Greece is sliding into a full-blown national crisis as the final cash reserves of the banking system evaporate by the hour and swathes of industry start to shut down, precipitating the near disintegration of the ruling coalition. Business leaders have been locked in talks with the Bank of Greece, pleading for the immediate release of emergency liquidity funds (ELA) to cover food imports and pharmaceutical goods before the tourist sector hits a brick wall.

Officials say the central bank will release the funds as soon as Friday, but this is a stop-gap measure at best. “We are on a war footing in this country,” said Yanis Varoufakis, the Greek finance minister.The daily allowance of cash from many ATM machines has already dropped from €60 to €50, purportedly because €20 notes are running out. Large numbers are empty. The financial contagion is spreading fast as petrol stations and small businesses stop accepting credit cards. FULL REPORT