James K. Galbraith on The Modest Proposal, Europe and Greece

JamieIn this Q&A with a Greek journalist, on the occasion of the launch of the Greek translation of the Modest Proposal, James K. Galbraith argues that Italy and Greece can play an important role in changing the terms of the European ‘conversation’, so that rational, minimalist solutions like the Modest Proposal can have a chance of saving the Eurozone. He also explains that the Greek implosion was always a political choice by Berlin and Frankfurt; and that if the troika squeeze is lessened, it is due to SYRIZA’s success – not to the success of the austerity program. Finally, he answers an important question on the Chinese government’s investment strategies in Greece and in the rest of the Eurozone. 

“The Modest Proposal requires a change of thinking, not a change of European Treaties.”

“If Greece has been declared a success, it is largely due to the success of SYRIZA – not of the austerity program”

Continue reading

Another shady Greek banking deal: An exchange with Klaus Kastner on the Pireus-MIG deal

imagesThe sordid relationship between the owners of the Bank of Pireus and MIG (a holding company that used to own one of the two failed Cypriot banks, as well as a swathe of Greek companies) is well documented. Recently we witnessed a new chapter in this saga, one that went almost unnoticed and which was quietly condoned (like all recent scandals) by the Athens government and the troika. Klaus Kastner blogged on this deal in a highly informative recent post, entitled MIG: A great place to invest €250 million?,  and also sent me an email with the following question/point:  “It baffles my mind how a bank like Piraeus where the state has part-ownership would buy €250 million convertibles of the holding company of a group which is as shaky as the MIG Group (unless, of course, the 250 MEUR were used to repay loans to Piraeus). MIG may have operating companies of operational worth and market prominence but the whole group is built on hot air and, at least for the time being, the operating companies are incurring horrendous losses.” My answer to Klaus follows… Continue reading

How the Greek Banks Secured an Additional, Hidden €41 billion Bailout from European taxpayers

bailoutIn 2013 Greek taxpayers borrowed from the rest of Europe’s taxpayers €41 billion to pump into the Greek banks. This is well known. What is not known is that, also in 2013/4, the Greek banks received an additional, well hidden, €41 billion bailout loan from Greek and European citizens. This bailout was never authorised by any Parliament or even discussed in public anywhere in Europe.
Continue reading

EUROBANK: Another scandal re-packaged as part of the Greek Success Story

eurobankEurobank is an apt example of Greek ingenuity. Its name is a coup in itself.[1] Beyond semantics, however, and coming to recent developments, Eurobank is a wonderful example of the Greek establishment’s ingenious efforts to defraud Greek and European taxpayers, and then to proclaim a glorious Greek Success Story, weeks before the European Parliament elections. (You have already seen, here, the other plank of this campaign, also known as the Greek primary ‘surplus’…) Continue reading

A rejoinder to ELSTAT’s & EUROSTAT’s defence of the New Greek Statistics

ELSTAT, the official Greek statistical service, has put out a document in response to my post unveiling, what I call, their New Greek Statistics over the calculation of the Greek government’s primary budget outcome for 2013. In addition, Eurostat gave an informal response to various journalists who took the matter to them. Full marks for defending the indefensible.  Continue reading

Europe and Greece in Review: Interviewed by Michael Maier for Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten

europa abductionInterviewed by Dr. Michael Maier for Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten:

For the interview in German, as published on the DWN site,

  • Click here for PART A , on the Ukrainian crisis
  • Click here for PART B, on Greece and the Eurozone

For the whole interview in English,…

Continue reading

New Greek Statistics: Athens, again, ready to confess to the sin to claim the glory

sinIt is official! The Greek government now confirms that the much lauded Greek government primary surplus for 2013 was a mirage created by the return of Greek Statistics (see this recent post). And also that the statistical trickery involved had the full approval of Eurostat, of the troika, of Berlin etc. The ‘confession’ has come in the form of the deafening silence in response to the revelation that approximately €5 .4 billion was taken off government expenditure through the discovery of a non-existent ‘white hole’ in the government’s revenues. Yesterday, a tweet from a spoof account in the name of a Finance Ministry official reminded me that the New Greek Statistics are highly reminiscent of the Old Greek Statistics… Continue reading

Greece’s Grand Decoupling, the Nuclear Option and an Alternative Strategy: A comment on Münchau

tripitoIn his latest Financial Times column Wolfgang Münchau concurs with much of what I have written here (on the Greek social economy’s deep coma) and here (on the reasons why investors are piling in) but goes on to suggest that Greece should seriously consider exiting the Eurozone. In today’s post I offer an evaluation of his argument. In brief, I argue that, while Münchau’s assessment of the situation on the ground is spot on, the use of the ‘nuclear option’ (i.e. threatening to exit the Eurozone) is neither desirable nor necessary as a means of forcing Europe to change its ways. Continue reading

Europe’s latest policy on Irish and Greek banking losses: A tale of two swindles too similar for comfort

Greece-IrelandThe Irish and the Greeks are, in many ways, very different people. And yet, caught up in the Euro Crisis, our fortunes have become too close for comfort. Recently, European authorities have devised a creative new method for damaging the people of Ireland and of Greece further. The new method involved imposed changes on the public financing of bank recapitalisations that shift even greater burdens on taxpayers and on the weaker members of our societies. This article examines the changes and answers the pertinent question: Why is Europe doing this?

Continue reading

Of Masks and Shadows: The curious case of actors arrested on stage in Athens’ theater of the absurd

8The curious tale of two actors’s arrest on the stage of a derelict, occupied, Athenian theatre offers a window into life in Athens in the shadow of its wholesale economic collapse. 

This is our sixth article for the Witte de With Review (an initiative of Rotterdam-based Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art of which we, vitalspace.org and I, are party to, the ‘Athens Desk’). Click here for the Witte de With site which contains photos below. Or read on…  Continue reading

If Scotland, why not Greece?

Why an independent Scotland should get out of sterling, but Greece should not volunteer to exit the Eurozone

Bank of Scotland NoteScotland should state its intention to decouple from sterling, once independent, rather than petitioning for a continuation of its subservient role in an asymmetrical sterling union. Or so I argued in the Scottish Times in ‘Scotland Must Be Braver’ (28th November 2013). But if this is good advice for Scotland, why am I arguing that Greece should not sever its links with the even more odious monetary union known as the Eurozone? Unless the two cases differ, my argument lacks consistency. But they do differ. Fundamentally too. Continue reading

What you should know about Greece’s present state of affairs – an update

“It takes a passionate disregard for the truth to suggest that Greece is recovering.” That was my verdict last December upon being asked to comment on Greece’s rumoured recovery. Almost three months later, it is time for an update. The gist of today’s update is depressingly simple: Still, no sign of Greek-covery whatsoever. Indeed, every single indicator (including the ones that are presented as evidence of light at the tunnel’s end) points in a sadly negative direction…

For ease of distribution, this post can be downloaded as a pdf here. (Hungarian readers can read it in their language here.) Or just read on… Continue reading