German proposal for dealing with Greek shipping problem.
Remember about a month ago when Greece and its “allies” and “partners” reached a deal to save the country, keep it in the euro and put an end to our having to constantly worry about new deadlines for everyone to ignore? Well, that was all contingent on them reaching another deal by another deadline, this one in two weeks. Actually, 13 days. And counting.
Significant differences remain, and the clock is ticking. Greece needs the money to repay some €3.2 billion in maturing debt to the ECB on Aug. 20.
“We are running as fast as we can in order for there to be a deal. Considerable progress has been made but there are some outstanding issues,” said a Greek government official with knowledge of the negotiations.
“We now have a relatively normal process of negotiations. It is clearly an improvement,” said a European official.
Meanwhile, there’s one group of Greeks that hasn’t really noticed all of the commotion: Their constitutionally tax-exempt shipping magnates. They may not be doing much for Greece’s bottom line, what with the not paying taxes and all, but they are striking a blow against Greece’s hated Teutonic oppressors.
The Greek owners, who operate almost 20% of the global fleet of merchant ships, are paying rock-bottom prices because assets once owned by bankrupt shipping lines are now in the hands of creditors, including German banks, who want to clear nonperforming loans from their portfolios….
At the end of 2014, German banks were trying to sell up to 1,000 of the more than 3,000 ships owned by German interests, one senior German ship-financing executive said.
“The Greeks are among the primary buyers, having snatched 164 German-owned ships since 2011 for around $1.9 billion,” said George Xyradakis, a shipping consultant in Athens who also advises China Development Bank on its shipping business. “The prices are attractive and they can pick and choose among some very high-quality vessels.”
Of course, the Germans have a solution to this problem….
“The push to boost shipping taxes in Greece is popular among the German public, which feels that while German taxpayers are asked to pay for yet another Greek bailout, Greek owners live lavish lives through tax avoidance.”