Greek Election Update

Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on January 20, 2015


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GREEK ELECTIONS: Alexis Tsipras is heading for power – get over it and get behind him.

https://hat4uk.files.wordpress.com/2015/01/alexis.pngWhile 200,000 talented graduates have left a Greek population of just 13 million in the last few years, Western media, EC gargoyles and the failed Greek Establishment seem keen only to make Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras a bogey-man. Today’s piece by Andrew Lilico in the UK Telegraph is a classic of this spinning moral compass genra. But Yesterday’s polls in Greece show that the electorate isn’t having any of it: Tsipras can only be denied now by illegality. The Slog makes a plea for the men who care more for people than money to be given a chance.

Shortly before Christmas, I blogged several times about the likelihood of external forces putting pressure on the Greek electorate. I was right of course….and the blatancy of some of it should confirm to anyone who’s awake that there isn’t a scintilla of democratic soul left anywhere in Brussels, Frankfurt, Berlin or Washington. But dark internal forces have issued more than their fair share of threats and scaremongering.

Schäuble kicked off with his usual “yo muss not make ze mistakes”, and then various Sprouts, bankers and CDU fatheads jostled each other for the chance to say that Athens was courting disaster, but none of it would have the faintest effect on the euro. Bit of a disconnect there, but boneheaded irony was soon tossed aside in favour of Merkel saying renegotiation of the debt wasn’t on the radar, Draghi threatening to close every Frankfurt cash-tap in use, and business leaders on every continent warning of boil-plagues and bank collapses.

Predictably, Greeks withdrew funds from the banks in huge numbers – the self-fulfilling prophecy is a common banker tactic – but this week things have really begun to get out of hand: because now it looks 95+% certain that Syriza will play the dominant role in whatever government gets formed. In that dread context, Samaras told us of his fear that “vandals and hooligans” would surely destroy the recovery plan he had so painstakingly failed to turn into reality, right-wing ND backbenchers said they would fight rather than let Syriza take power, and Golden Dawn hinted at Colonels, putsches, juntas and civil war. Yesterday, Athens and Twitter were awash with rumours about a forced Grexit this Thursday before the election can take place.

A great deal of warning, myth and urging later, however, the latest poll still has Alexis Tsipras consolidating his lead, and unlikely to be short of coalition suitors. So now, the game has turned again – this time, to “Syriza is all over the place and will make a balls of it before collapsing in disunity”.

The piece in today’s Telegraph by Andrew Lilico (his name might be more aptly La-la-con) gives no consideration whatsoever to the subject of illegal and anti-libertarian interference in the affairs of a fellow Member State by bullies and gangsters. Instead, Mr Lilico says Syriza “doesn’t understand” the ECB’s world view, and lacks a grown-up coherent plan for dealing with the threats of the Protection racketeers.

The increasing degree to which Western media adopt this kind of insouciant amorality when dealing with World affairs concerns me far more than the idiot posturing of politicians. It reminds me of The Times (leader of the Nazi appeasement pack) telling the Czechs to stop dithering and just give Herr Hitler what he wanted in 1938. This extract is typical of the Telegraph piece, written in the light of what Lilico had heard at a Syriza press conference:

‘Overall, the impression I had was that Syriza is attempting to pitch itself as very responsible; that [of] sitting to the left of an emerging consensus that the economic programme imposed upon Greece since 2010 has failed, and something else must be tried. That “something else” must include forgiveness of Greece’s debts. But I could see nothing that I felt would appeal to a German politician or voter.’

Setting aside the obvious fact that Lilico is writing about a Party that had nothing to do with Greece’s current situation at all, the author here is clearly asking Tsipras to just please stop buggering about and name the ‘something else’ Greece needs immediately. Given Andy Pandy and his fellow economists have spectacularly failed to do this – or indeed condemn either austerity or QE – it seems to me a quite extraordinarily haughty position to take. Forgivenesss of Greek debt is precisely what is needed, and what I and others argued vehemently for from 2010 onwards.

But the sign-off sting had me boggling: whyTF should the voters of a Sovereign State give a monkeys about what CDU sausage-munching rednecks or Heinrich auf der Strasse thinks? The Greeks loathe the Germans…and it is an object lesson in Anglo-Saxon ignorance that its journalists have not realised this – or indeed ever observed the German holidaymaker’s bafflement about the attitude when in Greece.

There is a very important underlying point to this semi-rant – and if the rant dimension has been spotted as a reflection of my frustrated anger, then I’m well-pleased: it’s time more people got angry about the death of society and self-determination in favour of the 3% of wobbly-jobbly robots at the Top.

My point is, we have ample evidence to show that, running the EU, the following mobsters are in charge: a Goldman Sachs crook with various Italian clouds following him around, who has already lied about his Spanish banking Ponzi scheme, brutally pushed the Bundesbank and Swiss Gnomes out of his way to enable a pointlessly expensive QE exercise, and used financial blackmail to try and derail or at worst undermine the Greek electoral process; a former DDR Stasi-connected Jugendführer who has ruthlessly stitched up every rival on her way to power – including her current creature, a one-time spook in charge of interior spying who forbade Greek elections the last time around; and unelected European Commission fascists so corrupt, not even the auditors have felt able to sign off a single set of accounts in nineteen years.

