Pointless fury: Why German and Greek politicians are wrong to be angry
So, some German politicians put on paper that which they have been thinking a while: Greece has become an unbearable burden and, if they are to resign themselves to continuing to put their money in that particular black hole, they might as well have a say in the way it is managed on the ground. Predictably, the leaking of this document gave Greek politicians, and the hapless Finance Minister in particular, a great opportunity to flex muscles, to recite their fury regarding Germany’s trampling on Greece’s national sovereignty, etc.
Poppycock, I say! On both sides. On the Greek side, what on earth did we expect? Once a country accepts the logic of massive loans on condition of austerity that deepens the country’s insolvency, thus demanding more loans, the moment will come when the international lenders will insist upon direct executive powers. In corporate language, this is known as receivership. The Greek politicians that put their signatures on the dotted line of the various ‘bailout’ agreements are stretching credulity when protesting the loss of national sovereignty. The horses bolted months ago.
As for the German politicians, I am afraid that the judgment of history will not be kinder. They willfully piled gigantic new loans on an insolvent nation, on condition of austerity policies that shrink the national income from which these loans (plus the pre-existing ones) would have to be paid. And then, when Greece’s social economy shrivelled and died, they became incensed that the ‘reforms’ did not work, that the tax revenues shrank, that there were no buyers for the Greek state’s assets. My message to them is: you imposed an erroneous policy on Greece, and the rest of Europe’s periphery, and now you must bear the consequences.
For months now, I have been arguing that the tragedy of the Greek ‘bailouts’ - indeed of the overall strategy for dealing with the euro crisis - has been a comedy of errors. Is it not time that the politicians (Greek and German) owned up to their serial idiocy? Has the time not come to stop the blame game and the posturing?
On a final note, I have a message for Germany’s politicians: As a private Greek citizen, I understand your fatigue with all things Greek. But if you are so sure that your blueprint for stabilising Greece is so good (and that the problem is its implementation by the Greek authorities), I would welcome you to come to Athens to take over its implementation. But on one condition:
If you succeed in making austerity work in the middle of a debt-deflationary cycle, I am happy for you to name your price. For example, if within a year or so Greek GDP starts growing again and unemployment diminishes to below 10%, you can have our electricity grid (that Siemens has always coveted), our water companies; any assets that you name in advance. But, if you fail, then you must pay a price: e.g. pay in full Greece’s outstanding loans to the troika.
So, how about it? Are you game?
Image top: /Ryan.