Tuesday, February 28, 2012

You can blame the Greeks – but they have been betrayed by their leaders

by Jason Manolopoulos

Shocking examples of kleptocracy by the political elite explain the ferocity of the reaction. And it is this which has repercussions for the rest of Europe.

Thieves! Thieves!" cry the protesters outside the Greek parliament in Syntagma Square, although thief is not the most colourful allegation being levelled at the Greek ruling class.

The scenes are now familiar to TV viewers across the world: the angry banners, the scuffles or sometimes more serious violence, the petrol bombs and tear gas, the world's media, including battle-tested war reporters, descending.

The latest wave of Hellenic protesters call itself Aganaktismenoi, in the spirit of the Spanish indignados, a broad-based and non-party-political movement. The silent majority is, at last, finding a voice. Around me, in Athens, the fear, outrage, despair are palpable. But there is also a profound sense of bewilderment at a situation from which there appears no escape, and to which the only response is a call for more economic pain made by some of the same people who created the fiasco.

How did it come to this? How fair is this charge of "Thieves"? Did Greek politicians simply loot their own country, and EU taxpayers, for personal gain? There is truth in this tale, but...

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Liberal Democracy dying in Greece and in EU

Today, Greek society is suffering both from the crisis and the responses to it, which have reached a dead-end. Major social and political institutions that were created with enormous struggles and sacrifices in post-War Greece – social security, the public health care system, public education, public transport, the natural and urban environment, the right to live a safe existence, and various elemental goods and services that underwrite the very existence of an already curtailed and devalued Greek state – are all being utterly dismantled so that Greek society is now dying of asphyxiation.

Troika(IMF, ECB and German EU leadership "Frau Nein" Angela Merkel  and "Baron Austerity" Wolfgang Schäuble), are the main architects of Europe’s disastrous mismanagement of the euro-zone debt crisis, can keep pretending that harsher doses of fiscal austerity will restore Greece and Europe’s other troubled debtors to economic health. These dead-end responses rest on the blackmailing dilemma: austerity or hard default? Yet, this is hardly a dilemma – it is rather a negative aggregate: both austerity and hard default. The tri-monthly threat to expel Greece from the Eurozone constitutes an ethical alienation and an economic catastrophe, precisely because it strengthens the profound recession, turning the whole of Europe into an agent of uncertainty, financial instability, and...

Friday, February 17, 2012

What Europe loses if Greece is forced out

By Nikos Chrysoloras
Guardian UK/Kathimerini GR

Germany should look to its past and ensure that Greece does not face a humiliating exit from the eurozone.

Many in Europe – particularly in Germany – wonder why they should continue providing financial support to a country that has failed to honour its commitments to its partners; a state which is an international laggard in all major indicators, including competitiveness, innovation and transparency. Such objections are understandable but mistaken. Europe stands to lose as much as Greece itself from an exit of the latter from the eurozone.

It is not just the spreading of the virus of uncertainty to the other countries of Europe's southern periphery, the repercussions on the northern European economies and the impact on...

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

German Twin: "Frau Nein" and "Baron Austerity"

Pr. Krugman, 3 years ago wrote that the German chancellor Angela Merkel is the “Frau Nein” because her and hers economic officials were the biggest obstacles to a much-needed European rescue plan.[1] Nothing has changed since that year regarding the German financial policy. The only that have change since then, is Mrs. Merkel’s finance minister. In 2008 was Peer Steinbrück and at the present is Mr. Wolfgang Schäuble, the “Baron  Austerity”.

"Frau Nein" and "Baron  Austerity", are the main architect of Europe’s disastrous mismanagement of the euro-zone debt crisis, can keep pretending that harsher doses of fiscal austerity will restore Greece and Europe’s other troubled debtors to economic health. They can recognize that only a combination of greater fiscal breathing room and pro-growth reforms — like opening up closed labor markets, breaking up state monopolies and streamlining bureaucracies — can achieve the desired result. But slashing wages, jobs and public spending across the board, as Europe demands, will only deepen recession.

The irony is that the leading architect of the austerity programme in Greece, the IMF senior employee Poul Thomsen has admitted that...

