Friday, July 10, 2015

No Change in Greece

“Creditors want a change in government in Athens, and they see this Sunday’s referendum as their first possibility to achieve it.”

Then the bankers will have to find another way, and it took all of five days.

"Greece soundly rejects plan for bailout; Outcome may imperil markets; EU leaders will meet, discuss next steps" by Suzanne Daley New York Times  July 05, 2015

ATHENS — Greeks delivered a shocking rebuff to Europe’s leaders Sunday, decisively rejecting a deal offered by the country’s creditors in a historic vote that could redefine Greece’s place in Europe and shake the continent’s financial stability.

Who were then, in turn, given a rebuff by the government they backed. Who asked them to vote no, only to capitulate to the creditors.

As celebrants gathered in central Syntagma Square, the Interior Ministry reported that with 97 percent of the vote tallied, 61 percent of the voters had said no to a deal that would have imposed greater austerity measures on the beleaguered country.

Real vote, according to alternative media, was running 90-10 for no, and that looks about right. 

I was told other things and the best they could rig it down was to 60.

The no votes carried virtually every district in the country, handing a sweeping victory to Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, a leftist who came to power in January vowing to reject new austerity measures, which he called an injustice and economically self-defeating.

I'm not going to bother too much with all this stuff knowing what has happened yesterday.

Late last month he walked away from negotiations in frustration at the creditors’ demands, called the referendum, and urged Greeks to vote no as a way to give him more bargaining power. 

If I'm disappointed, the Greeks must be furious.

While Tsipras now appears to have his wish, his victory in the referendum settled little, since the creditors’ offer is no longer on the table. There remains the possibility that they could walk away, leaving Greece facing default, financial collapse, and expulsion from the eurozone and, in the worst case, from the European Union.

Tsipras went on television briefly to say he would immediately resume negotiations. He said the vote was not a mandate for “rupture” with Europe and that it would strengthen his ability to negotiate a “viable’’ future for Greece in the eurozone.

At stake, however, may be far more than Greece’s place in Europe, as experts have offered wildly differing opinions about what the referendum could mean for the future of the euro and world financial markets.

Even before the voting was over, some European leaders began making efforts to contain potential damage.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany said she would travel to Paris on Monday to meet with President François Hollande, for a “joint assessment of the situation after the Greek referendum.” Later, the two leaders called for a European Union summit meeting on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported.

To some, the vote was virtually a point of no return. Germany’s economy minister, Sigmar Gabriel, also the leader of the Social Democrats, said it was now hard to see how talks could resume on a bailout deal.

“Tsipras and his government are leading the Greek people on a path of bitter abandonment and hopelessness,” he told the daily Tagesspiegel, adding that they have “torn down the last bridges on which Greece and Europe could have moved towards a compromise.”

The vote took place under what some analysts called a financial carpet bombing. The European Central Bank severely limited financial assistance to Greek banks, forcing them to close a week before the referendum, making it hard for retirees to get money and raising widespread fear in Greece that people would lose their deposits.

The news media, dominated by Greek oligarchs, saturated airwaves and newspapers with stories about losing gasoline and medicines, while the plight of elderly pensioners was afforded far more attention than in the past, media experts said.

The $elf-$erving level of di$ingenuou$ne$$ is appalling.

Nonetheless, many voters, tired of more than five years of soaring unemployment and a collapsing economy, said they could not accept the terms of the European offer, which imposed yet more pension cuts and tax increases, without any hint of debt relief.

I sure know how they feel.

As word spread of a likely victory for the no vote, people began gathering in Syntagma Square.

They streamed out of the metro — which is free in this week of capital controls — and drove by, honking horns. Vendors sold Greek flags, and there was a peaceful, celebratory atmosphere. 

As you can see, I'm skipping it. Was premature.

People made speeches. Some remembered that at the start of the crisis in 2011 Syntagma became a gathering place for protesters. But then it was a scary place, they said, in contrast to Sunday night.

While there had been speculation about Tsipras stepping down with a yes vote, the man he succeeded as prime minister, Antonis Samaras, leader of the New Democracy Party, announced his resignation, saying, “I understand that our great party needs a new start.”

I think he should resign right now.

For some, the week of hardship — they could withdraw only about $67 a day from ATMs, and some pharmacists were refusing to fill prescriptions — only strengthened their sense that Greece needed to stand up for itself.

After five years in which unemployment soared beyond 20 percent and the country’s economy contracted by 25 percent, many said that a no vote was at least a vote for hope, the possibility of a new deal, rather than following the mandates of creditors who had failed to set Greece on a course to recovery.

