by Landon Thomas Jr.
New York Times
April 7, 2015
A strange thing is happening as Greece struggles to avert bankruptcy: Its troubled banks are loading up on more debt.
These short-term bonds, which have been issued by the country’s largest banks and carry the guarantee of the Greek government, are not being sold to foreign investors. They are being issued to the only entity that would dare buy them: themselves.
In the last four months, some of Greece’s largest banks, including Piraeus, Alpha and Eurobank — have self-issued more than 13 billion euros’ worth, or $14.3 billion, of these government-guaranteed bonds.
Wounded by vanishing deposits and bad loans, Greek bank bonds are about as toxic an investment as can be found. The banks are on life support via an emergency lending program overseen by the European Central Bank, via which they have access to short-term loans from their own central bank.