EUROZONE PARTNERS AND GREECE

596717

Greece is about to be completely dismantled and fed to profit-hungry corporations

The latest bailout has nothing to do with debt, but an experiment in capitalism so extreme that no other EU state would even dare try it.

 
by Nick Dearden
 
Greece is heading towards its third “bailout”. This time €86 billion is on the table, which will be packaged up by international lenders with a bundle of austerity and sent off to Greece, only to return to those same lenders in the very near future.
 
We all know the spiralling debt cannot and will not be repaid. We all know the austerity to which it is tied will make Greece’s depression worse. Yet it continues.
 
If we look deeper, however, we find that Europe is not led by the terminally confused. By taking those leaders at their word, we’re missing what’s really going on in Europe. In a nutshell, Greece is up for sale, and its workers, farmers and small businesses will have to be cleared out of the way.
 
Under the eye-watering privatisation programme, Greece is expected to hand over its €50 billion of its “valuable state assets” to an independent body under the control of the European institutions, who will proceed to sell them off. Airports, seaports, energy systems, land and property – everything must go. Sell your assets, their contrived argument goes, and you’ll be able to repay your debt.
 
But even in the narrow terms of the debate, selling off profitable or potentially profitable assets leaves a country less able to repay its debts. Unsurprisingly the most profitable assets are going under the hammer first. The country’s national lottery has already been bought up. Airports serving Greece’s holiday islands look likely to be sold onlong-term lease to a German airport operator.
 
The port of Pireus looks likely to be sold to a Chinese shipping company. Meanwhile, 490,000 square meters of Corfu beachfront have been snapped up by a US private equity fund. It has a 99-year lease for the bargain price of €23million. According to reporters, the privatisation fund is examining another 40 uninhabited islands as well as a massive project on Rhodes which includes an obligatory golf course.
 
Side-by-side with the privatisation is a very broad programme of deregulation which declares war on workers, farmers and small businesses. Greece’s many laws that protect small business such as pharmacies, bakeries, and bookshops from competition with supermarkets and big businesses are to be swept away. These reforms are so specific that the EU is writing laws on bread measurements and milk expiry dates. Incredibly, Greece is even being told to make its Sunday opening laws more liberal than Germany’s. Truly a free market experiment is being put into place.
 
On labour, pensions are to suffer rapid cuts, minimum wages are to be reduced and collective bargaining is to be severely curtailed while it is to become easier to sack staff. All of this is far more extreme that many of Greece’s “creditor” countries have implemented themselves. Changes to tax includes a massive hike to that most regressive of taxes VAT, on a wide range of products.
 
Of course, reforms in some areas of Greece’s economy might be a good idea, and indeed Syriza came to power promising to make serious reforms in, for instance, taxation and pensions. But what is being imposed by the lending institutions is not a series of sensible “reforms”, but the establishment and micromanagement of radical ‘free market’ economics.
 
The privatisation and deregulation bonanza opens vast new swathes of Greek society to areas where big business has never been able to set foot before. The hope is that this will generate big profits to keep big business growing, as well as providing an extreme model of what might be possible throughout Europe. Although what’s even more distasteful than the hypocrisy of European leaders forcing policies onto Greece that they themselves have not dared to argue for in their own countries, is the cynicism of those same leaders imposing policies that will benefit their own country’s corporations.
 
The intensity of the restructuring programme currently being agreed for Greece should dispel any lingering notion that this is a well intentioned but misguided attempt to deal with a debt crisis. It is a cynical attempt to set up a corporate paradise in the Mediterranean, and must be resisted at all costs.
 
Source:
 
 
Advertisements

LILY ZOGRAFOS–GREECE PROSTITUTES HERSELF

ΛΙΛΗ-ΖΩΓΡΑΦΟΥ

Lily Zografos: Greece prostitutes herself, consciously and unconsciously. No one is innocent no one is above his responsibility

I don’t promote any style, way of expression or literature. I don’t write short stories. I report events and signs of the current days. Everything I report has happened to me or to others. For years I’ve spent my life keeping an eye on everything and everyone.
Life goes through me, entrusts me with its ugliness, infuriates me with its systematic injustice it humbles me for my inability to react, to successfully rebel to defend our common ridicule.
If I could be twenty year old again I would start from the mountain peaks, a partisan, a thief, a pirate to open the eyes of those who with no complain accept their fate, as much as those who close their eyes intentionally. No, my revolution wouldn’t go against the establishment but against those who bow down to it. I would kill I would fight the misery, the submission, the modesty.
There is no room on Earth for the humble and the contempt as there is no room for the mouthpieces of the Revolution.
Life has become so inhumane to be moulded into shapes and schemes it doesn’t belong to us as nothing belongs to us of the earth we occupy to our faces.
When the first stupid ass, the first worthless person can tie us on a chair, on a bench or a bed and he can spit on our faces, whip our backs defile us.
The running rot system condones and supports unscrupulousness, beastly behaviour, chaos, abolishing the respect for human life. Nothing is left unexploited from the generation gap that separates people from each other and prepares the children-informers of Hitler up to the complete abolition of the family.
Man is put up for bids. That the system won’t face any resistance when in the near future will put up for bids our motherland.
Papadoloulos* was a trial, an experiment in the European sphere like the thousands of experiments that take place in every corner of the planet. The recipe is simple: When a people raise their head against their leader, representative of the neo-capitalist system just find a bum and let him put handcuffs on the wrists of these people. Then let them exhaust themselves.
Most likely the people will get used to become neutralized for thirty forty years as it happened to Spain and Portugal. But as time goes by things happen in a lot faster pace as the recipe has been modified.
Take the reign from the bum and give them back to the old leader and send him to un-cuff the people. The populace will lick his hands seeing him as their liberator.
For this, we, the today’s guinea pigs we owe to use the term BC as before the Junta and AC as after the Junta, because the experiment was successful and we can’t forget the moment. Greece prostitutes itself, consciously and unconsciously. No one is innocent. No one is above his responsibility.

