The scariest quote for the world economy this week came from a member of the European Central Bank’s executive board. Asked by Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem whether Greek banks would open Friday, his answer was stark:
"Tomorrow, yes. Monday, I don't know," replied Benoit Coeure.
So far, Coeure is right: Greek banks were open on Friday, though that wasn’t what people were worried about. The important issue is whether Greece can come to an agreement with its creditors to release bailout funding that will keep banks running. At the moment, Greece is due to owe creditors €1.6 billion at the end of June, money the government says it doesn’t have. If it can’t either repay or reach an extension deal, Greece might leave the eurozone—the doomsday scenario with the somewhat silly name “Grexit”—though default wouldn’t necessarily mean departure.
On Friday, the ECB apparently gave Greece a short-term cash infusion to last through the weekend, and the eurozone ministers will reconvene on Monday to try to hammer out a longer-term deal. If you feel like you’ve been hearing about this for years, you’re not entirely wrong—there have been dire warnings about Greece departing the eurozone since the spring of 2012. This time really does seem to be different. Greece’s left-wing government has refused to make as many concessions as its creditors want—which isn’t to say that Grexit is inevitable.