Bank lending to UK manufacturers slows amid concern for 2015 prospects

Bank lending to manufacturers fell by £624m in December, compared to a £217m expansion of credit in November

Bank lending to Britain’s factory owners slowed in December according to industry figures on Tuesday that indicate growing unease among manufacturers at the prospects for 2015.

The British Banker’s Association (BBA) reported that growth in bank lending to the manufacturing sector more than halved in the last six months and declined by

Economy slows down as election nears – not what George Osborne wanted

Reasons to be cheerful for UK GDP in 2015 depend on extraordinary factors such as a plunging oil price and rockbottom interest rates and inflation

A slowing economy is the last thing a chancellor needs going into an election. But that is what the latest figures mean for George Osborne.

A slip from 0.7% growth in the third quarter to 0.5% in the final three months of 2014 matters when the cracks are appearing in a manufacturing sector that is stagnating and a construction industry going into reverse.

Related: UK GDP slows in final quarter but annual pace is fastest since 2007

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Alexis Tsipras’s new Greek cabinet is sworn in, as bank shares slide – live updates

Rolling coverage as Greece’s new prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, picks government ministers

Swearing-in ceremony begins
The official announcementLeaked! The Tsipras cabinetYanis Varoufakis is finance minister

6.23pm GMT

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras unveils cabinet of mavericks and visionaries

5.54pm GMT

Time for a quick summary.

Alexis Tsipras has formed his government, and his ministers have been sworn in and are off to work (coverage of the ceremony starts from here). Our leaked list of the cabinet positions is here and official confirmation is here.

5.39pm GMT

The Open Europe think tank has taken a look at the new Greek government, and notes that academics have been given several key posts:

Some have criticised the choice of academics over those with more practical experience. Given the fairly rapid rise of Syriza, though, we would note that few within its ranks have any practical experience of governing. Also, in politics plenty of senior ministers approach new posts with little first-hand knowledge of their brief.

Over the past year, Tsipras voiced his support for Russia and his concerns over the European approach to the Ukraine crisis. Two Greek officials told The Wall Street Journal that a strongly-worded statement on Russia issued by EU leaders earlier today did not have the consent of the new Prime Minister. Not a promising start, and tensions may well increase should the moment come to decide on further EU sanctions against Moscow.

Coalition negotiations between Syriza and the Independent Greeks have been incredibly quick. According to Kathimerini, the Independent Greeks have agreed to back Syriza’s economic plans. In return, Syriza will hold off on issues that its coalition partner sees as controversial – such as the separation between the Orthodox Church and the State, and the agreement on a composite name for Macedonia.

The reported choice of Dimitris Avramopoulos, Greece’s current EU Commissioner, as the new government’s candidate for President is also a sign of wanting things to progress quickly. Being from New Democracy, the party of outgoing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, he is unlikely to see much resistance from the opposition. Clearly, Tsipras seems willing to sacrifice the (largely ceremonial) post of President to ensure the voting process does not hold up the work of parliament for too long.

Unsurprisingly, the new government will prioritise action on the economy. Reports suggest the first measure will be a bill to raise the minimum wage to €751 per month, followed by another one to facilitate the settlement of tax arrears.

5.29pm GMT

I didn’t catch this myself, but blogger Irate Greek reckons Greece’s new finance minister told a reporter outside the presidential parliament that he’ll see Mario Draghi, ECB chief, on Friday.

Journo: What will you tell Draghi tomorrow? Varoufakis: Nothing. Journo: Whyyyyyy? Varoufakis: Coz I’m seeing him on Friday. #TrueStory

5.25pm GMT

Alexis Tsipras has finally taken control of the official prime ministerial twitter account; he’s properly in charge.

His first tweet contains the oath he took yesterday, promising to uphold the Constitution and always serve the interests of the Greek people.

Σας διαβεβαιώνω στην τιμή & στη συνείδησή μου ότι θα τηρώ το Σύνταγμα & τους νόμους & ότι θα υπηρετώ πάντα το συμφέρον του ελληνικού λαού.

Phew RT @mbensass Tsipras finally wrested control of @PrimeministerGR from Samaras

5.14pm GMT

Greek bank shares have fallen heavily today, as investors in Athens fear a lengthy clash with the rest of the eurozone over Greece’s debts.

Greec’s three largest lenders, National Bank of Greece, Piraeus and Eurobank Ergasias, all tumbled by around 12%. The main ATG index closed 3.7% lower.

5.14pm GMT

Germany’s Der Spiegel reports that Alexis Tsipras wasn’t even left the password for the Wi-Fi at the prime ministerial residence.

