵ 391.9 million) electrical infrastructure project under the Ghana Power Compact.
“The Pokuase Bulk Supply Point represents sustainable infrastructure investment by the United States with Ghana that will benefit hundreds of thousands of Ghanaians now and into the future,” remarked Ambassador Sullivan at the inaugural event. “It will help deliver more reliable power to the people, places, and businesses of Accra that drive increased economic activity benefitting families, businesses, and communities.”
This represents a flagship investment under the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s Ghana Power Compact. The Pokuase BSP will reduce outages in the power system, help stabilize voltages, and improve the quality and reliability of power supplied to the northern parts of the capital city of Accra. It will also reduce technical losses in the power transmission and distribution system, contributing to the financial viability of the Electricity Company of Ghana (ECG) and the Ghana Grid Company (GRIDCo) in the long term. The Pokuase BSP is now the largest-capacity BSP in Ghana at 580 megavolt amperes (MVA) and will directly benefit 350,000 utility customers.
The Government of Ghana implemented the project through the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA). MiDA formally handed over the new power substation to ECG and GRIDCo in today’s ceremony.
The Pokuase BSP is the first major construction project to be completed under the Ghana Power Compact. The $316 million compact is helping the Government of Ghana improve the power sector through investments that will provide more reliable and affordable electricity to Ghana’s businesses and households. The compact is also funding a BSP at Kasoa and two primary substations at Kanda and Legon, in addition to other power sector investments, energy efficiency programs, and women’s empowerment programs within the power sector. The compact program will officially close on June 6, 2022.
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