No plan for either Europe or Greece: Guest post by Jerry Goldstein

In the interests of fostering dialogue on the issues that matter, I welcome today’s blog entry from long time contributor (and regular critic of my scribblings) Jerry Goldstein. Jerry has a strong background in banking but, and this is highly pertinent, spends most of his time in Athens.

So the euro and the union is to be saved by means of international treaty rather than a tortuously negotiated revision of the existing EU “constitution”. The 3% of GDP and 60% of output will be agreed again, but will become  cemented into place and supervised by a new guard dog , which will activate automatic penalties should they be breached – unless not. The penalties can be stopped by a qualified majority of the insiders. In short, it’s the old deal with more teeth, the sharpest of course, belonging to Germany and France, the very countries which tore the old arrangement to pieces. In any discussions leading up to the vote of the qualified majority, who can doubt that the two will be making their influence very much felt.

Question: will this solve the problem of funding the euro zone, assuming the legality of the inter-governmental treaty is even established.  The answer is clearly – no.  Specifically, statutorily – no.

First, the euro zone still lacks a central bank in the true sense of the word. Simply put, the ECB cannot engage in the operations necessary to address the whole range of possible adverse conditions which could develop within its monetary zone, and the stability fund has been ruled out as a borrower.

Second, the stability fund is just not big enough, even with the extra €200 billion of loans to the IMF. The €1.1 trillion of EU government loans coming due next year, taken with the amount the banks will need to meet their capital requirements, will create strains that seem simply overwhelming.

The fact that for over two years the world has been witness to the pusillanimous scurrying of what appear to be clueless elites struggling to deny what they are trying to address, baby stepping from one non-event (and press release) to the next, makes one wonder about even the wisdom of the 3%-60%.

Is it wise to tie a ball and chain  around yourself, when instead of keeping one from doing harm, it might block running the very deficits one might need in  a serious depression? Isn’t the 3% – 60% nothing more than a religious talisman, a head of garlic hanging in the doorway to keep the ghouls away?

Remember – all the other arrangements in the forthcomings treaties, the meetings twice a year and the penalties, do nothing to create a central Treasury, or a flexible, fully equipped central bank, capable of dealing with crisis.

Will Germany and France  live with this 3%-60% talisman? Will not the qualified majority be arm twisted into submission? There is no strong edifice to come out of last week’s meetings. What has come is better that what existed before, but it’s still a real sleight of hand, one card tricksters and magicians use to divert attention from what their other hand is really doing.  Which as yet, is more than unclear. All this of course assuming it’s determined that a treaty outside the EU can bind nations to acts within the EU.

Critically, In spite of the drum rolls and flag waving, none of this does anything for the countries near collapse now. How can you solve the problems of today by seemingly preventing the problems of the future? What future?

The only credible performer during a period such as now, when Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland, Belgium and even France are in play, is the ECB. And even then it will be necessary to mandate the ECB (or the EU itself) to be able to raise funds via what has come to be called a Eurobond; for the ECB to be unleashed to lend directly to governments, rather than open market operations it now engages in by lending against government bonds presented to it by the banks – themselves insolvent. For the moment, what we have is insolvent banks buying the bonds of insolvent or illiquid governments in order to borrow against them from a pseudo central bank whose hands are tied. Not good.

The fact is that Greece’s debt continues to grow every day, and will continue to grow every day not matter how perfect the arrangements created and formalized by the intergovernmental treaty.

Everything which how gone on to date (except for PSI which is still an ugly duckling yet to be hatched)  is in fact, irrelevant to Greece. The Europeans have, like the military, fought the last war by creating tools for the next one. This one remains almost totally unaddressed.

What needs to be addressed is how Greece is going to get out of this mess. So far, the prescriptions would have done 19th century physicians proud. We’ve gone back to blood letting and the patient is getting  paler by the minute. Taxes have been increased while salaries have been cut, payrolls have been reduced (even the Prime Minister became unemployed), pension reform has begun. There is talk (but no action) about other remedies, from opening up competition to reform of the judiciary.

Greece’s problems fall basically into four baskets. The first is the huge public and private debt that has been run up, the servicing of which is dependent on the good will of others. the second is the intractability of the public sector, including judiciary, not so much to reform (which is far too timid a word) as to total reinvention. The third basket is the current morphology of the Greek economy, imbalances one sees in the public/private sector relationship, the imbalances in investment/consumption/savings, export/imports, tax base and research/innovation.  The fourth, which is not so much a basket as a world in itself, is the reshaping of the Greek civil mind set, the norms, ways of thinking, relation to civil society and the state, attitude towards ones fellow citizens, one’s civic obligations. My guess is the that second and third  are impossible to take on, but even if possible, will take generations to improve.

