Tag: Greece

Greece Folds

Well, that didn’t take long.

It turns out that math is not subject to a referendum.

Greece and its European creditors announced an agreement here on Monday that aims to resolve the country’s debt crisis and keep it in the eurozone, but that will require further budgetary belt-tightening that Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras could have trouble selling back in Athens.

The agreement does not guarantee that Greece will receive its third bailout in five years. But it does allow the start of detailed negotiations on a new assistance package for Greece.

The total commitment of money has not been disclosed. But a document by the eurozone leaders noted that experts had estimated that Greece might need from 82 billion to 86 billion euros more — $91 billion to $96 billion — to shore up its economy, rebuild its banks and meet its debt obligations over the next three years. The document said Greece and its creditors should seek to “reduce that financing envelope,” if possible.

As part of Greece’s commitments, Ms. Merkel said, a fund will be created to use the proceeds from selling off assets owned by the Greek government to help pay down the country’s debt. That fund would be “to the tune of” €50 billion, she said.

Greece will also be required to seek assistance from the International Monetary Fund and to agree to let the organization continue to monitor the country’s adherence to its bailout commitments. The Greek government had resisted a continued role for the I.M.F., seeing the fund’s involvement as unwanted meddling.

The agreement will call for Greece to raise taxes in some cases, pare pension benefits and take various other measures meant to reduce what critics see as too much bureaucracy and too many market protections that keep the Greek economy from operating efficiently.

In other words, Greece has to do what they’ve always had to do: fix their broken tax system, fix their broken pension system, stop spending money they don’t have, sell off bloated Greek government assets and clean up the corruption.

It’s not clear that this will happen: the Greek parliament still needs to approve it. But it is clear that Greece’s left-wing government has accomplished very little other than making the pain worse for their citizens, all to the cheers and plaudits of comfy Western liberals who see this as some kind of experiment in economics and an opportunity to show those damned austerians what’s what.

The alternative for Greece in exiting the Euro. Virtually the entire American Left, who are apparently fine with the idea of a government weaseling out of its debt, thinks this is a better option. The BBC has a great summary of what a Grexit would mean:

The previous Greek Prime Minister, Antonis Samaras, warned that living standards could fall by 80% within a few weeks of exit.

Unable to borrow from anyone (not even other European governments), the Greek government would simply run out of euros.

It would have to pay social benefits and civil servants’ wages in IOUs (if it pays them at all) until a new non-euro currency can be introduced.

The government would not be able to repay its debts, which now amount to a total of about €320bn (£237bn), most of it owed to European governments and agencies and the International Monetary Fund.

The government would have to impose a freeze on withdrawals and on people taking money out of the country. This could lead to queues of ordinary Greeks trying to empty their bank accounts before they get converted into a new currency worth substantially less than the previous one.

In the longer run, Greece’s economy should benefit from having a much more competitive exchange rate.

But the devaluation would not solve underlying problems in the economy, including poor tax collection and a struggle to control government spending.

There is also a real possibility of a surge in inflation.
Tax receipts would probably fall as the economy contracted, so the government might finance spending by printing money.

The likely currency depreciation would also be inflationary. It would make imported goods – which in Greece includes a lot of its food and medicine – more expensive.

That’s just the effect on Greece. It might also encourage other countries like Spain to leave. And worldwide, the effects would be very unpredictable.

That’s what the people glibly talking about a Grexit are contemplating. Seems a steep price to pay so that you can side with the deadbeats against the Germans.

Greece Puts Up The Middle Finger

With the government restricting banking and capital, the Greek people voted yesterday against complying with their creditor’s demands. I’ve said this before and I have little to add: fuck Greece. If they want to leave the Euro, open the door for them. Call them a cab. Book them a flight. The only real concern is that they might drift into the Russian sphere of influence. But given that Russia’s economy is imploding, I don’t see that happening.

I was wondering if maybe the Greeks made the right decision but when I read that Krugman was in favor, I was reassured that it was a bad decision (among other things, Krugman describes the demands of Greece’s creditors as undemocratic. It’s apparently democratic for 2% of Europe’s population to demand free money from the other 98%). He doesn’t address Greece’s huge problems with tax compliance and massive pensions — the real causes of the current crisis. These problems will exist whether Greece is under the Euro, the Drachma, the Ruble or the Triganic Pu.

Seriously, Greece?

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the Greeks electing Syriza, a hard left-wing party that promised to walk back austerity. Since then, the Greek situation has gotten far worse. They negotiated some slight concessions, but most of Europe — including the other PIIGS — held fast. And Greek tax collection have collapsed as most Greeks assumed, with Syriza in power, that the days of having to pay their bills were over. It hasn’t even been two months and the coalition is already floundering.

