In 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 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
In conversation with Andrew Brady of USiLive regarding the state of Europe now.
In 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.
While the international press continues to celebrate Greece’s recovery, the reality on the ground becomes bleaker, less sustainable, and nastier than ever. In this post I shall be conveying the grim news from two fronts: the labour market and the government’s finances.
Eurobank is an apt example of Greek ingenuity. Its name is a coup in itself. 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
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
It 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
In 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
The 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?
Jorge Rodrigues, of Portuguese daily Expresso, wrote to me with a question: “What lessons can countries like Portugal learn from the Greek PSI of 2012, now that their post-bailout debts have also become unsustainable?” My answers were published in Expresso on 17th March 2014. My original answers in English follow: Continue reading
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
Why an independent Scotland should get out of sterling, but Greece should not volunteer to exit the Eurozone
Scotland 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
“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…