~Piece from the book “Profession Prostitute” by Lily Zografos, Alexandria Publishers, 1998.
~The last interview given by Lily Zografos to the reporter Anrdeas Roumeliotis

*Papadopoulos, one of the four colonels, dictatorship of 1967-1974
Λιλή Ζωγράφου: Η Ελλάδα εκδίδεται, συνειδητά και ασύνειδα. Κι ούτε ένας αθώος. Ανεύθυνος κανένας
«Δεν πουλώ ύφος, στυλ, λογοτεχνία. Δεν γράφω διηγήματα. Καταθέτω γεγονότα και συμπτώματα της εποχής που ζω. Όλα όσα γράφω συνέβησαν. Σε μένα ή σε άλλους. Χρόνια τώρα σπαταλιέμαι, παρακολουθώντας όλα κι όλους.
Η ζωή περνά από μέσα μου, με διαποτίζει με την ασκήμια της, με γεμίζει λύσσα με την αδικία της την οργανωμένη, με ταπεινώνει με την ανημποριά μου ν’ αντιδράσω, να επαναστατήσω αποτελεσματικά, να υπερασπιστώ το μαζικό μας εξευτελισμό.
Αν ξαναγινόμουν είκοσι χρόνων θα ξεκινούσα από τις κορφές των βουνών, αντάρτης, ληστής, πειρατής, ν’ ανοίξω τα μάτια εκείνων που δέχονται αδιαμαρτύρητα τη μοίρα τους, όσο και κείνων που εθελοτυφλούν. Όχι, η επανάστασή μου δε θα στρεφόταν κατά του καταστημένου και του συστήματός του, αλλά εναντίον εκείνων που το ανέχονται. Θα σκότωνα, θα τσάκιζα την κακομοιριά, την υποταγή, την ταπεινοφροσύνη.
Η γη έτσι κι αλλιώς δε χωρά άλλους ταπεινούς και καταφρονεμένους. Όπως δε χωρά άλλα φερέφωνα προκάτ επανάστασης.
Η ζωή γίνηκε πια πάρα πολύ απάνθρωπη για να την καλουπώνουμε σε σχήματα, δε μας ανήκει καν, όπως δε μας ανήκει τίποτα, από τη γη που κατοικούμε ως τα πρόσωπά μας.
Όταν ο κάθε τυχάρπαστος, ο κάθε τιποτένιος, μπορεί να μάς δέσει πάνω σε μια καρέκλα, σ’ έναν πάγκο ή σ’ ένα κρεβάτι, να μάς φτύσει, να μάς μαστιγώσει, να μάς βιάσει.
Το Σύστημα αποχαλινωμένο καλλιεργεί σκόπιμα την ασυνειδησία, την αγριότητα, το χάος, καταλύοντας το σεβασμό για τον ανθρώπινο παράγοντα. Δεν άφησε τίποτα ανεκμετάλλευτο, από το “χάσμα των γενιών” που αποκόβει τους ανθρώπους μεταξύ τους και ετοιμάζει τους αυριανούς παιδιά-καταδότες του Χίτλερ, ως την κατάργηση της οικογένειας.
Ο άνθρωπος βγαίνει στο σφυρί. Για να μη βρίσκει το Σύστημα καμιά αντίδραση και να μπορέσει αύριο να βγάλει ελεύθερα στο σφυρί και τις πατρίδες.
Ο Παπαδόπουλος ήταν μια δοκιμή και στον ευρωπαϊκό χώρο, κατά το σύστημα των χιλιάδων πειραμάτων που πραγματοποιούνται σ’ όλες τις περιοχές του πλανήτη. Η συνταγή είναι πια κοινή: Όταν ένας λαός σηκώσει κεφάλι κατά του κυβερνήτη του, εκπρόσωπου του κεφαλαιοκρατικού συστήματος, βρείτε έναν αλήτη και αναθέστε του να περάσει χειροπέδες σ’ αυτό το λαό. Κι αφήστε τον να εξουθενωθεί.
Το πιθανότερο είναι να συνηθίσει και να ζήσει εξουδετερωμένος από τριάντα μέχρι σαράντα χρόνια, όπως συνέβη στην Ισπανία και την Πορτογαλία. Επειδή όμως οι καιροί αλλάζουν, τα πράματα πάνε γρηγορότερα, η συνταγή τροποποιήθηκε.
Πάρτε τα κλειδιά από τον αλήτη, δώστε τα στον παλιό κυβερνήτη και στείλτε τον να ξεκλειδώσει τις χειροπέδες. Ο λαός θα του γλείφει τα χέρια, βλέποντάς τον σαν ελευθερωτή του.
Γι’ αυτό και μεις, τα σύγχρονα πειραματόζωα, οφείλουμε να χρησιμοποιούμε πάντα τον όρο π.Χ., που θα σημαίνει τώρα πια “προ Χούντας”, και μ.Χ., “μετά τη Χούντα”. Γιατί το πείραμα πέτυχε και δεν πρέπει να το λησμονούμε ούτε στιγμή. Η Ελλάδα εκδίδεται, συνειδητά και ασύνειδα. Κι ούτε ένας αθώος. Ανεύθυνος κανένας».
Απόσπασμα από το βιβλίο της Λιλής Ζωγράφου “Επάγγελμα Πόρνη”, Εκδόσεις Αλεξάνδρεια, 1998
Η τελευταία συνέντευξη της Λιλής Ζωγράφου στον Ανδρέα Ρουμελιώτη
Source:http://www.nostimonimar.gr/%CE%BB%CE%B9%CE%BB%CE%AE-%CE%B6%CF%89%CE%B3%CF%81%CE%AC%CF%86%CE%BF%CF%85-%CE%B7-%CE%B5%CE%BB%CE%BB%CE%AC%CE%B4%CE%B1-%CE%B5%CE%BA%CE%B4%CE%AF%CE%B4%CE%B5%CF%84%CE%B1%CE%B9-%CF%83%CF%85%CE%BD%CE%B5/