That’s on top of the soap, computers and paperwork vanishing too, according to local media.

We sit in the dark. We have no internet, no emails, no way to communicate with each other.

@graemewearden For your live blog ? : Apparently Samaras denies Tsipras the passwords for WLAN in the residence

5.07pm GMT

Just to clarify one point – today’s ceremony included many junior ministers, as well as the cabinet ministers.

4.56pm GMT


I hope someone hasn’t sneaked the new troika memorandum under the piece of paper the new Greek cabinet is signing #Greece

4.41pm GMT

2 swearing-in ceremonies for #Greek cabinet. First, will include Orthodox priests for right-wing ministers. No priests for #Syriza Ministers

4.38pm GMT

The newly-sworn in cabinet are now heading out of the presidential palace, and off to work.

4.34pm GMT

And with that, it’s done:

4.30pm GMT

Correction. Reader John Matzavrakos flags up that the religious ceremony was actually conducted by Bishop Methoni, the Assistant Bishop of the Archdiocese of Athens.

Not Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens as I wrote. Apologies all. GW

@graemewearden Bishop of Methoni Klimis ( led the govt swearing in, and not Archbishop Ieronymos. Don’t know why 🙂

4.23pm GMT

Greece’s first blind cabinet minister, Panagiotis Koroumblis, has signed. He’s taking over the health ministry.

4.22pm GMT

Yanis Varoufakis is sworn in:

4.17pm GMT

Ministers are now taking it in turns to sign the official paperwork. This might take a while….

4.17pm GMT

4.14pm GMT

4.13pm GMT

And now it’s the turn of the other ministers to take a civil oath — a rather larger group, maybe thirty? (there are 40 ministers in all).

4.12pm GMT

The ministers taking the oath are making the sign of the cross.

4.12pm GMT

4.11pm GMT

4.10pm GMT

The ministers are placing their hands on the Holy Bible now….

4.09pm GMT

4.08pm GMT

Bishop Klimis of Methoni leading the ceremony, along with two priests, who are intoning the ceremony now. (corrected)

4.07pm GMT

Reminder, there’s a live feed here.

4.07pm GMT

Greece’s president Papoulias has arrived, and the ceremony is starting now.

4.05pm GMT

As explained earlier, the ceremony will be in two parts – a religious oath, and a civil one.

4.05pm GMT

4.04pm GMT

After a long wait, the swearing-in is underway.

A group of ministers are gathering to take a religious oath:

3.50pm GMT

Many good people in new Greek cabinet (academics, unionists, human rights advocates). Somehow sweetens the pill of Kammenos as Defence Min.

3.35pm GMT

New Greek cabinet to be sworn in – Slight delay due to the writing of presidential decrees @euronews @euronewsgr

3.34pm GMT

The new Greece government has opened up a row with Brussels about Russian sanctions, even before the cabinet was sworn in.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

A toughly worded statement on Russia issued Tuesday by European Union heads of governments didn’t have the consent of Greece’s new Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, according to two Greek officials.

“The statement does not have Greece’s consent,” a government official said. The official added that the Greek government will put out a statement later saying the European Council, the body which issued the statement, didn’t follow the correct procedure to win Athens’ consent.

3.29pm GMT

Right wing ANEL party got: Defence minister, and juniors for Macedonian Region, Tourism, Rural Development and Govt Co-Ordination #Greece

3.23pm GMT

A small crowd has gathered outside the presidential palace to welcome the new ministers after they’ve been sworn into office.

3.21pm GMT

Presidential palace guards salute as Alexis Tsipras and colleagues enter:

3.12pm GMT

There are 39 cabinet members in total, of whom six are women.

Vice president Giannis Dragasakis, who will have oversight of economic affairs takes that number up to 40.

A @Twitter list of about 30 of the 42 members of the new Greek government: #ekloges2015 #Tsipras #Greece

3.10pm GMT

Alexis Tsipras just entered the presidential palace for the swearing in ceremony to rapturous applause from onlookers (Helena Smith reports from Athens).

The ceremony, for the first time ever will take place in two instalments:for those who want to take the oath of office in a religious ceremony, and those who like Tsipras himself yesterday, prefer a civil service in the presence of the country’s head of state Karolos Papaoulias.

“Negotiations have already begun with our creditors but not with the troika.”

“Our priorities at the health ministry will be about protecting the uninsured. There are 3 million uninsured in our we want to ensure that there is equality of health.”

