Gross, who runs Janus Capital, sees the price of German Bundsas too high and thinksbetting against the bund is a good way to make money.
Last Friday, the yield on the 10-year Bund fell to a record low of 0.049 per cent – yield moves inversely to price – before climbing back to 0.165 per cent on Thursday.
Despite the rise, its still at incredibly low levels compared with the 10-yearUS Treasury, which is yielding 1.9577 per cent..
The rally in German bonds was sparked by a run to safety as the regions economy hit the brakes andhas accelerated since the European Central Bank began purchases of public-sector bonds (quantitative easingorQE) in earlyMarch as part of its trillion-euro stimulus program.
Whether or not Gross proves correct with his bet, time will tell, but weve put together four otherinteresting and market-movingshorts.
Short selling – the practice of betting on a price dive forcompanies, commoditiesor currencies -has a longhistory, going back to the1929 US stock market crash.
Investors bet that that they can repay borrowings by selling stockand then buying it again once the price drops.
While short selling is risky, its rewards can be great, precisely because the act of selling itself can precipitate favourable conditions. Here are some famous examples:
George Soros and the British pound
On the so-called Black Wednesday of 1992, fund manager George Soros and his partner Stanley Druckenmillermade roughly pound;1 billion betting against the British Pound.
Soros had bet that high inflation meant England would preventthe pound sterling from shadow tracking the German deutschmark. Having borrowed huge amounts of sterling to buy deutschmarkand French francs, Soros sold off his pounds.
The pounds value tumbled, which meant he paid back, in effect, far less than he borrowed. Soros became known as the man who broke the Bank of England.
Jim Chanos and Enron
Another hedge fund manager, Jim Chanos, realisedEnrons share price was too good to be true in the early 2000s. He became aware that Enron was using an accounting practice that allowedfront-loading of profits, making the company appear more valuable than it was. They were gaming the shareholders,he toldBusiness Insider. Enrons share price collapsed from $US90 in August 2000 to zero by January 2002.
Although it is not known how much cash Chanos made fromthe deal, he has said that he identified the short by realising that Enrons return on equity was 7 per centwhen, by his estimate,it hadto be 9 per cent to be viable.
Closer to home, Chanos adopted a short position on iron ore miner Fortescue Metals Group in recent years, on the basis that its large debts make it vulnerable to commodity price falls.
John Paulson and the US housing market
John Paulson was one of the few to pick the USsub-prime mortgage crisis. In 2005, our firm became very concerned by weak credit underwriting standards, excessive leverage amongst financial institutions and a fundamental mis-pricing of credit risk, he told a US congressional hearing into hedge funds in 2008.
Paulson put together a deal along with Goldmans Sachs and bet against the housing market, when many analystsof the day thoughtthat house prices could never drop.
Inthe event, prices could go down, and the sub-prime mortgage collapsetriggered the global financial crisisand Paulson walked away with a fortune, estimated to be $US15 billionfor his fundand $US3-4 billion personally. Atthe time it was believed to be the biggest one-year payday in Wall Street history.
PaulTudor Jones II and the US stock market
In the months beforethe 1987 stock market crash, Jonespredicted a huge decline in equities.It will be earth-shaking; it will be sabre-rattling, the 32-year-old tradersaid in a documentary,Trader,made at the time. He described the likely market drop as an Acapulco cliff dive.
Jones earned roughly $100 million that year, largely from that shorted position, giving his investors a 200 per cent return.
CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. – Police this week were trying to ID a man who ripped a cash register from the counter at a tobacco store on Wednesday.
At about 9 pm, the robber entered Sams Discount Tobacco at 2847 Fort Campbell Blvd. He ripped out the cash register and shot it with a revolver, according to a Clarksville Police news release.
Anyone who can identify the robber should call Detective Hurst at 931-648-0656, ext. 5263, or the CrimeStoppers TIPS Hotline at 931-645-TIPS (8477).
By Patrick Wilson
State Sen. Tommy Norment sponsored two bills pushed by the firm of a Virginia Beach lobbyist he acknowledged seeing, but according to a Virginian-Pilot review of records, there was no obvious pattern of favoritism on her behalf.
Earlier this month, at the end of an extortion case against a former client, Norment acknowledged federal investigators looked into his relationship with Angie Bezik and found no evidence of public corruption.
The James City County Republican is the Senate majority leader and a member of the states new Ethics Advisory Council.
