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Eurointelligence Daily Briefing: A deal that would turn Greece in a eurozone colony (17.02.2012)
An outline plan for a Greek package has now been agreed at technical level Greece would have to complete a list of 24 ,,prior actions", the Financial Times reports, before it can get access to the funds. There will be an escrow fund that holds debt payments for nine-to-twelves months, and the troika will have a permanent representation. The problem is that with the latest austerity measures, the debt sustainability calculations suggest that Greece is headed for a debt of 128% of GDP by 2020, missing the 120% target. In order to get to the 120%, the bailout total would have to go up to €136bn. Reuters says ideas also include the euro zone cutting the interest rate on its existing bilateral loans to Greece, and asking private investors to agree to bigger losses.  A further option is for the ECB to forego profits on Greek bonds it holds in its portfolio and to re-sell them to the EFSF. The FT's article also said that there is pressure on Athens to form a grand coalition after the elections.


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:41:16 AM EST
Eurointelligence also features an article by former BuBa now-with-Bruegel Guntram B. Wolff (previously noted here).

It was the Troika's biggest mistake to delay the necessary wage adjustment in Greece. Ultimately, growth can only come from exports, and that requires a steep fall in Greek wages.

(behind subscription wall)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 02:51:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is inane. Greek actual nominal wages (nothing to write home about in the first place) dropped 15% in a year, and unemployment still hit the ceiling while Greece lost 7% of GDP in that year. Greek exports were at ~10% of GDP. Greece is not Latvia (although we saw how hard Latvians were punished) you can't grow through exports in Greece with internal demand collapsing and in a recessionary (pretty much) environment, except in the long run. A decade. But not if the whole economy has been collapsing that whole time, because by then Greece is for all practical purposes a 3d World country.

The idea that Greece does not export enough because it doesn't have low enough wages, is so ridiculous if one knows the facts of the Greek economy, that it beggars belief that a former BB president would make such a claim.

As of now, the minimum wage is deep into the poverty zone BTW.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 05:05:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Guntram B. Wolff is inane.

Unfortunately, I only had that teaser and cannot read the whole article to plumb the depths of his inanity.

(inanity only lacks an s to become insanity)

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 05:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's a few paragraphs from the article: How to deal with Europe's debt challenge By Guntram B. Wolff, 17.02.2012
In such a situation, more exports are necessary as domestic growth is hampered by the deleveraging. To increase exports, competitiveness gains are inevitable and they can be achieved by downward wage adjustments. Wage adjustment will, however, lead to export success only after some time as business needs time to invest. In the short-run, the downward wage adjustment therefore aggravates the situation as wages fall but unemployment remains high. This is why the Troika in its first programme for Greece decided against cutting the 13th and 14th salary of Greek workers. It was feared that the same debt burden would need to be serviced with lower wages.
So, he's basically saying that the Troika went too easy on Greece, that even more pain should have been front-loaded and that the "reforms" have been too slow.
On the internal side, the fiscal consolidation should be made as little harmful to growth as possible by choosing the right mix of spending cuts and tax increases. Bad assets in the banking system resulting from the debt overhang in the household and corporate sector should be recognized with rigorous stress tests. The EFSF funds should be used for bank recapitalization and should be provided to governments at very low interest rates. Addressing these banking problems is central to making sure that credit is available for investment in export industries. Strong competition policy should be used to make sure that wage cuts lead to lower prices of export goods and do not just deliver larger corporate rents. Finally, a supply side agenda with the aim to improve education systems, innovation and business conditions is needed.

Besides domestic reforms, a forceful European policy response is needed. To be able to export, demand in the euro area as a whole needs to be appropriate. In current recessionary conditions, it is very difficult to grow exports. The responsibility of monetary policy in such a context is to avoid a recession and ensure price stability for the euro area as a whole. This means that once inflation rates in Southern Europe fall below 2%, inflation rates in particular in Germany will have to increase above 2%. Monetary policy should allow for such booming conditions in Germany and German policy making should not resist this adjustment. Moreover, fiscal policy instruments at a eurozone level may need to be developed if the recessionary environment deteriorates. A European wide investment strategy, for example in the area of energy transition, would be a potential candidate. Finally, structural funds should be used in a more targeted way to help grow exports in the South. Dealing with a debt overhang and competitiveness adjustment requires an effort by the eurozone as a whole.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 05:34:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't suppose Herr Wolff provides any specifics as to what are and why regarding "the right mix of spending cuts and tax increases"? I do not believe the existence theorem has been satisfied or that it can be.  It is much more likely that a Gödel like proof of the impossibility of such a solution could be found. He is basically invoking fairies. After all, he talks of 'inflation rates' in a country caught in a debt-deflation death spiral.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 09:29:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the first part he's (like others in charge of policy) looking for an excuse to explain why "reforms" aka wage suppression aren't working: too little, too late. Though behind the reasoning he seems uneasily aware that building exports on wage cuts at a time of private-sector deleveraging and recession is... difficult. Yet only exports, he says, can save the economy...

The final paragraph contains some more reasonable points. One is suggesting an anti-recession responsibility for the ECB and admitting that, if there's deflation in the periphery, Germany has to accept inflation. The other is European-wide long-term investment in infrastructure, example energy.

So not entirely in(s)ane.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:37:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Inane? He's saying the same thing that we are, ie Greek wages must come down. The only difference is that he's arguing they should come down through depression->nominal wage cuts, while we argue Greek wages should be cut via devaluation of the currency.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 12:49:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a huge difference.

Depression also implies destruction of businessess and employment.

There are ways and ways of reducing the wage bill, if that's what one wants to do.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 12:52:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you know I agree entirely with you on that point. But let's not pretend some holier-than-thou attitude. We want devaluation. Devalutation means lower real wages. Period.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:13:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Would this put pressure on the bottom line of German companies? Sure! But what use is those profits when Düsseldorf just blows them on US mortage-backed securities anyway?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:20:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hey, MBS are fixed income. What "investor" in their right mind wants equity risk?

I mean, seriously, we need to stop protecting speculation by idle money.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:11:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Devaluation means lower wages and lower profits denominated in a hard currency.
I've lived through two major devaluations. The effect on the ostensible quality of life was negligible. This time it is worse than war.

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:44:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if you don't have much trade I suppose that might be the case. But I do think you might have noticed something about the price of food, gasoline, and so on. Furthermore, profits denominated in hard currency do not matter to corporations, as their owners usually have costs in the same currency as the corporation sells in. Further, furthermore, corporations are the main winners in devaluations as they can mark prices up for domestic consumers to compensate for imported goods, while become more competitive in the export markets. Indeed, boosting corporate profits is the main idea behind devaluations.

Now, I could talk about the corrosive effects of serial devaluations in the long run (reduced competitive pressure etc), but I won't as those thing clearly are not relevant in the current situation. or rather, worrying about them right now would be like worrying about a blocked up toilet when the house is on fire.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:59:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"But I do think you might have noticed something about the price of food, gasoline, and so on"

Compared to now, it was minimal, at the time people whined about it, sure. But unemployment wasn't much affected (or it was absorbed in the black economy - now even that is dwindling), regressive taxes didn't shoot up the roof, rents were not much affected, streets were not emptied of shut down shops etc. Now we live, I repeat, through a disaster of a scale one usually associates with a war.

As for profits: take tourism. Salaries in tourism (not uncompetitive vis a vis the real competitors to begin with) have plummeted while the "opening" of professions has reduced what was once jobs you could make a living off to hobbies... At the same time the large units that work with foreign tourism, are not seeing any decrease in revenues (internal tourism is a different issue, it has been wiped out). So the big hotel owners are making money at the expense of their workers...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 05:45:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Price of gas, yes. That gets more expensive.

Frankly, Greece and especially Athens could stand a revamp on that score since there are far too many cars on the road.

But food?

Greece went from 20% imports to 80% in a decade. Greece is the largest importer of French beef, and 15 years ago, Greeks were not beef eaters at all (relatively). In other words, the dynamic has very quickly changed Greek eating habits as well as Greek agriculture. Greece would revert in any devaluation.

Oil is a big concern, of course.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:10:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Devaluation means lower wages and lower profits

Funny you should say that.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:09:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
A nice illustration on what labor reform means. Where is the chart from?

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:45:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It accompanied an article in the Spanish pink-sheet newspaper Cinco Días.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 01:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Data from Spain's INE (National Institutute of Statistics).

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 01:07:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We want devaluation. Devalutation means lower real wages.

True, but misleading. Suppose that price levels are 34 % above where they need to be for balanced trade. Wages are approximately 67 % of GDP. Assuming an import quota of 1/3, achieving balanced foreign trade through wage suppression alone means that nominal wages have to drop by just a hair over 50 %, of which a quarter or so is recouped by the deflationary impact, for a real wage drop of 30-35 %. Add to this the total homeowner and business insolvency that is virtually guaranteed all debt loads are suddenly increased by 34 % in real terms.

For a country which imports to the tune of 1/3 of its GDP, depreciating your way out of a 34 % price level gap reduces real wages by something on the order of 15-20 %. However, the debt load is lightened in compensation, by approximately a full third of the previous real value.

So just in the real wage reduction depreciation is a full 15 percentage points better in this example. And the way the debt load behaves under the two scenarios reinforces this conclusion. And this is before the higher-order costs of imposing a generalised industrial depression are booked to the "wage suppression" option.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:24:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not saying nominal wage suppression is good, or that devaluation isn't a lot better, because it is. I'm just saying, let's not forget devaluations also mean lower wages, and lower wages are needed. Just not in nominal terms.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:28:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not necessarily lower wages relative to domestic prices tough.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:07:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except when your domestic production uses imported raw materials or intermediate goods.

Which is always.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:16:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Still, crucial things like rents do not increase.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:22:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There's always rent-seeking.

Right now it's patently clear that the moneyed class in Spain is getting ready to milk the working population for what they can. When the country implodes, they'll move to Monaco or Miami or something.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:31:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If people can't pay the rents, you'll lose tenants, and eventually you'll reduce rents so as to fill your houses to capacity.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:32:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know how many dwellings are empty in Spain already because owners will rather not rent them out?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:34:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In the long run, they will. And yes, yes, in the long run etc...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:37:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The answer, already, is a whole lotta.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:38:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
probably because it's almost impossible to evict someone, like in France
by stevesim on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:40:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, I hear that in Germany there are renters' neighbourhood associations set up to protect unwary renters from the predation of landlords.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:56:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
there are these associations to protect renters but the proprietors often rip off the renters of their Kaution.