None of the above begins to be addressed by what has been done so far.

The central conundrum is that Greece has to run primary surpluses to reduce its debt, and without that, the EU support, tranche after tranche, is simply making the day of reckoning slightly delayed, and more painful by allowing outstanding debt to increase.  If compounding national debt now while Greece reforms itself is going to work, the problems described about have got to be taken by the neck and shaken like a dog with a rag doll.

Raising taxes, cutting incomes, culling the civil service, on their own will achieve nothing except economic regression, bigger debt loads as the economy contracts, an increasingly skeptical and detached population, and a political/social miasma that will deter investment, foreign or domestic.

Greece needs not only to address the negative side of what has to be done…cutting expenses and increasing the tax take, critically what has to be done, is to free the private sector. Greece has abundant entrepreneurial agents, abundant technical and creative skills, an abundance of intelligent, educated, energetic people. This has to be liberated, encouraged, barriers removed, risk taking encouraged.

But not only has almost nothing non-trivial been done , I hear of no discussion what should be done, except in the most general and insipid terms – motherhood statements – and nothing has been done. I hear of no plans;  there has been no start.

Has any political leader or intellectual come out and actually described what Greece should look like in twenty years, in five years? Like Denmark? Maybe Hong Kong? Presumably not the US. What is the idea – what are we aiming for? What does Greece want to be?

Given that there seems to be no consensus on what type of society the Greek voter wants to emerge, given the almost unimaginable task of reshaping the entire economy and civil structure, from education, to judicial, legal, bureaucratic, the incentives and disincentives, one wonders how it can be done.

What is clear is that what emerged last week has no real bearing on the outcome for Greece, while the real work of creating a viable Greece has barely been discussed, let alone begun.

29 Comments

  • Yes, time for action. Can somebody give me the banknumber for people who are suffering? I want to donate, adopt a child, or a family, with sending money. Let there be somebody who is creating a possibility for people of Europe to follow me in this, and leave all the talkings and thinkings and the betters and the worses to the politicians, to the people who just talk talk complain, strike, demonstrate, and don’t act in the real way.
    So: please give me the name of a family, their bank number.

    May it be Christmas finally. Bringing Light in the Darkness. Not only singing it, doing it.

    Looking forward to it in my email: antoinettejmjanssen@gmail.com
    Maybe a message how to create a fund.
    The European Peoples Fund for Greece.

    • Dear antoinette on behalf of all Greeks thank you for your wonderfull intentions. But, my dearest lady, it is very possible that in the near future we Greeks may be in need of bullets rather than charity.
      ——————————————————
      All this economic jargon is becoming more and more irrelevant. People in Athens have aldready started to starve, food coupons are considered for the fainting from malnutrision students and household after household is turning to wood for heat. Enough is enough. No matter what the goverment – any bloody goverment – says, the debt must go now. I really don’t give a damn if anyone thinks it is legal, legitimate or “sustainable” and i certainly don’t give a f*** about what Goldman Sucks dreams for the world. We have to feed our people and the hell with everyone else. Poverty is an option. Slavery in the gunpoint of hunger is not.

      2012 will be violent ladies and gentlemen. But the debt will go. One way or another.

  • Yanis – as it looks like we have on the tabel all we will have for some time from Merkozy and ECB, what is your current prognostication re trajectory of all this mess ? Even if boind vigilantes give Italy etc a break over Xmas, after the New Year Italy has really big refunding obligation coming up- surely rates spike again at that point as ECB wont buy all that debt will it ? and once we are back again to where we were last month wont world markets recognize that Europe has nothing more to offer until the at least six month process of this 26 nation interagreement with little teeth ? While Europe ahs kicked the can down the road once more, seems to me the end game timetable is clearer than ever, with rates jumping no later than Feb 1, then all down hill from there UNLESS Draghi does a 360 and sasy sorry we will print money even though Europes fiscal discipline no better in fact than before…. I for one wouldnt want to bet my retirement savings on that last minute deus ex machina

  • The PSI is very injurious and damaging to Greece. The fact that the PSI idea as an EU remedy was completely dropped from the latest “deal” of December 9 speaks volumes.

