Daily Archives: June 29, 2015

Κάμερον: Η Ελλάδα ως ένα σημείο έχει δίκιο

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Ο Βρετανός πρωθυπουργός Ντέιβιντ Κάμερον σε συνέντευξη στο Radio 4 του BBC, δήλωσε, «Είναι προς το συμφέρον της Βρετανίας να επιτευχθεί συμφωνία μεταξύ της Ελλάδας και της ευρωζώνης η οποία θα φέρει την ασφάλεια που θέλουμε να έχουμε».

Παράλληλα επισήμανε ότι κατά την άποψή του είναι πολύ δύσκολο η Ελλάδα να παραμείνει στο ευρώ αν οι Έλληνες ψηφίσουν «όχι» στο επικείμενο δημοψήφισμα. Από την άλλη σημείωσε ότι ένα «ναι» θα σημαίνει ότι οι Έλληνες θέλουν την συμφωνία με τους θεσμούς. Όπως όμως τόνισε «αυτό είναι ένα θέμα για το οποίο θα αποφασίσουν οι Έλληνες και όχι εγώ».

Για μια ακόμη φορά διαβεβαίωσε ότι η Βρετανία έχει ένα ολοκληρωμένο σχέδιο για να αντιμετωπιστεί η οποιαδήποτε κρίση προκύψει με το θέμα της Ελλάδας, σχέδιο το οποίο -όπως είπε- θα επανεξετάσει σήμερα με ομάδα συμβούλων του για να δουν από κοινού τις τελευταίες λεπτομέρειες.

Την ίδια στιγμή τόνισε ότι η Βρετανία κάνει ό,τι μπορεί για να εξασφαλίσει την ασφάλεια και τις ανάγκες των Βρετανών τουριστών που θα επισκεφτούν την Ελλάδα, ενώ επισήμανε ότι θα ληφθούν και τα απαραίτητα μέτρα, αν χρειαστεί, για τις τράπεζες ελληνικών συμφερόντων, που δραστηριοποιούνται στην Βρετανία.

Τέλος, τάχθηκε με το μέρος της Ελλάδας λέγοντας πως «ως ένα σημείο έχει δίκιο που ζητάει ένα πιο ευέλικτο σύστημα εντός της ΕΕ ».

Πηγή:madata.gr

Financial Times: Κόλαση του Δάντη το σχέδιο των δανειστών

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Η σημαντικότερη είδηση αυτό το Σαββατοκύριακο δεν είναι ότι η ελληνική κυβέρνηση ζήτησε δημοψήφισμα. Είναι ότι η ελληνική κυβέρνηση δεν έχει αποδεχθεί την πρόταση διάσωσης των πιστωτών της. Ως εκ τούτου, το δεύτερο ελληνικό πρόγραμμα θα λήξει τα μεσάνυχτα της Τρίτης, γράφει στο σημερινό του άρθρο στους Financial Times ο Βόλφγκανγκ Μούνχαου.

Και προσθέτει: «Η Ελλάδα θα είναι χωρίς πρόγραμμα και χωρίς πρόσβαση στην αγορά από την Τετάρτη. Όπως έχω υποστηρίξει και κατά το παρελθόν, αυτή ήταν η μόνη λογική απόφαση που μπορούσε να πάρει η ελληνική κυβέρνηση. Το πρόγραμμα που προτάθηκε από τους πιστωτές θα παρέτεινε την ελληνική ύφεση για αρκετά χρόνια. Το Grexit, μια έξοδος της Ελλάδας από την ευρωζώνη, θα είχε πιο αρνητικές οικονομικές συνέπειες βραχυπρόθεσμα.

Τουλάχιστον όμως θα υπήρχε κάποιο ανοδικό περιθώριο μελλοντικά για την Ελλάδα. Το πρόγραμμα των πιστωτών ήταν μια οικονομική εκδοχή της Κόλασης του Δάντη. Θα έφερνε την ολική οικονομική καταστροφή της Ελλάδας.

Και τώρα τι πρέπει να γίνει; Το πρώτο πράγμα που πρέπει να σημειωθεί είναι πως το δημοψήφισμα δεν θα έχει νόημα. Ακόμα και ένα «ναι» δεν θα ξαναφέρει πίσω το πρόγραμμα. Και δεν μπορώ να δω μια πολιτική πλειοψηφία σε όλες τις πιστώτριες χώρες για ένα νέο πρόγραμμα. Οι Γερμανοί δεν θα κάνουν τίποτα χωρίς το Διεθνές Νομισματικό Ταμείο. Και θα υπάρξει χρεοκοπία έναντι του ΔΝΤ πριν τα μέσα της εβδομάδας.

Η υπόθεσή μου είναι πως η Ευρωπαϊκή Κεντρική Τράπεζα θα αρχίσει τώρα να μειώνει την ρευστότητα προς την Ελλάδα, τον επονομαζόμενο ELA. Όπως το αντιλαμβάνομαι η ΕΚΤ ήδη πιέζει τα νομικά όρια αυτού που μπορεί να πράξει. Έτσι είναι πολύ πιθανό να δούμε την αναγκαστική επιβολή ελέγχου στην κίνηση κεφαλαίων στην Ελλάδα, την οποία θα ακολουθήσει η εισαγωγή ενός παράλληλου νομίσματος που θα δώσει τη δυνατότητα στην ελληνική κυβέρνηση να πληρώσει μισθούς και συντάξεις. Αν η ΕΕ και η ΕΚΤ δεν βρουν έναν γρήγορο τρόπο για να διευθετήσουν το πρόβλημα του ελληνικού τραπεζικού συστήματος, η Ελλάδα μπορεί στο τέλος να αναγκαστεί να εισάγει εθνικό νόμισμα.

