For those who enjoy high-stakes financial drama, there is an exciting contest going on now between Cyprus and Greece as to who can push the Troika the furthest without turning it away for good. Neither country has yet been able to make the Troika “agree” to its “demands”, as if this were a business transaction between equals.
"The troika has not accepted the Democratic Left’s demands," the Greek finance minister Finance Minister informed the media. The DL, one of the coalition partners, has refused to agree to the labor reforms required by the Troika.
“The EU is obliged to change the ways and means of addressing the crisis,” Cyprus president Dimitris Christofias grandly declared to his people, as if he had a say in the matter. The Troika got so frustrated with the Cypriots’ refusal to agree to labor reforms that it flew home and has not scheduled a return visit. Christofias said that he expected the troika to return "as soon as possible”. That was last week, and the Troika still hasn’t called him back to set a date.
Both countries are supposed to run out of cash in mid-November, so they are dancing on the edge of the precipice. They know that Europe will agree to almost anything to prevent them from leaving the eurozone, which they think gives them leverage.
They are playing a very risky game, because it isn’t Europe who has the final say on whether they get the money or not. That rests with the elected representatives of the very stingy German and Finnish people, who have reserved the veto power to themselves. A few emollient phone calls from Hollande or Monti, or a few desperate phone calls from Athens or Nicosia, are unlikely to sway many votes in Helsinki or Berlin.