In 2014, Norment sponsored a solar energy bill Beziks firm pushed for as part of her work for the Maryland DC Virginia Solar Energy Industries Association. The bill was one of two she reported lobbying for that Norment sponsored between 2011 and 2015, according to disclosure forms she filed with the secretary of the commonwealth.
The bill would have authorized tax credits of up to $100 million. The credits were reduced to grants and then never funded.
This is a nonissue you are desperately attempting to make into an issue on legislation that never became law, Norment said in a statement Friday. Senate Bill 653 was not even brought to me by the lobbyist whose character and good name you are assassinating, nor did the lobbyist promote the measure to me.
Even though it failed, the Sierra Club recognized Norment for his effort on solar energy last year. Senator Norment demonstrated leadership by successfully guiding this bill through the Legislature, the group said in a news release last April.
In 2011, he sponsored a bill to amend the Virginia Small Business Financing Act. Bezik reported lobbying for the bill on behalf of the city of Virginia Beach, one of her main clients. It passed the Finance Committee 15-0 but was never voted on by the full Senate.
Norment voted for various other bills that Bezik reported lobbying for, but his votes appear consistent with his fellow Republicans and his previous positions.
He sponsored 25 bills this year, including a rewrite of state law on ethics and conflicts of interest. He did not sponsor a solar energy bill this year.
Norment acknowledged in a November 2013 letter to the Virginia State Bar that he had been seeing Bezik personally after meeting her through the General Assembly. His letter came in response to a complaint filed against him by a former client, who in January 2014 tried to extort him.
Norment, who works for the firm Kaufman amp; Canoles, reported the extortion attempt to federal authorities. His former client, Christopher Burruss, was later charged, pleaded guilty and was sentenced to two years.
Norment told the state bar he was having serious marital difficulties but reconciled with his wife in 2011.
Quentin Kidd, a political science professor at Christopher Newport University, said voters are more likely to punish a lawmaker for breaking the law than for moral lapses.
While there was public backlash to former Gov. Bob McDonnell accepting lavish gifts and loans from businessman Jonnie Williams Sr., I think the public is cautious about condemning elected officials for perceived moral transgressions, he said.
Additionally, each legislator has a unique relationship with constituents. Norment, Kidd said, is perceived by Historic Triangle voters as a play-hard, work-hard kind of guy. A little bit on the edge. A little prickly.
And so if thats the way he is, then when he steps over the line here, well then the public thinks, Thats Tommy. Thats the guy who fights for us in Richmond and gets the things we want. Or, Thats the guy Ive always hated.
Norment has been a senator for 23 years and is running for re-election.
He was defiant about ethics reform in this years General Assembly session, insisting that a dinner from a lobbyist would not have a bearing on a lawmakers decision-making.
In a subcommittee hearing on the bill, he told Sen. Dick Saslaw, D-Fairfax County: I didnt have many citizens at home who came up to me and said, Tommy, you rotten bastards. Youve got to reform ethics. You know why were doing this, Dick? Were doing it because the media is on our back.
Norment could become chairman of the powerful budget-writing Finance Committee. Bezik, meanwhile, left her job with Williams Mullen on April 14 to pursue other opportunities, a firm spokeswoman said.
Bob Matthias, assistant to Virginia Beachs city manager, did not respond Friday to messages seeking comment about whether the city would hire Bezik as a lobbyist again.
Patrick Wilson, 804-697-1564, firstname.lastname@example.org
Banks Increasingly Refuse Cash Withdrawals – Switzerland Joins the Fun
The war on cash is proliferating globally. It appears that the private members of the worlds banking cartels are increasingly joining the fun, even if it means trampling on the rights of their customers.
Yesterday, we came across an article at Zerohedge, in which Dr. Salerno of the Mises Institute notes that JPMorgan Chase has apparently joined the war on cash by restricting the use of cash in selected markets, restricting borrowers from making cash payments on credit cards, mortgages, equity lines and auto loans, as well as prohibiting storage of cash in safe deposit boxes.
This reminded us immediately that we have just come across another small article in the local European press (courtesy of Dan Popescu), in which a Swiss pension fund manager discusses his plight with the SNBs bizarre negative interest rate policy. In Switzerland, this policy has long ago led to negative deposit rates at the commercial banks as well. The difference to other jurisdictions is, however, that negative interest rates have become so pronounced that it is by now worth it to simply withdraw ones cash and put it into an insured vault.