Το δημοψήφισμα δεν μπορεί να το αντιστρέψει αυτό. Αν η ελληνική κυβέρνηση είχε ζητήσει δημοψήφισμα πριν την λήξη του προγράμματος, θα ήταν διαφορετικά. Όμως ο τρόπος που το έκανε αυξάνει σημαντικά την πιθανότητα ενός Grexit. Το δημοψήφισμα θα είναι για μια πρόταση που πλέον δεν υφίσταται για ένα πρόγραμμα το οποίο θα έχει λήξει. Από το δράμα αναδύεται μια φάρσα.

Το ερώτημα τώρα είναι αν η ΕΚΤ θα τραβήξει την σκανδάλη. Και αν το κάνει, θα το κάνει τη Δευτέρα, την Τετάρτη ή μετά το δημοψήφισμα; Θα έχει η ευρωζώνη ένα σχέδιο χρεοκοπίας εντός της ευρωζώνης, που θα περιλαμβάνει την αντιμετώπιση του τραπεζικού προβλήματος; Μαντεύω πως η απάντηση στο δεύτερο είναι «όχι».

Έτσι φαίνεται πως οδεύουμε προς ρήξη. Δεν θα είναι ένα καλό αποτέλεσμα. Ακόμα και τώρα υπάρχουν καλύτερες εναλλακτικές. Ούτε όμως είναι το χειρότερο αποτέλεσμα. Αλλά για την υπόλοιπη ευρωζώνη, ο εφιάλτης τώρα αρχίζει».

Πηγή:madata.gr

Greek debt crisis is the Iraq War of finance

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Rarely in modern times have we witnessed such a display of petulance and bad judgment by those supposed to be in charge of global financial stability, and by those who set the tone for the Western world.

The spectacle is astonishing. The European Central Bank, the EMU bail-out fund, and the International Monetary Fund, among others, are lashing out in fury against an elected government that refuses to do what it is told. They entirely duck their own responsibility for five years of policy blunders that have led to this impasse.

They want to see these rebel Klephts hanged from the columns of the Parthenon – or impaled as Ottoman forces preferred, deeming them bandits – even if they degrade their own institutions in the process.

If we want to date the moment when the Atlantic liberal order lost its authority – and when the European Project ceased to be a motivating historic force – this may well be it. In a sense, the Greek crisis is the financial equivalent of the Iraq War, totemic for the Left, and for Souverainistes on the Right, and replete with its own “sexed up” dossiers.

Does anybody dispute that the ECB – via the Bank of Greece – is actively inciting a bank run in a country where it is also the banking regulator by issuing this report on Wednesday?

It warned of an “uncontrollable crisis” if there is no creditor deal, followed by soaring inflation, “an exponential rise in unemployment”, and a “collapse of all that the Greek economy has achieved over the years of its EU, and especially its euro area, membership”.

The guardian of financial stability is consciously and deliberately accelerating a financial crisis in an EMU member state – with possible risks of pan-EMU and broader global contagion – as a negotiating tactic to force Greece to the table.

It did so days after premier Alexis Tsipras accused the creditors of “laying traps” in the negotiations and acting with a political motive. He more or less accused them of trying to destroy an elected government and bring about regime change by financial coercion.

I leave it to lawyers to decide whether this report is a prima facie violation of the ECB’s primary duty under the EU treaties. It is certainly unusual. The ECB has just had to increase emergency liquidity to the Greek banks by €1.8bn (enough to last to Monday night) to offset the damage from rising deposit flight.

In its report, the Bank of Greece claimed that failure to meet creditor demands would “most likely” lead to the country’s ejection from the European Union. Let us be clear about the meaning of this. It is not the expression of an opinion. It is tantamount to a threat by the ECB to throw the Greeks out of the EU if they resist.

This is not the first time that the ECB has strayed far from its mandate. It forced the Irish state to make good the claims of junior bondholders of Anglo-Irish Bank, saddling Irish taxpayers with extra debt equal to 20pc of GDP.

This was done purely in order to save the European banking system at a time when the ECB was refusing to do the job itself, betraying the primary task of a central bank to act as a lender of last resort.

It sent secret letters to the elected leaders of Spain and Italy in August 2011 demanding detailed changes to internal laws for which it had no mandate or technical competence, even meddling in neuralgic issues of labour law that had previously led to the assassination of two Italian officials by the Red Brigades.

When Italy’s Silvio Berlusconi balked, the ECB switched off bond purchases, driving 10-year yields to 7.5pc. He was forced from office in a back-room coup d’etat, albeit one legitimised by the ageing ex-Stalinist EU fanatic who then happened to be president of Italy.

Lest we forget, it parachuted in its vice-president – Lucas Papademos – to take over Greece when premier George Papandreou merely suggested that he might submit the EMU bail-out package to a referendum, a wise idea in retrospect. That makes two coups d’etat. Now Syriza fears they are angling for a third.