 

by stevesim on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:10:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's also normal in Spain.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:10:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
interesting.  I had never come across that until recently.
by stevesim on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:19:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I mean, what recourse does the renter have?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:21:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
suing the owner in Germany is the norm, with the renter's association giving free legal advice and typing up the forms.
by stevesim on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Er, when the kaution was 3 rents, I used to stop paying rent 3 months before I moved out. Just to save the owner the trouble of transferring the money. I thought it's only a problem if the kaution is so high that an eviction would take less time. More than 3 rents wasn't allowed, though, and I believe this hasn't changed.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 05:11:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In Bavaria, they take it out of your bank account. And they don't stop even after you leave.....
by gk (gk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 02:13:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Lastschriftverfahren", I know. Too few people know that the bank transfers the money back to you if you only raise a finger. It's a method that is based on trust: the bank transfers money from your account to someone who claims you allowed that without asking questions. If you protest, they transfer it back, and again without questioning if the other party might be entitled to the money.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:08:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which is exactly what I did. Only problem was that I had left enough money in my account to cover my last electricity and phone bills. The landlord took an additional month's rent, despite the fact that there was not enough money in the account for this. They then refused to pay the other bills, as my balance was negative....
by gk (gk) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:18:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh shit. I hope you raised hell and the landlord's standing with the bank was not too good.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:26:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And in the U.S. Germany is just like stevesim says (though my experience was with Bavaria....) But I had no problem getting mine back in Belgium. I've no idea if this is typical, or whether this was because the owner was grateful to me for staying until the end of the lease, the previous tenant having broken it unexpectedly to move to the local jail.....
by gk (gk) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:26:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's known to happen in France.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:28:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This must surely be the reason why tenants in France never pay the rent. They can't be evicted, so why bother?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:02:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You don't understand.

Greek wages are too high because Greek people are still refusing to work for next to nothing.

If wages were reduced to Vietnamese levels all would be well.

In an ideal world all workers would be rounded up and put into camps as well. (For their own good.)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 05:29:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If you don't live and work in a Foxconn factory / labor camp your labor isn't globally competitive.

I think that's the logic.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 05:01:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
By which I mean the model is very much there and in use.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 05:04:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
He wasn't BB president, just a BB economist who then went to work for the EU Commission and then joined a think tank.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 06:12:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's all part of the propaganda war - which I'd note has been fantastically successful - we can see that by the steady trickle of commenters who come here to defend Germany from being picked on by evil, irresponsible, lefty, thieving theorists like me.

The propaganda war is to pretend that austerity in a Lesser Depression works - and that it is Greek failings, rather than the failing of the European political class to actually attempt to get the Eurozone out of recession that is the problem.

by Metatone (metatone [a|t] gmail (dot) com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 08:32:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The main problem our "successful" leaders have is that facts are stubborn and they can see their policies aren't working. Someone has to take the blame. So big finger points at Greek lies and cheating.

Yes, it works. I've been surprised by people irl who normally, honestly, wouldn't be all that clued up about European affairs (and who, mostly, were kiddies when Greece joined the EEC), who know with absolute certainty that Greece has been cheating on Europe since Day One.

Fits neatly in a frame of shifty, dishonest Southerners.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:45:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well, yes, they are all out to get you. Its all a big conspiracy.

On the other hand, the "serious" people like yourself around here seem to to advance policies that center around either printing more money or directly taking it from Germany in order to finance consumption in Greece and similar places, burdening the coming German generations with even more absurdly high debt that it already has.

Every Euro in debt needs to be paid for, each year, in interest, money that is missing elsewhere. The German federal government in 2001 already spent more than 16% of its budget only to pay interest alone - one in seven tax Euros goes directly to the banks, without actually helping anyone.  Meanwhile streets and public infrastructure crumble, the social net is subject to increasing budget cuts and the ability of the political system to effect change is shrinking every day.

Any suggestion to increase this incredible and obscene amount of debt is somewhere between dangerously foolish and willfully and destructively reckless.  

Accusing Germans who occasionally point this out of propaganda shows only how far the loss of reality in these small self-debating circles has progressed.

The mostly inevitable crash of Greece is a menetekel, a living example of where no nation wants to end, under any circumstances.  But, apparently, the leading debaters around here want nothing more than bring the whole of Europe to that point, into a deadly spiral of debt, inflation, bankruptcy and collapse.

There are good arguments to point to issues that need solving; and the trade imbalance in Europe is certainly one of them. But as long as the policy prescriptions from "theorists like you" (to quote your own expression) only consist of money printing and transfer payments, you should not be surprised to be treated the way you are.

by cris0 on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 09:06:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
directly taking it from Germany in order to finance consumption in Greece and similar places

If that's what you got from the discussions here you weren't paying attention. In fact no one here is asking Germans to pay a dime for Greece. Most people here (and complain if I overgeneralize) would have liked nothing better than to allow Greece to default in 2010 and let the banksters take the hit. These sort of debt crises are a mechanism in which "investors" and banks get bailed out at the expense of richer country taxpayers and indebted country workers. I would be very happy if the German parliament voted against the new loan to Greece. Accepting this loan would be a disaster for the country. I'll set aside of course the fact that Germany is not giving money to Greece but loaning money to Greece, at 5%, making a nice profit since it borrows it a 2%.
Money printing on the other hand is a reasonable process especially during depressions, as the 1930s taught everyone.

The idea that you can destroy democracy and drive everyone to poverty in order to "pay back debt" I thought was abandoned in the Middle Ages.

Note that austerity, isn't an answer to the debt problem (destroyed economies don't pay back debts), it's an elite political strategy against labor and against the achievements social Europe, everywhere in Europe. So if you think the buck will stop in Athens, you're in for a surprise...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:01:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The idea that you can destroy democracy and drive everyone to poverty in order to "pay back debt" I thought was abandoned in the Middle Ages.

As a side note - it wasn't abandoned. Treaty of Versailles.

But you are right, of course. Thinking people abandoned that idea long ago, because it never worked except in a few very limited circumstances.

But in order to restore a primary budget surplus it's the standard treatment: its what happens when you default, just on a much bigger scale.

I'll set aside of course the fact that Germany is not giving money to Greece but loaning money to Greece, at 5%, making a nice profit since it borrows it a 2%.

Except, of course, you, and me, and just about everybody else understands that Greece is neither able nor willing to ever pay that money back.

Which makes that "loan" what?

Note that austerity, isn't an answer to the debt problem (destroyed economies don't pay back debts), it's an elite political strategy against labor and against the achievements social Europe, everywhere in Europe.

I doubt that. First, "Austerity" is a big word without a decent definition. Germany ran "austerity" politics for most of its recent history and yet has one of the most advanced social networks in Europe. Basically, what got us off track, financially, were three things: the unsuccessful Keynesian episode in the 70ies, Kohl's economically botched reunification, and of course the current crisis. Each of which dwarfs the ones before it.

The point of prudent financial policy isn't a balanced budget per se. Others have noted that one method of dealing with debt is growing out of it (which, fwiw, is only sustainable as there actually is long term growth, which leftists tend to oppose for ecological reasons). So, yes, you can increase debt, in a limited fashion, but only as much as far as it is compensated by growth - and preferably somewhat less.

And if THAT is austerity, well, its the only long term sustainable policy at all. All other policies lead to the Greek end game.

Note that I do not reject Keynesian boom-bust spending by that - at least not the way it was originally conceived. The problem with Keynesian reality is that there is no political system that ever managed to implement the "and in boom years we pay back the debt we incurred in a bust period" part.

Not even Germany. Especially not Germany.

by cris0 on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:50:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Treaty of Versailles.

So you are one of those Germans who, a few months ago, I suggested might be favoring the current treatment of Greece on the grounds that this was what was done to Germany via the Treaty of Versailles! The repetition-compulsion neurosis of Freud: do unto others as has been done unto you.  And my suggestion was dismissed here as being unlikely. By the way, the problem with that behavior is not just that it is unjust, but that it doesn't even work - at least to relieve the anxieties which provoke the behavior.

We never learn. The stupidities of our ancestors we compulsively repeat. But this reminds me of descriptions of my behavior at age 3 with my cousins. My girl cousin was a year older and larger. My boy cousin was my age but smaller. She would hit me and I would hit him! Not very noble, but that is how children are.

The response of visiting on Greece the sort of devastation that was visited on Germany after WW I is, at best, neurotic. Greece never attacked Germany, quite the opposite. And Hitler repaid France in spades for Clemenceau's infamous 'pound of flesh' revanchist treaty. But that didn't stick, so now you want to accomplish by economic means what could not be accomplished by military!  Q.E.D.

Having read accounts of Versailles, including Keynes' The Economic Consequences of the Peace, which reads like a summary of inter war events but was written in 1919, I felt that France, if not the other countries attacked by Germany in the late '30s, had brought a good portion of its disaster upon itself, (by no means to excuse Nazi Germany for its actions).

Thank you for confirming my suspicions.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 01:26:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Should have said "So perhaps you are...

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 03:29:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except, of course, you, and me, and just about everybody else understands that Greece is neither able nor willing to ever pay that money back.

Which makes that "loan" what?


It makes that loan a transparently obvious effort to disguise the bailout of the German banks who made bad loans as an attempt to help to feckless southerners one last time to comply with their obligations - at the cost of seriously increasing those obligations and seriously degrading the ability to pay, via the 'austerity' conditions. This makes no sense economically, but plays well politically to the popular press while giving still more claims for which German banks can be reimbursed by foreigners.

The maddening thing about this is that Greece, like Ireland and Portugal, have been foolishly noble about trying to honor their obligations, and, instead of recognizing that effort and helping them do so, this is seen as a justifiable opportunity to make more money off these countries via the 'rescue'. In reality this is most likely to end up simply as one more way for the German financial elite to milk the German public while getting them to cheer on the efforts, as Greece is suffering far more.

This is similar to what lower class whites in the US South long accepted as their final consolation for being screwed over, bankers and plantation owners, officials, etc.: "At least you ain't no nigger!" I come from that background, have rejected that thinking and know with whom I stand. Such manipulation is most pathetic when it is most successful.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 01:46:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The maddening thing about this is that Greece, like Ireland and Portugal, have been foolishly noble about trying to honor their obligations, and, instead of recognizing that effort and helping them do so, this is seen as a justifiable opportunity to make more money off these countries via the 'rescue'.

See the poor are honest. I.e., strategic default is a tool for the rich. And the level of personal and national "pride" that the Greek people show is actually an atavistic sign on secular poverty.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:14:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany ran "austerity" politics for most of its recent history and yet has one of the most advanced social networks in Europe.

Germany's austerity was a protectionist exercise in which Germany piggybacked on the rest of the Eurozone to pay for the reunification.

Colour me unimpressed.

