Greeks outraged over Citi debt missive

A man walks outside the headquarters of Bank of Greece during a demonstration against government's austerity measures in central Athens.

STEVE CHIOTAKIS: Tomorrow marks one year to the day that Greece officially requested a European bailout. It was the first euro zone country to do that. The Greek anniversary coincides with a lot of talk about a possible restructuring of the country's debt this weekend. Some of that talk has triggered a criminal investigation.

Marketplace's Stephen Beard is with us live from the European Desk in London to talk about it. Hi Stephen.

STEPHEN BEARD: Hello Steve.

CHIOTAKIS: So now the European debt crisis has turned into a criminal caper? Who's the alleged perpetrator here?

BEARD: A trader at the London headquarters of Citigroup. He sent out an e-mail this week saying there seems to be more market noise about the possibility that Greece will restructure its national debt as early as this weekend. In other words, the Greek government may announce it's not going to payback all the money it borrowed. Now, this e-mail became public, and the Greek government reacted with fury. It accused the trader of spreading false rumors, it launched a police inquiry. And has even asked Interpol to interview the trader here in London.

CHIOTAKIS: And what's been the response then from the business community Stephen, and from Citigroup?

BEARD: Citigroup seems to be amused. I mean the bank denies that the trader did anything wrong. And I must say the general reaction here is that the Greek government has overreacted to what has been the general buzz in the market over the past week.

Mattinas Stivas is the London correspondent at the Greek Free Press newspaper and she's critical of the Greek government's response.

MATTINAS STIVAS: I think what would be best is to have a convincing response to whether there will be restructuring, instead of engaging Interpol and shooting the messenger.

And it's worth remembering Steve that many of these heavily indebted governments in Europe have tended to blame traders and speculators for their woes rather than themselves for running up huge debts.

CHIOTAKIS: Marketplace's Stephen Beard in London. Stephen thank you.

BEARD: OK Steve.

About the author

Stephen Beard is the European bureau chief and provides daily coverage of Europe’s business and economic developments for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

Comments

I agree to American Public Media's Terms and Conditions.
With Generous Support From...