In Ireland

If you are wondering why I have been keeping quiet this week it is because I am in Dublin on a series of talks, interviews and discussions through which I hope (a) to spread the word for the Modest Proposal and (b) to learn from this amazing small country’s experiences. Today’s (personal) highlight was meeting Gerry Adams (who also attended one of my talks). A most humbling moment.

Watch this space for podcasts of interviews and, at some point, a post on what Ireland can teach the rest of Europe and the world.

28 Comments

  • In Ireland, how befitting!

    VLADIMIR:
    I thought it was he.
    ESTRAGON:
    Who?
    VLADIMIR:
    Godot.
    ESTRAGON:
    Pah! The wind in the reeds.

    On today’s news, is the long wait of EU leadership finally over? Has Godot, or rather Timothy, really arrived in our unresourcefull wasteland? Maybe he will bring us the solution we’ve been hoping for. Maybe he will help us drag ourselves out of this. Or maybe it’s just another passer by…maybe Godot hasn’t really come. Why don’t we just wait some more…or rather

    VLADIMIR:
    We can still part, if you think it would be better.
    ESTRAGON:
    It’s not worthwhile now.
    (Silence.)
    VLADIMIR:
    No, it’s not worthwhile now.
    (Silence.)
    ESTRAGON:
    Well, shall we go?
    VLADIMIR:
    Yes, let’s go.
    (They do not move.)

  • Good luck with discussions in Ireland!

    I still think default would be the best solution for Greece at the long term, but it feels good that Greece was considered “indivisible part of Eurozone” at the Tri-party conference for now! And that “… no chance that the major European countries will allow Greece to default…” as Tim Geithner told the US markets today. If all these are true, Greece needs to work to get infusion of money with conditions that make it possible to repay back. Some program like the US TARF would make sense.
    The hard question is: How do we make Greeks to take things seriously, change their attitude and make their best to survive?

    • think , best solution at the long term ???!!! , feels good , no chance , markets have personality and ears , Greece needs to work ?! , make a country work?

      I “think” you are an economist !

      Greece can not learn to work ! It’s easier to teach newborn countries to do that . Greece is too old for that .

      Why don’t you look the statistics for work labour in Greece instead?

      And by the way work is a luxury in Greece these days . Haven’t you heard ? %&#$%!!±

    • The public meeting will take place at the Shelbourne Hotel. Topic: Understanding the Euro Crisis.Thurs 7pm: Pearse Doherty TD;Yanis Varoufakis, Fintan O’Toole.

  • Yanis – what is your best guess as to when Greece defaults given the expressiosn of solidarity in nothing more than a routine conference call between Sarkozy and Merkl did not have any money attached to it ? Do you think Greece is serious about implementing ECU mandated refroms at this point ?

  • NY
    Let me rephrase your question: “how are we going to make Greek politicians take the mater seriously!”. Rest assured that Greeks take the matter very seriously. Ask the small business owners, ask the pay-cheque-rat-racers. Ask the people who intensely search for jobs outside of the country. Every day i receive emails from people i know to help them find a job in Qatar….

    kostis

  • The Tri-party conference was much more in hope than any expectation. They have not offered any new thinking, or surely they would have been keen to trumpet such?

    Godot is here in Europe to sound out the depth of trouble that is going to come the way of the European Counter Parties ….. the US banks holding the insurance for the European debt.

    And that will not move either.

  • Another interesting post! I don’t want to distract from the issue, but isn’t/ wasn’t Gerry Adams a terrorist? Disclaimer alert! I’m English, so obviously biased, in that the IRA exploded bombs all over the place. I also think that the British establishment and police system was/ is bent as hell, and doubtless the Catholics were terribly treated, but in my opinion this doesn’t make Adams’ significance ‘humbling’, but just, and nothing more banal than, they were/are all as bad as each other. At least, according to the theory that endless murder is banal not romantic however patriotic its paintings.

    Furthermore, and because ‘bank robbery’ is a keyword right now in Ireland, it is alleged that Sinn Fein etc organized that more old-fashioned style of bank robbery only a few years ago. Which wasn’t very nice. And talking of salt-of-the-earth criminality, the terrorists (of all persuasions) still control Ireland’s profitable racketeering and drugs biz.

    Then again, perhaps Gerry Adams has risen above all this, and wasn’t at all involved with bugging the MPs offices in the new parliament, and I am all for second chances and rehabilitation. Thank God, all of them in fact, that there is peace and let’s hope that recession doesn’t alter that.

    Anyway, I am no doubt influenced by the romantic notions of freedom fighters in other parts of the world. And like I say I don’t want to distract from your excellent blog.

    • I recall that when I lived in England Nelson Mandela was categorised officially by the British Government as a terrorist on the basis that he condoned the bombings, which he did, by the ANC’s military wing. Adams, in my estimation, is made of stuff similar to Mandela’s. He singlehandedly steered republicans toward Peace, gave Unionists a chance to exit the dead end in which they had pushed themselves, struggled valiantly to steer nationalism to a social justice agenda that can be extended across the divides and showed the rest of the world how intransigence can be defeated. I bow to him and, in so doing, I find myself in interesting company: Mandela, Bill Clinton, even the despicable Tony Blair recognise Adams’ global contribution.