And of course it won't work for the Eurozone as a whole, because the world outside the Eurozone is not going to let the Eurozone piggyback on their recovery.

Basically, what got us off track, financially,

A creative rewriting of the present. There is no European government finance crisis. There is a European trade imbalance crisis.

were three things: the unsuccessful Keynesian episode in the 70ies,

Historical revisionism. The Keynesian policies in the '70s were perfectly successful at their objective - which was to maintain output and employment.

They were not successful at containing inflation, but (a) inflation doesn't matter, so fuck that. And (b) the '70s inflation was imported and therefore not amenable to fiscal policy solutions.

The point of prudent financial policy isn't a balanced budget per se. Others have noted that one method of dealing with debt is growing out of it (which, fwiw, is only sustainable as there actually is long term growth,

False. The government can simply elect to pay zero per cent interest on its bonds.

And if THAT is austerity, well, its the only long term sustainable policy at all. All other policies lead to the Greek end game.

False. Look at Japan.

The problem with Keynesian reality is that there is no political system that ever managed to implement the "and in boom years we pay back the debt we incurred in a bust period" part.

Because it is totally unnecessary. Governments do not have to pay back their "debt," ever.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 03:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Germany's austerity was a protectionist exercise in which Germany piggybacked on the rest of the Eurozone to pay for the reunification.

It might surprise you, but history didn't start in 2002 or 1999.

Because it is totally unnecessary. Governments do not have to pay back their "debt," ever.

Yea, because after frequently defaulting they have no problem to attract new lenders.

Just how stupid do you think people are?

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:06:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea, because after frequently defaulting they have no problem to attract new lenders.

Just how stupid do you think people are?

Ahem.

Fitch Upgrades Iceland Rating To First Step Of Investment Grade (FEBRUARY 17, 2012)

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:13:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Different situation.

Iceland never defaulted. They just (prudently) refused to guarantee certain debt of their failed banks (something that Ireland should have studied much more closely before doing the opposite).

They found other creative solutions to maintain a banking sector sufficient to service their (relatively small) domestic economy; solution which may or may not work in bigger states.

If investors did learn something from that is "do not lend money to loosely regulated Icelandic banks" - which do not exist any more anyway.

They also might learn "trust the instincts of Icelandic politicians" - which actually could improve their bonds' reputation.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:10:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
With this statement you have lost whatever credibility you had.

In the United States, Cris? Your contribution is really unwelcome. You should spend more time on US politics.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by redstar on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:40:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the United States, Cris?

That's the default setting for new users...

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:42:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
talking about default....

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill
by redstar on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:49:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ah.

hmm.

Thanks for the pointer. Corrected.

FWIW, this kind of mandatory data collection is not a good idea. That particular selection list would benefit from an "undefined" or "world citizen" line.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:09:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]


tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:21:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ET 1.01 you mean?

Would be good.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:43:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ET 1-plus-epsilon.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:46:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
what are you talking about?
by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:56:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Iceland defaulted on its depositor guarantee. Which has far higher seniority than mere government bonds.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:42:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
except, as to my knowledge, it didn't.

Uk and the Netherlands' loud yelling to the contrary notwithstanding Iceland made it clear very early that it only considered Icelandic domestic savers guaranteed; and afaik those were compensated to the legal limit.

Aside from that, even if you were right and Iceland had really changed the order of seniority in favor of its bondholders here, that again would boost its reputation with bond investors. The increase of which was the original point Migeru was making.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:37:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Uk and the Netherlands' loud yelling to the contrary notwithstanding Iceland made it clear very early that it only considered Icelandic domestic savers guaranteed; and afaik those were compensated to the legal limit.

Yeah, except that under the relevant international treaties and domestic law, domestic and foreign depositors are equally covered by depositor insurance. Because depositor insurance is based on the country the bank lives in, not the country the depositor lives in.

That's an insane rule, of course, but no more insane than expecting Greece to pay for Germany's export subsidies.

If an ex post facto law can change a default into a not-default, then I propose that Greece et al introduce such a law stating that all government debt issued prior to such and such date is payable in Monopoly money.

Problem solved!

But if you still don't like the Icelandic example, you can have Argentina, Russia and 1920s Germany as examples of the world not ending just because you go with the Argentina Alternative.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:56:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So where do you think money comes from? Some wizard shitting gold ingots?
Or would you agree that it is created by the Central Bank?

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:15:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it's actually created by the commercial banks. In the short run, the Central Bank just accommodates it.

Otherwise the "real economy" would be swimming in money from the ECB's "nonstandard liquidity measures". Instead, the ECB's liquidity is ending up... as excess bank reserves at the ECB.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:54:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
True but all state debt must be bought with CB money so I don't think it is misleading to say that all the money we are talking about here is created by the CB.

Von überall könnte das Volk, Urbrut alles Undemokratischen, Zelle des Terrors, über die gewählten Hüter von Wachstum und Wohlstand® kommen. - flatter
by generic on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:07:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's quite possible that the announcement of 3-year liquidity auctions, the second of which will take place at the end of the current month, is responsible for the drop in bond yields in recent peripheral bond auctions (Spain and Italy, mostly). After all, banks know in advance they'll be able to turn the bonds into cash.

However, none of this liquidity is free or cheap, despite the low interest rate (you have to take into account the valuation haircut for collateral).

See Why Deutsche Bank Avoids The LTRO

Sometimes, there is news that isn't what it seems. Today, we got one of those: Deutsche Bank (DB) saying that it didn't take advantage of the LTRO due to its wish to keep its reputation.

...

So German public debt yields 0.2%, Deutsche Bank would be losing money on it if it decided to buy and deliver such debt at the LTRO. This means that for Deutsche Bank to make money on the LTRO, they would need to buy debt from the troubled countries, which at this point obviously no bank official wants to increase exposure to.

So the LTRO is a way for banks to make money, but one that works mostly only for the periphery, troubled, countries and their banks. And Deutsche Bank isn't avoiding it because of its reputation; it is avoiding it because it doesn't want more exposure to the sovereign troubles, and there is no money in it otherwise.



tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:41:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The historical experience is that states can access the international money markets again after 18-24 months. See, e.g. Russia, Iceland and Argentina.

Besides, states only need to borrow to fund their current accounts deficit. Which, when you default on all foreign debt, means your trade deficit.

So yeah, a year or two of fuel rationing, and then they're in the clear. So far, Greece has suffered two solid years of far greater arbitrary cruelties in pursuit of an economic theology that has been wrong about everything of any importance for the last two hundred years.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It might surprise you, but history didn't start in 2002 or 1999.

Indeed. The recent episode of (West-)German mercantilist wage suppression began in 1991.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:44:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Speaking of 1991, if German "solidarity" was compatible with the destruction of the East German economy, a fortiori there's no problem with doing the same with the Eurozone doing the same to Greece.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:47:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The same and worse.
by Upstate NY on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:28:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which could have been avoided if East German salaries and fortunes had been repressed, by for example swithcing 2 Eastmarks for 1 Deutschmark.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:11:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
True, but if the Bundesrepublik had had even a half-assed industrial policy for the East, the salaries would have recovered in short order.

The fortunes would not, of course. My heart bleeds for them.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:25:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sure, I agree. Salaries would have climbed back up at the pace East German industry had modernized, just like in Poland, Czech republic and so on.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:29:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
'Ways and ways' are a matter of priorities. Who takes the hit. The wealthy or the workers? Germany wanted to reunify, but not at the expense of the wealthy and powerful.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:53:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As it was, the BuBa retaliated against Kohl by being extra hawkish, which was a contributing factor to the 1992 crisis which ejected the Pound and the Lira (and nearly the Franc) from the ERM.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:13:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
JakeS:
And (b) the '70s inflation was imported

could you please explain/enlarge on this? are you referring to OPEC and the results of their change in policies then, lines at gas pumps etc?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:38:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"As a side note - it wasn't abandoned. Treaty of Versailles."

Yeah, well, the treaty of Frankfurt (1871) imposed to France greater payments in terms of percentage of GDP, and it was paid in two year -despite there having been major fighting in France in 1870 against not a single shot on German soil in WW1.

It was a political decision to pretend that Versailles was an economic impossibility.

Germany loves giving debt morality lessons despite having been the worst debt offender of the 20th century.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 06:31:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Naother instnace of historic revisionism.

To quote Wikipedia:

the total sum due was decided by an Inter-Allied Reparations Commission and was set at 269 billion gold marks (the equivalent of around 100,000 tonnes of pure gold). This 100,000 tonnes of gold is equivalent to more than 50% of all the gold ever mined in history (est. 165000 tonnes) which was clearly not within the means of the Germans to pay. Consequently their only way of paying back the debt was in devalued Gold Marks which ultimately led to the hyperinflation;

The treaty of Frankfurt mandated 5 billion francs, to my knowledge the gold equivalent of 4.5 billion gold marks.

So there is a factor of about 50 between them.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:34:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I read several articles that came to that conclusion back in 2010 but admittedly cannot manage to trace them right now. It might be that part of the reason for the conclusion was that France had to pay within three years whereas Germany was allowed to spread its payments over decades, therefore being able to grow a lot in the interval.
Still:

"the total sum due was decided by an Inter-Allied Reparations Commission and was set at 269 billion gold marks" is more than misleading.

-That was the initial sum but it was promptly brought down to 132 billion marks. Please note that it is estimated that Germany had caused 150 billion marks of damage to the neighbouring countries.
-Yes the currency was called gold mark and one can give a gold weight equivalent, but this would give the impression that it had to be paid in gold which was certainly not the case. It took many forms, including sharing intellectual property (unlike for the treaty of Frankfurt, where it was entirely in currency).

I don't know about the exchange rate in those days, but "So there is a factor of about 50 between them. " is worse than misleading.

First, 132 is less than half of 269.

Then, the German GDP in 1919 was VASTLY superior to the French GDP in 1871 (especially stripped of Alsace and Moselle). I did make my case in terms of percentage of GDP, which in the case of the treaty of Versailles you should spread over several decades (thus the percentage of GDP would fall rather a lot over time).

Which is not to defend the treaty of Versailles. I agree with Keynes in that respect. Now, what Germany insists Greece suffers is probably worse than what Versailles asked of Germany -although Greece did not launch a war in the other European countries.

As for the insistence that Greece follows the European treaties (that were passed with no little political flexing of muscles) come what may, even where they are demonstrably unworkable, well, France abided by all its obligations of the treaty of Frankfurt until 1914. Germany did not.
Yet it's Germany giving the morality evening classes these days.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 01:08:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Except, of course, you, and me, and just about everybody else understands that Greece is neither able nor willing to ever pay that money back.