Tuesday, February 14, 2012


by Pr. Yanis Varoufakis

While Greece burnt, and the Parliament of the Hellenic Republic was insincerely accepting impossible conditions for implementing yet another unworkable fiscal adjustment plan, the buzz in Frankfurt’s financial district was an exciting, fresh German Plan A.[1] For the first time in two years, since the euro Crisis began, Germany’s captains of finance could be seen to have re-discovered a spring in their step. The new optimism stems from a new Plan which is predicated upon a long delayed recognition and two strategic choices: Germany’s belated epiphany is that, without a major redesign of the euro architecture, a number (>1) of eurozone member states are irretrievably insolvent. As for the two strategic choices, the first is Berlin’s conclusion that German politics have no stomach for, or interest in, a structural redesign of the euro system.[2] The second choice involves a massive bet in attempting to save the eurozone by shrinking it forcefully while, at the same time, authorising the ECB to print trillions of euros to cauterise the stumps left when the states earmarked for the chop are severed.

The detail not...

Friday, February 10, 2012

20 popular fallacies concerning the Greek debt crisis

It’s that time again! Greece needs more loans and the governments in Europe are arguing about whether it’s really necessary and who should foot the bill.
There is widespread opinion in Germany that Greece itself is to blame for the problems it now finds itself in.
It first of all cheated its way into the Eurozone, then the government spent too much and the governed worked too little, many believe.
Latently nationalistic patters of interpretation of this kind have been nourished by German politicians and the media, who have no end of proposals for how to «solve» the crisis.
For example, the Greeks should save more, work more and sell their public property – and if all of these measures do not help, then Greece will just have to leave the Eurozone or declare itself bankrupt.
The stupid thing is, neither are the causes of the crisis that have been named actually correct, nor will the proposed ways out of the...

Thursday, February 09, 2012


For the first time in Greece a documentary produced by the audience. "Debtocracy" seeks the causes of the debt crisis and proposes solutions, hidden by the government and the dominant media.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

It's Time To End the Greek Rescue Farce

By Stefan Kaiser

Whether it be an escrow account or a budget commissioner, the latest demands by Germany show just how absurd negotiations over Greece's future have become. It is high time to bring an end to this tragicomedy.

For the past two years, Greece has wrangled with the euro-zone states and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) over its so-called "rescue." Austerity measures have been agreed to, aid has been paid and private creditors have been forced to accept "voluntary" debt haircuts. Despite all this, Greece is in even worse shape today than it was then. Its economy is shrinking, the debt ratio is rising and the country and its banks have been cut off from capital markets. There isn't even the slightest sign that the situation might improve. Something has gone very wrong with this rescue.
But none of the protagonists seem to have grasped this. They continue to negotiate as if things are business as usual, they let one "final ultimatum" after the other pass and they persistently fail to realize that their discussions have started to verge on the absurd. It would be a lot better to end this farce.
For weeks now, the Greek government has been...

The Greek Vise

by Paul Krugman

The current plan calls for Greece to move into large primary surplus — that is, surplus not counting interest payments on the debt:

Monday, February 06, 2012

So, what is the real truth about the Greek catastrophe?

In late 2009, Europe and the world discovered that Greece was a “fraud” and a “deceiver” that had never stopped forging its economic performance in order to enjoy the benefits of membership of a privileged club, at the expense of its partners and the euro.

But how accurate is this really? Due to the advancing international economic crisis at the time, the majority of European governments were inaccurate in their deficit estimations. For example, in their Stability Programmes, at the beginning of 2009, Britain had predicted a deficit of 8.2% that finally reached 11.4%, the Netherlands predicted a surplus of 1.2% that turned out to be a deficit of 5.4% and Portugal predicted a deficit of 3.9% that rose to 9.3%.

Why was Greece alone in the dock?
Also, in the years 2008-2009, the deficit in...

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Depression and Democracy


It’s time to start calling the current situation what it is: a depression. True, it’s not a full replay of the Great Depression, but that’s cold comfort. Unemployment in both America and Europe remains disastrously high. Leaders and institutions are increasingly discredited. And democratic values are under siege.

On that last point, I am not being alarmist. On the political as on the economic front it’s important not to fall into the “not as bad as” trap. High unemployment isn’t O.K. just because it hasn’t hit 1933 levels; ominous political trends shouldn’t be dismissed just because there’s no Hitler in sight.

Let’s talk, in particular, about what’s happening in Europe — not because all is well with America, but because the gravity of European political developments isn’t widely understood.

First of all, the crisis of the euro is killing the European dream. The shared currency, which was supposed to bind nations together, has instead created an atmosphere of bitter acrimony.

Specifically, demands for ever-harsher austerity, with no offsetting effort to foster growth, have done double damage. They have failed as economic policy, worsening...