IMF Warns of Huge Financial Hole as Greek Vote Looms

By David Chance. The International Monetary Fund delivered a stark warning on Thursday of the huge financial hole facing Greece as angry and uncertain voters prepare for a referendum that could decide their country’s future in Europe.

Days after Greece defaulted on part of its IMF debt, the Fund, part of the lenders’ “troika” behind successive international bailouts, said Greece needed an extra 50 billion euros over the next three years, including 36 billion from its European partners, to stay afloat. It also needed significant debt relief.

The assessment, in a preliminary draft of the Fund’s latest debt sustainability report, underlines the scale of the problems facing Athens, whatever the result of Sunday’s referendum on the bailout offered by creditors last month.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’ rejection of what he terms the “blackmail” of EU and IMF creditors demanding spending cuts and tax hikes has so angered Greece’s partners that there is no hope of reconciliation before Sunday.

With banks closed for a fourth day and capital controls in place, the future of the left-wing government hangs on the result, given the angry mood of voters in Greece, torn between resentment of the lenders and scorn for their own politicians. (Read more from “IMF Warns of Huge Financial Hole as Greek Vote Looms” HERE)

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‘Yes’ Camp Takes Slim Lead in Greek Bailout Referendum Poll

By Lefteris Karagiannopoulos and George Georgiopoulos. Supporters of Greece’s bailout terms have taken a wafer-thin lead over the “No” vote backed by the leftist government, 48 hours before a referendum that may determine the country’s future in the euro zone, a poll showed.

The opinion poll by the respected ALCO institute, published in the Ethnos newspaper on Friday, put the “Yes” camp on 44.8 percent against 43.4 percent for the No” vote. But the lead was within the pollster’s 3.1 percentage point margin of error, with 11.8 percent saying they are still undecided.

With banks shuttered all week, cash withdrawals rationed and commerce seizing up, the vote could decide whether Greece gets another last-ditch financial rescue in exchange for more harsh austerity measures or plunges deeper into economic crisis.

It could also determine whether Greece becomes the first country to crash out of the 19-nation European single currency area, membership of which is meant to be irrevocable.

The survey found that 74 percent of Greeks want to stay in the euro, while just 15 percent want to return to a national currency, with 11 percent undecided. (Read more from this story HERE)

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Economic Exodus Means Two-Thirds of Puerto Ricans May Soon Live in US

By Alan Yuhas. Facing a crisis of monumental proportions at home, tens of thousands of people are fleeing a Caribbean island in search of a better life in the United States only to find hardship and struggle on American shores. Their stories sound like those of millions of migrants – poverty at home, where the economy lies in tatters – but they differ from millions of others: they’re already American.

Unable to pay its $73bn debt, Puerto Rico has begun rationing water, closing schools and watching its healthcare system collapse and 45% of its people living in poverty. Emigration to the mainland has accelerated in recent years, activists say, and data shows that from 2003 to 2013 there was a population swing of more than 1.5 million people.

“This new wave of immigration can be compared with the immigration in the 1930s and 40s,” said Edgardo González, coordinator of the Defenders of Puerto Rico, an activist group. The Great Depression and second world war spurred the so-called “Great Migration”, when tens of thousands of Puerto Ricans moved to New York every year for nearly two decades.

Now most Puerto Ricans are arriving in central Florida, González said, but many cannot find jobs or even housing. “Some might stay with family for a few weeks, but for those who don’t have family, people end up homeless because of the lack of services,” he said.

“People end up living in hotels, living in cars or on the street. Then you have people who are homeless with kids, who get in trouble with the law, and you have to get into it with childcare and welfare services.” (Read more from this story HERE)

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