Which makes that "loan" what?

Default does not equal lack of eventual payment. You can bet Greece will pay these loans back. I hope you also realize that the amount loaned to Greece so far is 80 billion, 13 billion of which come from Germany.

In all prior defaults, even when the money wasn't loaned to Greece but instead to a Bavarian prince who used the cash for his own purposes, Greece paid the money back (unlike in Germany's defaults) at often incredibly high interest rates (20%+++).

The troika loans have seniority over all other loans, and now we find out the ECB just swapped its bond purchases in the secondary markets for senior notes.

by Upstate NY on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:09:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Except, of course, you, and me, and just about everybody else understands that Greece is neither able nor willing to ever pay that money back.

It's not able, yes (it's elites are very willing, it's not like they're going to pay for it) but that realization and the actions that should follow it were never allowed to be articulated, and no policy implications were drawn from it. Quite the opposite, the whole episode was used as a time saving device so the ECB (i.e. the EU taxpayer) could be burdened with the private debt of German and French banks, so it could default at taxpayers expense not the bankers.

Germany ran "austerity" politics for most of its recent history

No. Germany had austerity of the type we're talking here under Heinrich Brüning, AFAIK, and the results of that are well known

But in order to restore a primary budget surplus it's the standard treatment

What? destroying democracy? And why is a primary budget surplus more importance than independence and why does it make mass suffering OK? And again destroying the economy worsens debt and destroys much more than the current economy. One has also to look beyond first order effects...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:40:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
cris0:
long term growth, which leftists tend to oppose for ecological reasons)

Does. Not. Compute.

supporting real growth in quality of life for populations well served by their governments, enacting intelligent, especially ecologically intelligent policies are what being a 'leftist' is all about.

supporting the present giveaways to the already rich, plundering resources for short-term gain, these are the bailiwick of the right.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:33:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
24-48 hours ago you called a few of us conspiracy theorists for claiming that Germany and a couple others were deliberately coming up with additional demands for the Greek bailout so as to force Greece to abandon the eurozone.

Here we are and the same conspiracies are conventional wisdom, not only much remarked upon by serious columnists in newspapers all over the world, but by Greek politicians and then the head of the EC commission and even Germany had to deny after the Dutch flunkies took it several steps too far.

by Upstate NY on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:41:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
conspiracy theories don't become more plausible by the number of adherents they have. I stand by that.  The theory that the evil Germans are purposely "humiliating" the poor Greeks to drive them out of the Euro is ludicrous. The theory is a politcal weapon to a political end - namely inducing Germany and others to accept the current bailout with a minimum of conditioons and oversight.

Here we are and the same conspiracies are conventional wisdom, not only much remarked upon by serious columnists in newspapers all over the world, but by [...] politicians

The same could have been said about "The Protocols of the Elders of Zion" at its time. Didn't make them more true, either.

by cris0 on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 11:01:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So, you think it's reasonable for the troika to show up in Greece 1 1/2 weeks ago and demand austerity measures, which the Greeks duly pass despite huge demonstrations and a general strike.

The next morning the Eurogroup demands 325 million in additional cuts.

Commentators everywhere say they have moved the goalposts. Some even predict the Eurogroup will come up with lame additional demands after Greece approves the bill.

Roesler and the Dutch FM talk of Greece not meeting deadlines immediately about an hour after the new demands.

Huge demonstrations occur as the Greek Parliament votes on the new demands and passes them.

The very next morning, Schauble and others mention new increased requirements. Signed affidavits. On Sunday the day before, Samaras said of course he would sign such a document. He assured that everything would be ready for Wednesdays meeting.

Monday the Eurogroup rejects Greece's plans to cut 300 million from the procurement of military weaponry (gee, I wonder why!!???). They say Greece has not done it homework. They will not proceed with the bailout if Greece cuts its military.

On Tuesday morning as Greece assures it will come up with a different mix for the 325 million (all within less than the span of 24 hours) the Wed. meeting is canceled. Why? Because they don't trust Samaras to sign the document. Meanwhile, in Athens, Samaras is wondering what all the fuss is about. He assured two days earlier he would sign the document by the Wed. deadline he had been given. He signs it and sends it, and not only that, he takes a .pdf of it on Tuesday morning and plasters it on the ND website.

Wed. comes and the meeting has been canceled. The Greeks have long met all the additional requirements. Schauble makes his black hole comment and says Greece has not met the requirements of the debt sustainability prerequisite (a study which shows Greece's austerity program is not working -- NO SHIT, SHERLOCK!!!). A Dutch Deputy FM weighs in that the bailout program will be split and Greece will not receive its answer until AFTER new elections.

Wed. night the Greeks receive word that a new permanent viceroy will be appointed for Greece, that there will be a new escrow account. The Greeks meekly accept.

Surprised by the level of scorn and humiliation the Greeks have accepted, Schauble adds one more heaping spoonful: the elections will be canceled, no Democratic elections for Greece, the two party leaders in the unity gov't have to step down for technocrats.

Apparently, the Dutch flunkie doesn't get the memo because he's still bleating about giving the Greeks an answer after the next election.

Friday morning coms and we hear of yet another new demand: all minor parties even outside of gov't, even splinter parties and tiny parties, must sign the document avowing fealty.

People like Hans Werder Sinn come out discussing how Greece must leave the euro, the CEO of Bosch comes out and says the same thing, several others in and out of German gov't...

...and here we are on EuroTrib discussing whether deliberate and very silly demands were made on Greece in order to get them to leave the eurozone!!!!

by Upstate NY on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:25:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Can you make this a diary, with links?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:32:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unfortunately, I am leaving for a 4 day break this weekend. When I get back, I'm sure I can piece this together.

This will all come from the Guardian running blog and the Daily Telegraph.

by Upstate NY on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:41:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think this also warrants a more general answer.

While this "humiliate them until they break" is imagination, it is quite conceivable that the surplus states, as a plan B, methodically prepare for making the case to cut Greece off, both to their own electorates and the EU public at large.  I think it is conceivable to interpret the meticulous insistence on detail of the powers that be in that context.  And if they do their job, at the moment they do this they will also have a plan to incentivize Greece to move the way they want it to move (i.E Bankruptcy with or without Euro).

Contrary to certain newspapers I fail to see this as evil. To the contrary, it is good political craftmansship. If they don't have a plan B in the current situation they are fools, and you don't go into a decision phase of that kind without a clear understanding of the desired outcome and the path you get there.

by cris0 on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 11:28:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
While this "humiliate them until they break" is imagination, it is quite conceivable that the surplus states, as a plan B, methodically prepare for making the case to cut Greece off, both to their own electorates and the EU public at large.

Nice spin. You realise, of course, that when you strip out all the newspeak, what you're saying is "deliberately and methodically forcing Greece out of the Eurozone after plundering it to the greatest extent possible is pure fantasy, but deliberately and methodically forcing Greece out of the Eurozone after plundering it to the greatest extent possible is quite conceivable."

Contrary to certain newspapers I fail to see this as evil. To the contrary, it is good political craftmansship.

The two are not mutually exclusive. McCarthy's House Unamerican Activities Committee was excellent political craftsmanship.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 03:57:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You realise, of course, that when you strip out all the newspeak, what you're saying is

Nope.

Contingency-planning something and actually doing it is a world of difference.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:43:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not when you systematically foreclose on all other options.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:37:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the other hand, the "serious" people like yourself around here seem to to advance policies that center around either printing more money

Give the man a cookie.

During a depression, you print more money and spend it to defend output levels. This has been known at least since the first serious study of the Long Depression.

Every Euro in debt needs to be paid for, each year, in interest,

No, the ECB is free to set the policy rate to 0 %, so that's just plain false.

The German federal government in 2001 already spent more than 16% of its budget only to pay interest alone

Completely meaningless figure. The only internationally comparable figure is the one for the consolidated government. Eurostat has it, why aren't you using it?

But, apparently, the leading debaters around here want nothing more than bring the whole of Europe to that point, into a deadly spiral of debt, inflation, bankruptcy and collapse.

The Eurozone is definitionally solvent in its own currency, the Euro. The Eurozone has balanced foreign accounts, and can therefore not become insolvent in foreign currency in the foreseeable future.

The Eurozone therefore cannot go bankrupt. Full stop. End of story. Claiming that the Eurozone can go bankrupt is a lie.

And I don't give a shit about your neurotic inflation phobia. 6-8 % inflation is a good thing.

There are good arguments to point to issues that need solving; and the trade imbalance in Europe is certainly one of them. But as long as the policy prescriptions from "theorists like you" (to quote your own expression) only consist of money printing and transfer payments, you should not be surprised to be treated the way you are.

Higher inflation in Germany is the only way to solve the trade imbalances without breaking the Eurozone or introducing transfer payments. Transfer payments is the only way to solve the trade imbalances without higher inflation in Germany or breaking the Eurozone.

If you want neither transfer payments nor higher inflation in Germany, then, by elimination, you want to break the Eurozone.

Because the rules of addition and subtraction are not amenable to political compromise.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 03:40:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm not entirely sure about radically higher German inflation being necessary, even if it would be helpful (especially for Sweden...). Periphery nations can get out of the "big closed economy"-mindset and start competing with nations outside the Eurozone. However, the people who should be clamoring the most for higher German inflation is German workers, who haven't had any pay increases for a decade.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:19:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, they can't start competing with nations outside the Eurozone. Floating exchange rate, remember?

Nor is it desirable for them to do so.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:31:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I fail to see how Greece becoming competitive with non-EZ countries would strengthen the Euro so much that the newly gained competitiveness would be lost.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:47:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because that's the point of floating the currency: To make sure that the external account takes care of itself.

With the external account in balance (as it must be unless you want to argue that the ECBuBa is going to start printing Euro in bulk to buy dollars and Yuan?), and Germany attempting to run a surplus, there must be a deficit somewhere else in the Eurozone.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:52:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's like the Archimedes principle for fluids. Size doesn't matter - the floating exchange rate will do the trick. It then becomes a question of intra-EU competition, and I don't know about you but I'd like the EU to be an area of cooperation, not of cutthroat races to the bottom (we've seen how well that has worked over the past 15 years).

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:16:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
cris0:
The German federal government in 2001 already spent more than 16% of its budget only to pay interest alone - one in seven tax Euros goes directly to the banks, without actually helping anyone.  Meanwhile streets and public infrastructure crumble, the social net is subject to increasing budget cuts and the ability of the political system to effect change is shrinking every day.

Which is an excellent argument for changing the EMU treaty and letting all governments borrow directly from the ECB that they own. That would also solve the immediate crisis in the trade deficit countries as there would be no debt auctions to speculate on. Instead of doing as is done today and letting ECB borrow money to banks that borrow to states. Remember that all money must start from the central bank anyway.