THE EUROPEAN PERIPHERY VERSUS THE EUROPEAN BANKS

41

Greece: Out of the Mouth of “Foreign Affairs” Comes the Truth
By Bruno Adrie
In an article by Mark Blyth titled “A Pain in the Athens: Why Greece Isn’t to Blame for the Crisis” and published on July 7th 2015 in the magazine Foreign Affairs, one discovers surprising statements, which are all the more surprising when one knows that this magazine is published by the Council on Foreign Relations that gathers the American élite, the New-Yorker banking élite being there for the most part (about this subject, see: Laurence H. Shoup and William Minter, Imperial Braintrust: The Council on Foreign Relations and United States Foreign Policy, 1977).
According to the author, “Greece has very little to do with the crisis that bears its name”. And, to make us understand this, he invites us to “follow the money—and those who bank it”. According to him, the origins of the crisis are not to be looked for in Greece but “in the architecture of European banking”. Indeed, during the first decade of the euro, European banks, attracted by easy money, granted massive loans in what the author calls “the European periphery”, and, in 2010, in the middle of the financial crisis, banks had accumulated impaired periphery assets corresponding to 465 billion euros for French banks and 493 billion euros for German banks. “Only a small part of those impaired assets were Greek”, but the problem is that, in 2010, Greece published a revised budget equivalent to 15% of the GDP. Nothing to be afraid of actually since it only represented 0.3% of the Eurozone’s GDPs put together. But, because of their periphery assets and above all a leverage rate* twice as high—that is to say twice as risky—as the American banks’, European banks feared that a Greek default would make them collapse. This is what really happened. The banks’ insatiable voracity led them, as always, to act carelessly, and, as they did not accept their failure, as always, they made sure that others would foot the bill. Nothing new under the golden sky of the Banking Industry, unless, this time, it went a bit further than usual.
These banks set up the Troïka program in order to “stop the bond market bank run”. And no matter if it increased unemployment by 25% and destroyed the third of the country’s GDP. It doesn’t make much difference to the bankers. This is what the rescue plans have been used for. Apparently aimed at Greece, they were created by and for the major European banks. Today, given that the Greek can no longer pay French and German banks, even the European taxpayers are solicited.
Greece was only a pipe through which French and German banks, for the most part, saved themselves. On the total amount of 203 billion euros that represents the two rescue plans (2010-2013 and 2012-2014), 65% went right to the banks’ vaults. Some people even go so far as to say that 90% of the loans did not pass through Greece. This approach, expressed in the columns of Foreign Affairs, cannot be seen as heterodox. It is even confirmed by the ex-director of theBundesbank, Karl Otto Pöhl, who acknowledged that the rescue plan was meant to save the banks, and especially the French banks, from their rotten debts.
Therefore, despite the fact that Germany defaulted on his debts four times in the XXth century, he will go on insisting that Greece pay, with France supporting him. However little some people like it, like the ignorant and wordy French philosopher whose décolletage every one knows but whom no one wishes to hear anymore, François Hollande hasn’t been generous to Greece. It is quite the contrary that happened, it is Greece that has been generous, and forced to be, to the French banks, before these very banks call on French taxpayers, when they were celebrating their revolution, their heads full of a firework of prejudices.
Mark Blyth finishes his article by saying what Frédéric Lordon developed in his article (in French) “Le crépuscule d’une époque”, namely that the European Central Bank does not play the role of a central bank and does not act like a politically independent bank.
According to him, we never understood Greece because we refused to see this crisis as what it is actually: the continuation of the private banks rescue plan that started in 2008.
One wonders how the French, who are so clever and so ready to give their opinions since they know everything about everything, can go on supporting the insane vociferations of the know-it-all from this little Parisian journalistic world, which is described by the excellent Pierre Rimbert in his article (in French) “Syriza delenda est” in the Monde Diplomatique, July 2015. Rather than burying Greece, we’d better off get rid of the proud and twisted faces of Demorand, Elkabbach, Giesbert, Baverez, Barbier, Aphatie, and others, by sending them carp in the desert in the middle of traitorous scorpions and venomous snakes which are their respectable and mute brothers.
~ Bruno Adrie (translated by Clara Piraud)
~ see from Mark Blyth and Matthias Matthijs, The Future of the Euro, Oxford University Press, 2015
http://www.globalresearch.ca