  • Bravura performance on Vincent Browne last night…we need a few economists
    who will tell it how it is…it may be scary but I ‘d rather be forewarned than constantly reassured
    by people who only wish to keep us docile.

    I lecture in Economics and I found your analysis compelling

  • Dear Yanis,

    Fitch downgraded 5 Spanish regions from aa+ to aa yesterday because the demand for regional products was fallen by cuts in purchasing power in other euro countries. So the regional financial deficit was growing and not falling as expected. Spain as a whole maybe downgraded soon by Fitch because of a larger deficit caused by a.o. more people using social security due to these regional problems.

    Is this a cycle we can not escape when cuttings in the purchase power take place in the euro zone for cutting the deficit of an country, so the demand in other euro- countries is falling? When yes, these measures are not a good solution for solving the debt crisis in the euro zone. They even foster the collapse of the euro?

    Of course your Modest proposal is the solution. But now the implementation is too late and still delays, the cutting of national debts will cost us much more than the proposed loss of purchase power.

  • @Nikos D

    I love apt quotations from Beckett.

    On a more mundane level, Geithner will continue to do what is good for Goldman Sachs. Like promote a EuroTARP market.

  • so Yanis- isnt the imemdiate eurozone question this week boiling down to is a game of chicken- evevryone knows greece has not implemented to the spriit-let alone the letter- of mandates placed on it for next/October tranche- Lagarde has conceded this already- the immediate question is will IMF (as part of troika) suspend its nomal procedures and allow Greece to wiggle out of its commitments at this poiint ? seems to me Greeec is betting she will cave and agree to ignore this and vote to release the funds- certainly ECB and EU wont paly hard ball with Greece at this point….

  • Yanis,

    one feedback to your comment on Vincent Brown that corruption in Greece would often be, I think you said something like ‘overestimated’.

    I would have a different view.

    Feb 27/11:

    An investigation by Greece’s financial crimes squad (SDOE) has concluded that 3 former ministers, and several other public officials, should face prosecution for corruption. The allegations are that U-214 consortium partner Ferrostaal paid EUR 10 – 12 million in bribes to secure the EUR 1.26 billion deal.

    March 28/11:

    Greece’s financial crimes squad (SDOE) delivers its report. Make that EUR 100 million in bribes:

    “Politicians, civil servants, military officials and middlemen are thought to have been paid off as part of the deal. Sources said that probes into the bank accounts of some Greek shipyard unionists also revealed money that was unaccounted for. Last week, a prosecutor called 37 people to answer questions about bribery allegations…”

    Many of the Greek U214 fleet’s custom features were reportedly inserted as a way of padding the bill, and allowing more under-the-table payments to be hidden. The revelations also spark a political controversy, as the current socialist PASOK government was in charge when the deal went down.

    May 3/11

    “At least 120 million euros was paid in bribes by the German firm that struck a deal with the Greek government for the sale of four navy submarines, according to German court documents seen by Kathimerini…. Two former executives of Ferrostaal, the Germany firm that was part of the consortium which won the contract, gave depositions in Munich concerning the kickbacks paid to secure the deal, which was worth just over 1.2 billion euros.”

    Source – Defense Industry Daily

    • i am not interpreting what Mr Varoufakis said but what i understand from being a greek is that : it’s not the main issue , the dominant one .

      In other words , if corruption could disappear in a day , Greece financial condition wouldn’t improve much .
      Unfortunately !

      And to my understanding you are being unfair when talking about Greece buying military weapons . As if we have a choice .

      I may remind you days before Greece reached the first agreement (unfortunately) two years ago , Sarkozi and Merkel were bargaining and succeeded the selling of more weapons to Greece !

      Not to mention the scandal in Greece which just came to the surface yesterday , about the president of Eurostat exerting pressure for a further fake increase in debt of Greece .

    • Further more , what don’t you mention further convictions of german companies for bribery and illegal competition in other countries too? !
      In US and UK for instance .

      This is a common practice of the german companies , especially Siemens .

      Up to 2008 , they didn’t have to hide the bribes . German public recognized them as such , no offense taken . A fact which shows , it was common practice for them when dealing with other countries .

      And i am sure you would agree , that corruption when it comes to german companies is not a problem anymore . As long as they are profitable !

    • Hi Ilias,

      I might have come across the wrong way here, I am aware that it is not the main issue that will solve the debt problem, and the media is always painting pictures to manipulate opinion, however, I do think that corruption is a major issue in entire Europe, perhaps it depends on what we define as corruption.

      Do you have a link to the Eurostat story, very interesting in deed!