Of course, removing this subsidy from the banks would quicken their demise as the European banks are systematically insolvent, a fact that all our politicians are busy papering over by insisting that all debts should be repaid. If you don't trust me on the that, trust Mervyn King:

US embassy cables: Mervyn King says in March 2008 bailout fund needed | Business | guardian.co.uk

1. (C/NF) Since last summer, the nature of the crisis in financial markets has changed. The problem is now not liquidity in the system but rather a question of systemic solvency, Bank of England (BOE) Governor Mervyn King said at a lunch meeting with Treasury Deputy Secretary Robert Kimmitt and Ambassador Tuttle. King said there are two imperatives. First to find ways for banks to avoid the stigma of selling unwanted paper at distressed prices or going to a central bank for assistance.


A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
by A swedish kind of death on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:22:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so, do your own numbers.

You know Greek productivity figures better than me. 15% down means how many more to go, until competitiveness is reached?

Krugman already pointed that out, I think, more than a year ago. Greece, being unable to devaluate its currency, would need internal devaluation, which is much harder to achieve politically.

by cris0 on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:06:33 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Competitiveness against whom? And doing what? Do you think that competitiveness is the drive towards the least possible salary? In that case Bangladesh and the Sudan would be tremendously competitive.
But note this:
Kaldor's Paradox:... for the postwar period, those countries that had experienced the greatest decline in their price competitiveness (i.e., highest increase in unit labor costs) also had the greatest increase in their market share

Things are anything but linear in the real world...

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 10:17:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you think that competitiveness is the drive towards the least possible salary? In that case Bangladesh and the Sudan would be tremendously competitive.

And yet they aren't.

But the issue remains - wages are one of the variables in the equation. Greece has options to change other variables as well - but many of those need more time to have an actual effect.

But whatever they do, it is my impression the current downward spiral will continue until a point is reached where the whole equation results in a competitive economy.

by cris0 on Fri Feb 17th, 2012 at 11:46:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Or in no economy.

Also, at what human cost?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:16:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But whatever they do, it is my impression the current downward spiral will continue until a point is reached where the whole equation results in a competitive economy.

Please keep your religious beliefs out of the discussion. Macroeconomic planning should not be a faith-based initiative.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:02:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You're being too harsh here. In the long run, Greek wages will fall enough to make the Greek economy, or whatever is left of it, competitive. Wages are sticky - they aren't solid. They do, eventually, shift downward. In the long run. In which we're all...

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:24:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Every historical attempt to suppress wages by fifty or so per cent has ended with tanks in the streets, rather than with wages actually being suppressed that far.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:30:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
We have a higher baseline now. Losing X % of GDP isn't as bad now as it was 80 years ago, because back then, people started starving. Hungry people demand tanks on the streets very quickly.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:50:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Suppressing wages by 50 % in nominal terms will make every owner-occupier in the country homeless.

That's what? Half the adult population and most of the kids?

Yeah, that's gonna happen. And we'll believe in Santa and the Easter Bunny too. But I draw the line at the tooth fairie.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:57:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you're looking at long-term nominal wage cuts (which I still don't support), you'll be looking at falling nominal rent levels as well.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Mortgages are 20 to 30 year things. If you're going to cut wages slowly enough to not trigger an insolvency cascade from distressed mortgages, you don't need to cut them in nominal terms at all. Even at the BuBa's neurotic inflation target, simply keeping them stationary in nominal terms for thirty years would do the job.

Of course, if you do that, you're looking at a literal lost generation. Which means, again, tanks in the streets.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:10:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You think the shock doctrine people are gradualists?

We don't have 50 years to reduce real wages by 1% a year. These people want Greece at 3% deficit in 2009

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:18:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reducing wages by the amount seen as necessary in the Greek case has almost always been a self defeating proposition due to the simple fact that it is highly deflationary and, thus, as wages fall, revenues fall both for businesses and the government and, with reduced revenues, the debt becomes even harder to pay back, which causes and iteration of the process and we end up in a debt-deflation death cycle as first clearly described by Irving Fisher.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:58:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
German wage inflation in the 7% range would help, too.

The problem with "internal devaluation" is that debts are denominated in nominal amounts (or, fortunately a small quantity, in inflation indexed amounts) so "internal devaluation" (i.e., price and wage deflation) makes debt burdens even more unsustainable. In fact, the initial "sustainability exercises" for the Greek economy included forecasts that the debt-to-GDP would grow from about 120% to about 160% or something like that, while at the same time the "bailers" were insisting on "penal interest rates" to avoid "moral hazard".

The whole thing is a travesty.

And, when you consider the absolute level of wages in Greece, the only explanation for why they can be so low and yet productivity also be low is that there is a dearth of investment in physical capital in Greece. The same workers using their bare hands or adequate equipment will be very differently productive. With the destruction of the Greek economy currently under way, productivity still will not recover until somebody outside Greece invests in capital formation in Greece. Oh, and the European Investment Bank cannot do it because its projects have to be co-financed 50% by the recipient state, which is currently being dismantled.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:06:30 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You could of course unilaterally declare that the nominal face value of outstanding debt will be reduced at the same rate that GDP falls. In two minutes you'd have the Troika clamoring for stimulus programs.

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:26:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You know Greek productivity figures better than me. 15% down means how many more to go, until competitiveness is reached?

Wage suppression is retarded, stupid, idiotic, moronic, inane and does not work.

Wages as a share of GDP have to remain somewhere around 70 % for a modern mass-production economy to function. Inequality has to remain at lowish levels for a modern mass-production economy to function.

Attempting to reach "competitiveness" by murdering Greek unions and reducing the Greek labourers to slave wages will destroy the Greek economy. The only way to restore Greek competitiveness is to raise German wages to the point where Germany becomes less competitive with Greece. Reducing the Greek to slavery is also cold-blooded murder of a couple of tens of thousand Greek citizens, going by the Russian experience as a standard for the human cost. But we have already established that you don't give a shit about that.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:01:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Germany becomes less competitive with Greece"

Hum i cannot wait to buy expensive German olive oil.

Bavarian Feta cheese anyone ;-)

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:09:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another insightful comment.

So, do you agree or not that Greece needs to "improve its competitiveness"?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:36:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece becoming more competitive means that Germany becomes less competitive.

There are two ways in which that can happen: Germans can pay themselves more, or Greeks can pay themselves less.

In the former case, everybody wins (except the banksters). In the latter case, everybody loses (including the banksters).

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:54:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dont see Greece competing much with German products, are making Audi more expensive will help the Greek auto industry ??
macroeconomic fallacy, this blog use to be much more interesting, but at least this tread is funny.

What do you say to Dexia's "banksters", as many bank Dexia as lended to Greece.I guess all these banks will be soon only shadow of themselves (retail part only) if Greece default, and there will not be anyone left in Europe to invest in wind energy.

by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:21:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you want to have a laught about Dexia? Check this out.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:26:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
there will not be anyone left in Europe to invest in wind energy

You are aware banks are divesting from their project finance businesses?

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:29:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I dont see Greece competing much with German products, are making Audi more expensive will help the Greek auto industry??

Paying German Audi workers more will allow them to buy more olive oil.

The solution to this crisis is to give Germans more money so they can import more.

What do you say to Dexia's "banksters", as many bank Dexia as lended to Greece. I guess all these banks will be soon only shadow of themselves (retail part only) if Greece default, and there will not be anyone left in Europe to invest in wind energy.

Ah, finally, a clear admission that this entire manufactured crisis is about camouflaging a bailout of German, French and British (in roughly that order) banks.

Thank you so very much for admitting that. Can we please stop pretending that it's about Greece now?

If you want to bail out Dexia because Dexia does business you like, then bail out Dexia. Don't invent an elaborate Ponzi scam that involves reducing Greek wages to Egyptian levels and appointing colonial viceroys to formerly sovereign European countries.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:39:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just for the record, I left that bank two years ago...

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:18:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Wage suppression is retarded, stupid, idiotic, moronic, inane and does not work.

Which basically points to the other alternative - leaving the Euro and going the massive inflation route.

Aside from that, I don't buy your categorical "does not work". "Never" is a pretty big word.

Oh, and my question was simple functional and not advocating a specific policy or course of action. Your inference is wrong.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:57:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has never worked in the two hundred years in which we have had monetary production economies.

And yes you were advocating a policy prescription, because your question is gibberish without the implicit assumption that German wages will keep dropping. If German wages increased by forty or so per cent, Greek wages could perfectly well go back to where they used to be before the crisis and Greece would still recover its competitiveness.

Alternatively, if Greece exited the Eurozone, defaulted on all foreign debt and printed Drachma to sustain its internal economy, wages could also go back to where they were, and Greek competitiveness would be restored through floating the currency.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:41:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
again, you are jumping to conclusions.

But regardless - the scenario of yours is certainly debatable, except for the fact that we don't live in a vacuum.

My job isn't going to disappear to Greece (If you'd be so kind as to raise my salary by 40%), my job is going to disappear to China, Taiwan, maybe even Egypt or Malaysia.

Until that issue is solved we have to account for it.

We can't just all descend to the level of Greek productivity and then live happily ever after.

Of course you could then start the money printing presses again to tackle THAT problem - but in the process I would not only find myself at the same or lower standard of living than before (as inflation would eat up all those gains) - I also would lose a good part of whatever meager savings I might have in the bank. Thank you very much.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:21:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My job isn't going to disappear to Greece (If you'd be so kind as to raise my salary by 40%), my job is going to disappear to China, Taiwan, maybe even Egypt or Malaysia.

No, because we devalue the Euro at the same time.

You get to keep your job, you get to buy more stuff from Greece. A Greek chap gets a job selling you stuff.

Everybody wins.

Except Josef Ackerman and his friends, but fuck them.

in the process I would not only find myself at the same or lower standard of living than before (as inflation would eat up all those gains)

No, you would have a higher standard of living, because you would not be giving away part of your national product for free (which is why you do under a mercantilist currency policy like the one Germany currently pursues).

I also would lose a good part of whatever meager savings I might have in the bank.

Yes. That is a feature, not a bug. Money in the bank produce nothing, create nothing, run nothing. You should only keep money in the bank in order to have liquidity. Savings should be invested, not merely deposited in a bank where they do nothing other than draw an excessively generous government subsidy.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:37:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the face of a generalized deflationary, depressed economic environment?

Have you studied any economics at all?

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by redstar on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:42:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perfectly possible, sadly, in the case of a collapse of the exchange rate, such as what you would see under a poorly implemented fuel rationing scheme in a country which is import dependent on fuel and has a primary trade deficit and no access to hard currency borrowing.