The creditor power structure has lost its way. The IMF is in confusion. It is enforcing a contractionary austerity policy in Greece – with no debt relief, exchange cushion, or offsetting investment – that has been discredited by its own elite research department as scientifically unsound.

The Fund’s culpability in this fiasco is by now well known. As I argued last week, its own internal documents show that the original bail-out in 2010 was designed to rescue the EMU banking system and monetary union at a time when it had no defences against contagion. Greece was sacrificed.

One should have thought that the IMF would wish to lower the political temperature, given that its own credibility and long-term survival are at stake. But no, Christine Lagarde has upped the political ante by stating that Greece will fall into arrears immediately if it misses a €1.6bn payment to the Fund on June 30.

In my view, this is a discretionary escalation. The normal procedure is to notify the IMF Board after 30 days. This period is a de facto grace period, and in a number of past cases the arrears were cleared up quietly during the interval before the matter ever reached the Board.

The IMF could have let this process run in the case of Greece. It has chosen not to do so, ostensibly on the grounds that the sums are unusually large.

Klaus Regling, head of the eurozone bail-out fund (EFSF), entered on cue to hint strongly that his organisation would trigger cross-default clauses on its Greek bonds – 45pc of the Greek package – even though there is no necessary reason why it should do so. It is an optional matter for the EFSF board.

He seems to be threatening an EFSF default, even though the Greeks themselves are not doing so, a remarkable state of affairs.

It is obvious what is happening. The creditors are acting in concert. Instead of stopping to reflect for one moment on the deeper wisdom of their strategy, they are doubling down mechanically, appearing to assume that terror tactics will cow the Greeks at the twelfth hour.

Personally, I am a Burkean conservative with free market views. Ideologically, Syriza is not my cup tea. Yet we Burkeans do like democracy – and we don’t care for monetary juntas – even if it leads to the election of a radical-Left government.

As it happens, Edmund Burke would have found the plans presented to the Eurogroup last night by finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to be rational, reasonable, fair, and proportionate.

They include a debt swap with ECB bonds coming due in July and August exchanged for bonds from the bail-out fund. They would have longer maturities and lower interest rates, reflecting the market borrowing cost of the creditors.

Syriza said from the outset that it was eager to work on market reforms with the OECD, the leading authority. It wants to team up with the International Labour Organisation on Scandinavian style flexi-security and labour reforms, a valid alternative to the German-style Hartz IV reforms that have impoverished the bottom fifth of German society and which no Left-wing movement can stomach.

It wished to push through a more radical overhaul of the Greek state that anything yet done under five years of Troika rule – and much has been done, to be fair.

As Mr Varoufakis told Die Zeit: “Why does a kilometer of freeway cost three times as much where we are as it does in Germany? Because we’re dealing with a system of cronyism and corruption. That’s what we have to tackle. But, instead, we’re debating pharmacy opening times.”

The Troika pushed privatisation of profitable state assets at knock-down depression prices to private monopolies, to the benefit of an entrenched elite. To call that reforms invites a bitter cynicism.

The only reason that the Troika pushed this policy was in order to extract money. It was acting as a debt collector. “The reforms were a smokescreen. Whenever I tried talking about proposals, they were bored. I could see it in their body language,” Mr Varoufakis told me.

The truth is that the creditor power structure never even looked at the Greek proposals. They never entertained the possibility of tearing up their own stale, discredited, legalistic, fatuous Troika script.

The decision was made from the outset to demand strict enforcement of the terms agreed in the original Memorandum, which even the last conservative pro-Troika government was unable to implement – regardless of whether it makes any sense, or actually increases the chance that Germany and other lenders will recoup their money.

At best, it is bureaucratic inertia, a prime exhibit of why the EU has become unworkable, almost genetically incapable of recognising and correcting its own errors.

At worst, it is nasty, bullying, insistence on ritual capitulation for the sake of it.

We all know the argument. The EU is worried about political “moral hazard”, about what Podemos might achieve in Spain, or the eurosceptics in Italy, or the Front National in France, if Syriza is seen to buck the system and get away with it.

But do the proponents of this establishment view – and one hears it a lot – really think that Podemos can be defeated by crushing Syriza, or that they can discourage Marine Le Pen by violating the sovereignty and sensibilities of a nation?

Do they think that the EU’s ever-declining hold on the loyalty of Europe’s youth can be reversed by creating a martyr state on the Left? Do they not realize that this is their own Guatemala, the radical experiment of Jacobo Arbenz that was extinguished by the CIA in 1954, only to set off the Cuban revolution and thirty years of guerrilla warfare across Latin America? Don’t these lawyers – and yes they are almost all lawyers – ever look beyond their noses?

The Versailles victors assumed reflexively that they had the full weight of moral authority on their side when they imposed their Carthiginian settlement on a defeated Germany in 1919 and demanded the payment of debts that they themselves invented. History judged otherwise.

source:telegraph.co.uk

 

Η Ελλάδα βουλιάζει τα ασιατικά Χρηματιστήρια – Τεράστια βουτιά του ευρώ με το «καλημέρα»

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Αυτή είναι μια πρώτη εικόνα από το πώς άνοιξαν οι αγορές στην Ασία μετά από ένα Σαββατοκύριακο κορύφωσης του «ελληνικού δράματος» όπως χαρακτηρίζεται το 48ωρο που πέρασε η χώρα από τα διεθνή ΜΜΕ.

