Beware Of Those Who Brought Greeks Gifts

The hidden logic in various human activities is often different from the apparent one. This is true in sociology, politics, economics. Consider NAFTA (North American Free Trade Accord), QE (Quantitative Easing: make banks richer so they be gooder), TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership: Terrifying Plutocracy Punishing China), etc.

For a decade the Greeks, having had their Drachmas converted into Euros at twice their natural worth, brought gifts to the rough Germans, by buying their luxury cars. Now Germany is rich and powerful, and Greece poor, and weak. Best conditions to pay for Greek arrogance.

There is totally no economic reason to keep on punishing Greece at this point. So why do the punishments keep on coming? One has to resort to a few twisted psychological explanations.

Lots Of Debt: Some Can Be Turned Into Tax, Some To Foreign Extortion

Lots Of Debt: Some Can Be Turned Into Tax, Some To Foreign Extortion

My twisted psycho analysis will complement the excellent editorial from Krugman: ”Greece on the Brink”.

“…Can Greek exit from the euro be avoided?

Yes, it can. The irony of Syriza’s [the present governing party, in alliance with nationalists] victory is that it came just at the point when a workable compromise should be possible.

The key point is that exiting the euro would be extremely costly and disruptive in Greece, and would pose huge political and financial risks for the rest of Europe. It’s therefore something to be avoided if there’s a halfway decent alternative. And there is, or should be.”

Notice that Paul Krugman has now an opinion on the “Grexit” exactly opposite to the one he had just two years ago. What he and others have not understood, is that I do not see why Greece could not default and stay in the Eurozone. To identify both concepts, is a way to terrify, but it does not have to be, except as a terror instrument.

Krugman: “By late 2014 Greece had managed to eke out a small “primary” budget surplus, with tax receipts exceeding spending, excluding interest payments. That’s all that creditors can reasonably demand, since you can’t keep squeezing blood from a stone. Meanwhile, all those wage cuts have made Greece competitive on world markets — or would make it competitive if some stability can be restored.

The shape of a deal is therefore clear: basically, a standstill on further austerity, with Greece agreeing to make significant but not ever-growing payments to its creditors. Such a deal would set the stage for economic recovery…

But right now that deal doesn’t seem to be coming together… the creditors are demanding things — big cuts in pensions and public employment — that a newly elected government of the left simply can’t agree to, as opposed to reforms like an improvement in tax enforcement that it can. And the Greeks, as I suggested, are all too ready to see these demands as part of an effort either to bring down their government or to make their country into an example of what will happen to other debtor countries if they balk at harsh austerity.

Rightly so: if Greece default, students in the USA, with an outstanding, non-extinguishable debt of 1.2 Trillion dollars (!) may think: ’Why not us?’

Greece has a ratio of 170 per cent of debt to GDP. However, the debt has a very low interest rate and a maturity of over 15 years. Its impact on the economy is much lower than in Portugal, Spain, or Italy. And that is the entire point: the Italian economy is terrible. Last year 170,000 refugees flooded Italy (they came back to be colonized again by the big bad colonialists!)

A new round of Greek restructuring would create political problems for Eurozone governments which, as a percentage of GDP, face a higher interest bill than Greece. How can the Spanish or Italian Prime Minister tell their aghast subjects: ‘Greece has a lower interest burden than we have, but we need to alleviate their burden! And not yours!’

And then there is the question of countries like France, where austerity is applied, while the country is paid by investors to consent to store their money there. That can only mean that, in the light of our guides, austerity is an absolute good.

Krugman detects the will to torture the Greeks, because:

To make things even worse, political uncertainty is hurting tax receipts [and investing!!], probably causing that hard-earned primary surplus to evaporate. The sensible thing, surely, is to show some patience on that front: if and when a deal is reached, uncertainty will subside and the budget should improve again. But in the pervasive atmosphere of distrust, patience is in short supply.

It doesn’t have to be this way. True, avoiding a full-blown crisis would require that creditors advance a significant amount of cash, albeit cash that would immediately be recycled into debt payments. But consider the alternative. The last thing Europe needs is for fraying tempers to bring on yet another catastrophe, this one completely gratuitous.”

None of these apparently absurd policies imposed on Greece, are absurd. They just look absurd to those attached to human rights. From the point of the perpetrators, they are fully logical. And they are certainly not gratuitous.

