The Snowflake That Started an Avalanche: Three recent interviews

With the eyes of a stunned world trained, yet again on Greece, the international media have returned to Athens. I keep suggesting to them that they are wasting their time. That the real game is happening elsewhere – in the corridors of the French and German banks, in the meetings between German officials and the IMF, in Brussels and Franfurt. That Greece is a mere pawn in a larger game in which Greeks remain sidelined as long as their government cannot find the courage to say NO to the troika’s demands. Naturally, none of this convinces the likes of the BBC, the ABC, Sky News etc. from feasting on the scenes of demonstrations at the centre of Athens, or from reinforcing the delusion that Greek debt is the issue. So, since I cannot convince them I succumb to their requests for interviews! Here is a sample of recent ones taken by some of the more sensitive, and sensible, of them. 

8 Comments

  • Congratulations for the long interview in the Groene Amsterdammer. Groene Amsterdammer is a typical leftist-quality magazine read by a broader public (not only left-wing people, I mean). And although the Netherlands may be an irrelevant power in world affairs, I would say – as we typically say in Holland – “every little bit helps”. The article is a precise presentation of your views with no further comments except for a comment on your looks which I would like to report here for your information and entertainment. You are described as “a tall man with a remarkable, tanned face and a freshly ironed purple shirt”.

  • Not sure why it is so difficult to apply rational thinking.

    Greece’s total public debt is roughly 360 Bil. euro, soon to become roughly 380 bil.

    Of such 70% is owned by foreign institutions and 30% by Greek banks and Greek pension plans. Therefore, IF the objective is to help Greece, here is what you do:

    You declare exempt from any haircuts all Greek banks and pension plans, because surely you don’t want to dynamite the columns of the very house you are trying to save.

    On the remainder 70% of debt, take all the haircuts you want (assuming again your aim is to assist Greece with some debt forgiveness and not as the sinister German plot goes of o simply trying to reduce German costs and the hell with the rest).

    As an example, you can bring the external Greek debt to 0, or 100% haircut if your altruistic intentions are to help Greece. Greece then retains 30% of its original debt owned by the Greek banks and pension plans which is now easily serviceable and roughly corresponding to 60% of her GDP (vs. the 150% and rising today).

    However, even the small children know that it’s German intransigence, incrementalism, obstructionism and minimalism coupled with an acute case of German tight fisted extremism that is the cause of this crisis.

    Germany is not trying to save Greece or the euro. Germany is trying to minimize her costs following questionable methods and an out-of-depth display of incompetence.

    • It is not difficult to apply rational thinking.

      They do apply it. Their own kind. Of their own world.

      We all do.

      That is what brought us here ,isn’t it?

    • Suppose Greece did that. Suppose the only debt the government would honour would be debt held by Greek institutions? The problem is that Greece still has a primary deficit. Even if you exclude Greek debt servicing costs, the government does not raise enough in taxes to meet its obligations now. The 8 billion Euros that will be forthcoming in the next few days are NOT going back to the European banks. Greece has no debt rollover coming due until December or January. This money is simply to pay the bills.

      So, once Greece makes this announcement, it seems to me that Greece is essentially shutting off the remaining flow of money coming into Greece. And so Greece will have to be absolutely self-funding for the next decade (like Argentina, which a decade after its disorderly default has yet to fully tap bond markets again). But Greece is NOT self-funding now. In other words, whatever austerity is being imposed by the troika, would have to be redoubled by the Greek government in any event.

      That hardly seems like a plausible solution. As a matter of fact, it seems to me that it will make things worse.

  • This is the EUDSSR. There are only 2 options for countries: You either are a protectorate or you are a working camp. The working camp countries produce the cash that the EU takes to take over power in the protectorates.

    • 11.119 out of 46.714 EU civil servants make more than 10.0000 EUR per month. To compare 33 out of 137.707 German civil servants make more than 10.0000 EUR per month

  • When you say that the Greek government should say ‘no’ to the troika; does this mean it says ‘no’ to reforming the closed professions and abandons efforts to root out abuses and absurdities in the public sector? What does saying ‘no’ to the troika entail? Where would Greece get the money it needs if not from the troika? We’ve already dismissed default and being cut adrift by the eurozone as a catastrophe for Greece. And let’s not forget that the troika only came up with these slash and burn proposals after it became clear that the Greek government did not have the guts or brains to raise revenue and plug gaps in any other way. In other words, these cuts to salaries, pensions and so on are the result of the failings of the Greek government/state/society and have not been imposed on Greeks by sadistic foreigners in some anti-Hellenic conspiracy. In fact, I bet you Merkel and Sarkozy are half hoping the Greeks say ‘no’, so that they can wash their hands of them.