(Blog editor frowns)

For others, the hardship only proved that Greece, like it or not, was in the hands of its creditors and could do little but take whatever terms were being offered — the alternative of default, financial collapse, and withdrawal from the euro being unthinkable.

In many cases, they blamed Tsipras’s young government for having returned the country to recession when it had shown small signs of recovery just before the January elections.

At a polling place near the archeological museum in Athens turnout was low, poll workers said. And people coming out of the voting booths seemed split.

(Still pushing the propaganda narrative and lie even after.... SIGH!!!)

“I voted with my heart and also my mind,” said Marie Triadafillou, who works in transportation logistics and voted yes. “I believe when you are in a union you cannot leave. We say in our country if the sheep leaves the flock it cannot live.”

Yet others felt the referendum was not about staying in the eurozone but simply part of long negotiations between Greece and creditors, which broke off more than a week ago when a frustrated Tsipras left Brussels and called for the vote.

Since then, European officials have refused to negotiate and to extend a deadline for the last bailout program, triggering a decision by the European Central Bank to cap its emergency support to Greek banks.



"While Greece accounts for less than 2 percent of the euro zone’s output, an exit would set a precedent for other nations that membership is reversible. The European Central Bank is meeting Monday to discuss extending a new lifeline to Greek lenders, which have been closed for a week under capital controls that were imposed by Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras to stem withdrawals.... Currency markets jumpy after Greek referendum"

Well, the outcome has been decided and it won't affect you personally anyway, Amurkn.

"Ruling clears path for Greece’s vote on bailout; Doubts persist on referendum’s wording, effect" by Griff Witte Washington Post   July 04, 2015

ATHENS — Despite the ruling, confusion reigned across Greece on the final day of a blink-and-you-miss-it campaign that has sown bitter divisions over how to vote, and even what question people are being asked.

Amid reports that ATMs are running so low on cash that they could run out by Monday, both sides of the debate were preparing to stage final rallies in central Athens that are expected to draw massive crowds.

In an appeal on Greek television for a ‘‘no’’ vote, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras urged his countrymen to reject Europe’s ‘‘blackmail’’ and the ‘‘sirens of scaremongering.’’

The vote has been sharply criticized by European officials for the breakneck pace at which it was organized, and the lack of clarity in a ballot question laced with technical jargon.

Valdis Dombrovskis, the European commissioner for the euro, told Germany’s Die Welt newspaper that the question is ‘‘neither factually nor legally correct,’’ noting that it asks voters to issue a verdict on a financing proposal that has already been withdrawn.

Within Greece, there are sharp divisions over what Sunday’s referendum represents.

To the radical leftist government and other ‘‘no’’ supporters, it offers voters an up-or-down choice on Europe’s latest cuts-for-cash bailout plan — even though the offer expired Tuesday along with Greece’s international financial lifeline.


To the opposition and those backing ‘‘yes,’’ the choice is between sticking with Europe or going it alone.

On Thursday, with polls showing the outcome too close to call, a potential new variable came into play: By announcing he would resign if voters spurn the ‘‘no’’ campaign, Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis raised the prospect that Greece will be choosing whether to bring down its government.

Amid the myriad unknowns about Sunday’s referendum, one thing was clear: Rarely, if ever, have a nation’s citizens been asked to decide so much with so little clarity on the impact of their choice, and with so few days to sort it all out.

‘‘Democracy relies on clear questions and clear answers,’’ said Petros Kavassalis, a professor at the University of the Aegean who is helping to coordinate the ‘‘yes’’ campaign. ‘‘But in this referendum, everyone is creating his own question.’’

Kavassalis has been hustling to organize ‘‘yes’’ voters since June 26, when Tsipras stunned his nation, and the world, by announcing that he would put Europe’s offer to a public vote.

The referendum is an end-game gamble by the Tsipras government. 



To Kavassalis, the question facing voters is deeply unappetizing but has a clear answer. ‘‘It’s bad versus worst,’’ he said. The worst would come, Kavassalis said, on the day after a ‘‘no’’ vote.... 

The world didn't end. WTF?

European officials have threatened exactly that scenario, and if Greek voters believe them, it’s thought that they will vote ‘‘yes.’’ Although Europe’s insistence on austerity as a condition for the bailout is profoundly unpopular, few Greeks want to return to the drachma, the country’s former currency.