Ήδη Δευτέρα πρωί στο Χρηματιστήριο του Σίδνεϊ και το ευρώ από τα πρώτα κι όλας λεπτά της συνεδρίασης δείχνει να έχει πέσει περισσότερο από 1% με την ισοτιμία του να διαμορφώνεται έναντι του δολαρίου US στο 1,1029.

Σημειώνεται πως κατά το κλείσιμο της Παρασκευής, η ισοτιμία βρισκόταν στο 1:1,167. Επίσης πτώση 2,5% παρουσιάζει και έναντι του ιαπωνικού γεν.

Πηγή:ereportaz.gr

Eurogroup: Γαλλοϊταλική ανταρσία για παραμονή της Ελλάδας στο ευρώ

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Ξεκάθαρα μηνύματα έστειλε ο Γάλλος υπουργός Οικονομικών Μισέλ Σαπέν μετά την άτυπη συνεδρίαση του Eurogroup, στην οποία δεν συμμετείχε ο Γιάνης Βαρουφάκης, ύστερα από μη πρόσκληση του Γερούν Ντάισελμπλουμ. «Η Γαλλία είναι έτοιμη για επανέναρξη των συνομιλιών ανά πάσα στιγμή πριν τις 30 Ιουνίου, στις 30 Ιουνίου, μετά τις 30 Ιουνίου», τόνισε ο Μισέλ Σαπέν. Κατά τη διάρκεια της συζήτησης οι τόνοι ανέβηκαν με τις χώρες του Νότου να τον υποχρεώνουν σε μια δεύτερη Συνέντευξη Τύπου, όπου και απολογήθηκε για τη μη πρόσκληση του Έλληνα υπουργού λέγοντας πως «ο ίδιος αποφάσισε να φύγει».

Μάλιστα ο Γερούν Ντάισελμπλουμ, όπως και ο Βόλφγκανγκ Σόιμπλε, στη δεύτερη συνέντευξη Τύπου, εμφανίστηκε διαλλακτικότερος λέγοντας πως «η διαδικασία δεν έχει τελειώσει, θα συνεχίσουμε να εργαζόμαστε καθώς πολλά μπορούν να συμβούν»

Σύμφωνα με το Βήμα, ο Μισέλ Σαπέν κατά τη διάρκεια της κλειστής συνεδρίασης των 18 είπε πως «εμείς εργαστήκαμε να χτίσουμε την ευρωζώνη και δεν θα την αποδομήσουμε με μια απλοϊκή απόφαση, είναι θέμα Δημοκρατίας». «Η πόρτα παραμένει ανοιχτή για την Ελλάδα», είπε και υποστήριξε ότι «η Αθήνα ήταν αυτή που έφυγε από το τραπέζι των διαπραγματεύσεων».

Άμεσα ξεσηκώθηκαν και άλλοι υπουργοί Οικονομικών κατηγορώντας τον Γερούν Ντάισελμπλουμ για τους χειρισμούς του. Το λόγο πήρε ο Ιταλός υπουργός Οικονομικών Πιερ Καρλ Παντοάν, ο οποίος εξερχόμενος της συνεδρίασης είπε πως «η μη παράταση του προγράμματος για την Ελλάδα δεν σημαίνει ότι τίθεται αυτόματα εκτός Ευρωζώνης. Δεν υπάρχει καμία νομική οδός που να το επιτρέπει κάτι τέτοιο».

Μέχρι εκείνη την ώρα είχε προηγηθεί η ενημέρωση Ντάισελμπλουμ και η εισήγησή του να μην παραταθεί το πρόγραμμα επιρρίπτοντας ευθύνες στην Ελλάδα. Η θέση του Γερούν Ντάισελμπλουμ είχε την υποστήριξη, όπως ήταν αναμενόμενο, και του Βόλφγκανγκ Σόιμπλε, ο οποίος δήλωσε ότι για την εξέλιξη έχει αποκλειστική ευθύνη ο Έλληνας πρωθυπουργός.

Άλλοι υπουργοί Οικονομικών, σύμφωνα πάντα με το Βήμα, με πρώτο τον Ιρλανδό υποστήριξαν ότι οι επιπτώσεις για το ευρώ και την ευρωζώνη από ένα Grexit θα είναι ανεξέλεγκτες, τονίζοντας πως «δεν πρέπει να οδηγήσουμε την Ελλάδα στην έξοδο».

Ο πρόεδρος του ESM Κλάους Ρέγκλινγκ, παίρνοντας το λόγο, είπε πως ο Ευρωπαϊκός Οργανισμός Σταθερότητας έχει δημιουργηθεί για να λύνει προβλήματα και να εξασφαλίζει την σταθερότητα της Ευρωζώνης και ότι υπάρχουν τα εργαλεία για να υποστηρίξει έστω και τώρα την Ελλάδα. Σε εκείνο το σημείο επικράτησε ένταση καθώς οι υπουργοί του Νότου είπαν ότι αυτός θα έπρεπε να είναι ο ρόλος του Ντάισελμπλουμ.

Κατά τις ίδιες πηγές το κλίμα «ήταν ιδιαίτερα βαρύ για τον πρόεδρο του Eurogroup ο οποίος υποχρεώθηκε σε νέες δηλώσεις (2η συνέντευξη) να απολογηθεί για το γεγονός ότι δεν προσκάλεσε τον έλληνα υπουργό Οικονομικών και να διαβεβαιώσει σε όλους τους τόνους ότι η Ευρωζώνη έχει 19 μέλη και ότι η εκπνοή του προγράμματος για την Ελλάδα δεν σημαίνει έξοδο από το ευρώ».

