Monday, June 29, 2015

Greece: The Cradle Will Fall and Down Will Come EU, Euro and All

Alexis Tsipras, the newly elected anti-austerity President, has called a referendum to allow the people of Greece to decide their fate inducing massive howling at the EU, IMF and European Central Bank.  The EU rolled the dice and lost.  Greece has been placed in the same untenable position that Puerto Rico finds itself in, only on a much, much larger scale, and Greece won’t go down alone.

So here’s a quick synopsis of the howls emanating from the EU:

Alexis Tsipras must be stopped: the underlying message of Europe's leaders

One day before Greece’s bailout ends and the country’s financial lifeline melts away, Europe’s big guns have lined up one after another to tell the Greeks unequivocally that voting no in Sunday’s referendum means saying goodbye to the euro.

Oh, boohoo, maybe they can join the BRIC’s bank.

There was no mistaking the gravity of the situation now facing both Greece and Europe on Monday. Leaders were by turns ashen-faced, resigned, desperate and pleading with Athens to think again and pull back from the abyss.

Whose abyss you ask?  Good question.

There were also bitter attacks on Alexis Tsipras, the young Greek prime minister whose brinkmanship has gone further than anyone believed possible and left the eurozone’s leaders reeling.

Damned kids.  But you know something, economists applaud Tsipras for doing the right thing, and refusing to be blackmailed into handing over their natural resources, people’s pensions and birthright over to Wall Street Hedgefunds for a bag of magic Monsanto beans.

Here’s what Joseph Stiglitz had to say in Fortune


Joseph Stiglitz to Greece’s Creditors: Abandon Austerity or Face Global Fallout

Nobel laureate tells TIME that the institutions and countries that have enforced cost-cutting on Greece "have criminal responsibility"

A few years ago, when Greece was still at the start of its slide into an economic depression, the Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz remembers discussing the crisis with Greek officials. What they wanted was a stimulus package to boost growth and create jobs…… 

Instead, Greece’s foreign creditors imposed a strict program of austerity. The Greek economy has shrunk by about 25% since 2010. The cost-cutting was an enormous mistake, Stiglitz says, and it’s time for the creditors to admit it.

“They have criminal responsibility,” he says of the so-called troika of financial institutions that bailed out the Greek economy in 2010, namely the International Monetary Fund, the European Commission and the European Central Bank. “It’s a kind of criminal responsibility for causing a major recession,” Stiglitz tells TIME in a phone interview.

Then there’s this from Paul Krugman in Business Insider:


Now that the Greece situation looks like it might finally be nearing resolution, there's lots of handwringing about what will happen next….

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….

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…

Krugman further notes that Greece's leader, Alexis Tsipras, is doing something else smart. Namely, he's not making the decision single-handedly. Rather, he is forcing his own government and people to make the decision with him, via a referendum.

You know what the American Revolutionaries said?  “Hang together or hang alone.”   That has to be scarier for the EU than anything else, people power.  And boy does the EU know it, just look at what they’re saying, they are asking the Greek people to vote for their own death sentence:

From EuroNews:


EU chief Juncker pleads with Greeks to defy their government and vote for EU aid package

EU chief executive Jean-Claude Juncker urged Greeks on Monday to back a cash-for-reform package rejected by their government, saying a ‘no’ vote in Sunday’s referendum would mean Greece was turning its back on the European Union…

“The whole planet would consider a Greek ‘no’ to the question posed… as meaning that Greece wants to distance itself from the euro zone and from Europe.” he told a news conference.

“I will say to the Greeks who I love deeply: you mustn’t commit suicide because you are afraid of death…. You must vote yes, independently of the question asked.”

Ha, ha ha.  Juncker “loves the Greeks deeply” and warns them not to “commit suicide because you are afraid of death”, that doesn’t even make sense.  Smells of desperation.  Why it seems like just yesterday I was reading Gregory Palast’s article on the recent Greek election, why yes it was……


Trojan Hearse: Greek Elections and the Euro Leper Colony

Europe is stunned, and bankers aghast, that the new party of the Left, Syriza, won Sunday's parliamentary elections in Greece.

Syriza won on the promise that it will cure Greece of leprosy.

Oddly, Syriza also promises that it will remain in the leper colony.  That is, Syriza wants to rid Greece of the cruelty of austerity imposed by the European Central Bank but insists on staying in the euro zone.

The problem is, austerity run wild is merely a symptom of an illness.  The underlying disease is the euro itself.

For the last five years, Greeks have been told that, if you cure your disease—that is, if you dump the euro—the sky will fall.  I guess Greeks haven’t noticed, the sky has fallen already.  With unemployment at 25%, with doctors and teachers eating out of garbage cans, there is no further to fall….

I wonder how many garbage cans Juncker has had to eat out of as head of the EU.

…..I was in Brazil when its President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva told the IMF to go to helland rejected privatization of the state banks and the state oil company, rejected cutting pensions and thumbed his nose at the rest of the austerity nonsense.

Instead, Lula created the bolsa familia, a massive pay-out to the nation’s poor.  The result: Brazil not only survived but thrived during the 2008-10  world financial crisis.  

Despite pressure, Brazil never ceded control of its currency. (It is a sad irony that Brazil is only now faltering.  That’s the fault entirely of Lula’s successor, President Dilma Rousseff, who is beginning to dance the austerity samba.)

The euro is simply the deutschmark with little stars on it.  Greece cannot adopt Germany’s currency without adopting Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, as its own….

It is argued that Greece owes Germany, the IMF and the European Central Bank for bail-out-billions.  Nonsense.  None of the billions in bail-out funds went into Greek pockets.  It all went to bail out Deutsche Bank and other foreign creditorsThe EU treasuries swallowed 90% of its private bankers’ bonds.  Germany bailed out Germany, not Greece.

Boy, with all that money Germany extorted from Greece, the German people must be living high off the fatted hog.  But wait, what’s this?  Nein you say?


FRANKFURT — Protesters set cars on fire and clashed with police officers on Wednesday as they marched toward the European Central Bank’s new headquarters in a demonstration against austerity and capitalism that took on a markedly more heated tone than past protests.

The rally, organized by a group called Blockupy and German workers’ unions, drew thousands of people as the central bank inaugurated its new tower….

Blockupy is a left-wing alliance of dozens of activist groups from across Europe. Its members include one of the largest German labor unions, the United Service Union, known as Ver.di, and Syriza, the left-wing, anti-austerity Greek political party that is now leading the government in Athens….

Employees of the central bank began moving into the new headquarters, which cost about $1.27 billion, near the end of last year. Away from downtown Frankfurt on a park-like site overlooking the Main River, the 600-foot-high tinted-glass tower is a more potent symbol of the central bank’s power than the generic gray high-rise in central Frankfurt that it previously occupied.

Austerity for the people and the Tower of Babel for the ECB, how apt. But the Tower of Babel cannot stand, so looks like Greece, the cradle of civilization will save the world from the EU crypt of civilization.  Let’s all stand with the Greeks for they are us.

By Patricia Baeten

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