But Tsipras and his government insist that Europe is bluffing and that the opposition is wrong when it says euro membership is on the line in Sunday’s vote. Instead, Tsipras said in a televised interview Thursday, the referendum is all about gaining leverage in negotiations with Europe that have been put on hold until after the vote.

The strategy is built on the idea that keeping Greece in the euro zone would be less painful for the European Union than a potentially messy break.

‘‘The bigger the ‘no’ vote,’’ Tsipras said, ‘‘the better agreement we’ll achieve.’’

Tsipras vowed that a deal with creditors would be signed ‘‘within 48 hours’’ of the referendum, regardless of the outcome, a promise that European officials have suggested will be impossible to keep.

Tsipras, whose Syriza party was elected to lead the government five months ago on a wave of antiausterity anger, declined to say whether he will resign if the vote goes against him. But earlier Thursday, Varoufakis was unequivocal, telling Bloomberg TV that he will step down if Greece votes ‘‘yes.’’

He did.

Asked whether Europe is seeking a leadership change in Athens, the outspoken professor-turned-minister appeared to coyly agree, citing a line from the British version of the political drama ‘‘House of Cards.’’

‘‘You may very well think that,’’ Varoufakis said. ‘‘I couldn’t possibly comment.’’


"Bailout referendum lays bare deep schisms among beleaguered Greeks" by Liz Alderman New York Times  July 04, 2015

ATHENS —The patrons at the Hangout, a legendary taverna at the oldest food market in Athens, had broken into a heated dispute over Greece’s referendum on a European bailout.

The squabble set off a new cacophony and exposed a schism that has gripped the country.

As patrons tried to convince each another that a no — or a yes — was the right choice to make, their exhortations fell into a seemingly unbridgeable gulf, one that, within the space of a single bewildering week, has turned Greece into a house divided.

“The truth is, we don’t know what the best choice is,” said Grigorious Tsigaridas, a Health Ministry employee, tucking into a plate of grilled meat.

Would a yes vote bring more stability or new austerity-driven misery? Would a no vote force Europe to acknowledge that austerity is a mistake or tip Greece out of the eurozone? 

Would anyone care what the New York Times thinks?


Those questions have been thundering through every corner of this angst-ridden country, in cafes, homes, and businesses. In the echo chamber of cyberspace, angry Greeks are unfriending one another en masse on Facebook after vitriolic online scuffles.

While nobody knows what the vote’s outcome will bring, one thing seems certain: the prime minister’s gambit has deepened rifts, not only with and among Greece’s European partners, but between husbands and wives, sisters and brothers, friends and neighbors, co-workers and strangers.

The dividing lines could persist long after the vote, with consequences for the future of Greece and for the broader European project.

On Friday, the stakes grew higher after Greek bank officials warned that cash machines might run empty Monday if Greece rejects the bailout and the European Central Bank does not renew an emergency lifeline.

Despite that possibility, at the Hangout, most patrons were prepared to vote no. Many were older people who are steeped in memories of being ruled by a military junta, of a civil war and the Nazi invasion during World War II.

“A no vote does not mean we want to get out of Europe,” said Dimitris Kopamos, 70, a butcher at the market for 50 years. “It’s a message that we will no longer live under a yoke.”

They didn't hear you.

“We don’t want pensioners to get more cuts, or to see taxes on food and other products rise to 23 percent,” Kopamos said, complaining that already he could barely make ends meet. “Now the banks are closed, and we can’t pay our employees. If this keeps up, there will be a revolution. We must vote no.”

Alexis Giannopoulis, 53, a butcher from a neighboring stall, sniffed with disdain.

“The situation could get much, much worse,” he warned the others. “If we vote no, the banks won’t open. If we vote yes, it’ll be hard for several months, but that would be better than coming out of the euro.”

Giannopoulis lifted his shirt and revealed a pistol he had started bringing everywhere after draining his bank account and carrying wads of euros to pay suppliers, who now demand cash up front.

“We need to be ready for everything,” he said. “If there’s a no vote and the drachma returns, there will be no money, and things will turn to utter chaos.”

Patience. Patience. In the long term, drachma better. Posted the phrase many times.


Hey, look, IMF here to lend a helping hand:

"IMF says Greece will need more debt help; Report blames worsening crisis on change in government" by Jack Ewing New York Times  July 02, 2015

FRANKFURT — Greece will need more help from eurozone countries to manage its debt because the country’s finances and economic performance have deteriorated since a new government took office, the International Monetary Fund said in a report Thursday that is likely to further heighten tensions between Athens and its creditors.

