The real issues of the day

Published: May 18, 2012 at 10:10pm

While the Opposition ties itself up in knots trying to get its back on Richard Cachia Caruana, and holding parliament hostage yet again – as though their friend Franco were not enough – the real issues of the day go by ignored.

Shouldn’t the Opposition be concentrating hard on the consequences for Malta if Greece pulls out of the Eurozone? After all, they will be in government if and when that happens, and will have to grow up and deal with the fall-out.

And we’ll have to deal with the fall-out of their not knowing how to deal with the fall-out. Time to start battening down the hatches.

I was at the fishmonger’s this morning and Joseph and Luciano and Anglu and Joe the Whip might wish to know that nobody was discussing Partnership for Peace or Richard Cachia Caruana or Luciano’s motion while gutting red snappers or standing in line. The communal conversation was about Greece, the euro and the drachma.

Yes, at the fishmonger’s.

On Reuters this afternoon:


By Neil Maidment
LONDON | Fri May 18, 2012 11:45am BST

(Reuters) – De La Rue (DLAR.L) has drawn up contingency plans to print drachma banknotes should Greece exit the euro and approach the British money printer, an industry source told Reuters on Friday.

The news comes as EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht said on Friday the European Commission and the European Central Bank are working on an emergency scenario in case Greece has to leave the euro zone – the first time an EU official has confirmed the existence of contingency plans.

The source, who asked not to be named, said that as a commercial printer De La Rue needed to be alive to the possibility of a Greek exit from the single currency and prepare accordingly.

Crisis-hit Greece will be led by an emergency government into new elections on June 17 which will ultimately determine whether it must quit the euro – possibly spreading financial devastation across the continent.

An exit from Europe’s single currency would spark a major demand for the returning drachma and while the country’s state printers could orchestrate its production, a handful of global firms like De La Rue could be called on to help.

Buffeted equity investors looking for respite from the Greek turmoil have been busy buying up De La Rue shares in anticipation, helping push them up 11 percent in the last month.

Panmure analyst Paul Jones said the firm would be in with a chance of work if extra capacity was needed and could also benefit from other work as Greek printers were less likely to be quoting for contracts elsewhere.

“If they (Greece) decide to pull out of the euro the first thing is it won’t be an overnight job, partly because of the implications of what they are trying to do but secondly because of the sheer number of banknotes that are needed to replace a currency,” Jones told Reuters.

“It will be a huge job which the state printing works will do, but they will probably pull in some additional volume from outside and De La Rue will be in with a chance.”

On Thursday, as rating agency Fitch downgraded Greece’s debt a further notch below investment grade to CCC, a poll showed Greek voters returning to pro-bailout parties, offering some encouragement to markets shaken by the prospect of a euro exit.

De La Rue, the world’s largest commercial banknote printer producing over 150 national currencies, told Reuters in November that regime changes and the euro zone crisis could fuel further growth for the group.

Shares in the FTSE-250 firm, which has not produced drachma in over 20 years, were up 0.3 percent at 994.5 pence by 11:20 a.m., outperforming a 0.8 percent weaker FTSE 250 midcap index .FTMC.

(Additional reporting by Rhys Jones; Editing by Paul Hoskins and Mark Potter)

5 Comments Comment

  1. Randon says:

    Perhaps this shows that Malta’s decision to join the eurozone was premature.

    I know tha a handful of Maltese diplomats living in Brussels may want to brainwash us into thinking how good the euro has been for Malta, but the reailty on the ground (and at the fishmonger) is quite different.

    We are now controlled by the Bundesbank and have lost monetary control on our currency. Once again the interests of a very small group of people have superseded those of the majority.

    Meanwhile, the British who kept their pound sterling gloat at us ‘have told you so’.

    [Daphne – I heard better-informed arguments at the fishmonger’s, Randon. Exactly where do you think we would have been with the Maltese lira over the last few years, and especially now? Britain has retained its pound for sentimental and jingoistic, not economic, reasons. Perhaps you’ve forgotten what a hard time they had only a couple of years ago when the pound plummeted to a one to one basis with the euro and still hasn’t recovered too well.]

  2. silvio says:

    Without going into whether the Greeks brought this situation on themselves, I still think that the E.U. was too hard on them, especialy Germany and France.

    This brings to mind the hard conditions that were imposed on Germany after the first world war. The Germans could not take it any more, with the consequence that it paved the way for Hitler to gain power.

    To top it all, these drastic measures were instigated by the European banks to protect their interest, and these the same banks who expected us to bail them out of their problems which were nothing else but the result of their greed.

    • Jozef says:

      Actually, Angela Merkel’s decision to wait 18 months is what bought this about.

      The sum required, according to Giannino, was 180 billion, peanuts, given the consequences we all face now. Markets tested the solidity of the Euro at its first serious glitch, via the decisions she would have taken.

      She took the short term route to benefit her electoral chances, both failed.

      Meantime, Berlusconi had managed to sell Sarkozy a sizeable fraction of Italy’s debt to exclude any domino effect, and with Hollande in place, she now finds herself isolated.

  3. A. Charles says:

    According to, De La Rue will be one of the security printers of the drachma and the Malta factory will be the principal factory to produce them.

  4. Dee says:

    At the fishmonger….and the butcher, the greengrocer the hairdresser and the mechanic, the commonest topic of conversation I encountered of late was Greece and how that is going to affect Maltese banks and our own pockets.

    U mela RCC, il-partnership for peace, gay marriages u il-kazijiet l-ohra li mohhom biex jivvintaw tal-Labour u hbiebhom Franco, Jesmond u JPO.

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