Greece bossed by European Central Bank

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I don't believe I have ever before read a letter from a prime minister promising to liberalise the market for gyms - and certainly I have never done so in a letter that is life or death for an economy.

But Alexis Tsipras's latest missive to Jean Claude Juncker, Mario Draghi and Christine Lagarde, to secure financial succour from Greece's creditors, makes that pledge - along with promises to liberalise assorted legal jobs and drinks, petroleum and food markets.

The big point, however, is that Greece's Syriza government has more-or-less caved in to almost all the demands from the Eurogroup and IMF for VAT rises and pension cuts. These issues of absolute principle for Syriza appear to be have become pragmatic bargaining chips.

Which has put eurozone finance ministers on the spot. Can they really refuse to go back to the negotiating table with Mr Tsipras and his colleagues in a serious way, almost immediately?

As for the timing of the leaking of Mr Tsipras's letter, to the FT, well it could have an important impact on the potentially incendiary deliberations of the European Central Bank (ECB).

The ECB will announce later today whether to demand more collateral from Greek banks for the €120bn odd of Emergency Liquidity Assistance it and the Bank of Greece have provided to Greek banks.

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Media captionGovernor Mark Carney on how the situation in Greece affects the UK

As you will recall, the ECB's decision on Sunday not to provide any additional credit to Greek banks forced those banks to close their doors, freeze transfers abroad and limit cash withdrawals from ATMs to €60.

If, however, it were to insist banks hand over more assets as protection against potential losses on the outstanding central bank credit, well sources tell me that one or possibly two of the banks would be in dire straits - because they don't have much unencumbered collateral left, and nor do they have cash to repay any of their debts to the ECB and Bank of Greece.

In other words, demanding more collateral could totally sink a Greek bank: it would no longer be frozen; it would be kaput.

Which is why I would be mildly surprised if the ECB were to take this dramatic step at this delicate juncture, with the Greek government so close to complete capitulation to Eurogroup and IMF demands - because to do so could actually have the perverse consequence of so exacerbating Greece's banking crisis, that the ECB's potential losses on its exposure to the country could increase.

That said, if Sunday's referendum were to go ahead - which no longer seems as certain as it did, after Mr Tsipras's latest epistle - and if the Greeks were to vote no to the bailout, at that point the ECB would almost certainly demand more collateral, and more-or-less totally muller the banks.

Which is - perhaps - reason enough to assume that Mr Tsipras and co may be regretting their plebiscite call.

It explains, arguably, why he is seemingly moving heaven and earth, with his new offers to creditors, to make the referendum otiose - although it is very difficult to see how he can cancel it unless the Eurogroup says that pensions and VAT concessions are a basis for a deal.

We're a long way from the end of this amazing Greek drama.