The report, which assessed the prospects of Greece’s being able to repay its international creditors, was couched in technocratic language and did not mention any Greek leaders by name. But it amounted to harsh criticism of the way Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has managed the country since taking office in January.

What a shock.

The report, coming shortly before a national referendum on Sunday in Greece over whether to accept a debt-relief package opposed by the Tsipras government, has potential geopolitical dimensions. Its tone may feed perceptions that the IMF and eurozone leaders are no longer willing to negotiate with Tsipras and are hoping a yes vote in the referendum will prompt his government to resign.

No assassination then.

The IMF denied it was trying to influence Greek politics and said the timing of the report was not related to the referendum. A senior IMF official said the organization released the report Thursday because elements of it were leaking out.

“I don’t see how we can be seen as interfering with anything,” the official said. He spoke on condition of not being identified by name.


You guys are so delusional. So greedy you are destroying the very $y$tem by which you have profited for so long.

A spokesman for the Greek government said the report confirmed its position that Greece needs a break on its debt.

Before January, the IMF said, Greece’s economy had reached a point where Athens would have been able to make debt payments in years to come. But in recent months, the government has weakened efforts to improve the economy and has slowed the sell-off of government assets that would have raised cash, the IMF said. And that has created a new financing gap.

“Coming on top of the very high existing debt, these new financing needs render the debt dynamics unsustainable,” the IMF said in the report. “If the program had been implemented as assumed, no further debt relief would have been needed.”

The program refers to the international bailout package that a previous Greek government agreed to in 2012, which called for strict economic measures. The Tsipras administration came to power by opposing them.

Greece needs an additional $56 billion in debt relief, the IMF calculated, most of which would come from other eurozone countries.

But even those sums are probably understated because the report was prepared before the situation in Greece deteriorated further this week. The government closed Greek banks Monday to stanch an outflow of deposits, and on Tuesday, it missed a 1.6 billion euro loan payment that was due to the IMF. Analysts say the country is effectively bankrupt.

At the very least, the IMF said, Greece will need to delay repayment of much of its debt. More likely, its creditors will need to write off some of the debt and absorb losses.


That word is likely to be received very poorly in the other eurozone countries that hold most of Greece’s debt. The cost of further debt relief will be borne mostly by taxpayers in countries like Germany, where resentment of Greek behavior is already high.


“Creditors want a change in government in Athens,’’ analysts at Eurasia Group, a political-risk consultancy, said in a note to clients Thursday. ”And they see this Sunday’s referendum as their first possibility to achieve it.”

Turns out, they didn't need it.


I noticed they never even mentioned Syriza in the article; it was all Tsipras.


Fed Loses to Greece as U.S. Stocks Endure Worst Week Since March

Few fears about Greek crisis spreading

Snapshot: S&P 500 extends its decline

Yeah, I AM $ICK of the MIXED ME$$AGES from the craporate media!

"Germany holds tough on Greek debt as others in Europe keep door open" by Liz Alderman and Jack Ewing New York Times   July 07, 2015

ATHENS — Germany continued to maintain a hard line with Athens on Monday, just a day after Greek voters decisively rejected a bailout deal from its creditors. But some European countries showed a willingness to soften the push for austerity that has proved so contentious.

The growing rift between European leaders threatens to complicate any new negotiations as the Greek government moves to restart talks for an international bailout. It also adds to the pressure on Greece, which is close to financial collapse, with both the banking system and the government quickly running out of money.

If a deal is not struck soon, Greece would probably default on a batch of international debts this month and face even more trouble paying civil servants and pensioners.

They just $crewed those last two groups. 

Enjoy the social unrest, a$$holes.

Should Greece ultimately run out of euros, it could be forced to issue a parallel currency or IOUs to pay its domestic bills, prompting it to leave the euro currency.

The country’s financial state is growing increasingly dire.

As Greek banks faced a shortage of cash, the European Central Bank decided on Monday to extend just enough of an emergency lifeline to keep them from failing. But the amount, about 89 billion euros, will not necessarily be sufficient to keep the money flowing to depositors.

Looks like extortion to me, and I'll always remember the old saying: "What you feed a dray horse in the morning if you want a day's work out of him? Just enough so he knows he's hungry." 

Getting to be that time.

Faced with a funding crisis, the government extended a weeklong bank holiday through Wednesday and said that a withdrawal cap of 60 euros ($67) per day from ATMs could be tightened. On Monday, long lines formed again at cash machines throughout Athens as people continued to withdraw whatever funds they could.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has moved quickly to take advantage of the vote results, making the first steps toward conciliation with the country’s creditors.