    The only country left to deal with the flawed concept is Greece. And the question is why? The PSI is equivalent to bankruptcy. Why would Greece need to implement a Merkozy idea whose only purpose is to shift responsibility from those who should provide the aid to a communications pseudo-scheme designed to please ignorant electorates of the Rhine valley?

    http://www.athensnews.gr/portal/11/51137

  • Unless this person (Mr. Goldberg) writes a similar treatise on the ilss and cause of the collapse of Portugal, Italy, Spain and all the others on the verge of falling, this should be considered as a laughable post not worthy of response.

  • Be of good cheer, Jerry and Antoinette! We’ve got a long way to slide down the consumption hill before anything changes.

    We’ve lived so well so long, and let the banksters suck us dry while telling us there’s unlimited blood a-building. The public has acted the fool, and will now get a kick in the neck from it’s master.

    Sounds like a setup for revolution, trying to take luxury from the rich. I think it will happen. Europe 1914 again, since greed replaced nationalism.

    They both need to go.

  • No one should be merciful help. The working people of Greece knows this work and produce good things. Fantastic they were sailors and traders. You would have to kill dissatisfaction as a good opportunity to be in his house things clear. Ah so that slobbery EU bureaucracy could hardly wait for the rest of Europe gives them food and water. Greeks are not sick people or disabled people. Greeks should be left alone to resolve their problems. I’m sorry that will rekindle the Balkans conflict as a pretext for major European slaughter, staged by the major banking families. I fuck it up again over the back of the poor.

    Yanis, you can begin to gather the armed partisan units :-)). If you shout with taxes through electrical consumption, then go into the forest, high in the mountains your only solution. Thus began their conquest President Tito – Yugoslavians Marshal, to the self-governing socialism.

    Jansens, begin to study the Spanish Civil War, the Yugoslav revolution, the causes of the collapse of Germany Spartacists, Russia’s agrarian question, Kronštad (not to repeat more of such nonsense in the future). Marxist economics you have to have in the little finger, it will be on this modern Marxian platform to build the future of Europe ( listen and read http://www.rdwolff.com ). Jansens Believe me I know how it looks and how functioning starved and broken mob in the Balkan mountains. And I’ve been there in the last century and I really clear now what I am talking about. NO MAMA TERESA TACTIC. Be sure to study partisan strategy – tactics of warfare and operationalization of the same of Greek and Yugoslav partisans!

    • Dear Davor,

      My comment is there, and it became the step over my own black depression where I wrote about in earlier posts. What is happening in the world goes deeper inside of me than what is normal, and yes, I was already in a depression 32 years ago. I got over it, it has cost me twenty years.

      Now there was the threat of falling deep down under again, because of the black times we are in, not any light is there. Of course I know that there are organizations. No, I am not trying to copy Mother Teresa. Though it would be good that there came a lot of her kind in Greece, in every city. It would be wonderful!

      In the meantime I got an email from a wonderful Greek woman, and I am continuing my story with searching for ways how to support the Greek Food Bank, where she writes about. Incredible how many thousands of people get food there, day after day: 27000!!! So yes, my comment has a positive result, and I am going to create a YouTube video for it. Not easy. But I give it a try. And I send it to all my subscribers in all my channels: more than thousand people, asking to send it to their subscribers and friends.

      The Greek woman writes in her email to me: ” (…..)… Having lived all my life in Athens but moreover because of my professional involvement with corporate social responsibility activities for the company, I know of an organization (NGO) here in Greece called ‘Boroume’ – in English: ‘We Can’ – that helps poor and homeless people in major Greek cities by providing meals for them. This is done in cooperation with the ‘Food Bank – A Foundation Against Hunger’ which operates since 1995 and is a member of the European Federation of Food Banks (FEBA). Today, reportedly more than 27,000 people are fed through them.

      Their website is http://www.boroume.gr – I think unfortunately is only available in Greek. However, the young lady who founded the NGO is Ms. Xenia Papastavrou, journalist in profession and volunteer of the Food Bank for many years. She will provide you with all information. You can even tell her I gave you her contact details. … (…)”

      This has maybe not your ok, but I am doing something, at least something else than debating endlessly about eventual solutions. People are suffering, starving, desperate!!

      Yes, I know about Spain, about all countries on this planet, I am 63 years old, so, my knowledge is huge, wide and deep, goes beyond horizons, my interest for this planet and humanity has always been intense. You did not mention Ukraine, or Palestine, by the way, and more, it is far from complete and though I am not a Partizan, I am a rebel, a fighter, but never killed somebody. My personal war is the anti-war propaganda. Killing people is a crime. Not any goal or purpose, help, aid, can legalize war.