Ένα πολύ ενδιαφέρον άρθρο για την ελληνική οικονομική περίπτωση και πώς το βλεέπει ο τύπος του εξωτερικού.
Το άρθρο υποστηρίζει ότι τη μεγαλύτερη ευθύνη για το τωρινό οικονομικό πρόβλημα της Ελλάδας φέρουν οι Γερμανικές και Γαλλικές Τράπεζες που εκμεταλλεύτηκαν την ευκαιρία κατά τη διάρκεια της πρώτης δεκαετίας του ΕΥΡΩ εγκρίνοντας τεράστια ποσά ΕΥΡΩ σαν δάνεια στις χώρες της περιφέρειας (The European Periphery), με άλλα λόγια στις χώρες Ελλάδα, Ιταλία, Πορτογαλία, Ισπανία. Από τις επενδύσεις τους αυτές ένα πολύ μικρό ποσό ήρθε στην Ελλάδα. Αλλα οι Γαλλικές και Γερμανικές τράπεζες αποκόμισαν απ’ αυτά τα δάνεια κέρδη 465 και 493 δισεκατομμυρίων ΕΥΡΩ αντίστοιχα.
Όταν παρουσιάστηκε η κρίση του 2010, που απλώθηκε στην Ευρώπη από την Αμερική, οι τράπεζες αυτές σε κίνδυνο να χρεωκοπήσουν κι αφού η ισολογιστική τους κατάσταση ήταν πραγματικά δραματική, αντί να καταφύγουν στους Γάλλους και Γερμανούς πολίτες-φορολογούμενους και καταθέτες που θα πλήρωναν τα σπασμένα, μετέφεραν τις χασούρες στους πληθυσμούς των χωρών της Νότιας Ευρώπης (λογιστικό τέχνασμα της κεντρικής τραπεζιτικής πολιτικής της Ενωμένης Ευρώπης) στις χώρες της περιφέρειας, Πορτογαλία, Ιταλία, Ελλάδα, Ισπανία (PIGS).
Αυτές οι απόψεις γράφτηκαν στις στήλες του περιοδικό Foreign Affairs και υποστηρίχτηκαν από τον πρώην διευθυντή της Γερμανικής Κεντρικής Τράπεζας (Bundesbank) Karl Otto Pohl.

Για να μη λένε τουλάχιστον ότι όλα τα κακά ξεκίνησαν απ’ την Ελλάδα.

Η ανωτέρω περιληπτική μετάφραση του άρθρου από τα αγγλικά στα ελληνικά έγινε από το Μανώλη Αλυγιζάκη
http://www.authormanolis.wordpress.com

GREECE and EUROZONE

cavafy copy

This was the week the European dream died its deserved death
By
DarrellDelamaide

Politics columnist
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Greece will live to fight another day.
The Greek Parliament voted with a large majority to accept the impossible bailout demands of the European Union, pending the day when sanity is restored and these conditions can be reversed or abandoned.
The vote paves the way to begin negotiations on a third bailout and to provide immediate relief to Greece with a 7 billion euro bridging loan and increased liquidity assistance from the European Central Bank.
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, who showed a nobility rare among today’s politicians in humbling himself to ask for agreement with bailout terms that he acknowledged are pernicious and unjust, will remain prime minister, either with the fragile majority of a purged Syriza party or a national unity government.
The short-lived finance minister, Yannis Varoufakis, will return to the groves of academe, where his reckless ego will be more at home.
The ever-popular German chancellor, Angela Merkel, will win approval from her Parliament to begin talks for the third bailout of a fellow European country after she publicly humiliated Greece’s elected leader and forced him to grovel so that his elderly citizens could get medicine they need.
And Europe can begin the long process of unwinding a union that has failed and no longer has a chance of evolving into a United States of Europe.
Greece may perhaps negotiate the third bailout with the debt relief demanded by the International Monetary Fund and stay in the euro EURUSD, -0.4138% for a while.
But sooner or later, it will leave the euro, because every country in southern Europe will leave the euro. The euro as a currency for more than small handful of countries in the shadow of the German economy, will cease to exist.
The postwar “European Project” of political and economic integration is over.
Later this year, Spanish voters will register their protest against the euro with significant support for the Podemos movement, even if it falls short of giving that party a majority.
~ http://www.marketwatch.com

