Thursday, 23 April 2015

Greeks face bankruptcy as cash runs out for wages and pensions

Greeks face bankruptcy as cash runs out for wages and pensions

The Times

Anthee Carassava and Bruno WaterfieldLast updated April 23 2015 1:01AM
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Alexis Tsipras, here with Yannis Varoufakis, will today appeal to Angela Merkel for more eurozone aidAristidis Vafeiadakis/ZCorbis
Greece will go bust next week, potentially pushing the highly indebted country into default and out of the eurozone and plunging the European Union into an unprecedented crisis.
The head of the Greek treasury admitted yesterday that the government could not pay its bills, including the salaries and pensions of millions of public sector workers that are due at the end of the month.
To avoid default, Athens must pay the despised creditors of the International Monetary Fund and the eurozone before its own citizens. Such an outcome would be deeply humiliating for the leftist government, elected on the pledge to put Greeks first.
Dimitris Mardas, the deputy finance minister, said the treasury coffers were €400 million short of the €1.9 billion needed to honour payroll obligations to state employees. “We have been running on empty since February.” 
At a summit in Brussels today, Alexis Tsipras, the prime minister, will appeal to Angela Merkel for more eurozone aid and warn her that Greece is on the brink of bankruptcy and exit from the euro.
EU diplomats and officials are concerned that the left-wing Syriza government will choose to pay public sector workers rather than honour payments due to the IMF of €970 million over the next three weeks, a decision that would push Greece into default.
“There is a strong faction, including the finance minister, that will not stomach the humiliation of paying back foreign creditors while Greeks go hungry,” said a diplomatic source. “This might well be the moment it ends.”
Fears that Greece is about to go bankrupt triggered market turbulence, pushing up the cost of Greek borrowing yesterday to the same levels as at the height of the eurozone crisis in 2012. Greek banks, completely dependent on emergency support from the European Central Bank, are teetering on the brink of collapse after public bodies were forced to withdraw €2.5 billion in cash reserves to help to pay bills.
After a meltdown on the Athens stock exchange, Mr Mardas attempted to qualify his remarks, saying that the state was solvent and that the government was pursuing “alternative options” to avoid financial turmoil. He refused to elaborate. Shut out of bond markets, Athens will run out of cash unless it strikes a deal with foreign creditors to unlock bailout aid worth €7.2 billion.
On Monday an emergency presidential decree forced up to 1,500 local government bodies to transfer cash reserves to the Bank of Greece for “urgent use” by the state. The measure was demanded by the eurozone and IMF, effectively placing the funds beyond the reach of the government, and has run into fierce resistance from mayors, who see it as an attempt to put international creditors before Greeks.
Giorgos Kaminis, the mayor of Athens, said the confiscation law was “unconstitutional” and vowed to fight it. The Union of Municipalities and Communities said in a statement on Tuesday night: “We are determined to use all political and legal means we can to repudiate the content of the decree.” 
Greece could go bust as early as Friday next week, May 1, if it balks at putting a repayment of €200 million to the IMF before paying state employees. The day is a bank holiday and could be the moment Greece informs international creditors that it cannot pay back debts and moves to introduce capital controls, nationalise local banks and issue a new currency pegged to the euro as it continues to try to negotiate.
Just 11 days later, Greece must pay back another €770 million, again to the International Monetary Fund.
Yesterday the lights went out — literally — in Greece’s biggest tax office, north of Athens, after the finance ministry failed to pay long-overdue power bills.
The crisis comes as the Syriza government refuses to implement politically toxic austerity measures and as eurozone hawks, led by Germany, insist that no aid will be forthcoming until it does. The stalemate has lasted two months, and a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Riga tomorrow is not expected to deliver a breakthrough. 
“The uncertainty is hurting Greece, badly,” said Notis Mitarakis, a conservative MP. “The country cannot continue to limp. It’s high time the government gets a grip of reality and negotiates a deal fast.”
Surveys suggest that public support for the government is waning, with four in ten Greeks disagreeing with its hard-nosed negotiating stance. The same survey shows Mr Tsipras’s popularity dropping to 45 per cent from a record 72 per cent support a month ago.

Thursday, 18 December 2014

Chain Of A Lifetime: How Blockchain Technology Might Transform Personal Insurance

"Chain Of A Lifetime: How Blockchain Technology Might Transform Personal Insurance" is the outcome of a research project conducted by Zyen between August and December 2014 which explored how blockchain technology might transform personal insurance and in particular interactions among individuals and insurance companies over time.

Thursday, 20 November 2014

Bit Gold - "The Genesis Moment of Bitcoin"

Bit Gold
Blog article written in December 2008:
"One day, people will look upon this post as the actual genesis moment of Bitcoin. This is a a piece of digital history, worthy of preservation. Thank you Nick."
(One of the comments, towards the end)
See also:

Flying money: a brief overview

(Private bank note issue)

Nick Szabo - profile
"A premier thinker about history, law and economics, and the lessons they have for security." -- Adam Shostack

Unenumerated: Tweeting

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Blockchain Technology - A Threat to, or an Opportunity for, Legacy Banking, Clearing & other Financial Services?

