Thursday, July 09, 2015

Jamie Galbraith and Ambrose Evans-Pritchard on Greece

The Institute for New Economic Thinking has an interview by Lynn Parramore with economic Jamie Galbraith, The Greek Revolt Against Bad Economics Threatens European Elites 07/09/2015. Definitely worth reading the whole thing. Here's part (emphasis in original):

What happened on the 26 th of June was that Alexis (Tsipras) came to realize, at long last, that no matter how many concessions he made he wasn't going to get the first one from the creditors. That's something Wolfgang Schäuble had made clear to Yanis (Varoufakis) months before.

But it was hard to persuade the Greek government of this because its members naturally expected, as you would when you're in a negotiation, that if you make a concession the other side will make a concession. That isn't the way this one worked. The Greeks kept making concessions. They'd present a program and the other side would say —as you can read in the press — oh, no, that's not good enough. Do another one. Then they'd complain that the Greeks were not being serious.

What the creditors meant by that was this: when you come around and agree to what we tell you, then you're serious. Otherwise not. This is the way bad professors treat extremely recalcitrant students. You come in with a paper draft and they say, no, that's not good enough. Do another one.
Galbraith also refers to this article, which he says "is very much on the mark": Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Europe is blowing itself apart over Greece - and nobody seems able to stop it Telegraph 07/07/2015:

This ultimatum came as a shock to the Greek cabinet. They thought they were on the cusp of a deal, bad though it was. Mr Tsipras had already made the decision to acquiesce to austerity demands, recognizing that Syriza had failed to bring about a debtors' cartel of southern EMU states and had seriously misjudged the mood across the eurozone.

Instead they were confronted with a text from the creditors that upped the ante, demanding a rise in VAT on tourist hotels from 7pc (de facto) to 23pc at a single stroke.

Creditors insisted on further pension cuts of 1pc of GDP by next year and a phase out of welfare assistance (EKAS) for poorer pensioners, even though pensions have already been cut by 44pc.

They insisted on fiscal tightening equal to 2pc of GDP in an economy reeling from six years of depression and devastating hysteresis. They offered no debt relief. The Europeans intervened behind the scenes to suppress a report by the International Monetary Fund validating Greece's claim that its debt is "unsustainable". The IMF concluded that the country not only needs a 30pc haircut to restore viability, but also €52bn of fresh money to claw its way out of crisis.

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