      Anyhow, this old lady is not dead yet, and goes on with what you name copying Mother Teresa. I cannot even be in her shadow.
      But I DO something.

      And you? What do you do more than writing here?
      Think about it.
      Make your own story, life story, instead of talking about history, the past. Make your own history. A wonderful one. Not so easy. You have to start NOW. With what is there NOW. Nothing more.

    • Pedro:

      You can forget about ending the euro, especially due to lack of decisive German action.

      If the problem is the unbalanced psychological condition of a middle aged divorcee with a fetish for household appliances then the solution is to commit her to the asylum.

      I will give you six months during which Merkozy will be committed to history ad a new debt EU recycling mechanism is in place.

      After all it is far easier for Mohamed to walk towards the mountain than for the mountain to come to Mohamed.

    • I did not say I want to end the Euro. It will end if we or others like it or not. No currency in union in hiostory survived fiat currency needs a reset every couple of decades. The Euro is both. It iwll die.

  • I agree with the author’s diagnosis of what’s wrong with the current bailout agreement. However, I can’t say the same about the solutions he’s proposing or, rather, his guidelines as to the manner Greece should go about finding answers to her problems. His biases as a banker are showing through at every turn. His key words are privatisation, liberalisation and risk taking (all the very things that led us into our present plight, globally).

    But should our imaginings and aspirations be limited to the safety of a tweeked capitalist paradigm, when that paradigm (built on short-sightedness, greed and atomism) is crumbling all around us? Or should our task, rather, be one of beginning to formulate a vision of a different, more sustainable and ultimately more fulfilling future?

    • The reason Greece is in this mess is that the euro has enabled them to abandon the “capitalist paradigm” and adapt a progressive Statism built on, yes, “short-sightedness, greed and atomism.” The only cure in the long run is to expose people to the natural consequences of their own choices as a nation and as individuals. There should be some aid in the transition and needs to be intervention to deal with the implications for the broader system, but ultimately those who behave in ruinous ways must expect ruinous results or the whole tower will come tumbling down.

    • Well said, PJ. Well said.

      To short-sightedness, greed and atomism, I would add power, as in Western hegemony. This is why many Europeans cling to their control of the IMF, go to Iraq and Afghanistan to fight, feel proud of their country’s membership in the UN Security Council, support a non-proliferation treaty that allows their county – but not others – to have nuclear weapons, demand protection for their financial corporations and tax havens, and happily retire at 60 while Western corporations charge the people of Cochabamba for their own rainwater.

      To the modesty of Prof. Varoufakis’ proposal, I would add humility. The system is crumbling. As you say, it is time for a new future.

    • Mahon, presumably then you’re assuming that what’s been happening in Greece has nothing to do with the crisis that’s engulfing the rest of the world.

      As I see it, on the contrary, the crisis is a global one and it’s a crisis of capitalism rather than one of bad politicians, moronic electorates and nations with defective DNAs. It’s hard to see how the strategy of “privatising the gains and socialising the losses” is just a perversion of capitalism, that can be rectified simply by “exposing people to the natural consequences of their own choices as a nation and as individuals.” People in Greece have already been collectively exposed to the bad consequences of joining the Euro, of putting their faith in unworthy politicians, of indulging in consumerism as if there were no tomorrow, of letting corruption and tax evasion go rampant. By contrast, I have not seen those Wall Street and City of London financiers who took advantage of the system suffer the moral consequences of their actions. Moral hazard doesn’t apply to the most powerful, does it?

      Undoubtedly the worst for all of us is still to come. But that exposure in itself is not enough. A different future must be painstakingly built.

      You say that a transition is needed. I’m saying that the transition must be to an alternative economic future rather than to an idealised “free market” past that never really never worked in practice. Worldwide we need new economic and social-political structures that are not predicated on a compound growth rate of 3% and that prevent vast concentrations of wealth and power in the hands of a tiny elite.

  • It goes without saying, that merely a new European treaty, no matter how strong its teeth, will not resolve the crisis. But the solving of the crisis might lie in a fecund combination of new rules to be observed strictly, and new bold economic measures, including the ECB as lender of last resort. And Mario Draghi’s hesitation might only be a ruse. His guise of being the shy bride might be only a pretension, and he may surprisingly shock everybody by sprightly stepping boldly and marrying the groom of last resort. This unexpected nimble move from shyness to boldness will be a powerful incentive to rally the markets behind the Eurozone. And one might not dismiss lightly that “magic” and a Deus ex machina might have a role in this tragic play.

    As for Greece of not having a politician articulating clearly how to navigate the country out of the crisis, one can only say this by turning Antonis Samaras into a ghost.

  • To see how hypocritical Merkozy is.

    Click on the graph to see the debt composition of each participant country.

    You will immediately see that in terms of foreign debt Germany is no better than Greece. Not to mention all the others.

    So Greece has a GDP of 0.2 Trillion euro and total foreign debt of 0.4 Trillion euro (say twice the debt to GDP).

    Germany has 2.4 Trillion euro GDP and an external debt of 4.2 Trillion euro.

    To make it much more meaningful now look at the per capita debt:

    Greece: 38,000 Euros total per capita debt
    Germany: 51,000 Euros total per capita debt

    Before you feast your eyes on the rest, one simple question: Why in the world a nation with larger per capita debt is lecturing a nation with much lower per capita debt?

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-15748696

    • Dean,

      Your question: Why in the world a nation with larger per capita debt is lecturing a nation with much lower per capita debt?

      Answer: this are tactics, used by many human beings, to take the attention away from themselves . This is the main reason for gossiping, for slander in small villages, and also for political leaders in countries.

      USA is really the best in this. They have misleaded in this way the entire world, pretending that wars are needed, that they have the best economical system, the best people. Missions in the universe, to the moon, as if there is money enough. But, the USSR is not even a bit better. Nor is Japan. Japan has an extremely high percentage of suicides. Why?

      Life is completely different from what politics or banks or industry want to make us believe.
      And reason for a growing ill humanity. Growing insanity. Lost in the modern Tower of Babel. (A story in the Old Testament.)

      Politics are primitive, because its politicians are mostly not mature, not evolved enough to be able to be a leader: if, they are killed, or humiliated, thrown out. Mature: Physically yes, Mentally no. Emotionally not at all. Spiritually: they don’t even know how to write the word. Ashamed to name it. To do something with it. Why? They would have to admit their own lies. A real evolved person, with a complete opened awareness is not even able to be in politics. Because he or she will be forced to wash the hands in innocense, knowing though that it is not possible, that you have to deal, cooperate with also criminals, not in prisons, but living in freedom, even in politics, looking like gentlemen in the world of money, cursing against everything what is human.

      In the meantime I am following up my own leadership in taking responsibility for what I can do for Greece. I am in a wonderful constructive positive contact with some strong Greek women, to do something good for Greece and the world, as a simple world citizen.

    • How dare you introduce inconvenient facts into a discussion which tries (Mr.Goldstein is also guilty of that) to prove that the crisis is centered around the defective social DNA of the Greeks.

      Many neoliberals are working very hard to “Save Europe” and you want to bother them with realities?

      Have you no shame?

    • You forgot to take something into account: (1) growth & (2) Tax revenues. You could have a huge GDP, but almost no tax revenues. this would not help a country pay back sovereign debt.

      Greece has the 2nd lowest ratio of tax revenues / GDP in Europe, lower than Switzerland.

      Tax revenues / GDP (2009):
      – Italy = 43%
      – Germany = 37 %
      – Switzerland = 30%
      – Greece = 29%
      Ireland = 28%

    • Antoinette: Very thoughtful and mature of you.

      Estangeiro: Shameless facts win the day, always. 🙂

      Pedro: Here are some undeniable facts –

      Fact 1. There has never been a Greek bailout. This has been a bailout of Euro-banks which means an EU bailout.

      Fact 2. Taking a 117% debt to GDP economy in 2009(Greece) and returning it at 2020 or later at 120% of debt to GDP, only a complete ignoramus and amateurish Merkozy malexperiment can produce.

      Fact 3. The damages for my country due to Teutonic ineptitude are enormous and you will pay every single penny of it and then some.

      Fact 4. Merkozy has turned Europe into an instability and stagnation union.

      Fact 5. What Germany refuses to do, namely allow the ECB to act at no cost to the European taxpayer, in fear that it might increase the interest rate on the Bundes from, say, 2% to 2.5% the markets will do the same in spades. I will not be surprised if in the end Germany has to pay more than 4% or higher.

      Fact 6. Merkel looks like a rabbit which is about to be eaten by a snake and is frozen/hypnotized into paralysis.