Μέσα στο κλίμα έντασης διατυπώθηκε η πρόταση να αναληφθεί πρωτοβουλία και να υποδειχθεί στην ελληνική κυβέρνηση να αιτηθεί νέου προγράμματος βοήθειας από τον ESM μέχρι την Τρίτη το βράδυ, το οποίο θα είναι ευρωπαϊκό πρόγραμμα βοήθειας για την αντιμετώπιση του χρέους, τη σταθεροποίηση του τραπεζικού συστήματος και την οριστική έξοδο από την κρίση.

Το πρόγραμμα θα έχει όρους που πρέπει να τηρήσει η Ελλάδα και θα συμφωνηθούν σε ευρωπαϊκό επίπεδο (το ΔΝΤ θα είναι εκτός προγράμματος) αφού προηγουμένως γίνει ανάλυση βιωσιμότητας του χρέους και καταγραφή των κεφαλαιακών αναγκών των τραπεζών. Ενδεχομένως και για να αρθεί το πολιτικό αδιέξοδο να χρειαστεί η σύγκλιση Συμβουλίου Κορυφής. Ότι είναι να γίνει όμως πρέπει να γίνει έως το βράδυ της Τρίτης.

Στη συνάντηση των 18 συζητήθηκαν τα προβλήματα που μπορεί να αντιμετωπίσουν από Δευτέρα «οι ευαίσθητες» χώρες της ζώνης του ευρώ και ποιες κινήσεις πρέπει να γίνουν ώστε να αποτραπεί κίνδυνος μετάδοσης της κρίσης από την Ελλάδα. Για τις ελληνικές τράπεζες εκφράστηκε η άποψη ότι πρέπει να μείνουν κλειστές για μια ή δύο ημέρες ( Δευτέρα και Τρίτη) ως τραπεζική αργία αλλά αυτή η απόφαση θα πρέπει να ληφθεί από την ΕΚΤ η οποία έχει άλλωστε όλα τα στοιχεία για το κύμα αναλήψεων και την κίνηση κεφαλαίων από την Ελλάδα προς το εξωτερικό.

Πηγή:tvxs.gr

KRUGMAN: Europe is crazy to let Greece implode, but, given this, Greece is doing the right thing

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Princeton economics and international affairs professor Paul Krugman listens during his introduction as the 2008 Nobel prize winner in economics at a new conference on the campus of Princeton University in Princeton, New Jersey.

Now that the Greece situation looks like it might finally be nearing resolution, there’s lots of hand-wringing about what will happen next.

The fact that no one really knows is not helping to set minds at ease.

As nor are memories of the last time governments intentionally allowed a major financial player to fail — namely, the US investment bank Lehman Brothers in the fall of 2008.

Amid this tension, everyone’s pointing fingers, and a lot of the fingers are being pointed at Greece’s leaders, who some people say are acting irresponsibly by not just, once again, caving to Europe’s demands.

Nonsense, says Nobel-Prize winning economist Paul Krugman.

Greece is doing the best thing it can under the circumstances.

For the past 7 years, Krugman argues, the financial noose Europe has placed around Greece’s neck has strangled the Greek economy. Each time Europe has loaned Greece money, it has demanded spending cuts in return. And these spending cuts — austerity — have further damaged the Greek economy.

In the past, every time the situation has come to a head, Greece has caved. And, in the process, it has transformed itself into little more than a financial slave state mired in an economic depression.

There is no way Greece will ever be able to cut its way to prosperity, Krugman argues. And history suggests that any argument to the contrary is crazy.

Given that Europe refuses to restructure Greece’s debt in a sustainable way and allow the country to try to grow its way out of its misery, Greece has no choice but to default and withdraw.

Krugman further notes that Greece’s leader, Alexis Tsipras, is doing something else smart. Namely, he’s not making the decision singlehandedly. Rather, he is forcing his own government and people to make the decision with him, via a referendum. This will improve Tsipras’ own odds of surviving the messy and scary period to come.

The current Euro structure, in which country governments control their own spending but borrow in a single currency will never work over the long term unless Europe’s richer states are willing to subsidise the poorer ones (the way richer US states subsidise poorer ones). Given that that concept still appears to be a non-starter for Europe’s “core,” Greece and other weaker states are probably better off on their own.

So let the words stop and the actions begin…

source:businessinsider.com.au

Why Angela Merkel Is Wrong On Greece

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The latest judgment of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) casts a harsh light on the flawed construction of a  currency union without a political union.

In the summer of 2012 all citizens owed Mario Draghi a debt of gratitude for uttering a single sentence that saved them from the disastrous consequences of the threat of an immediate collapse of their currency.

By announcing the purchase if need be of unlimited amounts of government bonds, he pulled the chestnuts out of the fire for the Eurogroup. He had to press ahead alone because the heads of government were incapable of acting in the common European interest; they remained locked into their respective national interests and frozen in a state of shock. Financial markets reacted then with relief over a single sentence with which the head of the European Central Bank simulated a fiscal sovereignty he did not possess. It is still the central banks of the member states, as before, which act as the lender of last resort.