Blockchain Technology and Financial Services

"The blockchain technology, with its first iteration in the form of the cryptocurrency bitcoin, is a unique technological breakthrough that is a revolutionary gateway to a new era of decentralised banking, money, clearing, stock markets, insurance and even social networks and national governments.

Whilst Bitcoin itself is gradually becoming better known and more widely used, it's the underlying ‘blockchain’ technology within the bitcoin protocol –that is now gathering increasing attention for its ability to support far more complex transactions and relationships than pure value transfers."

"So can the Blockchain protocol create more cost-effective and decentralised financial services? Ethereum, an open-source project, is looking to provide the platform and the answer. And not just for financial services."

Read the full article here



The coming digital anarchy

"Bitcoin is giving banks a run for their money. Now the same technology threatens to eradicate social networks, stock markets, even national governments. Are we heading towards an anarchic future where centralised power of any kind will dissolve?" - read the full story in The Telegraph June 2014

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Alderney and Bitcoin

Alderney Concept to issue Bitcoin-Backed Commemorative Gold Coins

Michael Parsons FCA, Bitcoin Advisor, Entrepreneur & Presenter, is the co-source of the Weekend Financial Time's (FT) Alderney & Bitcoin story on 1st Dec 2013 – and the inventor of the physical specie Commemorative Gold Bitcoin-backed concept and government adviser.
("The most read online article in the history of the Weekend FT," according to the editors)

Read the two original FT articles in full here:

The original FT story
Main front page headline FT article:
"Alderney looks to cash in on virtual Bitcoins with Royal Mint reality"

Page 2 background FT article:
"Island territory seeks self-sufficiency with virtual currency"
(named here and also in the link below)

Alderney Wants To Become A Financial Hub For Bitcoin

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Why Bitcoin IS intrinsically valuable...

It has been said a lot. Bitcoin is risky because it not “backed” by any government, asset, or commodity and has no intrinsic value in and of itself. It is true that Bitcoin is risky, but not for any those reasons. Bitcoin is risky because it is an entirely new disruptive technology with revolutionary potential in an unknown regulatory environment. The risk lies in Bitcoin’s ability to persevere despite the uncertain regulatory climate and realize its unspoken potential. The jury is still out on that.

Thursday, 10 October 2013

New Finance: Monthly Seminar - Bitcoin: Legal, Regulation, Exchanges

Bitcoin is a hot topic in Fintech right now so this Meetup explores some of the rapidly developing legal issues around using and setting up exchanges and using Bitcoin from both a merchant and consumer perspective. Is Bitcoin coming in from the cold? On the one hand Exchanges are getting regulated, even talking to the Fed, on the other hand some countries like Thailand have made it actually illegal to use Bitcoin. It's time for an update, especially for those thinking of adopting Bitcoin. 
This seminar will explore the latest themes and developments, the key Bitcoin players and their offerings. 
Find out more:
New Finance Meetup - Bitcoin (6pm 16 October 2013)

Friday, 26 July 2013

Bitcoin Virtual Currency Workshop

Europe's Customer Festival
Total Payments Spectogram Workshop
16 - 17 September 2013, Business Design Center, Islington, London

Michael Parsons discusses the gains and challenges of virtual currency with a focus on Bitcoin.

Bitcoin – The Future of Money & Payments?

After dinner speech given on 18 June 2013 to members of the Real Time Club
at the National Liberal Club, Whitehall Place, London, SW1A 2HE

  • What, exactly, is Bitcoin?
  • Who invented it and who controls it?
  • How is it created? 
  • Will Bitcoin replace State-sponsored currencies?
  • Is it a threat or an opportunity for governments?
  • Can a state adopt its own cryptocurrency?

In an age of e-commerce and electronic trading, where transactions are performed with a credit card, computer or a mobile device, could currency as we know it disappear altogether?

“Bitcoin is the New Frontier” - Erik Voorhees

Erik Voorhees is one of the foremost Bitcoin entrepreneurs and has helped build some critical parts of the Bitcoin business ecosystem, as well as being a loud advocate for a free, decentralised and voluntary currency. 
When the history of Bitcoin is written, he will be remembered as one of the brave few explorers ready to set out into the unknown and risk life and fortune to create a new world.
Read the full Q&A here

Friday, 17 May 2013

Bitcoin presentation to the UK Government

On Monday 13 May 2013  I made the first formal presentation of  Bitcoin to the UK government at the Future of Money conference, which included an explanation of how Bitcoin works.

The conference was organised by the government’s Foresight Horizon Scanning Centre, an arm of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) which develops innovative, long-term policy. About 50 senior civil servants attended.

The Future of Money focused on the implications that widespread adoption of Bitcoin might have. Since Bitcoin users are pseudo-anonymous, government authorities worry that it could be used for purposes such as money laundering, and that transactions between individuals fall outside the boundaries of tax collection.
The feedback was very positive both from those who attended the meeting and the organisers. 

The London Financial Times reported this on the following day on page 3 (with a lead-in on the front page) and the full story can be found on these links here:

UK taxmen, police and spies look at Bitcoin threat

A useful Q&A on Bitcoin was published alongside the FT article: