Thursday, July 02, 2015

Greece crisis going into the long (for Americans) weekend

Digby nails it on the Greek situation in GOP austerity is a disaster of Greek proportions: Sam Brownback, Bobby Jindal & the economic scam of the century Salon 07/02/2015. (The column is mostly about the results of austerity in Greece, but Salon highlighted the American connection.) She writes:

The nation of Greece may be the cradle of democracy but these days it’s getting a harsh lesson in its limitations. Right now, streets are filled with protesters but there are no lines at ATMs because the banks are all closed. Everyone is waiting to see what’s going to happen when the people vote this week-end on a referendum that will decide, essentially, if the country is going to remain in the Euro and accept the ongoing edicts of “the troika” or if it’s going to “Grexit.” ...

As you undoubtedly know by now, aside from being chosen to suffer for the sins of all the high flyers who caused the financial crisis, the Greeks also had the temerity to elect a leftist government with the express purpose of ending the austerity plan that has ruined their economy and thrown them into even deeper debt than they were in before. That, as Poppy Bush used to say, will not stand. Nobody puts Troika in the corner. The Greeks must pay and pay, not only for their economic folly but also for thinking they could get out of their proper punishment through democratic politics. Sure, those elections are nice and all but lets not forget who’s really in charge.

Another "other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?" moment. Bleri Lleshi in Europe commits suicide in Greece EU Observer 07/02/2015:

No other country in Europe has carried out more reforms than Greece - but what have they achieved five years later?

Greece is still in a deep crisis. Debts continue to grow. The average Greek became 40 percent poorer since 2010. Unemployment has continued to grow; youth unemployment is at 60 percent. Wages continue to fall and the middle class is disappearing.

What about the €240 billion that Greece borrowed in 2010? An Estimated 90 percent of it went primarily to German and French banks. Not to the Greeks.
Those "reforms" were massive austerity measures of the kind that economists who still remember Macroeconomics 101 were generally saying were a spectacularly bad idea for an economy in depression.

Neil Irwin writes about the strategy of Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras in calling a referendum this Sunday on the Troika's ultimatum of last week (Greece Wanted to Reframe Europe’s Austerity Debate. It Failed. New York Times 07/01/2015): "The Greek government was surely hoping that by walking away and calling a referendum, the creditors would rethink their intransigence, fearful of the economic and geopolitical consequences of letting Greece leave the eurozone. ... Mr. Tsipras was hoping that the threat of a Greek exit would get Europe to blink. The opposite seemed to happen."

That's true as far as it goes. But that's not Tsipras' fault. As Seumas Milne writes (Syriza can’t just cave in. Europe’s elites want regime change in Greece Guardian 07/01/2015):

It’s now clear that Germany and Europe’s powers that be don’t just want the Greek government to bend the knee. They want regime change. Not by military force, of course – this operation is being directed from Berlin and Brussels, rather than Washington.

But that the German chancellor Angela Merkel and the troika of Greece’s European and International Monetary Fund creditors are out to remove the elected government in Athens now seems beyond serious doubt. Everything they have done in recent weeks in relation to the leftist Syriza administraton, elected to turn the tide of austerity, appears designed to divide or discredit Alexis Tsipras’s government.
Things are changing fast in this situation right now. But here's a helpful Your guide to the major (and colorful) people in Greece's financial crisis by Samantha Cooney and Heidi Moore Mashable 06/30/2015.

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