EU and GREECE

Akhilleus_Patroklos_Antikensammlung_Berlin_F2278

Bryan Gould: Greece may now be forced to leave the EU

2:10 PM Friday Jul 10, 2015

Like so many others, I long ago got used to being pilloried as “anti-European”.
My crime was daring to say that the “Europe” we were urged to sign up to was no such thing, but was a particular arrangement cooked up by the powerful and foisted on the people of that often benighted continent without bothering either to consult them or to take count of their wishes.
As the Greek crisis unfolds, and as it strips bare the pretensions of those powerful forces who talk with less and less conviction of the European ideal and of democratic rights, we can surely no longer be in any doubt.
The “Europe” in whose service so much sacrifice is now demanded is a cartel of bankers, financiers and right-wing politicians who have no interest in democracy, or jobs, or the living standards of ordinary people.
As the Greek people suffer, and plead “no more”, it is not the travails of the Greeks – or, for that matter, the Spanish, or the Portuguese, or the Italians – that weigh with Europe’s powerful; their sights are fixed on maintaining austerity and discipline, on adhering to ideology and doctrine.
Above all, they are determined to protect the euro, because it is the one weapon that ensures that there can be no backsliding. The euro was put in place so that, whatever temptations – or even imperatives – there may be, there can be no going back. The grim and unrelenting disciplines of neo-classical economics demand nothing less.
For many of us, this imposition of a single monetary policy and discipline on a hugely diverse European economy was always destined to fail. There was no way that small and underdeveloped economies like Greece could survive competition from a powerful German economy, especially when it was the Germans who had the power to decide on the monetary policy that should be put in place – and no prizes for guessing whose interests that policy turned out to serve.
The irony is that is those powerful interests – represented by the IMF, the European Central Bank, and the European Commission and obliged to follow the dictates of the German Finance Minister – who now find that, despite the disparity in power between them and a bankrupt and demoralised Greece, it is they – and not the supposedly feckless Greeks – who have the responsibility for saving the euro.
With the power of the referendum result behind him, Prime Minister Tsipras can now say that there is nothing more he can do. Ravaged by austerity, Greece has no resources left. Unless they are helped by a bail-out package that does not drive them deeper into collapse but instead gives them a chance, over time, to begin to grow again, they will be forced – since there is no other option – to leave the euro and seek their own salvation.
The Greeks have, in other words, taken their decision. There is nothing left for them to decide. The ball is now in the court of Europe’s leaders. It is nor fort them to give up entrenched positions. It is up to them to decide whether to refuse to help, with the result that Greece will have to leave the euro whether they like it or not, simply to survive, or to relent and offer a more acceptable and realistic package that will keep Greece afloat and allow them to stay in a re-shaped common currency.
We know what they want to do. They have stuck to the current stance in the hope that the Greek government will fall and “regime change” will be brought about. There has even been talk of a government imposed on the Greek people from outside or of a government of “technocrats” that will do the bidding of the financial establishment. The referendum result, though, seems to have put paid, for the time being at least, to that disgraceful objective.
But, for a brief period, the Greek crisis has given us a glimpse of the mailed fist and doctrinaire rigidity behind the “European” ideal. Rarely can there have been such a stark demonstration of the inherently undemocratic nature of the European power structure and of the interests it truly serves.
It may be that the Greeks, by forcing an “agonising re-appraisal”, will end up having done the true adherents of a united Europe a favour. It may be that, at long last, we will begin to contemplate a Europe based on agreement freely given by the continent’s governments and peoples, an agreement to build a Europe by learning from each other how to work together and to cooperate more closely, a functional Europe that will do those things that are best done together rather than separately, a “bottom-up” Europe that will develop as a result of, but not getting ahead of, a growing sense of European identity and the wishes of its peoples.
We need a Europe, in other words, that is not just a vehicle for advancing powerful interests, and riding roughshod over everyone else, but that understands that the Greek poor and unemployed are just as important, and just as essential, to Europe’s future, and that enabling them and millions like them to live a better life is both a united Europe’s true purpose and its only real chance of success.

~Bryan Gould is a former UK Labour MP and former vice-chancellor of Waikato University.

~WWW.NZHERALD.CO.NZ

GREECE And EUROPE

10620711_334529050045187_4859070671039708913_n

What Will Happen to Greece If It Leaves the Euro?