Having realized this, said pension fund manager, after calculating that he would save at least CHF 25,000 per year on every CHF 10 million deposit by putting the cash into a vault, told his bank that he was about to make a rather big withdrawal very soon. After all, as a pension fund manager he has a fiduciary duty to his clients, and if he can save money based on a technicality, he has to do it.
A Legally Murky Situation – but Collectivism Wins Out
What happened next is truly stunning. Surely, everybody is aware that Switzerland regularly makes it to the top three on the list of countries with the highest degree of economic freedom. At the same time, it has a central bank whose board members are wedded to Keynesian nostrums similar to those of other central banks. This is no wonder, as nowadays, economists are trained in an academic environment that is dripping with the most vicious statism imaginable. As a result, withdrawing ones cash is evidently regarded as interference with the SNBs monetary policy goals. Thus, SRF reports:
Since the national bank has introduced negative interest rates, pension funds in the country are in trouble. Banks are passing the negative rates on to them. This results in the saved pension money shrinking, instead of producing a return. A number of pension funds are therefore thinking about keeping their money in an external vault instead of leaving it in bank accounts.
One fund manager showed that for every CHF 10 m. in pension money, his fund would save CHF 25,000 – in spite of the costs involved in vault rent, cash transportation and other expenses.
However, as our research team has found out, there is one bank that refuses to pay out money in such large amounts. The editorial team has gotten hold of a letter from a large Swiss bank in which it tells its customer, a pension fund:
We are sorry, that within the time period specified, no solution corresponding to your expectations could be found.Bank expert Hans Geiger says that this is most definitely not legal. The pension fund has a sight account, and has the contractual right to dispose of its money on demand.
Indeed, although we all know that fractionally reserved banks literally dont have the money their customers hold in demand deposits, the contract states clearly that customers may withdraw their funds at any time on demand. The maturity of sight deposits is precisely zero.
So how come the unnamed large bank (they should have named it, just to see what happenshellip;) is so bold as to break the law by refusing to pay out funds in a demand deposit? Note here that it is indeed breaking the law, as there is nothing in Swiss legislation that states that banks are allowed to refuse or delay servicing withdrawals from demand deposits upon request.
The answer is that it has probably received a directive from the Swiss National Bank. Note here that these directives are not legally binding. SFR further states:
The president of the pension funds association ASIP, Hanspeter Konrad, has been irritated for weeks that pension funds are suffering from negative interest rates. He says: We simply cannot understand that the banks are butting in here. Konrad suspects that the National Bank is exerting its influence.
Indeed, the SNB confirms that it doesnt like to see the hoarding of cash to circumvent its negative interest rate policy. The National Bank has therefore recommended to the banks to approach withdrawal demands in a restrictive manner.
Hans Giger, professor eremitus at the University of Zurich, says to this that the question how far the SNB can go is legally complicated. While the SNB is not allowed to influence the contract between a bank and a pension fund, it can however issue directives to the banks in the collective interest of the Swiss economy. What banks do with the SNBs directives is however up to them.
In other words, large depositors in Swiss banks have now become victims of collectivism. Collectivism is of course precisely what informs all central planning endeavors. Obviously, property rights count for nothing if the central planners can revoke them at the drop of a hat.
It is undoubtedly a huge red flag when in one of the countries considered to be a member of the highest economic freedom in the world club, commercial banks are suddenly refusing their customers access to their cash. This money doesnt belong to the banks, and it doesnt belong to the central bank either.
If this can happen in prosperous Switzerland, based on some nebulous notion of the collective good, which its unelected central planners can arbitrarily determine and base decisions upon, it can probably happen anywhere. Consider yourself warned. As the modern day fiat money system inevitably cruises toward its final denouement, individual rights will come increasingly under attack as the worlds ruling elites and centrally directed banking cartels begin to batten down the hatches.
Better continue stacking, and keep a pile of this within grabbing distance – after all, it can be purchased at a generous discount these days:
ATHENS (Reuters) – Greeces governors and other local officials agreed on Saturday to lend cash to the near-bankrupt central government after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras assured them the measure would last for only a short period of time.
Greek lawmakers approved a decree late on Friday to force state entities to lend cash to the central government in spite of protests by municipalities and labor unions.
The measure, which was approved by 156 lawmakers in the 300-seat chamber, caused an outcry by local governors, who met Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras on Saturday to seek an explanation about the necessity of the action.