The ECJ has not ruled out this competence as contrary to the letter of the European Treaties; but as a   consequence of its judgment the ECB can in fact, subject to a few restrictions, occupy the room for manoeuvre of just such a lender of last resort. The court signed off on a rescue action that was not entirely constitutional and the German federal constitutional court will probably follow that judgment with some additional precisions. One is tempted to say that the law of the European Treaties must not be directly bent by its protectors but it can be tweaked even so in order to iron out, on a case by case basis, the unfortunate consequences of that flawed construction of the European Monetary Union (EMU). That flaw – as lawyers, political scientists and economists have proven again and again over the years – can only be rectified by a reform of the institutions.

The case that is passed to and from between Karlsruhe and Luxembourg shines a light on a gap in the construction of the currency union which the ECB has filled by means of emergency relief. But the lack of fiscal sovereignty is just one of the many weak spots. This  currency union will remain unstable as long as it is not enhanced by a banking, fiscal and economic union. But that means expanding the EMU into a Political Union if we want to avoid even strengthening the present technocratic character of the EU and overtly writing off democracy as merely decorative.

Those dramatic events of 2012 explain why Mario Draghi is swimming against the sluggish tide of a short-sighted, nay panic-stricken policy mix. With the change of government in Greece he immediately piped up: “We need a quantum leap in institutional convergence…. We must put to one side a rules-based system for national economic policy and instead hand over more sovereignty to common institutions.” Even if it’s not what one expects a former Goldman Sachs banker to say, he even wanted to couple these overdue reforms with “more democratic accountability” (Süddeutsche Zeitung, March 17, 2015).

These were the words of someone who had learned that the wrangling behind closed doors among heads of government only thinking of their national voter base is simply not good enough if one wants to achieve the necessary fiscal, economic and social policy decisions. Today, three months later, the ECB is yet again at work buying time for incapable governments with emergency lending.

The Greek election result is a vote against humiliating misery

Because the federal German Chancellor opted as early as May 2010 to treat investor interests as more important than a haircut in restoring the Greek economy to health, we’re stuck in a crisis once more. This time it’s the hole left by another institutional deficit that emerges.

The Greek election result is the vote of a nation that, with a significant majority, is standing up against the humiliating as well as oppressive misery of an austerity policy imposed upon their country. There can be no argument about the vote itself: The population rejects the continuation of a policy whose drastic failure is something they have experienced at first hand. Equipped with this democratic legitimacy, the Greek government is trying to bring about a change of policy in the Eurozone.

This brings them in Brussels right up against the representatives of 18 other governments which justify their rejection by coolly pointing to their own democratic mandate. You’ll recall those first meetings when the arrogantly swaggering novices basking in the upbeat mood of their triumph joined in grotesque battle with the incumbent rulers acting partly like paternalistic uncles and partly like sneering old hands: Both sides insisted parrot-like that they enjoyed the authority given by their respective “people.”

The unintentionally comic nature of their uniformly nation-state way of thinking brought what is lacking unmistakably to the attention of European public opinion: a focus for a common decision-making process among citizens across national borders about weighty courses of political action in the core of Europe.

But the veil cast over this institutional deficit of an empowered European Parliament based on a European-wide system of political parties has not yet been really shredded. The Greek election has thrown a spanner in the works of Brussels because here the citizens have themselves chosen a European political alternative for which they are geared up. Elsewhere, government representatives make such decisions as technocrats among themselves and spare public opinion in their countries from upsetting issues. The compromise negotiations in Brussels really get bogged down because both sides don’t ascribe blame for the barren nature of their discussions on the flawed construction of the proceedings and institutions of the EMU but on the bad behaviour of their partner.

It’s certainly the case that we’re dealing here with the stubborn sticking to a policy of an austerity programme that not only runs into overwhelming criticism from international experts but has caused barbaric costs in Greece and has demonstrably failed here. But, in the basic conflict opposing one side looking for a change of policy to the other obstinately refusing to engage at all in political negotiations, a deeper asymmetry is exposed.

Let’s be quite clear about the disgusting, nay scandalous aspect of this rejection: A compromise collapses not because of a few billion here or there, not even because of this or that condition, but solely because of the Greek demand to allow a new start for the economy and a population exploited by a corrupt elite by agreeing debt forgiveness – or an equivalent regulation, e.g. a debt moratorium tied to growth.

Instead, the creditors insist upon the acknowledgment of a debt mountain that the Greek economy will never be able to overcome. Mind you, it goes without saying that a haircut is unavoidable sooner or later. So the creditors insist with bad faith on the formal recognition of a debt burden they know is intolerable. Until recently, they even persisted with the literally fantastic demand for a primary surplus of more than 4%. This has been cut to a still unrealistic demand for 1%; but, so far, an agreement upon which the fate of the European Union depends has failed because of the demand from the creditors to stick to a fiction.

The weak performance of the Greek government

Of course, the ‘donor countries’ can see political reasons for holding onto this fiction which allow an unpleasant decision to be put off in the short term. They fear, for instance, a domino effect in other ‘recipient countries’; and Angela Merkel cannot be sure of her own majority in the Bundestag. But any wrong policy must one way or the other be revised in the light of its counterproductive consequences. On the other hand, you can’t pin the blame for the impasse on just one side.