The combative finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, abruptly resigned at Tsipras’s behest. He was replaced by Euclid Tsakalotos, an Oxford-educated economist who took over from Varoufakis as Greece’s lead negotiator in April.

“I won’t hide the fact that I’m nervous and anxious,” Tsakalotos said at his swearing-in Monday. “I understand that I’m assuming my post at a difficult time.”

The prime minister also persuaded most opposing political parties to back his basic demands from the country’s creditors.

After a six-hour meeting, the leaders of Greece’s five main political parties issued a statement saying they wanted any negotiation to include a discussion of relief from the country’s debt load — a key sticking point with creditors. They are also pushing for immediate help to keep the banks afloat, quick economic aid to tackle unemployment, and new bailout money to cover current debt obligations.

In return, they said, Greece would be willing to deliver “credible reforms based on the fair distribution of the burden and the promotion of growth with the smallest possible recessionary impact.”

But the impasse over a bailout threatens to take on bigger dimensions, with implications for European unity.

Germany, the eurozone country to which Greece owes the most money, remained resistant. A spokesman for the Finance Ministry said Berlin saw no new basis for negotiations with Athens at this point. The spokesman for Angela Merkel, Germany’s chancellor, said that while Greece was still in the eurozone, it was up to Athens to determine whether the country would stay.

Despite Germany’s tough stance, other European leaders seemed eager to avoid the specter of a Greek exit from the euro. While officials in France and Brussels said on Monday that they were unhappy and dumbfounded with the vote, they held the door open to the possibility of a compromise between Greece and its creditors.

Don't need it.

At a news conference in Brussels on Monday, the European Commission’s vice president for euro affairs, Valdis Dombrovskis, said that the vote in Greece would “dramatically weaken” the country’s negotiating position with creditors and had made things “more complicated.”

But now was the time to seek a way forward, he added, saying, “If all sides are working seriously, it’s possible to find a solution, even in this very complicated situation.”

In France, Finance Minister Michel Sapin told French radio that while Greece’s vote “resolves nothing,” France could support debt relief for Greece should Tsipras come forward with a proposal containing “serious” terms for a new bailout package. Sapin’s remarks came ahead of a meeting set for Monday evening in Paris between President François Hollande of France and Merkel to discuss how to deal with Greece.

Both leaders called on Greece to submit urgent proposals to avoid a possible exit from the eurozone. The Greek government said that Tsipras and Merkel agreed that he would present new debt proposals on Tuesday, when eurozone leaders are set to meet in Brussels.

Greek banks could continue to limp along for a few more weeks. But they may face an existential crisis at the end of the month if the Greek government does not make a payment of 3.5 billion euros due on July 20 on bonds held by the European Central Bank. That would seem nearly impossible unless Greece gets some financial aid.

A missed payment to the central bank would signal unmistakably that the government is bankrupt. It would drag the Greek banks down, too, since they would suffer huge losses on their portfolios of the country’s government bonds.

The European Central Bank would have little choice but to stop providing emergency loans that have been keeping the banking system afloat. The central bank is not allowed to lend to insolvent banks. 

Yeah, the same guys who $crewed you are $aving you. 

“The moment of truth will be no later than July 20,” said Wilbur Ross, a US investor who owns a large stake in Eurobank Ergasias, the third-largest bank in Greece. “A default there would likely force the ECB to come down on the banks.”

Ominously, the central bank also said on Monday that it would tighten requirements for collateral that Greek banks must post in return for loans. The move means that, even if the ECB decides to later increase the lending limit, Greek banks might not have enough collateral to qualify for more emergency cash.

The decision, a concession to hard-liners on the central bank’s Governing Council, was a sign the central bank is worried about losses it will suffer if Greek banks fail.

Bankers in Athens are beginning to worry that without additional aid, banks could run out of cash on Friday, said Stefanos Kotronakis, who works in Athens for ACI Worldwide, a company that provides payment processing services for banks and ATMs.

“The situation from a liquidity perspective is really critical,” said Kotronakis, country manager for the company.

People can continue to use debit and credit cards and make electronic transfers within Greece. But Kotronakis said many merchants insist on cash, in part because they are not sure their money is safe in a bank. Without a banking system serving as a conduit for euros and a platform for transactions, Greece might have little choice but to begin printing its own currency.

That is your an$wer, but banker-controlled governments don't go there.