By Jordan Weissmann

With this weekend’s big “no” vote in its bailout referendum, Greece has edged ever closer to finally leaving the eurozone. Its government is heading to Brussels today for last-ditch negotiations with European leaders over a new rescue package. But with a deal far from sure and time ticking away, a Grexit is starting to feel “more likely than not,” as JPMorgan put it.
And what would happen then? If only we knew. Breaking up with the euro would almost certainly involve some nasty short-term suffering for Greece. But economists disagree about whether the pain might one day be worth the payoff. In one camp you have Nobel Prize winners Paul Krugman and Joseph Stiglitz, among others, who think that finally bidding goodbye to the common currency might actually be the country’s best hope for reviving its depressed economy. In another, you have pessimists like the 246 economics professors from Greek universities who recently warned that doing so would lead to “disastrous economic, social, political and geopolitical consequences.”
Since we lack an oracle to reveal what the future holds, I’ve outlined possible best- and worst-case scenarios for Greece in the event of a Grexit. But first, you might be wondering …
What if Greece doesn’t want to abandon the euro?
It might not have a choice. Greece can’t technically be expelled from the eurozone. But it may have to bow out “voluntarily” if the European Central Bank cuts off the emergency loans that are now keeping the Greek banking system from collapsing. Were that to happen, Athens would need to start printing money in order to bail out its financial sector. Since Greece can’t legally print euros, it would have to print new drachmas instead.
And we may well be approaching that endgame as Europe loses patience with Greece’s left-wing government. After refusing to raise its current €89 billion ceiling on emergency lending over the weekend, the ECB took steps Monday that could theoretically make it more difficult for Greek banks to borrow, presumably to put more heat on Greece’s negotiators. Should Athens default on a payment due to its European creditors later this month, it’s plausible the central bank will close off the tap for good. It’s also possible Greek banks will simply run out of cash in the coming days if the ECB just stands by and refuses to increase its cap on loans.
If Greece leaves, what’s the best-case scenario?
Some argue that finally ditching the euro would be a blessing in disguise. The thinking goes like this: European policymaking—from its tight-fisted central banking philosophy to its demands for austerity—has acted like a vice crushing the Greek economy, and at this point, any deal that would keep the country in the euro would only prolong the misery. Leaving would be difficult, but liberating. Greece would default on its European debts and introduce a new currency. The new drachma would depreciate quickly, giving the economy a shot of adrenaline by helping Greek businesses sell more exports—who doesn’t love good cheap olive oil?—while luring more tourists to Santorini for affordable beach vacations. Yes, Greeks would see their bank accounts largely wiped out as their euro savings were converted into less valuable drachmas. And yes, prices of imported food, which Greeks rely on heavily, would rise. But there might be light at the end of the tunnel. As long as it’s part of the euro, on the other hand, Greece’s future is just a pitch-black slog with 25 percent unemployment.
“It’s becoming hard to see any path that doesn’t lead to Grexit,” Krugman wrote recently. “It is also, although this is still something few want to accept, becoming increasingly obvious that Grexit is Greece’s best hope. Otherwise, where is recovery ever supposed to come from?”
Grexit enthusiasts, particularly Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, often suggest that Greece could follow in the footsteps of Argentina, the poster child for surviving and even thriving after a massive default. In many ways, it’s a seemingly tidy historical comparison. Much as Greece today finds itself stuck deep in debt with a depressed economy and a currency it can’t control, during the 1990s Argentina tied its currency’s value to the dollar, and later fell into a painful recession that forced it to accept a bailout from the International Monetary Fund in order to keep paying its creditors. But in 2001 and early 2002, the country changed course, defaulting on its loans and breaking the dollar peg, letting the peso fall in value.
The immediate aftermath was miserable—the economy crashed hard, leaving more than half the country’s urban population in poverty. Food prices skyrocketed. Imported medications became scarce. There were street protests and riots. But while the upheaval was violent, it was also relatively brief. Aided by its cheaper currency, Argentina’s economy recovered by 2005, which allowed the country to sit down with lenders and restructure its debts. From there it posted years of strong growth.
“It is worth noting that the social consequences of Argentina’s recovery were enormous,” Weisbrot wrote in 2012. “Even though the economy had a brief downturn during the world recession in 2009, employment in Argentina is at record levels. Poverty and extreme poverty have been reduced by two-thirds, and social spending has nearly tripled in real terms, since the default.”
Could Greece pull off a similar feat? Maybe so.
All that sounds pretty good. But what’s the worst-case scenario?
Imagine all the riots, drug shortages, and widespread destitution, but without Argentina’s happy ending.
Bleak, right?
As James Stewart outlined at the New York Times, there are a number of reasons to think that a Greek euro exit wouldn’t work out quite so well as Argentina’s adventure with default. Perhaps most important of all: Argentina is a major agricultural power that was lucky enough to start its recovery just as a massive commodities boom, fueled by China’s insatiable appetite, was taking off. Argentina exported a lot of soy and corn, which had the twin benefits of boosting growth directly while bringing much-needed foreign exchange into the country at a time when it was difficult for Argentina to access international capital markets.
Greece, in contrast, is not a major exporter and may not be poised to become one, especially if it’s forced out of the European Union and its trade pacts. Worse yet, as Stewart notes, its most important exports by far are refined petroleum products such as gasoline and diesel, which require imported crude to produce. Since oil is priced in dollars on the international market, a falling drachma wouldn’t make Greek refiners much more competitive or profitable.
Meanwhile, it’s no sure thing that a cheap currency will help much with tourism, especially if there are mass protests mobbing the streets due to a financial crisis. Tear gas has a way of scaring off vacationers.
Weisbrot argues that economists and journalists have overestimated the contribution that the worldwide commodity boom made to Argentina’s recovery. The real reason the country began to grow so quickly after its crises, he believes, is that defaulting on its IMF debt and letting its currency float at market rates allowed the country to abandon austerity policies that were weighing it down, much as Greece is being suffocated today. But his theory has some notable critics, including Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s just-resigned firebrand finance minister, who called the idea that his country could “pull off an Argentina” “profoundly wrong.”
Greece would have plenty of other issues to worry about aside from exports. Joseph Gagnon of the Peterson Institute for International Economics notes that Greek corporations and banks will still owe debts denominated in euros, which will become harder to pay as the drachma devalues, possibly leading to bankruptcies. Meanwhile, if the government decides to reverse the spending cuts it’s made in recent years and run a deficit, it will likely have to finance it by printing money, which could lead to severe inflation. This is to say nothing of the more mundane but significant technical challenges of introducing a whole new currency, which is more complicated than simply breaking a peg. As University of California–Berkeley economist Barry Eichengreen wrote years ago while speculating about a potential breakup of the euro, “Computers will have to be reprogrammed. Vending machines will have to be modified. Payment machines will have to be serviced to prevent motorists from being trapped in subterranean parking garages.”
Then, of course, there’s the question of Greece’s debts to Europe, which won’t necessarily disappear, even if the government stops paying them back. Economists Carmen Reinhart, of Harvard University’s Kennedy School, told me that could make it difficult for Greece to find new buyers for its debt in the future. She and Christoph Trebesch, of the University of Munich, have found that in the wake of sovereign defaults, countries tend to start growing fairly quickly and regain their credit ratings—but typically only once they’ve restructured their old loans and resolved whether and how much they will repay their lenders.
“I don’t want to be like a wet rag, but I think the prospects of growth without resolution of the debt situation are very limited with and without a euro,” Reinhart told me. “You’re not going to have potential new creditors lining up to make new loans to Greece when the rules of the game are just not known.”
So if all goes wrong, Greece could end up with a plunging currency, frightening inflation, little to no engine driving its economy, a spate of corporate bankruptcies, and no access to credit. Its predicament now is dark. But is it worth risking that kind of economic affliction to break from Europe’s yoke? I honestly don’t know. Then again, it might not have any option but to find out.