I cannot judge if there’s a well-thought-out strategy behind the tactical steps taken by the Greek government and what is down to political necessities, to inexperience or the incompetence of the main players. I don’t have enough knowledge about the widespread practices and societal structures standing in the way of potential reforms either. But it’s obvious that the House of Wittelsbach has failed to construct a functioning state.

However that may be, such difficult circumstances don’t explain why the Greek government itself is making it hard for its supporters to make out any consistent line behind its erratic behaviour. There’s no sensible effort evident for building coalitions; one doesn’t know whether the leftist nationalists are not clinging to a somewhat ethno-centric sense of solidarity and are only pursuing continued membership of the Eurozone for narrow prudential reasons – or if their views do go beyond the nation state.

The demand for a haircut as the basso continuo of their negotiations is, either way, insufficient to arouse confidence on the opposite side that the new government is different – that it will act more energetically and responsibly than the clientilist governments that it replaced. Tsipras and Syriza might have drawn up the reform programme of a left-wing government and thus ‘showcase’ it to their negotiating partners in Brussels and Berlin. Amartya Sen last month in Firle, East Sussex, compared the austerity policy pushed through by the federal German government with a medicine that contains a toxic mixture of antibiotics and rat poison.

In complete accordance with the Nobel Prize-winner for economics, the left-wing government might have taken on a Keynesian segregation of the Merkel medicine and consequentially thrown out all neoliberal impositions; but, at the same time, they would have had to give credibility to their intentions of carrying through the overdue modernisation of state and economy, execute a fairer form of cross subsidies, combat corruption and tax evasion etc. Instead, it resorted to moralising – to a blame game that worked to the advantage of the German government in the given circumstances, enabling it to dismiss with neo-German robustness the wholly justified complaint of Greece about the clever way a line was drawn (under debts) in the two-plus-four negotiations (of 1990 over German unification).

The weak performance of the Greek government doesn’t alter the fact of a scandal that consists in politicians in Brussels and Berlin refusing to meet their colleagues from Athens as politicians. They indeed do look like politicians but (until last Monday) only spoke in their economic role as creditors. This transformation into zombies is intended to give the protracted insolvency of a state the appearance of a non-political, civil court proceeding.

That makes it all the easier to deny any political co-responsibility. Our press is making fun about the act of renaming the Troika; it is indeed like a magic trick. But, with it, there comes the legitimate wish to see emerge the true face of the politician behind the mask of the creditor. For only as politicians can these people be held responsible for a fiasco that has played out in massively ruined life-chances, in joblessness, sickness, social misery and hopelessness.

The scandal within the scandal is constipation

Angela Merkel brought in the IMF from the outset for her dubious rescue moves. This body is responsible for dysfunctions in the international financial system; as therapist it takes care of its stability and thus acts in the common interest of investors, especially of institutional investors. As Troika members, European institutions also coalesce with this player so that politicians, in so far as acting in this function, can retreat into the role of untouchable agents acting strictly according to the rules of the IMF. This dissipation of politics into market conformity helps to explain the chutzpah with which representatives of the federal German government, all of them highly moral people, can deny their political co-responsibility for the disastrous social consequences that they nevertheless took on board as opinion leaders of the European Council through the implementation of the neoliberal austerity programmes.

The scandal within the scandal is the constipated manner in which the German government perceives its leadership role. Germany is indebted for the stimulus behind the economic recovery from which it still benefits today to the wisdom of the creditor nations which, in the London Agreement of 1953, wrote off around half of its debts.

But this is not about moral embarrassment but about the political core of the matter: The political elites in Europe should no longer hide from their voters and themselves dodge the alternatives posed to us by an politically incomplete currency union. It’s the citizens, not the banks, which must retain the final say in existential questions for Europe.

As regards the post-democratic lulling to sleep of public opinion, the switching of the press into a therapeutic type of journalism is a contributory factor – as it marches arm in arm with the political class in caring for the well being of customers, not citizens.

source:socialeurope.eu

 

Iron Mike Zambidis defeats Steve Moxon

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The Greek Australian kick-boxer retires with pride.

Greek World Champion Mike Zambidis won the last fight of his career against Australian hyper – champion Steve Moxon.

Around 7,000 people had the opportunity to witness the fight at the Peace & Friendship Stadium in Athens on Saturday 27th of June.

The Iron Challenge, is Greece’s top kick boxing event.

Steve Moxon, has an official record of 23 knockouts and he entered as the No.14 super welterweight in the world.

However, Zambidis wasn’t discouraged by his opponent’s high ratings.

Against all odds, he fought his heart out and took a unanimous decision win over Moxon after 5 rounds.

Zambidis received a huge cheering from audience not only for this unforgettable experience, but for all the wins he’s had throughout the years that made him into a kick – boxing legend.

Entering his last professional fight “Iron Mike” had a record of 87 knock outs and had won 156 out of 178 matches.

source:ekathimerini.com

Australia urged to show solidarity with Greece

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London calling: A protestor quoting English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley at the anti-austerity demonstration in London last week. Photo: Greece Solidarity Campaign (UK).

As debt negotiations go down to the wire in Brussels this weekend, the call for Australian parliamentarians to stand up and be counted grows louder.

The Greek Community of Melbourne this week commended the Australian Greens’ plucky attempt to push a motion through the Senate in support of Greece’s efforts to resolve the crisis, and called on more parliamentarians to follow their lead.