"Economist Thomas Piketty believes Germany is hypocritical on Greece debt" by Chico Harlan Washington Post   July 07, 2015

WASHINGTON — Thomas Piketty, who rocketed to stardom last year with his treatise on inequality, told a German newspaper that the Germans are being hypocritical in the way they’re treating Greece.

A number of prominent economists have raised concerns about Germany’s approach to the Greek debt crisis, which Germans say reflects a need to force changes in Greece’s economy so that it never again has such a crisis.

But in the interview with Die Zeit, Piketty went further, saying the Germans are in the strong economic position they are today only because they benefited from the forgiveness of their neighbors after World War II.

In the 1950s, he noted, Germany benefited from a massive — and, in those days, surprisingly common — round of debt forgiveness that catapulted it into a peaceful economic power. Greece was one of the nations forgiving Germany’s debts. In other words, Piketty said, when it comes to how to handle Greece in 2015, the best argument against Germany might be Germany circa 1953.

‘‘When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: What a huge joke!’’ Piketty said. ‘‘Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.’’ He continued:

“We cannot demand that new generations must pay for decades for the mistakes of their parents. The Greeks have, without a doubt, made big mistakes. Until 2009, the government in Athens forged its books. But despite this, the younger generation of Greeks carries no more responsibility for the mistakes of its elders than the younger generation of Germans did in the 1950s and 1960s. We need to look ahead. Europe was founded on debt forgiveness and investment in the future. Not on the idea of endless penance.”

Piketty, of the Paris School of Economics, last year published the English version of his ‘‘Capital in the Twenty-First Century,’’ which sold millions of copies and documents the growth of wealth inequality in the developed world over generations. In the interview with Die Zeit, Piketty makes the argument that decisions about whether to forgive can have generational implications.

While Greece’s debt has already been trimmed, those relief efforts have been essentially canceled out by Greece’s shrinking economy — and its shrinking tax revenue. Greece lately has failed to hit budget surplus targets, and the International Monetary Fund last month said its debt burden appeared unsustainable without further relief measures. Such measures are what Greece is asking for.

Piketty referred to the period after World War II when Germany, specifically West Germany, was a defeated nation. When a new government was created, it inherited a mess. West Germans still owed reparations from World War I. They needed epic loans to fund reconstruction. By 1953, West Germany’s debt was about $7 billion, or $62 billion in today’s dollars. Bonn owed money to the United States and much of Europe — including Greece.

Those countries gathered in London in 1953 for a debt summit. Archived accounts suggest that the creditor nations seemed to believe they were helping to serve the broader goal of a stable Europe by giving West Germany far easier terms. The formal agreement said debts were being partially forgiven to help Germany ‘‘make a contribution to the development of a prosperous community of nations.’’

The creditor nations waved goodbye to roughly 50 percent of what they were owed.

There are differences between now and then. Then, the United States and much of Europe were jittery about the Cold War and wanted West Germany firmly on their side. And of course now, much of Europe is tied together by a single currency, the euro, that takes away some of the other strategies Greece might employ to deal with its debt, like devaluing its currency.

But Piketty pointed out that ultimately the handling of Greece in 2015 — not West Germany, in 1953 — qualifies as an outlier.

“There have been many ways to repay debts, and not just one, which is what Berlin and Paris would have the Greeks believe,’’ he said.


Slick me$$age, huh?

I'm sure others have a different take on Greece (as if it mattered).

"Greece gets Sunday deadline from fed-up eurozone" by Mike Corder and Raf Casert Associated Press  July 07, 2015

BRUSSELS — Frustrated and angry eurozone leaders gave Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, a last-minute chance Tuesday to come up with a viable proposal on how to save his country from financial ruin.

Overcoming their surprise when Tsipras failed to present a detailed plan, the leaders reluctantly agreed to a final summit on Sunday, saying that could give both sides an opportunity to stave off collapse of the struggling but defiant member nation.

European Union President Donald Tusk [said] it ‘‘is maybe the most critical moment in our history.’’

France’s president, Francois Hollande, agreed. ‘‘It’s not just the problem of Greece — it’s the future of the European Union’’ at stake, he said.

And highlighting the rising anger with Tsipras after months of negotiating twists, the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, had a stark warning for Greece.

‘‘We have a Grexit scenario, prepared in detail,’’ he said, referring to the situation in which Greece would have to exit the currency union.

Fine, you lying f***. If you did, you wouldn't be saying the Greek people betrayed you, $niffle-$niffle.