We got assurances that the measure is an emergency and temporary one, so it will become optional in a short time, the head of the Greek group representing local government officials, Kostas Agorastos, told reporters after the meeting.
Since he (Tsipras) talked to us honestly, and since our country needs this negotiating tool now for the negotiations to be completed, we will give it this tool, he said.
Just weeks away from running out of cash, Athens has been tapping the cash reserves of public sector entities through so-called repo transactions to cover its needs.
On Monday it ordered entities including local governments to lend spare cash to the state while it tries to reach a deal with skeptical foreign creditors on new financial aid.
The state is committed to paying salaries and pensions, the governments parliamentary speaker, Nikos Filis, told lawmakers, defending the legislation. The money will be earning better interest rates (than what banks pay).
In a symbolic protest, municipal workers walked off the job for three hours on Friday. Some local government officials have threatened to defy the orders, while others have said they need more information before contributing to central government coffers.
The protests added to pressure on Tsipras, whose decision to battle lenders has become increasingly unpopular. A University of Macedonia poll this week showed 45.5 percent of Greeks approved of the governments negotiating stance, down roughly 30 percentage points from February.
Athens is locked in a dispute with its EU and IMF creditors over its proposal for a deal to obtain cash in exchange for making reforms, and progress has been limited. Euro zone finance ministers said after the end of a meeting in Riga on Friday that the prospects for a deal were distant and time was running out and accused Greece of failing to move quickly.
Athens must pay the International Monetary Fund almost 1 billion euros ($1.1 billion) in May. It has said it wants to honor its obligations and needs lenders to offer something in return.
For all this time, Greece and the Greek people have been bleeding to fulfill their debt obligations – a proof of the governments willingness to reach a solution, government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Mega TV on Friday.
(Additional reporting by Angeliki Koutantou and George Georgiopoulos, Editing by Deepa Babington and Dan Grebler; editing by Jane Baird)
1. How will changing corporate tax rates affect me? On the corporate side, a number of changes will affect private business owners. The most prominent among them is the proposed reduction to the corporate tax rate. The current combined corporate tax rate for businesses in Ontario, for the first $500,000 of income, is 15.5 per cent. Under the Budget proposals, we’ll see that rate drop to 13.5 per cent over the next four years. Once the deduction is fully implemented, small business owners could benefit from a savings of $10,000 per year. Even so, this will be offset by higher personal tax on dividends paid out of small business earnings – so make sure you understand the big picture.
2. What’s changing on the manufacturing front? The newly tabled Budget focuses heavily on the manufacturing sector and has made the temporary capital cost allowance – announced in the 2013 budget – permanent. The initiative, designed to support the manufacturing sector, will allow companies to write-off the cost of machinery more quickly, and lower their taxes. The unexpected side effect of this new legislation is the actual write-off will be slower than anticipated. That means you’ll be able to write off 90 per cent the cost of equipment in the first 4 years as opposed to 100 per cent in 3 years under the old temporary measure.
Continuing its support of the manufacturing sector, the government also introduced $100-million to create an Automotive Supplier Innovation Program over the next five years. This program will strengthen Canada’s parts supply base and create a favourable environment for automotive research and development, while providing firms with new opportunities to enter global supply chains.
3. How does the Budget fuel our growth? The Canada Small Business Financing Act is evolving. We’ll see the maximum loan amount for real property increase from $500,000 to $1-million. In addition, the small-business eligibility criteria is changing, too. The scope will shift from firms with gross annual revenues of $5-million or less to include firms with gross annual revenues of $10-million or less.
The government is also concentrating on young entrepreneurs. This Budget pegs $14-million over two years for Futurpreneur Canada, starting in 2015-16. This funding is conditional on Futurpreneur Canada raising matching funds from non-federal sources.
From a personal tax perspective, a handful of small changes will also have significant implications for business owners – so be sure to explore all them.
4. What’s happening with the TFSA? As promised during the last election, the Conservatives have increased the annual Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA) limit from $5,500 to $10,000. This increase allows Canadians to invest and avoid paying tax on the income and capital gains made on those investments. If you’re already maxing your TFSA contributions and putting cash in other non-tax sheltered accounts, this increase can help you save on future taxes.
5. Will changes to RRIFs affect me? The government is lowering the annual amount that seniors must withdraw from their Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs). This move addresses concerns that existing rules place seniors at risk of outliving their savings. Currently, a senior must withdraw 7.38 per cent of the RRIF in the year they are 71 at the start of the year, with the withdrawal rate increasing each year until age 94, when it’s capped at 20 per cent.
