World Bulletin / News Desk
Greek Cyprus's international lenders began reviewing how the island is meeting the conditions of it 10 billion euro bailout on Wednesday, looking to see whether it should get the next tranche of aid.
The appraisal is the first since Greek Cyprus secured a deal with the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank in March, pulling the cash-starved country away from the brink of financial meltdown.
It dealt a harsh blow to thousands who lost their savings in two major Greek Cypriot banks, however.
Nicosia received a first tranche of aid in June worth 3 billion euros and euro zone finance ministers will decide on whether to issue the next tranche in mid-September, the size of which is yet to be determined.
Greek Cypriot President Nicos Anastasiades said last month that some provisions of the bailout deal needed tweaking to address problems in the island's battered banking sector.
Greek Cyprus had to wind down one lender, Laiki Bank, and use customer deposits exceeding 100,000 euros to prop up another, Bank of Cyprus, as part of the bailout agreement.
One area of focus for the so-called troika of lenders during the two-week review will be why the central bank has yet to finalise how much equity Bank of Cyprus shareholders will receive in exchange for giving up their deposits, a process known as a bail-in.
Finance Ministry officials are keen to see the resolution settled, worried that the uncertainty it is causing is preventing an easing of capital controls, introduced to prevent a cash flight after the bailout was agreed in March.
"Swiftly exiting the resolution status would allow us to take new steps to further ease, and ultimately eliminate capital controls," Finance Minister Harris Georgiades said on Tuesday.
An independent audit of Bank of Cyprus assets is under way, which would define precisely how much of depositors' cash would be seized.
The island has promised its lenders that it would consider the option of selling some of its gold reserves to help pay down its debt but Georgiades said on Tuesday that that was only one option under consideration.
Under the bailout, Greek Cyprus has agreed to cut its budget deficit to 2.4 percent of GDP in 2016, from an estimated 5.9 percent this year.
Although foreign banks on the island were exempt from most restrictions imposed under the bailout, customers at banks in Greek Cyprus are limited to withdrawals of up to 300 euros a day, cheques cannot be cashed and bank transfers are vetted.
Those restrictions are adding to an acute credit crunch caused by financial institutions which are jittery about their balance sheets in a rapidly deteriorating economy and have put the brakes on lending, economists say.
"Banks aren't lending," said economist Yiannis Tirkides, who did not wish to disclose the name of his company. "A lot has to do with expectations, and that contributes to the uncertainty," he said.
Satoshi Nakamoto, a name known to legions of bitcoin traders, practitioners and boosters around the world, appeared to lose his anonymity on Thursday after Newsweek published a story that said he lived in Temple City, California, just east of Los Angeles.
BP's exploration and production sharing agreement with Libya covers onshore acreage in Ghadames, near the border between Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, and offshore acreage in the central Sirte basin
There are discussions at high levels within the U.S. government on how to use U.S. natural gas resources
The judicial sources said on Thursday that prosecutors suspected the companies of working together on campaigns to favour Lucentis, including promoting it to local doctors
Scotland's Energy Minister Fergus Ewing offered to meet Shell to discuss the future of the oil and gas industry if Scotland votes to end its 307-year tie with England
European Commission President said that from a purely financial standpoint the crisis in Ukraine should not have much impact on the euro zone but there was potential for far greater instability
The rouble-traded MICEX lost 1.9 percent on the news to trade at 1,322.2 points. It had earlier traded in positive territory.
If tensions eventually escalate into economic sanctions, the single biggest point of vulnerability for the Gulf would probably be the Dolphin Energy pipeline carrying about 2 billion cubic feet of gas per day from Qatar to the UAE and Oman
The former Soviet republic is strategically important to Moscow as the main gas transit route to the European Union, Russia's biggest customer
Iran will soon receive a second installment of previously frozen assets which are being returned to it under an interim nuclear agreement with world powers
Economic growth jumped to 5.2 percent in the last quarter, but Romania remains the second poorest country in the European Union
Brent crude prices decreased by 1.8 percent, more than US$2 per barrel on Wednesday.
The southeast European country sets out to achieve price stability by increasing the share of private entities in its state dominated energy sector.
Premier Li Keqiang also said at the start of the China's annual parliamentary session, that the country's 2014 growth target will be kept at 7.5 percent, inflation at 3.5 percent and broad M2 money supply growth at 13 percent.
Japan has struggled to define its approach to bitcoin since the collapse of Mt. Gox, which filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo on Friday, saying it had lost bitcoins and cash worth some half a billion dollars due to hacker attacks on what it said was its lax computer system security.
"We are not concerned about short-term security of supply," Energy Commissioner Oettinger told a news conference. "But we are concerned about security of supply in Ukraine."