Tsipras came buoyed by a triumph in last Sunday’s referendum, where an overwhelming majority of Greeks backed his call to reject the belt-tightening that creditors had proposed.

This is crap.

But that domestic victory did not appear to give him much leverage in talks with foreign creditors, who know Tsipras needs a deal soon to keep his country afloat. Banks have been shut since last week and will not reopen before Thursday, cash withdrawals have been limited for just as long, and daily business has come to a near standstill.

So it was with astonishment and dismay that German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned Tsipras he was dancing close to the financial abyss....

One big sticking point is Greece’s demand that terms of its bailout loans be made easier. European officials are split, with the lead lender, Germany, still reluctant. The International Monetary Fund called last week for European states to accept longer repayment periods and lower interest rates. Many economists say Greece’s debt, at almost 180 percent of annual GDP, is unsustainable for a country its size. 

What's your's, AmeriKa? (You don't want to know, citizen; as soon as the world dumps the dollar as the reserve currency, you will).

Greece has gotten two bailouts totalling $266 billion in loans. But spending cuts and tax increases demanded as a condition for the loans have hurt growth, critics say, sending the country into a six-year recession and pushing unemployment to 25 percent.


The government, meanwhile, has been slower than hoped in making the economy more competitive and selling state assets to raise money.

Yeah, sell-off and privatize citizen property. That's traitorou$.


At least US stocks ended higher.

"Greece seeks 3-year loan as deadline looms" by Niki Kitsantonis and James Kanter New York Times  July 08, 2015

ATHENS — Greece, running out of money and under a deadline from European leaders, requested a three-year loan on Wednesday from the eurozone’s bailout fund as the nation and its creditors began what could be a last effort to avert a historic rupture.

But in making a formal request for new aid it needs to avoid further defaults on its debts, Greece did not provide any details of what it would do to show it is serious about strengthening the government’s finances, other than alluding to a willingness to make changes to its tax and pension systems. 

They were elected to protect those.

The government said it would provide specifics Thursday. Nor did it publicly describe the size of the loan it was seeking. Some economists have estimated that Greece will need $55 billion.

Eurozone leaders rebuked Greece’s prime minister, Alexis Tsipras, late Tuesday, before the latest loan request, for not providing a specific new proposal.

Until Athens submits that proposal Thursday, the final deadline the eurozone creditors have set, it remains to be seen whether Greece can finally come close enough to meeting demands for pension cuts, tax increases, and other changes to secure a new bailout deal. Talks have gone on for five months.

Without a deal, which European leaders said they would decide on by Sunday night, Greece seems destined to stumble out of the euro currency union and face an uncertain future as a bankrupt stand-alone economy.

“The last-chance procedure has just started,” Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, told the European Parliament on Wednesday, shortly after Athens sent its formal request. If granted, it would be Greece’s third bailout since it was crippled by the financial crisis more than five years ago.

Tsipras took his case to the European Parliament on Wednesday. In a defiant speech, he said his government was determined to reach a “viable agreement” with creditors. But he also insisted any deal should include debt relief, and he emphasized the Greek crisis was essentially a European problem. 

F*** him.

“We want an agreement that will give a final end to the crisis and show there is light at the end of the tunnel,” Tsipras told the packed chamber in Strasbourg, France. But he said a deal could not come at any price, noting Greece had been “transformed into a laboratory for testing austerity over the past years.”

He just put on a white coat.

Greece’s new finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, submitted the loan request to the eurozone bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism. In an accompanying letter, Tsakalotos mentioned one of Greece’s other main goals: relief from some of its staggering public debt, which is more than $332 billion.

The numbers are mind-boggling.

Before providing additional bailout money, the creditors want Greece to show it can strengthen its finances and handle more debt.

It's called debt en$lavement. 

The main points of contention involve Greece’s overburdened pension system and proposed increases to elements of the country’s value-added tax, some of which are opposed by regional and other interest groups.

The tax adds no value -- unless it is to a greed head's bank account.

The Greek government, elected early this year on a platform of ending years of austerity imposed by Germany and other lenders, is pushing back against further pension cuts and higher taxes, saying they would further weaken an already crippled economy. It is also seeking a quick infusion of aid to bolster economic growth in the short run, as well as a reduction in its debt payments for the long run.

None of that money makes it into the economy; it's given right back as debt payments.

Christian Noyer, governor of the Bank of France, warned Wednesday that time was running out. The European Central Bank will have to stop providing emergency lending to Greek banks unless there is an accord with creditors by Sunday, Noyer said on Europe 1 radio.