Last June, Mr Lilico wrote a piece lauding his profession, which he began – without irony – as follows:

‘…economists are usually about as right as it’s possible to be. There, I said it.That shouldn’t be controversial. After all, that’s why economists get paid so much and why societies managed according to economic principles such as sound money, secure property rights and effective competition are much more prosperous than others…’

It is the neoliberal Believer in full flow. Do read the rest of the article…but only if you haven’t eaten for a few hours.

The economists who read Lilico’s Bible of abject failure understand nothing of any importance to humanity: nothing whatever. Not compassion versus money, not the human versus the machine, not up from down, not credit from balance, not good from bad, and above all, not right from wrong. They reject honour in favour of respecting those made ‘honourable’ by money.

In another absolute gem of didactic arrogance, Andrew Lilico writes, ‘Modern orthodox economics is a rich and broad field of endeavour….because orthodox tools are so powerful and fruitful. Some textbooks will tell you economics is the study of incentives. I unpack that as follows: economics is the discipline that tells you why behaviour makes sense’. Well, there you have it then: “no new ideas please, economics is settled science…now the rest of you oiks just f**k off out of the way while I continue to make you more prosperous than you deserve”.

But these people are perilously close to running the show. Don’t be afraid of Tsipras: he’s a bourgeois, good-family structural engineer. My main fear of young Alexis is that he’ll compromise too much. No: be afraid only of the carpet-bagging liberty-hijackers who know they’re right.


Off the keyboard of John Ward

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Published on The Slog on December 3, 2014


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GREECE: Slog vindicated again as Athens calls for new €10bn bailout

It does strike me as very odd (as I’ve written many times before) than an old pro-am hack like me, hunkered down in the south west of France, seems able to understand the real Greek debt situation…..but most experts don’t. Or do, but don’t write about it – I’m never entirely sure.

Last January, I posted a long piece – “Mind the Gap” – pointing out with the use of simple maths that, without further bailout monies, Greece would default in May 2014; and even if they got that money, they’d be in trouble again during the Autumn and early winter.

So it proved. With the European elections as a handy distraction, I was nevertheless able to confirm on March 27th that the Samaras Coalition would be given €8.5bn toavoid default in May. The Wall Street Journal  ran a piece soon afterwards agreeing with the view. After some deliberate obfuscation, on 10th May Athens got the money it needed to make a dent in over €11bn of bond maturaties that became due.

The previous year, Angela Merkel had gone into the German elections and lied her fat head off about the Volk not being asked for any more money, and how the future was bright. She plodded home with ease, since when –  in general eurozone and specific Greek terms – things have gone from very bad to a whole lot worse.

Now Mish’s Global Analysis (which reblogged my January piece) reveals that, yes indeed, Athens needs more money. To be more exact, €10bn. Back in January, I said it would be €5.6bn….but then other targets were missed as the economy got worse and worse; and last week in Paris, the Troika up and mentioned that there were €2.5bn of cuts that the Greeks hadn’t fulfilled. So as I say, now it’s worse than ever.

One side of the devalued coin in this farcical saga is that – even allowing for the fact that Homo Kalamatus Antonikis Samaras has an olive stone where his brain should be – he has lied three times on national Greek television about the reality of the situation. So not surprisingly, Alexis Tsipras’s Party Syriza is now comfortably leading in the polls…..and with the Assembly vote for a new President coming up, Samaras possibly lacks the support required to carry the day. Technically, under the Greek constitution this is a resigning issue, and so we’ll get elections early next year rather than in 2016.

For Brussels, this has all the makings of the sort of nightmare in which a loose nuclear cannon is careering all over the eurozone and fomenting revolt. But sadly, Tsipras has toned down his rhetoric: today he claims that the loan package will have to be renegotiated, but he doesn’t want to dump the euro. Economically this is idiocy, but the Syriza leader knows he can only win the election by appearing ‘reasonable’…ie, he is – as David Cameron would say – a non-violent extremist.

I confess to being disappointed by Tsipras, and here’s why. If you look at the numbers involved in ‘saving’ Greece, then the four bailouts represent probably the most expensive face-saving exercise in history. To protect a potential original loss in the region of €40bn, the Troika threw confetti money at a debt write-off roughly equivalent to Cameron’s HS2 folly. As of this latest bailout, it will have poured €240bn of confetti money onto a debt conflagration that is raging like a Greek forest fire in August.

Do the Sprouts feel humble about this? They do not: “Greece is not in a position to negotiate“, they told the media last week. That is about as Betty Swollocks as Brussels fantasy gets: Although it has a huge debt, Greece at last has a current account surplus. If it renounces the debt, it could reverse the austerity nonsense, leave the euro and be quids in. Which is why I think Tsipras, if he does win the election, needs to play some serious hardball.

I posted at the weekend that 2 euros in 3 being ‘repaid’ by Greece are funny money. The truth is that – with most of the vultures having had their kilo of flesh – the ECB could write off two-thirds of the debt without losing any real money at all. Better that, I would’ve thought, than a defaulting defector with Italy now looming over the same horizon.

In licking the creditors like this, Tsipras is sending a signal to say he’ll be happy with a compromise. He says he wants “a €chunk” of the debt “forgiven”, whereas I think he should shout “fraud” and shoot for the Moon. It’s actually Brussels-am-Berlin that’s in no position to press too hard with the jackboot on this one.

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