3.06pm GMT

Alexis Tsipras arrives for the swearing in:

3.00pm GMT

2.59pm GMT

2.57pm GMT

Journalists swarmed around Greece’s new finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, as he arrived for the swearing in:

2.54pm GMT

2.48pm GMT

2.45pm GMT

The swearing-in ceremony is being broadcast live here:

2.39pm GMT

Greece’s new cabinet are heading to the presidential palace for the swearing-in ceremony…..

Ministers heading to the presidential palace to be sworn in #Greece

2.29pm GMT

Greece’s new State Minister, Nikos Pappas, left the PM’s office clutching a folder after being told he was included in Tsipras’s cabinet.

2.21pm GMT

This photoshopped image of the former Greek prime minister leaving office is doing the rounds on social media:

The tragedy that is Greece …

2.15pm GMT

The selloff in Athens continues….

Greek Markets in Deep Moussaka Athens stock exchange -6.43% Banks -18.35% (ht @EfiEfthimiou)

1.51pm GMT

Yanis Varoufakis will have the formidable Nantia Valavani and Kostas Mardas as deputy finance ministers.

Mardas, an economics professor, will be in charge of taxation policies. Syriza has said, repeatedly, it has “big fig” tax evaders in its sights. Valavani, a Syriza MP and prolific writer/translator is also a respected economist, Helena Smith reports.

1.49pm GMT

By appointing #Varoufakis as Fin Min, #Tsipras continues ‘confrontational’ strategy with Europeans, analysts say #greece

Tsipras opts for academics in key cabinet posts: Varoufakis (Fin Min), Stathakis (Econ Min), Kotzias (Foreign Min). #ekloges2015 #Greece

Quite a few academics in new Greek cabinet. Economy Minister Stathakis teaches Political Economy at Crete University. #Greece #ekloges2015

Just 2 women in the new Greek cabinet, it seems.

1.48pm GMT

The Greek stock market is now down 5%, from 3% earlier.

That’s not all Tsipras-related; disappointing corporate results from US construction giant Caterpillar have hit markets around the globe.

1.39pm GMT

The New Greek government is official.

“The first cabinet meeting takes place tomorrow,” said Nikos Pappas who announced the government line up (see our leaked list)

“All the difficulties begin now,”

“In the next two months the state faces 4bn in maturing debt repayments.”

1.28pm GMT

Confirmation that Nikos Kotzias, European Studies Professor at University of Piraeus, is the new Greek Foreign Minister.

More snaps:

Cabinet: Minister of State Nikos Pappas, Justice Nikos Paraskevopoulos, gov’t spox Gabriel Sakellaridis #greece #ekloges2015

Cabinet: Labor Minister Panos Skourletis. Zoe Constantopoulou nominated as parl’t speaker #greece #ekloges2015

1.26pm GMT


The new Greek cabinet is being announced now. There’s confirmation that Yanis Varoufakis is the finance minister.

New ministers just announced in #greece. Economist Yanis Varoufakis named new Finance Minister #Athens #Tsipras

1.16pm GMT

We’re hearing that Elena Koundoura will head the ministry of tourism, meaning there will be two women in the government.

1.05pm GMT

A quick update on what has postponed an otherwise speedily created cabinet in Athens this morning.

Our correspondent Helena Smith reports that there is an early hiccup in the uneasy power-sharing arrangement behind the “war cabinet” that will take on the debt-crippled country’s creditors.

“Hello, I heard you want to tell me something, but I don’t speak Greek. Sorry”.

12.46pm GMT

Not long now!……

#Greece PM Alexis Tsipras due to announce new cabinet at 3PM local time Zoe Konstantopoulou, fiery lawyer, 2nd ever prez of House

12.43pm GMT

Greece’s new radical left Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has made good on his promise to pare back government.

“While often very confrontational, Varoufakis might well provide a very good example of how Syriza has adjusted and has become more moderate, something which, after all, could be seen as a reason for its victory in Last Sunday’s elections.”

12.38pm GMT

The blind MP Panagiotis Koroumblis is going to be Greece’s first-ever minister with a disability.

12.29pm GMT

Awaiting the announcement of new cabinet … #Greece

12.27pm GMT

Greek bank stocks are hitting fresh lows:

Greek banks are getting slammed again! National bank Of Greece (-15%), Eurobank (-16%), Alpha Bank (-17%), Piraeus Bank (-16%) #Greece

12.25pm GMT

Another rumour…. Yannis Panoussis may get Ministry of Protection of the Citizen.

And there’s chatter that a second women could be added to the list, as well as Zoe Konstantopolou.