The new rules will lower the amount seniors are required to withdraw at age 71 to 5.28 per cent of their RRIF, and at age 80 reduce it to 6.82 per cent, before the rate increases to 18.79 per cent at age 94. So small and family business owners should take note, and plan accordingly.
While some of the tax measures introduced in the Economic Action Plan 2015 will take affect right away, others will not be fully realized until years down the road. Long-term affects remain to be seen, however, small business owners can look to the new budget for measures to help support growth and profitability.
David Steinberg is the national co-leader of the Private Mid-Market practice at EY. Follow EY’s Private Mid-Market practice on Twitter @EY_CAPrivateCo and follow David Steinberg @SteinbergPMM. To learn more about how EY supports private companies, visit ey.com/ca/pmm.
- Apple conversations have shifted from can Apple innovate to can Apple pay?.
- Tim Cook, however, is on record as saying he does not want his company to be a cash hoarder..
- With Cook also saying Apple has more cash than it needs to run the business, shareholders are more than justified to have their hands out.
During the analyst day, ConocoPhillips (NYSE:COP) provided an interesting shift in strategy to unconventional drilling in North America. While at the same time, the energy exploration and production company continued sticking to a long held policy that doesnt benefit the stock long term.
The stock is holding up well around $67.50, having only fallen about 20% from the highs last July. Should investors buy the stock at these levels?
Bizarre Dividend Policy
As usual, the market is perplexing that an oil giant with a market cap of $84.1 billion would have to discuss the concept of cash flow neutrality. Oddly though, the main reason outside of suddenly lower oil prices that ConocoPhillips is even discussing the concept is a decision to hold a rather large dividend policy. Naturally, near-sighted investors prefer the concept of steady dividends, but it only hurts the stock and capital returns to stick to a policy that requires the issuing of debt or asset sales to pay.
ConocoPhillips pays an annual $2.92 dividend for a large 4.3% yield. With 1.23 billion shares outstanding, the annual dividend payments cost the company $3.6 billion per year in cash. At the same time, ConocoPhillips spent $16.5 billion on capex last year versus operating cash flow of $16.3 billion. In essence, the energy producer is borrowing the cash to pay dividends to shareholders.
Since ConocoPhillips apparently places a top priority on dividend payments, it promised in the analyst day presentation to maintain the dividend. With a plan to cut capex to $11.5 billion, it hopes to achieve cash flow neutrality or where it wont have to borrow money to pay dividends by 2017. The company plans to reach that goal based on the following methods of growing operating cash flow to $15.5 billion from a normalized level in 2014 of $12.5 billion.
(click to enlarge)
Source: ConocoPhillips Investor Meeting presentation
On top of the capital cuts, ConocoPhillips plans to increase operating cash flow from growing production (see Is ConocoPhillips Ramping Up Production?) along with operating cost reductions of $1 billion. Of course, this plan has a major issue in that it requires higher oil prices than the market currently supports.
While ConocoPhillips has apparently set a target of WTI seeing $70 per barrel, the market currently sits at only $57.40. The Brent prices are equally lower than the target and the price for natural gas is far off the $3.50 target.
The company has a clear plan of production gains and cost reductions to increase the operating cash flow to the $15.5 billion level by 2017. At that point, ConocoPhillips would have free cash flow of roughly $4.0 billion assuming capex remains steady at $11.5 billion. Ironically, just enough cash flow to pay the dividend.
Remember that the goal above only gets the company to where it doesnt have to take on debt or sell assets to pay dividends. Until ConocoPhillips reaches the goal it needs to issue more debt. And until oil and natural gas prices rise significantly, the energy producer remains in major debt accumulation mode.
Or to avoid debt increases, the company needs to continue selling assets to fund capex and dividend payments. Over the last three years, the company completed $14 billion in non-core assets sales.
From the below slide, it appears ConocoPhillips is attempting to keep up with the sector rather than making prudent financial decisions.
(click to enlarge)
Source: ConocoPhillips Investor Meeting presentation
The major concern of a new investor is that the stock is propped up by the high dividends. ConocoPhillips needs higher energy prices to justify keeping this dividend level. The stock isnt attractive until the company can better capital returns with cash generation.