      Europe’s political landscape is dominated and spear headed by the right wing EPP, European Peoples Party top down, in all three Institutions, Consilium, Parliament and Commission since years. ‘Cash for laws’ is nothing that unusual anymore and there are many examples for such politics in the EU.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parties_in_the_European_Council

      I would emphasize that a certain type of corruption such as the example in my post above can be described as business as usual. Major corporations and other vested interest groups besieged Brussels and policy makers and operate with plenty of power (cash) at their disposal, it is this lobbyism that is the poison that undermines and kills every parliamentary democracy at the end, and it can not be overstressed enough in my view.

      Let me clarify, this is not a particular Greek phenomenon, not at all!

      Best
      Georg

    • I agree with your definition about corruption and lobbying . I misunderstood what you ‘re referring too . Please forgive my lengthy answer . Lobbying to my opinion is in the heart of Europe . Its bureaucracy is opaque and under no inspection by legislation . Having said that , i would also want to add that lobbying in Greece is no exception unfortunately . And i am extremely modest by expressing my self in this way about Greece .

      Unfortunately , i have not found any article in english in relation to the scandal of the president of Eurostat pressing the greek bureau to raise the deficit even more . So for the time being , i am afraid you have to trust my interpretation . A member of the board of statistics bureau of Greece were accusing that the president of the greek statistics bureau (which is also currently an employee of IMF) , the minister of finance and the president of Eurostat were pushing the staff of the bureau to produce results that they could not justify in terms of lack of formal assessments and compliance with european legislation .

      In short , no one could justify with evidence why the deficit of Greece was 15,4 at that time . She described a situation with stunning details about how the greek members of this board , complaining about this lack of evidence and requesting explanations , were forced away and even prosecuted with false accusations . All these members of the board were more or less professors of statistical economics in greek Universities .

      I have watched four interviews of a very convincing ( in most cases she was sticking to mere facts or scientific findings ) greek lady , member of the board , called georganta or γεωργαντα , in greek ( search in youtube) . That was the main issue in all media on Friday . But during the weekend , this subject disappeared from every website , news portal as a burning issue (you have to search in order to find it , it’s not in plain view ) 🙁

      She claims that she has email correspondence from IMF staff , Eurostat president and members of the greek government who threatened her and were trying to convince her otherwise . In addition , every statistics given by the greek bureau have only the approval of the president alone , with no justification or based on any formal piece of evidence for the last year .

      I want to stress again the fact that this is my interpretation . And a last minute news , Ms Georganta was called up by a judge to prove her claims.

    • And a short clarification : No one could justify with scientific evidence why the Greece deficit should go UP !!! not down . LOL

    • Hi Ilias,

      This EUROSTAT story is very disturbing but not astonishing anymore. The extended arms of Banksters, in other words Politicians, are as trustworthy as far as you can throw them….

      😉

  • It was an interesting discussion that of Vincent Browne .

    First of all , i have seen other interviews of yours . Right now , you seemed depressed to say the least . You need a vacation ! (saying this out of affection ) .

    By watching it ,some weak points of modest proposal became evident to me .

    To start with , you haven’t stressed enough why and how modest proposal is going to benefit each individual state . The moment i first heard the modest proposal , it was publicly referred to as a plan to save Europe from dissolving . I don’t think people understand why this is important !

    Secondly , every european citizen has understood by now that , we are in a huge crisis . In such a circumstance , people stick to their countries . Especially , when they don’t even understand modest proposal and they have lost their faith in EU . Germany , which heavily gained from european association , don’t want to save it . Let alone countries , which were doomed by being a member state .

    Thirdly , when even economist can not distinguish between different Eurobonds , how can a simple individual who is not an economist , comprehend such model ?! I now understand perfectly what you mean when you say that leaders have to opt for this proposal not people . The reason i am saying that is that modest proposal is somehow linked with Eurobonds . Whenever something bad is said about Eurobond , immediately discredits your proposal .
    It’s not fair , but i think it’s true . You must find a way to explain the difference between Eurobonds with a straightforward example . The moment you ‘re going technical , you ‘re loosing viewers . The example with a person who’s in debt and uses a new credit card to pay his old debt was pretty straight forward to depict why Greece’s approach is not viable . Find another one to de-link your proposal from other Eurobond solutions .

    Last, the same people who are responsible to implement modest proposal , if they ever choose to do so , are heavily discredited in the eyes of european citizens . For a long time now , they make claims which are proving false shortly afterwards . In short , the body , to implement such a plan does not have the political power to do that . The same with greek government , it’s not a viable approach to create high expectations and then crush against them . Or in short Το παραμυθι με τον ψεύτη βοσκό .

    Have a good rest !!!

  • The follow-up story of Zoe Georganta, Professor at the University of Macedonia and committee member of Greece’s National Statistical Service (NSS) who accused former Economy and Finance minister George Papaconstantinou of purposely “falsifying” the country’s deficit in 2009 (just after George Papandreou’s PASOK party gained control of the government) because he wanted to purposely implement harsh austerity measures

    Read more: Georganta gets slapped by media for revealing the MEGA SCANDAL about Greece’s fake deficit numbers ~ H E L L A S F R A P P E http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/2011/09/georganta-gets-slapped-by-media-for.html#ixzz1YTzE5uUb
    http://hellasfrappe.blogspot.com/
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