You need to distinguish between imported and domestic inflation. The domestic economy can be in deflation (that is, the absolute nominal markups, including wages, can be falling due to a general industrial depression) while the consumer price index shows runaway inflation due to deteriorating terms of trade.

It's not the sort of inflation the BundesBank idiots think of when they say inflation. But then, the BundesBank subscribes to a remarkably simple-minded theology. So that should, perhaps, not be surprising.

It is, however, more probable, that the state will use the newfound freedom to conduct economic policy to increase nominal markups and wages. You have to have a pretty extreme commitment to austeritarian idiocy to allow domestic deflation to persist in an environment of hyperinflationary foreign accounts positions.

- Jake

Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:54:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece isn't Argentina, but it isn't exactly Zimbabwe either, far from it. No one knows what will happen in the event of a default, no matter how good the modelling, it's as simple as that.

Remember, the scarecrow being bandied about here is "hyperinflation," not simply a bout of high inflation (which actually would be welcome news not just for Greece but for most of Europe).

But, I think we both can agree that whatever the result, the real shame here is that the Greeks didn't just tell the ECB, the IMF and the EU to shove it up their ass and default two years ago, we'd all be better off, not just the Greeks. Though this result was perhaps not unpredictable given the craven clientelism of the PASOK elite, the sort of uncertainty that scenario would have brought about made it difficult for them to remain in control of the money levers to keep their partisans on side and in power. Papendreou...well, enough said.

The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

by redstar on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 01:04:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
At least we can say "I told you so". I made this pic on May 2 2010.

   


Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:35:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
sigh

You might want to stop thinking in scholarly rules. This isn't the economy 101 exam. We have a political as well as an economic problem here.

The debate was about what Greece would do to restore productivity and/or competitiveness and get a grip on its debt.

Why on earth would Greece, in your opinion, want to go the "New Drachma" way? Even though that is, by all reasonable predictions, incredibly painful?

The only advantages are that Greece could

  • create high inflation in a number of ways
  • print serious amounts of money (which creates high inflation as well).

The only reason to go New Drachma is that it wants one of these badly enough.

As long as Greece actually strives for a hard currency, it could stay in the Euro just as well, default or not.

The nice thing about inflation for politicians is that it is comparatively easy to implement, politically, and that it solves their competition problem.

by cris0 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:48:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Going to the New Drachma is necessary, but not sufficient, to implement a full employment policy.

tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:32:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The debate was about what Greece would do to restore productivity and/or competitiveness and get a grip on its debt.

No, that was the debate you wanted to have.

The debate we are actually having is about what the Eurozone should do to counter foreign accounts imbalances.

The debate you wanted to have is about Greece, and Greece alone.

The debate we are actually having is about both Greece and the countries who run a persistent CA surplus against Greece. And the optimal solution to the problem is for them to reduce their surplus - or, to put it in Swabian Housewife Economics terms, to reduce their competitiveness.

Why on earth would Greece, in your opinion, want to go the "New Drachma" way? Even though that is, by all reasonable predictions, incredibly painful?

Because being a German colony is more painful.

If Greece had gone full Argentina two years ago when this manufactured crisis began, it would be out of the woods by now, and the pain would have been considerably less than what it has already experienced, nevermind what attempting to comply with increasingly ridiculous creditor extortion will require.

The only advantages are that Greece could
  • create high inflation in a number of ways
  • print serious amounts of money (which creates high inflation as well).

  • Devalue its currency relative to the €-Mark, thus pushing the unemployment created by Hartz I-IV back to Germany, or to whatever suckers stay in the Eurozone.
  • Reassert sovereign control of its domestic economy.

    (Oh and your second bullet is bullshit - printing money does not create inflation. This is the sort of Swabian Housewife Economics that caused the crisis in the first place.)

    As long as Greece actually strives for a hard currency, it could stay in the Euro just as well, default or not.

    A hard currency confers no benefit to Greece. For that matter, a hard currency confers no benefit to 99 % of Germans either. But the Germans get to vote for their governments, a luxury the Greeks do not enjoy these days.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

  • by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:33:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's not a political problem really, is it? So much as it is a diplomatic problem.

    Relatively soon, Berlin will be fairly well isolated, albeit still (for now) in the center of the EU. In a few short months, Frau Merkel will no longer have diplomatic cover via a partner in Paris.

    What is the end game?

    The Hun is always either at your throat or at your feet. Winston Churchill

    by redstar on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 01:06:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Eurointelligence: A deal that would turn Greece in a eurozone colony (17.02.2012)
    Hollande's top economic advisor prepares entente with Merkel

    In a display of pragmatism Francois Hollande ignores Angela Merkel's support for Nicolas Sarkozy and asks his top economic policy advisor to underline the common ground between the French Socialists and Germany's current government. In an interview with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Michel Sapin, a former Socialist finance minister, stressed that Germany was right to insist on budgetary consolidation and that Hollande would be serious about solid public finances. But Sapin stressed growth was needed to achieve that pointing out that you cannot get a country's finances back on track with a growth rate of 0.5% for five years. Sapin also stressed that Hollande would not seek a change of mandate for the ECB because under Mario Draghi the central bank was doing excellent work. This point is noteworthy because the Socialist's programm foresees that the inflation fighting mandate is extendet to growth enhancement.

    Also, Merkel's popularity soars to two-year high (AFP via Google)
    As some European neighbours criticise Merkel's hardline austerity-driven solutions for the sovereign debt crisis, 64 percent of her constituents said they approved of her job performance, according to the poll for ARD television.

    It was her highest share of the electorate since December 2009, three months after she was elected to a second term.

    ...

    Respondents said they admired Merkel as "honest and not seeking her own advantage" (73 percent), for taking "correct and decisive action" in the eurozone crisis (61 percent) and for "not acting like a partisan politician but as someone who is above the fray" (55 percent).

    LOLWUT?
    Eight[y]-five percent appreciated "how she represents our country in the world".


    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 02:21:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Which basically points to the other alternative - leaving the Euro...

    As J. Edgar Hoover used to say: "The wish if father to the thought." There are obviously MANY other alternatives, starting with making the ECB a true EMU central bank, serving as lender of last resort and creating money as needed by the real economy. All of these things are normal functions of central banks, but the ECB, at German insistence, is a grossly deformed central bank.

    Could somehow Germany be ousted from the EMU it could be run as a sane monetary union. My own recommendation has long been that France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal and Ireland should form their own monetary union, a SEMU, with their own money, the Seuro, or southern euro, and an SECB, or Southern European Central Bank, that would implement a surplus recycling mechanism as Keynes advocated at Bretton Woods. Run along sane lines this could be a great boon for all members.

    Were this to happen, then, one by one the remaining countries in the original EMU would find themselves now in the position of deficit countries WRT Germany and could opt to join the SEMU. This would, in the end, deprive Germany of the ability to rape its neighbors by controlling the monetary policy of a union that was conceived, at least by the non-German founders, as a mutually beneficial organization. Then your beloved Deutchmark would be so strong that your exports would collapse, but the rest of Europe would fare much better.

    The non-German founders of the EMU thought that, in the face of necessity, Germany would come to accept as changes policies that would have brought about a much fairer monetary policy. Current events are clearly showing that these expectations were folly. As soon as the CDU became dominant politically in Germany the fate of the EMU was sealed. Those Germans in control do not appear to care one bit about the welfare of any but the financiers and uber wealthy and the majority of Germans are just being 'good Germans' and going along quietly, mostly, without realizing the price they are paying.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:22:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    >Those Germans in control do not appear to care one bit about the welfare of any but the financiers and uber wealthy and the majority of Germans are just being 'good Germans' and going along quietly, mostly, without realizing the price they are paying.>

    Did you just compare a economic policy you don't like with support of the holocaust?

    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:28:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No. I compared my estimate of the apparent response of the majority of Germans to an economic policy that is unjust, punitive and damaging to foreigners to the response of the majority of Germans to Nazi policy towards minorities.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:39:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    In other words, you minimized the holocaust. Just swell.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:47:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The devastation currently produced in Greece is certainly comparable to what was happening in Germany prior to Kristallnacht, though totally different in character. In the case of Greece people are being thrown out of work and every means of helping them is being attacked or dismantled by the Troika. We will be lucky to get through this without a humanitarian catastrophe.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:58:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Now you are smearing the greek, too. No, I don't a a massacre of Alabaniaas or gypsies or wahtever is likely in Greece.

    though totally different in character.

    In other words, not comparable at all..

    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:06:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, I suppose that massacres of minorities is a worry if the right wing gets sufficiently empowered, but the immediate threat to which I referred was starvation coupled with lack of heat and medical care.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:47:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Getting the power cut off, getting people fired and bashing the health care system in the name of 'reform' is a vastly more subtle but still effective way to bring about a humanitarian catastrophe. Afterwards all can lament together "How could we have known?"

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:50:07 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    When you realize that the history in Greece was much more about famine (700k dead or 12 to 15% of the population) than it was about gunshots or hangings or the like) you realize there is some resonance there.

    I don't understand the Greek politicians at this point. It's pretty clear that Germany will never agree to the ECB issuing Eurobonds.

    When the people's lifetime savings run out in a year or so, the Greek pols will have absolutely no choice.

    by Upstate NY on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 09:47:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Now you are smearing the greek, too.

    I will ask our Greek posters to indicate if they so construe what I said. I don't know whether you are being hysterical or obtuse.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:52:47 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't think someone comparing everything, but everything to fascism or the trail of tears should call others hysteric.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:07:40 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The critical words here are 'humanitarian catastrophe.'

    I've said before there's a good case to be made the results of German action against Greece - and let's be clear that this action is being led by the German financial and political class - is a crime against humanity.

    Whether or not it's 30s style Hitler/Franco fascism is irrelevant. It's obviously old-fashioned colonial economic dictatorship with a nasty dose of racism mixed in.

    The effects are literally disastrous.

    Or perhaps you're not bothered if people die?

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:27:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    >Or perhaps you're not bothered if people die?<

    Actually I laugh. Dastardly. And twirl my moustache.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:33:18 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Let's take that as a 'no' then, shall we?
    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:35:46 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I made no comparison to fascism. My comparison was between the response of the majority of the German people in the mid '30s to the actions of the Nazi government to the response of the majority of the German people today to the actions of the current CDU government. The CDU is not fascist, but the actions of its political and financial leadership towards the Greek people are inflicting great harm to which that portion of German society that supports the CDU seems callously indifferent.