    • M. Draghi: ““I will never be tired of saying that the first response ought to emanate from the country. There is no external saviour for a country that doesn’t want to save itself … sustainable growth can be achieved only by undertaking deep structural reforms that have been procrastinated [upon] for too long.” “

    • Answer is quite simple – Germany runs a large current account surplus that can easily finance any foreign liabilities, in addition Germany has enormous foreign assets often directly pledged towards external liabiltiies that seem to be ignored in the debt calculation – note that German debt is largely corporate and backed by their global assets. Net it off – the debt is backed by income and assets.

      In case of Greece, you are looking at external debt that is not only not backed by income (current account surplus) but is added to through further current account deficit (the fact that Greece continues to run significant current account deficit even now is by itself indictment that reforms were wrongheaded and insuffucifient). On top of that, while Greece has significant private foreign assets, the debt is largely State’s – not backed by any significant foreign assets that can be used to support/redeem it. Hence it is unsustainable at current levels.

    • Why in the world is a nation with larger per capita debt lecturing one with a lower per capita debt? Since you asked, the reasons are as follows:

      1. Germany is running huge trade surpluses. Consider the accounting identity:
      [net private sector financial balance] + [net public sector financial balance] + [balance of trade] = 0

      In addition, Germany has a functioning tax collection system, a growing interest in finding and obtaining restitution from tax evaders (e.g. through buying secret account information from whistle-blowers at Swiss banks), and the fiscal room, public and political will, and technical ability to collect a larger share of GDP as taxes. As a combined result of these factors, bond investors see that Germany has a plausible path for decreasing its debt over time. The German government has even committed (by passing a domestic law) to eliminating its fiscal deficit within a couple of years, and thereafter it may run surpluses; at any rate, its intention is to stop increasing the aggregate debt. Bond investors consider German legislation on such issues to be relatively credible.

      In a nutshell: Bond investors agree that Germany is and will remain solvent in both the short and long run.

      2. Greece is running large trade deficits and large public sector deficits. It has a very large and rapidly growing accumulated debt. And it has an administrative and business culture so thoroughly corrupt, from top to toe, that no-one really believes the Greek government will be able to (or even sincerely wants to) collect taxes at a significantly higher rate than it is already doing.

      Greece is also overpriced in terms of its major industry (tourism) compared to rival jurisdictions right next door, so it will be difficult to generate a trade surplus until wages and prices come down significantly; this, however, will harm Greek domestic aggregate demand and put further pressure on the fiscal position of government as well as private indebtedness.

      In a nutshell: Bond investors agree that Greece is insolvent, and that there is no plausible pathway out of its hole. Default on the sovereign debt (and consequent collapse of Greece’s banks, etc.) will help reset the Greek economy, but at the cost of considerable turmoil, and even afterward, it isn’t clear that the Greek economy is “competitive” with rival jurisdictions that also offer olive oil and sun-drenched vacations.

      Finally, whatever the indebtedness of the German state, Germany as a whole is in credit with the rest of the world, whereas Greece is in debt, and quite a bit of that debt is owed to German creditors.

      These are the reasons why in the world a nation with larger per capita debt is lecturing a nation with much lower per capita debt. But I suspect you knew all this already, and you were just kvetching because it’s so much easier to whine, pose as a victim, and point angry fingers at the Germans (who are an incomparably superior culture in governance, business-ethics and business-practices, and industrial terms than contemporary Greece) rather than get off your couch and do something about fixing Greece’s problems.

      I don’t really blame you for giving up on fixing Greece’s problems, because they’re so deeply rooted in a centuries-old corrupt-to-the-teeth culture; and I don’t really expect Greeks to repay the financial debts they’ve built up to the rest of Europe during the past decade of partying on the Germans’ platinum Euro credit card, because who really expects Greeks to repay their debts?

      But I do resent and reject your words of blame and anger at Germany, a nation of industrious workers that rebuilt itself into a great economic power and into one of the most genuine representative democracies and free civil societies in the world, after having had virtually all of its cities and industries reduced to rubble, losing 40% of its territory and an entire generation of its young men as a consequence of its catastrophic experiment with nazism, and the eastern third of what was left of Germany stuck in a dystopian Stalinist time-warp under Soviet occupation for forty-five years. Let’s see if Greeks can stop whining and blaming others for their woes, and move ahead to rebuild a new, prosperous, low-corruption, democratic and thriving nation from its swamp of corruption and incompetence with half as much vigour and determination and success as the Germans rebuilt Germany after 1945. My bet is that Greece is entirely incapable of doing any such thing. And that sure as hell isn’t the fault of German industrial workers. Good luck to y’all, amigo.