Credit markets don't trust Greece to stay in the euro

Could be a mechanical grexit? A mecha-grexit?

Via Pragmatic Capitalism comes this mildly alarming note from research group Capital Economics:

Recently, the problem of tight credit conditions have been exacerbated by domestic and foreign firms becoming more unwilling to sell goods to Greek customers unless they are paid for up front. In other words, credit risk is stopping some transactions from taking place. What’s more, some foreign buyers of Greek goods and services are delaying payment, in case Greece exits and the size of their bill (in euro-terms) drops.

Meanwhile, the bank jog continues. And Capital Economics predict 2012's contraction to be three points worse than the EU's forecast, and 2013's to be seven points worse.

All of which is to say that the political aspect of the situation is getting less and less relevent. If investors, trade partners, and, yes, Greek citizens themselves carry on behaving as if Greece has already confirmed it is exiting the euro, there is every chance that a they may create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Earlier this month, Paul Mason explained how bank withdrawals can force such an event, and its not hard to see how entirely cutting Greece off from credit or international trade would do the same thing (although slightly less mechanically).

The difference for the Greek people between a politically motivated exit and a economically forced one is likely to be small, of course. But for the broader continent, particularly the rest of the periphery, the latter presents a much higher chance of contagion. Because if a country can end up outside the eurozone despite its leaders, then there doesn't seem much that, for example, Rajoy could say to save Spain at all. Actions must speak louder than words.

Alexis Tsipras, head of SYRIZA, leaves the presidential palace in Athens. Photograph: Getty Images

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

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Who really controls the Labour Party now?

Jeremy Corbyn's allies will struggle to achieve their ambition to remove general secretary Iain McNicol.

Jeremy Corbyn's advance at the general election confirmed his place as Labour leader. Past opponents recognise not only that Corbyn could not be defeated but that he should not be.

They set him the test of winning more seats – and he passed. From a position of strength, Corbyn was able to reward loyalists, rather than critics, in his shadow cabinet reshuffle. 

But what of his wider control over the party? Corbyn allies have restated their long-held ambition to remove Labour general secretary Iain McNicol, and to undermine Tom Watson by creating a new post of female deputy leader (Watson lost the honorific title of "party chair" in the reshuffle, which was awarded to Corbyn ally Ian Lavery).

The departure of McNicol, who was accused of seeking to keep Corbyn off the ballot during the 2016 leadership challenge, would pave the way for the removal of other senior staff at Labour HQ (which has long had an acrimonious relationship with the leader's office). 

These ambitions are likely to remain just that. But Labour figures emphasise that McNicol will remain general secretary as long he retains the support of the GMB union (of which he is a former political officer) and that no staff members can be removed without his approval.

On the party's ruling National Executive Committee, non-Corbynites retain a majority of two, which will grow to three when Unite loses a seat to Unison (now Labour's biggest affiliate). As before, this will continue to act as a barrier to potential rule changes.

The so-called "McDonnell amendment", which would reduce the threshold for Labour leadership nominations from 15 per cent of MPs to 5 per cent, is still due to be tabled at this year's party conference, but is not expected to pass. After the election result, however, Corbyn allies are confident that a left successor would be able to make the ballot under the existing rules. 

But Labour's gains (which surprised even those close to the leader) have reduced the urgency to identify an heir. The instability of Theresa May's government means that the party is on a permanent campaign footing (Corbyn himself expects another election this year). For now, Tory disunity will act as a force for Labour unity. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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