12.05pm GMT

Marina Chrysoveloni, spokesman of the populist right wing Independent Greeks party, junior partner in coalition government, has just confirmed that the new cabinet will be sworn in at 5 PM “or just before.” (that’s 3pm GMT)

Helena reports:

“The appointment of Panos Kammenos [the party’s leader] to the defence ministry is a fact,” she told Skai news.

“We have our red lines and are bound to them through commitments we have made to the Greek people,” she said mentioning “illegal migrants” (a bogey word to the radical leftists) and debt in the same sentence.

12.03pm GMT

One last-minute change to that list….Zoe Konstantopoulou is going to assume the presidency of the parliament, so Nikos Voutsis gets the Interior Ministry brief.

11.51am GMT

The new government line-up is expected to be announced imminently.

But our correspondent Helena Smith has already heard the details from government insiders. Here’s the list (not official, and subject to last-minute change).

If that is the case, it would be considered a sop to the nationalist constituency given the populist right win party’s eurosceptic take on foreign affairs.

Kammenos, memorably, described Europe as being governed by “German neo-Nazis” last week and has made all manner of anti-Semitic remarks. The party’s inclusion in the government is already sending shudders through the Far Left camp of euro MPs which includes Germany’s Die Linke in Brussels.

11.30am GMT

Details of the Greek cabinet are starting to leak out:

Yiannis Panousis, professor of criminology, becomes minister for policing…thinker about police methodology and social roots of crime

11.28am GMT

The 14 yr old volleyball player who grew up to be Greece’s prime minister & Europe’s boggeyman #syriza #tsipras

11.27am GMT

Alexis Tsipras’s new Greek cabinet is expected to be announced very soon:

@graemewearden Announcement of new cabinet in #Greece expected in 13:30 EET. Minutes away now.

11.08am GMT

Angela Merkel has avoided an awkward conversation with Greece’s new prime minister, by sending him a telegram of congratulation.

In it, Germany’s chancellor tells Alexis Tsipras:

“You’re taking over your office in a difficult time in which you face a great responsibility,”

“I hope to be able to firm up and deepen with you the traditionally good and deep friendship between our peoples.

11.00am GMT

Readers trying to get their head around why a radical left-wing party like Syriza would team up with a populist right-wing group like Independent Greeks should read this blogpost, by blogger Irate Greek:

The fact that SYRIZA chose to join forces with Independent Greeks is extremely revealing. A left-wing, democratic party that defends basic liberties and human rights has essentially no other option, in order to govern with an anti-austerity agenda, than to join forces with a racist, ultra-conservative right-wing party whose mentality belongs in the dungeons of history.

This is extremely revealing of how screwed up (for lack of a better word) the Greek political scene has become over the past few years, and it is an issue that must be urgently addressed.

For the evening TL: Strange bedfellows | My take on the #SYRIZA – Ind Greeks coalition #Greece #ekloges #ekloges2015

10.41am GMT

Syriza’s victory has raised the risks of that Greece will be downgraded, rating agency Moody’s has warned.

In a new report, Moody’s said the election outcome Is “Credit Negative Because It Prolongs Financing, Liquidity and Economic Growth Risks”.

Syriza’s position is in direct opposition to the Troika and will make negotiations for renewing the programme very challenging when the current agreement with the European Commission expires on 28 February.

All in all, we expect that the policy uncertainty and the reduced liquidity in the economy will weigh on Greece’s economic growth.

Following an expansion of the Greek economy for the first time since 2007 last year (which we estimate at around 0.6%), we currently forecast real growth at slightly above 1% this year. However, we see significant downside risks because we expect investment and consumption levels to remain low and to be further dampened by the political and policy uncertainty associated with this election outcome.

10.28am GMT

Here’s Jon Henley on the news that Yanis Varoufakis is getting the keys to the finance ministry:

Varoufakis, 53, studied in Britain and has also taught in Australia, Greece and the US. In pre-election interviews he promised to end what he described as Greece’s humanitarian crisis, slice a chunk off its €320bn debt mountain, and destroy the country’s oligarchs who “viciously suck the energy and the economic power from everybody else”.

A prolific blogger and media commentator who dresses in brightly coloured shirts and jeans, Varoufakis – who has dual Greek and Australian nationality – abandoned a job at the University of Texas to join Tsipras’s team in the election runup, and celebrated Sunday’s result by paraphrasing Welsh poet Dylan Thomas, saying: “Greek democracy today chose to stop going gently into the night. Greek democracy resolved to rage against the dying of the light.”

10.27am GMT

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who heads up the eurogroup of finance ministers, will meet the new Greek government on Friday, his spokesman says.