    Plus there is a self-absorbed arrogance in much of the commentary I have seen that seems to minimize, dismiss and/or objectify the consequences of these policies on the average Greek, who has, perhaps, a similar degree of influence on the actions of their government as does the average German worker on their government, or perhaps we should be comparing the average unemployed workers.

    The response of much of the press and most of the conservative leaders seems to be to scapegoat the Greeks and other peripheral peoples and to steadfastly refuse to consider that German actors had a role in the events leading up to the crisis. You would think that Greek criminals broke into German banks and made off with billions of euros. No acknowledgement that, in order for Germany to run a trade surplus others have to run a trade deficit or that my surplus is your deficit. Instead it is all moral framing. Germans run surpluses because they are morally superior and Greeks, Portuguese, Irish, Spanish and Italians run deficits because they are feckless. This is nonsense and surely you should know that. So how can it be justified?  

    This is, I fear, only a step away from the sort of dehumanizing, demeaning and delegitimizing that, in the '30s, proved a prelude to actions that lead to death and destruction. The damage will not be done by German brownshirts, police officers or military this time, but will result in large scale excess deaths due to starvation, hypothermia and illness that are a direct consequence of the actions on which German leaders are insisting.

    The fact that Germans will not literally have blood on their hands and did not specifically decide for specific individuals to die makes little difference to the moral content of the policy, and, to me, makes it no less repugnant. It strikes me as arrogant indifference and disdainful disregard for human suffering and I find it appalling. Again.

    It is the attitudes that lead to condoning inhuman actions that I am comparing, not the political affiliations of the actors.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 11:43:09 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "The damage will not be done by German brownshirts, police officers or military this time, but will result in large scale excess deaths due to starvation, hypothermia and illness that are a direct consequence of the actions on which German leaders are insisting."

    Well, the recent history of the West has been one of outsourcing and delocalisation of large parts of activity. That apparently includes the destruction of communities of "others".

    It makes it all the easier to maintain the arrogant indifference. And to somewhat plausibly deny any accusation of sadism.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

    by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 04:10:35 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ARGeezer:
    Germans will not literally have blood on their hands

    no but the greek riot control troops will, and they -inadvertently, probably- are de facto working for the BB's interests, against those of their own people.

    causing the breakdown of a country to defend the rich of another is a new ball game, or at least a new iteration of an old one...

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:05:01 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "My comparison was between the response of the majority of the German people in the mid '30s to the actions of the Nazi government to the response of the majority of the German people today to the actions of the current CDU government. The CDU is not fascist, but the actions of its political and financial leadership towards the Greek people are inflicting great harm to which that portion of German society that supports the CDU seems callously indifferent."

    But that is  a comparison. And a cheapening of fascism.  

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:33:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's a comparison of an attitude of indifference and lack of compassion in the mid `30s and an attitude of indifference and lack of compassion in 2012, yes.

    Nu krieg dich mal'n büschen ein.

    by Katrin on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:39:01 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hey, people are committing suicide in Greece. They are giving their children away to social services. You will say I exaggerate, but in 10 years time we'll look back to a debt crisis of Biblical proportions. Literally, as in Nehemiah 5
    3 Others were saying, We are mortgaging our fields, our vineyards and our homes to get grain during the famine.

    4 Still others were saying, We have had to borrow money to pay the king's tax on our fields and vineyards.

    5 Although we are of the same flesh and blood as our countrymen and though our sons are as good as theirs, yet we have to subject our sons and daughters to slavery. Some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but we are powerless, because our fields and our vineyards belong to others.

    6 When I heard their outcry and these charges, I was very angry.

    7 I pondered them in my mind and then accused the nobles and officials. I told them, You are exacting usury from your own countrymen! So I called together a large meeting to deal with them

    8 and said: As far as possible, we have bought back our Jewish brothers who were sold to the Gentiles. Now you are selling your brothers, only for them to be sold back to us! They kept quiet, because they could find nothing to say.

    9 So I continued, What you are doing is not right. Shouldn't you walk in the fear of our God to avoid the reproach of our Gentile enemies?



    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:45:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Just go on with the demonization. That will help.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:49:25 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm just (metaphorically) taking a page from David Graeber's book on the anthropology of debt.

    To our modern sensitivity, seeing parents give away their children to social services because they can't pay the bills or are being foreclosed and evicted from their homes is about as morally abhorrent as giving one's children to slavery, which was a common occurrence in ancient times. Back then, there were debt jubilees. This text describes just one of them. The creditors were shamed into agreeing by a moral outrage. The moral outrage then was to cause "countrymen" or "brothers" to be enslaved. The outrage now is the lack of "solidarity". But how far does solidarity extend today? Is there "European solidarity"? I'm sure Greece contributed money to the European disaster fund that was set up after the Elbe floods of 2002. Because of European solidarity. It offends to hear the likes of Jean Claude Juncker to describe the ongoing negotiations of the second Greek "bailout" as "European solidarity" with the addendum that the Greeks still have to show they deserve it.

    For fuck's sake, I'll demonize JC Juncker if I feel like it. I already said he was an idiot in February 2010 and I stand by everything I said in that thread.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:00:42 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What the else has Graebers book to do with anything? No need for an argument ad hitlerum. bBck in the day, when Aznar compared S. Hussein to Hitler, did you cheer?

    If anything is a genocide , nothing is. Is that so complicated?

    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:09:39 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, it has to do with the fact that he points out the history of debt crises in which moral outrage hinged around things like enslaving your own people to pay for debts. If you want I'll look for his actual quote and his footnote, to see if he was referring to Nehemiah o something else.

    What I'm saying is that it is a moral outrage that European "solidarity" allows what's going on in Greece (and to a lesser extent in Portugal or Spain - but we'll get there).

    Look, I'm 35 years old and I've been a convinced pro-European all my adult life. I'm a hair's breadth away from changing that statement to "I've drunk the European kool-aid".

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:13:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There are other moral arguments to be made about debt than "debts must be repaid".

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:14:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That is no justification to use smears and to compare everybody to fascist or fascist supporter. Ia m pretty sure how to make the term fascism meaningless in ten easy steps is not part of Graebers book.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:17:42 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    As you know I don't give a damn when you call "Godwin" on me.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:26:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And I should care about that why?
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:30:00 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So we're even.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:32:07 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Why not? You are arguing in a purely nationalistic way anyway.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:19:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Hah.

    I'm attempting to expand the "us" to include all of Europe (at least). Which appears to be a non-starter in this here continent of ours. Despite "solidarity" being in the preamble of the Treaties.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:22:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Your us has a sharp border to the north.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:31:37 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, the French used to say "l'Afrique commence aux Pyrénées".

    But it was them who said it.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:34:00 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    When Germany murders, in cold blood, a full percent of the Greek population, then yes, that tends to create very sharp borders.

    And I'll have none of your facile denial that this is a German project, has been a German project from day one, and that Germany and German intellectuals (and I use the term loosely) have been at the forefront of the immiseration of Greece.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 02:40:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    >When Germany murders, in cold blood, a full percent of the Greek population,<

    Now that is just a vile fantasy.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:36:36 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No, that's the Russian experience with the consequences of the policies Germany is foisting on Greece.

    Murdering someone by privatising his tap water and his hospitals kills him just as dead as a bullet to the back of the head, so I fail to see why the former should be considered more acceptable than the latter.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:42:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Jake, will you freaking calm down? Your line of argument is not very helpful, and 100.000 Greeks won't starve to death, jesus. At worst they'll emigrate to Germany and live on the dole, which would have a certain poetic justice to it.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:47:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    they cannot get the dole in Germany unless they paid into social security there, so that is not very accurate.
    by stevesim on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:55:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm sure these is some kind of basic welfare in Germany too, to stop unemployed people from starving to death. I mean, in Sweden we keep paying people, no matter how undeserving they are or even if they are recently immigrated from a country on the other side of the planet.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:03:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    nope.  Schroeder got rid of that.
    by stevesim on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:04:08 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Srsly? o_O

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:07:33 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    there are residency requirements and/or social security payments that have to be made -  I believe at least 6 months of payments, not sure about residency requirements.

    and, the payments have been drastically cut so that people cannot even afford to smoke if they are on benefits and cigarettes in Germany are pretty cheap.

    by stevesim on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:11:18 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Unless you're suggesting that the Greeks should be applying for asylum in other EU countries.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:21:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Dude, if you cannot support yourself any EU country can deport you back to your country and be within their rights under "free movement" rules.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:20:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Really? The Stockholm police did that with Romanian gypsies and got rapped on the fingers.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:24:40 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I believe I have linked to this on several occasions
    Right of residence for more than three months

    The right of residence for more than three months remains subject to certain conditions. Applicants must:

    • either be engaged in economic activity (on an employed or self-employed basis);
    • or have sufficient resources and sickness insurance to ensure that they do not become a burden on the social services of the host Member State during their stay. The Member States may not specify a minimum amount which they deem sufficient, but they must take account of personal circumstances;
    • or be following vocational training as a student and have sufficient resources and sickness insurance to ensure that they do not become a burden on the social services of the host Member State during their stay;
    • or be a family member of a Union citizen who falls into one of the above categories.

    Residence permits are abolished for Union citizens. However, Member States may require them to register with the competent authorities within a period of not less than three months as from the date of arrival. Proof of registration will be issued immediately on presentation of:

    • an identity card or valid passport;
    • proof that the above conditions are complied with (see Article 9 of the Directive on the proof required for each category of citizen). Union citizens engaged in training must show, by means of a statement or any other means, that they have sufficient resources for themselves and for the members of their families to ensure that they do not become a burden on the social services of the host Member State. This will be sufficient to prove that they comply with the resources condition.

    Family members of Union citizens who are not nationals of a Member State must apply for a residence permit for family members of Union citizens. These permits are valid for five years from their date of issue.

    Under certain conditions the death of the Union citizen, his or her departure from the host Member State, divorce, annulment of marriage or termination of partnership does not affect the right of family members who are not nationals of a Member State to continue residing in the Member State in question.

    It's free movement of workers (if that), not free movement of people.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:38:00 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    100.000 Greeks won't starve to death, jesus. At worst they'll emigrate to Germany and live on the dole, which would have a certain poetic justice to it.

    a) Not how excess mortality from economic deprivation works.

    b) Just to underscore the serious nature of the policies the Germans (and their friends) are imposing on Greece, you cite mass depopulation as a preferable alternative to the policies currently being implemented. How is that solution any different from the forcible relocation of a conquered population? Except that it's carried out by stealing the victims' hospitals and water, rather than by waving a gun at their face.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:49:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This isn't the 30's, nor is it third world Russia.

    Speaking of population transfers, that's not a bug of the EMU project, it's a feature. Google "optimum currency area".