~ Jordan Weissmann is Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.

Review of “FILLOROES”/ΦΥΛΛΟΡΡΟΕΣ-κριτική.

filloroes

 Filloroes-a review

        Greek Canadian author Manolis Aligizakis has written three novels, numerous collections of poetry, articles and short stories in both Greek and English. His latest poetry book “Filloroes” consists of existential, erotic and sociopolitical themed poems with clear relation to everyday as well as to historical events. Emotions flow freely throughout the book. They are expressed via images of love, lust, unfaithfulness, loss and the feeling of the unaccomplished, search for the meaning of life, high ideals and the lack of freedom. The poet’s style and idiom are accentuated by his rhythm that is tied harmoniously with the content. Certain melancholy runs through the majority of the poems and underscores the battle between optimism and pessimism: “I want to plough/this ground all over/with a crop of new idealists…” (Saunter).

        The style of the book, sometimes resembling prose, is accented by poetic conventions such as repetition, and the striding of verse that bring the poems to life. Similar result is shown by detail descriptions, rich imagery and musicality of the verse. The existential poems deal with death, weight of life and its meaning, old age, the inescapable end, fate, decadence. The erotic poems display a mixture of emotions such as desire, joy, sadness, denial, betrayal, loneliness and the convention of relationships. Although pain and disappointment are imbued in Eros the poet still considers it the most important variant of life: “and I leave my search/for something inconceivable/ or imaginary/and with no other word/I return/to your sensual loving.”(Discovery).

        Social-political issues such as political struggle, sacrifice of comrades, defeat, history up to today, relation of the church to war, wondering and vision of a future Greece, the misery of city life, destruction, salvation, justice, the poet/poetess before today’s reality, are subjects of these poems. Sometimes at the end of some poems Manolis poses questions that are themselves the answers to such questions: “And you wonder/are we truly making progress/or careening brakeless of-ramps to Hell?” (Routine). Other times the poems lead to serious questioning: “and the young sparrow/sits on the branch and/clipping his wing feathers writes/no need for these anymore” (Sparrows). The collection is imbued by sensitivity toward the everyday human situations and is filled by serious questioning about the emotional death of today’s social landscape and the brutality we live in.