Now they’re having a conniption fit:

Greece will unleash a “wave of millions of economic migrants” and jihadists on Europe unless the eurozone backs down on austerity demands, the country’s defence and foreign ministers have threatened.

The threat comes as Greece struggles to convince the eurozone and International Monetery Fund to continue payments on a £172billion bailout of Greek finances.

Without the funding, Greece will go bust later this month forcing the recession-ravaged and highly indebted country out of the EU’s single currency.

Greece’s border with Turkey is the EU’s frontline against illegal immigration and European measures to stop extremists travelling to and from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) bases in Syria and Iraq.

Panos Kammenos, the Greek defence minister, warned that if the eurozone allowed Greece to go bust it would give EU travel papers to illegal immigrants crossing its borders or to the 10,000 currently held in detention centres.

They’re now trying to walk back those comments so this may just be frustrated rhetoric. But I stand by what I wrote six weeks ago:

Fuck Greece. They’ve gotten tens of billions of dollars in help and their response is to whine and cry because they can no longer live high on the hog on a fraudulent system paid for by other countries. Don’t let them leave the Euro; kick them the hell out. Let inflation and default ruin their economy. Maybe then they’ll figure out that you can’t run a country on bullshit.

You can’t run it on threats either.

(Via Tyler Cown, who has been calling Syriza the Not Very Serious People. We may have to elevate that to the Not Very Sane People.)

Beware Greeks Breaking Bonds

Just recently, I read Michael Lewis’s Boomerang, which includes a long essay on the economic problems of Greece. It’s difficult to describe Greece’s economy without the words “holy fucking shit, dude, are you serious?” but I’ll try.

For years, the Greek budgets were a fraud. The EU rules required them to keep their deficits below 3% of GDP. But massive amounts of the Greek economy are underground. Their system encourage abuse and fraud so that very few people pay taxes and no one thinks they should pay taxes. Government spending figures were made up so that they could comply with EU budget requirements. Their government is large and pays salaries much higher than any other country. And they can retire at age 50 and draw huge pensions. They also have a fertility rate of 1.3, so it’s not like a baby boom is going to sustain this massive wave of retirees.

When you know the details, you realize just how necessary the recent austerity was. Greece was in so much debt and their budget was so out of control, they had to make drastic changes. This wasn’t some evil imposition by imperialistic Germans; this was math.

Well, the Greeks voted today for an anti-austerity party:

Exit polls suggest a historic victory for the anti-austerity Syriza party in Greece’s general election.

The polls indicate that Syriza took between 36% and 38% of the total vote, with the ruling New Democracy party a distant second with 26%-28%.

It is unclear whether Syriza has enough votes to govern the country alone.

Syriza’s Alexis Tsipras has pledged to renegotiate Greece’s debt arrangement with international creditors.

He has also vowed to reverse many of the austerity measures adopted by Greece since a series of bailouts began in 2010.

The result is being closely watched outside Greece, where it is believed a Syriza victory could encourage radical leftist parties across Europe.

The exit polls suggested Syriza had won between 148 and 154 parliamentary seats. They need 151 seats for an outright majority.

(Aside: there are a lot of liberals who think we should have a parliamentary system in this country, mainly because they don’t like Obama being opposed on legislation. This election is a good demonstration of why I don’t like parliamentary systems. Syriza is going to take over Greece based on a third of the vote. The parliamentary system encourages radical minorities to take the wheel of government and spin it madly. I’ll take our gridlock, thank you.)

Fuck Greece. They’ve gotten tens of billions of dollars in help and their response is to whine and cry because they can no longer live high on the hog on a fraudulent system paid for by other countries. Don’t let them leave the Euro; kick them the hell out. Let inflation and default ruin their economy. Maybe then they’ll figure out that you can’t run a country on bullshit.

Maybe other people will too.

Pity the Poor Pedophiles

Greece, my friends, is fucking doomed:

Greek disability groups expressed anger Monday at a government decision to expand a list of state-recognized disability categories to include pedophiles, exhibitionists and kleptomaniacs.

The National Confederation of Disabled People called the action “incomprehensible.”

The Labor Ministry said categories added to the expanded list – that also includes pyromaniacs, compulsive gamblers, fetishists and sadomasochists – were included for purposes of medical assessment.

But NCDP leader Yiannis Vardakastanis, who is blind, warned the new list could create new difficulties for disabled Greeks who are already facing benefit cuts due to the country’s financial crisis.