That could be a lively meeting, given Yanis Varoufakis has condemned austerity as ‘fiscal waterboarding’.

Spokesperson says #Dijsselbloem will visit Athens this Friday. He will meet with the Greek PM Alexis #Tsipras and the new finance minister

10.08am GMT

Yanis Varoufakis has pledged to keep blogging his views on the Greek economy once he becomes finance minister (later today).

The time to put up or shut up has, I have been told, arrived. My plan is to defy such advice. To continue blogging here even though it is normally considered irresponsible for a Finance Minister to indulge in such crass forms of communication. Naturally, my blog posts will become more infrequent and shorter. But I do hope they compensate with juicier views, comments and insights.

For hope to be revived we must all strive to change the ways of a dismal past. Maintaining an open line with the outside world may be a small step in that direction.

9.57am GMT

The Greek stock market is in retreat today, adding to yesterday’s falls.

The main Athens stock market has lost another 3%. Bank shares are leading the fallers:

9.55am GMT

Cast your vote, please:

9.42am GMT

From Athens, freelance journalist Omaira Gill is tweeting the latest cabinet speculation:

Nikos Pappas might be state minister of communications #greekelections #cabinet #government @tovimagr

To Vima: Syriza spokesman Panos Skourletis will be in charge of the department of labour #greekelections @tovimagr

Department of Education & Culture will be run by Aristedis Baltas according to info from To Vima @tovimagr #greekelections #ekloges2015

Rania Antonopoulos, State MP of SYRIZA, professor @ Bard College expected to be Deputy Minister of Labour @tovimagr #ekloges2015 #greece

9.37am GMT

Rumours continue to swirl that Independent Greek leader Panos Kammenos will become Greece’s new defence minister.

#Tsipras will announce his cabinet today. Kammenos rumoured to be defence minster. #syriza #greece #sealtheborders #defence #politics

9.10am GMT

Tsipras is expected to announce his cabinet in the early afternoon, once the details have been hammered out.

If there are only 10 ministers, as Syriza tweeted earlier, the new PM must be merging several ministries together….

#Tsipras expected to announce cabinet in early afternoon #greece #ekloges2015

Panos Kammenos says role of Independent Greeks in new government is that of “regulator” #greece #ekloges2015

9.02am GMT

Economics professor Yanis Varoufakis has confirmed to Irish radio station Newstalk that he’ll be appointed finance minister today:

It hasn’t been announced yet, but since I’m talking to my Irish friends, I might as well concede that this is happening today.

Later on in the afternoon we shall be sworn in.

“As the next finance minister, I can assure you that I shall not go into the eurogroup seeking a solution that is good for the Greek taxpayer and bad for the Irish, Slovak, German, French and Italian taxpayer.”

8.58am GMT

The selloff in Greek bonds is picking up pace, forcing up the yields (or interest rates) on its three-year and 10-year debt:

8.54am GMT

Congratulations @yanisvaroufakis new finance minister of Greece, member of the Eurogroup & general dude:

8.51am GMT

Yanis Varoufakis will be a formidable opponent for those eurozone ministers who insist Greece cannot renegotiate its debt deal, predicts Ambrose Evans-Pritchard of the Daily Telegraph:

Problem of EMU core is that @yanisvaroufakis intellectually more agile, better economist than their FinMins. Will demolish their platitudes

8.49am GMT

Economics professor and blogger Yanis Varoufakis has dropped an extremely heavy hint that he is Greece’s new finance minister (as expected) – by republishing a profile from the Telegraph onto his own blog:

Good to know: Greece’s finance minister is no extremist – THE TELEGRAPH

John Maynard Keynes with a hint of Karl Marx is how one analyst described the self-proclaimed “accidental economist” who is now to become Greece’s finance minister and a key negotiator with its international creditors.

8.38am GMT

Greek government bonds are falling in value this morning, as the prospect of a battle over debt restructuring looms over the markets.

The yield, or interest rate, on Greek 10-year bonds has jumped to 9.6%, from around 9.2% last night. That means the debt is seen as riskier (yields rise when the value of a bond falls)

8.29am GMT

David Cameron has offered British assistance to help Greece tighten up its tax collecting operations.

Speaking on the Today Programme, the PM said he spoke with Alexis Tsipras last night to congratulate him on his win.

That is something we can work with the Greek government on.

Cameron says he offered Greece’s new PM help on tax transparency. Dave & George Osborne breaking promise to publish their own tax returns

8.20am GMT

Germany’s finance minister Wolfgang Sch