 ΦΥΛΛΟΡΡΟΕΣ-FYLLORROES, ΕΝΕΚΕΝ, 2013

Ο Ελληνοκαναδός Μανώλης Αλυγιζάκης έχει γράψει τρία μυθιστορήματα, ποιητικές συλλογές, καθώς και άρθρα, διηγήματα και μελέτες στα αγγλικά και στα ελληνικά. Η πρόσφατη ποιητική συλλογή του ‘Φυλλορροές’ απαρτίζεται από υπαρξιακά, ερωτικά και κοινωνικοπολιτικά θέματα, με στενή αναφορά στην καθημερινότητα αλλά και σε σπουδαία ιστορικά γεγονότα. Το συναίσθημα ρέει πλούσια σε όλη τη συλλογή. Εκφράζεται μέσα από θέματα όπως η αγάπη, ο έρωτας, η απιστία, η απώλεια και το αίσθημα του ανεκπλήρωτου, η αναζήτηση της ουσίας της ζωής, τα υψηλά ιδανικά, και η έλλειψη ελευθερίας. Το χαρακτηριστικό ύφος ενισχύεται από τον ήχο και τον ρυθμό, που δένουν αρμονικά με το περιεχόμενο. Μια μελαγχολική διάθεση διατρέχει το σύνολο των ποιημάτων, δίνοντας τον τόνο στην πάλη μεταξύ αισιοδοξίας και απαισιοδοξίας: «…κι είπε -/ θέλω να σπείρω/ τούτο το χώμα απ’ την αρχή/ με μια σοδειά νέων ιδεολόγων…» («Νωχελικό απόγευμα»).

Η γραφή, αν και κάποιες φορές στα όρια του πεζού λόγου, διανθίζεται από ιδιαίτερα ποιητικά στοιχεία. Τεχνικές όπως η επανάληψη και ο διασκελισμός τονίζουν το νοηματικό περιεχόμενο δίνοντας ζωντάνια στη συλλογή. Παρόμοιο αποτέλεσμα επιτυγχάνεται από τις λεπτομερείς περιγραφές, τις πλούσιες εικόνες και τη μουσικότητα του λόγου. Το θέμα της ύπαρξης αναφέρεται στον θάνατο, στο βάρος της ζωής και στο νόημά της, στο γήρας, στο αναπόφευκτο και τη μοίρα, στην παρακμή. Τα ερωτικά ποιήματα εκθέτουν μια γκάμα συναισθημάτων όπως ο πόθος, η χαρά, η θλίψη, η διάψευση, η προδοσία, η παρακμή, η απομάκρυνση του ζευγαριού και η συμβατικότητα της συνύπαρξης. Παρά τον πόνο και την απογοήτευση που συνδέονται με τον έρωτα, ο ποιητής τον θεωρεί το πιο ουσιαστικό συστατικό της ζωής: «…κι αφήνω στη στιγμή την έρευνά μου/ για κάτι ασύλληπτο ή ιδεατό/ και δίχως λέξη βιαστικά γυρνώ/ στο αισθησιακό σου φίλημα.» («Ανακάλυψη»).

Οι κοινωνικοπολιτικές ανησυχίες εκφράζονται μέσα από θέματα όπως ο πολιτικός αγώνας, η αυτοθυσία των συντρόφων και η ήττα, η ιστορία και το σήμερα, η σχέση της Εκκλησίας με τον πόλεμο, προβληματισμοί και προβλέψεις για το μέλλον, η Ελλάδα, η αθλιότητα της ζωής στην πόλη, η καταστροφή, η σωτηρία, η απόδοση δικαιοσύνης, ο ποιητής/η ποιήτρια μπροστά στην πολιτική πραγματικότητα. Στο τέλος κάποιων ποιημάτων ο Μανώλης Αλυγιζάκης θέτει δυνατά ερωτηματικά, ερωτηματικά που μοιάζουν να αποτελούν από μόνα τους τις απαντήσεις: «…Κι αναρωτιέσαι/ κάνουμε άραγε κάτι σωστό/ ή όλα βαδίζουν ίσια προς την κόλαση;» («Ρουτίνα»). Άλλες φορές το κλείσιμο των ποιημάτων παραπέμπει σε σημαντικά ερωτήματα: «…Κι ένας μικρός σπουργίτης/ καθισμένος στο κλαδί/ συνθέτει το πρωινό του ποίημα και/ τα φτερά του ψαλιδίζοντας γράφει,/ αυτά δεν μου χρειάζονται πια» («Σπουργίτες»). Η ποιητική συλλογή διακρίνεται από ευαισθησία για τις ανθρώπινες καταστάσεις και από έντονο κοινωνικό προβληματισμό, στηρίγματα πολύτιμα μέσα στη γενική συναισθηματική νέκρωση και την ακραία βαρβαρότητα που βιώνουμε.

 

Αφροδίτη Γιαννάκη, ΕΝΕΚΕΝ, 2013/Aphroditi Giannakis, ENEKEN, 2013