So criminal behavior is now a disability. If this catches in the states, of course, you will not be allowed to discriminate against people who might molest the kids, steal the staplers and set the drapes on fire. We already classify a number of behaviors like gambling as disabilities worthy of legal protection. But this is making the word “disability” effectively meaningless.

Look, I agree that there are behaviors that are just wired into people’s brains. They can’t help wanting to do the things they want to do. But they can help actually doing them. There are, for example, many pedophiles out there who know their desires are wrong and get help, even to the point of chemical castration. Just like there are people prone to gambling, drug abuse or violence who get help. These people can’t help their compulsions; but they can keep those compulsions from ruining their own lives and those of other people.

But classifying these things as a disability bring a whole set of laws and protections that are simply not appropriate. Society has limited resources to help people — Greek society especially. People’s money, time and basic kindness can only be spread so far. And I think we should concentrate our attention on actual disabilities, not dangerous compulsions.

Get ready for a stock market hammering today..

And it’s this time mostly courtesy of our Western European socialist economies that have wasted 2 years trying to pretend they can keep the EU together AND keep their craddle-to-grave socialist nanny states. But alas, the end is near:

For two years now, Eurozone leaders have tried to deny reality, concocting one temporary bailout scheme after another in an effort to sweep Europe’s budget problems under the rug. But this game is nearing its end, says Rupal Ruparel of London-based think-tank OpenEurope.

A crisis that began in countries like Greece that seemed too small to worry about has now spread to countries like Spain and Italy that are big enough to take the whole Eurozone down. The only way to actually solve the problems, says Ruparel, is to acknowledge the facts: “Austerity” programs won’t help countries pay back their debts. Either the whole Eurozone has to combine its fiscal spending–a solution in which German taxpayers would pay for Greece’s deficits–or the debts have to be restructured.

Ruparel believes the “fiscal unity” solution is politically untenable. So that leaves restructuring. A planned restructuring will be painful, Ruparel says, but it will be a lot less painful than a market-forced one. And the sooner Europe’s leaders acknowledge this and get cracking, the better.

We are running out of other people’s money. In Europe they already have massive systems of wealth transfers that would make US demcorats swoon, and yet, they still have not been able to make their nanny states fiscally solvent. Even the Germans are coming to grips with the reality that while on their own they might have lasted a few more decades, the rest of the Eurozone will drag them down in a matter of years if not months.

Get ready for a bumpy ride as the world’s sock markets react to this reality and stocks likely plunge again today. of course, this is all “bad luck” to the collectivists, not the fact that the nonsense they believe in can’t work.

UPDATE: And if the European concerns aren’t enough to make the stock market take a tumble, we get some more ”bad luck”, from team Obama, where the community organizer is now not only trying to blame Wall Street, and not Washington D.C. and himself, for the economic morass we are in, but suggesting we should spend a lot more yet again!. Isn’t the definition of insanity that you are trying to do the exact same stupid shit over and over again, and expecting this time to produce different results?

What’s the definition of insanity again?

Isn’t it doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different and contrary result? Well, if that’s the case, then the Euros are insane. The Euro is getting hammered and the S&P has downgraded Greece’s rating 2 notches yet again – they obviously are certain a Greek default is a question of when, not if – with several other southern European countries heading the same way, and what do they do? Well, they double down on the stupid and are looking to provide more bailouts for the Greeks. What is the damned incentive for the Greeks to live in their means after that?

Shit, go ahead and keep running debt up and spending money you don’t have on the big collectivist state Greeks! What are these other losers gonna do? Cut you off? Watch the EU crumble around them? Nah, they are so desperate to keep the fantasy of the EU and the collectivist nanny state alive, for as long as possible, that they are simply not going to even blink at the fact that the Greeks are thumbing their noses at them and their demands for austerity measures. It’s a free ride for all of you, man. And Italy, Spain, Portugal, and even Ireland are on notice not to try to hard to fix their fiscal madhouses either. Spend like there isn’t going to be an end to the free money ride! More bennies for the slackers! Retirement at 50 for everyone but government employees: they can retire at 45! 25 hour work weeks for all! Free healthcare till you get old enough that they figure euthanizing you is the humane thing to do! And most important of all, have Uncle Sam keep paying for your defense and the bank bailouts!

Seriously, this is where we are it seems too. It’s going to be an ugly few decades with the nanny states basically unraveling across the globe. The people that want the free ride ain’t gonna give it up. There are rich people to fleece, don’t ya know! Hold on to your horses.