Contemplate this: If the Greek government succeeded to augment tax revenues, it would succeed to tax the 1% significantly, especially the super-rich. If, in combination with a primary surplus, that was deemed sufficient for the rest of Greece creditors (including those based in Washington, like the IMF), that would be a demonstration for all to see that the present economic crisis has to do with NOT taxing the hyper rich enough. As taxing them would be enough to solve everything.

This is exactly the lesson the plutocrats and their servants do not want to be advertised.

Hence their reluctance to accept that taxing the hyper-rich is enough. But there is a further twist. The “Socialist” French Finance Minster, Sapin, is as hysterical as his German colleagues to insists Greece should pay… Until catastrophe ensues. Of course, as all the others, he has to think about his income once he gets kicked out of government within 2 years (probably). But there is still another angle.

Suppose catastrophe ensues: Greece defaults, exits the Eurozone. Then what? The Euro probably goes down much more (for a long number of reasons… no least that there would have been a default, and Greece would still have to be helped!)

Then the Euro, may go as low as it was when Germany was in great difficulty, a decade ago. So it would be good for Europe: whereas the USA depends only for 13% upon international trade, France depends at 28%, and Germany much more.

Right wing individuals, many of them who have been partners at Goldman Sachs (Monti, or the head of the ECB), or in general are tied in to High Finance, are not interested in seeing a left-wing government succeed, where the right has failed. Creditors will keep destroying the Greek economy. They may be nice people, but mostly with their kind.

One could point to creditors that they were the ones who converted the Drachma at twice its real rate against the Euro. As co-responsible, they should be punished too! However, this would not go in the sense we are supposed to attribute to history.

This Greek tragedy makes sense. Plutocratic sense. This is a world where the weak and small is in debt to the mighty, and has to learn living that way, as serfs did, in the Middle-Ages. Otherwise, they can be made an example of.

Patrice Ayme’

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4 Responses to “Beware Of Those Who Brought Greeks Gifts”

  1. Mathias Weitz Says:

    Mathias Weitz
    is a trusted commenter Frankfurt, Germany 16 hours ago

    The return to the drachma would at least be fair,
    if everyone would dodge the taxes the drachma would loose it’s value, no matter if you are rich or poor. The Oligarchs would still cash in their bounty, but it would devaluate in the rate they would gobble it in.

    • Patrice Ayme Says:

      Dear Mathias Weitz: You have understood nothing, except your (plutocratic) party line. This makes you “trusted” by the New York Times.

      [A bare-bone version of the preceding essay was published by the New York Times; more than 100 people recommended it; however it was NOT a New York Times “pick”; moreover, one of the New York Times “trusted” commentators, a babble box from Germany, immediately came to brandish the red herring that Greece would be punish, and that was good, Amen. “Trusted” commentators are not submitted to censorship as yours truly, so it’s not surprising that “trusted” commentators mouth the party line.]

      • pshakkottai Says:

        Dear Patrice, If Greece gave up the euro and went back to the Drachma, it would employ everybody and the value of the Drachma will adjust to a lower value. It does not need to lower taxes at all. A monetary sovereign country does not need taxes but only fiscal deficits. Japan lived on 10% GDP deficits for 17 years after a huge real estate crash and recovered with no unemployment and no inflation. In a few years Greece will recover. In the mean time the rest of Europe can enjoy cheap vacations!

        • Patrice Ayme Says:

          Not simple it seems to me, Partha: Greek debt would be in hard currency, and still owed, even after a default. Russia paid French descendants of investors in Czarist Russia, even a century and a few regime changes later…

          Moreover, Greece needs everything, and first of all fuel. All in hard currency. And it’s not Gazprom which is going to save Greece (Gazprom is sued by the EU, starting today).

          The drama in Greece at this point is to RISE taxes. Especially on plutocrats. However, Greece does NOT have a cadastrum. So one does not know where properties have. It is worse than in Argentina, where properties are just hidden in enclosed regions.

          So what I was talking about is the scariest scenario for the global plutocrats: Greece defaults, and that’s it. I don’t see what the Euro has to do with it… Except of course the ECB chief, Draghi, is an ex-Vice Chair at Goldman Sachs… So he has a vested interest and brain to make the world, starting with Greece, into serfs…

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