CAMBRIDGE, ONTARIO–(Marketwired – April 24, 2015) – Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)
FedDev Ontario Minister Gary Goodyear delivered a keynote address today at the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, where he highlighted the Harper Governments latest initiatives in Economic Action Plan 2015 to balance the budget, support small businesses and manufacturers, support Canadian families and reduce taxes for Canadians.
Minister Goodyear outlined that Economic Action Plan 2015 includes key measures to strengthen Canadas economy by supporting small business, including:
- Reducing the small business tax rate to 9 percent by 2019-putting an estimated $2.7 billion back into the pockets of job-creating small businesses and their owners between now and 2019-20.
- Providing manufacturers with a 10-year accelerated capital cost allowance to encourage productivity-enhancing investment in machinery and equipment.
- Improving access to financing for Canadian small businesses through the Canada Small Business Financing Program.
- Expanding the services offered through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to help small and medium-sized businesses.
- Providing $14 million over two years to Futurpreneur Canada in support of young entrepreneurs.
- Supporting the Action Plan for Women Entrepreneurs to help women business owners succeed.
In Budget 2015, the Government of Canada also demonstrated its continued commitment to help families and communities prosper.
Minister Goodyear also hosted two roundtables and met with local stakeholders to discuss the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) sector and investing in and supporting early-stage Canadian companies.
- Small businesses account for 99 percent of all businesses in Canada, and employ half of the working men and women in the Canadian private sector.
- Since the depths of the Great Recession, over 1.2 million net new jobs have been created-overwhelmingly full-time, well-paying and in the private sector.
- Canada has had one of the best job-creation records in the G-7 over the recovery.
- Ontarios economy has added 445,200 jobs between 2009 and 2014.
- According to KPMG, total business tax costs in Canada are the lowest in the Group of Seven (G-7) and 46 percent lower than those in the United States. Low taxes encourage capital investment, which in turn spurs job creation. Bloomberg has ranked us as the second most attractive place in the world to do business.
Our Government is delivering on its promise to balance the budget and build a stronger, healthier economy. The Economic Action Plan 2015 outlines a number of excellent initiatives designed to strengthen and support our small businesses and manufacturers and generate significant job growth.
– The Honourable Gary Goodyear, Minister of State for FedDev Ontario.
The Cambridge Chamber of Commerce was pleased to host Minister Goodyear this morning as he expanded on the Governments budget, Economic Action Plan 2015, released on April 21st. We were pleasantly surprised with the great support for small business through tax savings, and business in general with incentive programs designed to assist businesses investing in themselves. And the Futurepreneur program to support our innovative young entrepreneurs with start-up capital, learning tools and mentorship to help them turn their ideas and dreams into reality. A budget that touches every sector and demonstrates commitment and support to grow our businesses here and abroad.
– Greg Durocher, President and CEO of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
Speech: Minister Goodyear Highlights Benefits of Economic Action Plan 2015 for Southern Ontario
Economic Action Plan 2015
Cambridge Chamber of Commerce
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ATHENS/BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Greece can scrape together enough cash to meet its payment obligations into June, euro zone and Greek officials said on Wednesday, playing down fears of an imminent default as hopes receded of a deal with its creditors to release fresh aid.
The European Central Bank raised its ceiling on emergency lending by the Greek central bank to Greek banks by 1.5 billion euros to 75.4 billion euros, giving them a bigger buffer to cope with deposit withdrawals, a banking source said.
Three sources familiar with ECB thinking denied a report that the Frankfurt-based bank had tightened the screws on Greek banks by slashing the value of the collateral they must present to receive emergency liquidity to stay afloat.
Greece has received two international bailouts worth 240 billion euros since 2010 but its economy has shrunk by some 25 percent, unemployment has soared and a leftist-led government elected in January has refused to complete a reform program that includes measures it says worsen the economic slump.
The head of the Eurogroup Working Group, which prepares decisions for euro zone finance ministers, said Athens would not present a new list of economic reforms required to unlock further EU funds when the ministers meet in Latvia on Friday, but Greece should be able to stay solvent till June.
The liquidity situation in Greece is already a little tight, but it should be sufficient into June, EWG chairman Thomas Wieser told Austrian broadcaster ORF.
Greek Deputy Finance Minister Dimitris Mardas said the government aimed to have a 2.5 billion euro ($2.7 billion) cash buffer by forcing state entities to lend to the state in order to cover payments until the end of May.
Shut out of bond markets and running out of money to pay civil servants, pensioners and suppliers and service its debt, the government issued a decree on Monday ordering public bodies to transfer their spare cash to the central bank.