Without central bank support, Greek banks will go bankrupt, and the economy will plunge into an abyss. 

It's the central banks that have put them on the edge of it, but you know.... banker's pre$$.

“The Greek economy is on the verge of catastrophe,” Noyer said.


"Greece offers reforms in bid for $59b loan" by Derek Gatopoulos and Raf Casert Associated Press  July 09, 2015

Alas, my printed copy is by Bloomberg, and it is as the blog roll the right-hand side of this blog is saying: Tsipras capitulated.

ATHENS — Greece finally met a deadline that counted on Thursday, delivering a series of sweeping proposals to its creditors before midnight to set off a mad rush toward a weekend deal to stave off a financial collapse of the nation.

The package of reforms raised hopes that Greece can get a rescue deal that will prevent a catastrophic exit from the euro after key creditors said they were open to discussing how to ease the country’s debt load, a longtime sticking point in their talks.

Who$e hopes?

In a significant about-face, the government caved into demands for a new round of austerity measures, including sales tax hikes and cuts in state spending for pensions that the left-leaning Greek government had long resisted.

Left-leaning? Does that bogu$ term even mean anything anymore?

In the text of proposals sent by Athens late Thursday, the government conceded to demands it had previously refused to accept — mostly on moving various categories of goods and services to higher sales tax rates — in exchange for a new $59 billion bailout package. 

It's called BETRAYAL! 

Yeah, vote no, vote no! 

How IRONIC that the BIRTHPLACE of DEMOCRACY is where it DIED!

Many of the proposed reforms were harsher than those roundly rejected by the Greek public in a bailout referendum last Sunday. But the government said that, in return, it ‘‘would seek a commitment from creditors to negotiate . . . further measures to restructure the long-term debt.’’ 

In other words, THEY GOT NOTHING while $TABBING the people in the back!!

The government scheduled an emergency vote in parliament late Friday to win backing for the belt-tightening plan and said it believed it had the support it needed.

They are going to ram it down their throats and up their a$$es!

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras met a midnight deadline with about an hour to spare. The spokesman for eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem tweeted that it was ‘‘important for institutions to consider these [proposals] in their assessment’’ of the situation.

I'm sorry, but I hate Tsipras now.

Finance officials from the European institutions and the International Monetary Fund were to fine-comb through the package on Friday before the 19 eurozone finance ministers assess it on Saturday. In ideal circumstances, a summit of all 28 European Union leaders would be able to approve it on Sunday.

Earlier Thursday, Donald Tusk of Poland, who chairs the EU summits, indicated that European officials would make an effort to address Greece’s key request for debt relief. ‘‘The realistic proposal from Greece will have to be matched by an equally realistic proposal on debt sustainability from the creditors. Only then will we have a win-win situation,’’ he said.

If you exclude 99% of the Greek population, yeah.

Greece has long argued its debt is too high to be paid back and that the country requires some form of debt relief. The International Monetary Fund agrees, but key European states like Germany have resisted the idea.

On Thursday, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said the possibility of some kind of debt relief would be discussed but cautioned it may not help much. ‘‘The room for maneuvering through debt reprofiling or restructuring is very small,’’ he said.

(Blog editor.... never mind)

Making Greece’s debt more sustainable would probably involve lowering interest rates and extending repayment dates on bailout loans. Germany and other European countries rule out an outright debt cut, arguing it would be illegal under European treaties.

Tsipras met with finance ministry officials and his cabinet Thursday to finalize his country’s plan, a day after his government requested a new three-year aid program from Europe’s bailout fund and promised to immediately enact reforms, including to taxes and pensions, in return.

Greece’s financial system teeters on the brink of collapse. It has restricted banking transactions since June 29, limiting cash withdrawals to $67 per day. Banks and the stock market have been shut for just as long. The closures have been extended to Monday. Payments abroad have been banned without special permission.

Bad sign there.

Pensioners without bank cards have been hard hit as they struggle to access their accounts. Some branches have been opened so the elderly and unemployed without bank cards can withdraw a maximum weekly sum of $133 each.

How long until those are seized by the government and are gone? They already took the reserves.

If Tsipras does not get a deal, Greece faces an almost inevitable collapse of its banks, which would be the first step for the country to fall out of the euro. Financial institutions have been kept afloat by emergency aid from the European Central Bank. But the ECB has not increased the amount in days. German ECB governing council member Jens Weidmann argued Greek banks should not get more emergency credit from the central bank unless a bailout deal is struck.


At least the US stock market is looking up!