The Greens’ call for Mr Hockey to make representations to the IMF on Greece’s behalf was defeated in a vote in the Senate chamber.

GOCMV president Bill Papastergiadis told Neos Kosmos that despite the motion’s failure, he had written to Treasurer Joe Hockey as an IMF governor, to encourage the minister to advise the fund to alter its position on Greece.

The Melbourne organisation’s call came as 11th hour discussions took place to break the deadlock between Greece and its creditors.

After a week of intense negotiations, a deal between the Tsipras government and Greece’s lenders is far from being concluded. Without an agreement that will release new loans, Greece will default on a debt repayment of 1.6 billion euros ($2.32 billion) due to be paid to the IMF on Tuesday.

Mr Papastergiadis said that he “urged any and every Australian politician to both explore the facts, beyond the news grabs that are released from the European institutions, and show real support for the Greek people in this moment of crisis.

“We call on members of the Australian Parliament to show support for the Greek people by expressing concern at the continued support by IMF officials for the austerity program.”

The GCM president said that despite the failed Senate motion, he called upon the Government and opposition to reconsider its policy on the matter “and seek to support the suffering Greek people”.

One of the backers of the motion, along with Greens’ deputy leader Scott Ludlum, was fellow Party member NSW Senator Lee Rhiannon.

Ms Rhiannon told Neos Kosmos she had been proud to back the motion “as a long time campaigner against austerity, and as someone who has worked closely with the Greek community in NSW…

“It is absolutely appropriate for there to be a discussion regarding whether or not the Australian government supports the harsh measures being levied against the people of Greece”.

The Greens senator added that many members of the Greek community in NSW who she represented had “expressed their despair at the current situation”.

source:Neos Kosmos

More Greek migrants seeking work in Australia

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457 new working visas, in search of a better standard of living.

Australia is experiencing a second wave of Greek immigration in the wake of the Greek sovereign debt crisis, which is threatening to further destabilise the country’s economy and cause financial panic in the eurozone and beyond. As it stands, the nation is facing a very real prospect of leaving behind the euro and returning to the drachma.

Practically all Greek businesses have been directly or indirectly affected by the current crisis due to the lack of readily available money, particularly as banks tighten up eligibility requirements for loans. Cash flow issues are exerting pressure on companies regardless of whether they are large or small operations, or whether they are conducting domestic or international trade. As a result, more Greeks than ever are now seeking employment overseas.
Arthur Baoustanos, director of trade at the Hellenic Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HACCI), has observed an increasing number of Greeks recently arriving in Australia, typically on 457 working visas, in search of a better standard of living.

His organisation aims to provide support for requests in assisting Greeks finding work in Australia.

“HACCI tries to encourage and facilitate bilateral trade and links with organisations and people from Greece into Australia,” he says.

“They work for multinationals that have a presence here in Australia,” says Baoustanos, noting that a combination of their professional skills and the crippling economic conditions back at home provided more than enough incentive to emigrate.

However, a number of other migrants also fall into a second category. “There are others who have chosen to return to Australia who left Australia quite young and continued their lives in Greece, then when this whole financial crisis matter started to explode they decided to return to Australia,” Baoustanos continues.

“When you’ve got a job and you’re earning some money and you know you can pay your rent, your food, and send your kids to school, you’re in a much better position than you would be in Greece without a job. So in that respect I think they see this as a welcome country. As soon as they land a job, they can set themselves up and go about their lives.”

Another prominent enterprise that has been launched in an effort to assist struggling Greeks is The Hellenic Initiative, which aims to establish opportunities for students and young professionals through methods such as encouraging Australian companies of Greek origin to hire them for around six months. The ultimate goal is for them to gain experience which will place them in a better position in the job market, and ultimately enhance their career prospects.
However, somewhat predictably, the argument has risen that Greek migrants seeking work in Australia are detrimental to the job prospects of local workers, even if the employment is only on a temporary basis. Baoustanos refutes this, and instead believes it is a chance to ensure Australia remains competitive.

“It’s an opportunity to keep our skill sets up with the rest of the world,” he asserts. “Australia is not alone in this world, there are other countries, and everyone is playing a role in how this country is working. I don’t see it as a threat to anybody.”

With a tough job market and an unstable economy back at home, Baoustanos understands the mindset of Greeks wishing to emigrate for the sake of stability. “During the global financial crisis, Australia weathered it quite well, it was a desirable place to be. I’m not saying making such a decision is easy, to just drop your whole life in one place and start somewhere else. But if the conditions are such, and they dictate that, you won’t have any trouble making that decision.”

“This whole thing started because in Greece they would hear that Australia is a prosperous country, which it is and we know that. But everybody living in this country has worked hard to create that prosperity,” says Baoustanos, believing that newcomers should be given the opportunity to contribute to this prosperity as did those who came before them.

“It hasn’t been easy for the majority of people coming to Australia because you have to start from scratch. A lot of these people are highly skilled and highly qualified people, but they haven’t managed to get jobs that reflect the level of skill they have. They end up doing odd jobs in order to survive.”
As for the conditions faced by Greeks who remain, Baoustanos is blunt in his assessment.

“Whatever the outcome is, the standard of living of Greek people has been affected already. It’ll be a few years before things can get back on track,” he believes. “In terms of whether or not Greece will leave the eurozone, that is being played out at the moment … no one wants Greece to leave the eurozone.”

source:Neos Kosmos