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:52:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    If population transfer at gunpoint is a feature of the EMU, then I want out.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:53:42 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No guns involved. But people got to move where the jobs are. Or they will be unemployed. That's life in a single currency. We see that in Sweden as well, where the inland and the north is being depopulated.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:02:06 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    But we have a bunch of programs and transfers that keeps the depopulation slow and steady.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
    by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:12:02 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    As has the EU, in the form of those regional support funds.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:19:25 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The policies currently being imposed on Greece are going to involve rather a lot of guns long before it gets to the point of mass depopulation.

    That the guns will be applied to those who do not leave rather than those who do does not make it any less a depopulation at gunpoint.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:16:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't know about gunpoint...

    El Pais: La CEOE pide quitar la prestación a quien rechace cualquier oferta de empleo

    Feito ha abogado, además, por abordar cuestiones eludidas como el subsidio de desempleo, que debe ser retirado al beneficiario en cuanto no acepte la primera oferta de empleo. Ha remarcado que en el resto de países europeos es "inconcebible" que los desempleados cobren paro si han recibido una oferta de trabajo. "Como si es en Laponia", ha subrayado. Por otra parte, ha defendido que eliminar puestos de trabajo en las Administraciones no generará más paro, pues liberará fondos públicos para pagar a proveedores y que éstas puedan volver a contratar.
    The [Spanish Business Owner Association] CEOE demands the withdrawal of [unemployment] subsidies from those who reject any job offer
    Feito also advocated to tackle issues evaded [by the recent labour reform] such as the unemployment subsidy, which must be taken away from the beneficiary as soon as they don't accept the first job offer. He stressed that in the rest of European countries it is  "inconceivable" that the unemployed receive payments if they have had a job offer. "Even if it is in Lappland", he underscored. On the other hand, he defended that to eliminate jobs in the public administrations will not generate more unemployment, since it will free up resources to pay providers so that these can rehire.
    Nothing against Lappland per se, you know, but there aren't even jobs for all the Finns there...

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:05:47 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There are lots of EU states that don't require you to take the first job offer you get. And the employers in all of them say the same damn thing about the others.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:08:02 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Also, if you are forced to take such a job under any conditions, are you freely entering into your labour contract?

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:54:54 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Freedom is such a relative notion...
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 05:40:22 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Has ever a cleaner of toilets signed their labour contract freely, or only because they need the money badly?
    by Katrin on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:15:47 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    However, even if they need the money badly they may be able to reject a particularly bad or inconvenient offer and not lose benefits.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:31:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Completely agree with that. I was just pointing at the relativity of the "free will".
    by Katrin on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:37:46 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The point is that the Spanish patrons want to leave none.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:41:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Lappland has an unemployment rate of about 2%. All skilled Greek miners are welcome. Hell, all unqualified Greeks who want to work hard for high salaries and feel like going to one year mining school in Sweden are welcome to Lappland.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:10:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This might sound ironic but it isn't: Where does one start to find more info on this? I know some younger people who'd jump at the chance if the pay is decent.

    The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
    by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:47:40 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I would guess Starvid refers to this:

    Job Seekers - LKAB

    Work with us

    LKAB will hire 1,200 people over the next three years. That's almost two a day. We're offering exciting career opportunities in 30 companies in 14 different countries! And there are 200 different positions to choose from.

    There may be talk of crisis in Europe and of unrest on the American market, but the reality in Sweden's northern orefields is a bit contradictory. LKAB's new main levels, the build up of extra capacity and the three new mine projects in Svappavaara combined with retirements in large numbers all contribute to our record recruitment needs. We may very soon suffer a lack of manpower resources. We will need an enormously broad skills spectrum ranging from various types of civil engineers and specialist positions as well as mechanics, mine workers and electricians.

    Because LKAB is the dominant mining company.

    Though I have no idea what the 2% number refers to, unemployment in Sweden is mostly calculated on regional basis, placing Lappland in both Norrbotten and Västerbotten, neither having a 2% unemployment or anything close to it.

    It was btw mentioned on the news the other day that Greek workers migration to Sweden has increased significantly.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 05:29:00 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Not only LKAB, but Northland resources as well. Same for all the associated support companies. Unemployment in Norrbotten is what I referred too. I've read somewhere that the latest unemployment numbers were 2.3%. On top of this, Sweden has a succesful history of labour immigration during the 50's and 60's, mainly from Italy, Hungary and Greece.

    Anyway, here is information (in Swedish!) about the one year study program.

    Job applications should be sent to LKAB, Boliden, Lundin Mining or Dannemora Mineral ("my" mine, yay). A command of Swedish is probably needed, or at worst, excellent English skills. And make no mistake: mining is no more the simple job where you just need big muscles and thick skull. The jobs are about operating very expensive and very heavy machinery, so previous experience of that kind is likely very useful.

    Average pay for a miner who is 25-39 years old is 27900 kronor per month, which is 3000 euros. Foreign labour is sorely needed to combat miner wage inflation and the kinda militant unions. ;)

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

    by Starvid on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:23:26 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    PS. As mentioned above, not only underground workers are needed, but engineers, mechanics and so on. If you know people who are good at fixing heavy duty diesel engines or electric motors, well, it doesn't hurt at least sending some e-mails.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:44:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Starvid:
    Unemployment in Norrbotten is what I referred too. I've read somewhere that the latest unemployment numbers were 2.3%.

    Svenskt Näringsliv disagrees. 7,8% vs a national average of 7,5% for 2011. The numbers comes from SCB.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:46:40 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well there you go. Possible was unemployment in Kiruna then?

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 05:09:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That sounds more likely. Kiruna has what, 25000 inhabitants? (And is half the size of Belgium...) So with a boom in the mine and a relocation project that moves the town in order to make way for more mining they should have really low unemployment right now.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
    by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 08:58:56 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And BTW: "mining school" and similar "hurdles to the opening of professions and entrepreneurship" are now a thing of the past in Greece.  What Munchau said about the "categorical imperative"...

    The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
    by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:54:35 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Swedish, Finnish or Norwegian Lappland?

    Assuming it is Swedish Lappland, you loose benefits in Sweden if you turn down a job offer with a salary that is more then 90% of your unemployment benefits and there is also rules on what counts as a manageble distance (that grows with time). So no.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:20:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You never ever lose Socialbidrag. Not even if you're a drug addict who entirely refuse to cooperate with the authorities.

    "Försörjningsstöd har utgetts till missbrukare för kostnader för bl.a. bostad, trots att han inte följt uppgjord behandlingsplanering enligt Regeringsrättens dom RÅ 2009 ref 103.[3] Missbrukaren anförde i målet att han om han inte fick försörjningsstöd skulle mista sin bostad och "måste driva runt på stan". Det finns en politisk önskan att ingen i Sverige skall tvingas sova utomhus, svälta eller känna sig tvungen att begå brott för att få pengar till mat."

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:27:31 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I was talking about A-kassa.

    But do note that that is a drug addict that is willing and able to appeal his case all the way. Not all druga addicts are.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:34:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Acceding or refusing medical treatment can't be used as a criterion for punitive measures, though.

    Unless you want to skirt the edge of the Nürnberg Declaration on medical ethics. Which you usually don't want to do.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 05:39:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So, is Canary Islands to Umeå a manageable distance by Swedish standards?

    Because it is for the Spanish CEOE.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:33:04 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You spent much time in Greece?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:58:44 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    More than in any other country bar Sweden. But it was a long time ago.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:03:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's improved, but still reminds me of Ireland 20 years ago. Which is still catching up with the core of ten years ago ...
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:05:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, it's going to get worse than both.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:19:37 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You should rephrase that as "I am arguing in a purely nationalistic way".

    I've never seen Migeru being an apologist for Spain, though I've been around a LOT longer than you.
    Whereas you are here quite happy to give logical seniority to German conventional wisdom over the laws of arithmetics.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

    by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 04:04:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Pulling rank?

    I have never defended german conventional economic wisdom. or shifted the blame to say the US or Spain or whatever other country. I just tend to point out that the global cultural dominance of certain economic dogmas can't be fought by indulging in nationalism.

    I would like to achieve a bit more of a international left. Or at least european left.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:39:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I have never defended german conventional economic wisdom.

    Bwahahahahahah

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:11:00 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And that isn't an argument either.
    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:24:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Look, I'm 35 years old and I've been a convinced pro-European all my adult life. I'm a hair's breadth away from changing that statement to "I've drunk the European kool-aid".

    Hear fucking hear. Except I'm 26.

    You know, this is the big disaster. Not mass unemployment in a few countries for a few years, or massive bond losses, or Europe looking like a bunch of silly squabbling children to the rest of the world. The big disaster is the destruction of the European dream. Caused, ironically, by a premature project to improve European solidarity and community through a common currency. Remember those days when Nazi arguments in European squabbles were totally totally out of bounds? It was just a few years ago. Can't people remember why Jean Monet et al even started the damn union anymore?

    Maybe the original problem was that the EMU project was invented by people who had experienced the war, and implemented by people who hadn't.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:45:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The problem with the EMU project is that it was conceived by idealists who believed in voodoo economics, and implemented by sadists who believe (or pretend to) in voodoo economics.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:40:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Starvid:
    Look, I'm 35 years old and I've been a convinced pro-European all my adult life. I'm a hair's breadth away from changing that statement to "I've drunk the European kool-aid".

    Hear fucking hear. Except I'm 26.

    yup, me too and i'm 60. destruction of a dream, for the basest of motives. makes me want to scream...

    we had two european generations with remarkable little nationalism outside of football, now the next one will hear murmurs of geno-hatred from the adults rocking their cradles.

    what a freaking waste. just when the eurozone was standing for something new too, worldwide.

    like showing some spine with the pollution tax against airlinss right now. that's the EU i believe in, and am seeing under dire attack.

    next time fix a common fiscal policy before a common currency.

    massive, mortal DUH!

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:14:24 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm sure Greece contributed money to the European disaster fund that was set up after the Elbe floods of 2002. Because of European solidarity.

    Oh. Well, I hope the anecdote lightens up the tone again, instead of triggering off something about ungratefulness or so. No the Greeks didn't send money. They sent something worth soandso much. Er, something they could spare.

    Think of it, there were wet people on the roofs in that cold winter and nobody knew what to do with the shipload of raisins from Greece... In the end the raisins were given to the schoolchildren of Hamburg. My husband still remembers them, a big bag of raisins was something poorer children hadn't had before in those times.

    by Katrin on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:16:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, raisins you only have to grow with your labour and your soil, whereas fiat Euros, well, you have to have all those Central Bankers shit a gold ingot.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:21:32 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Just go on with the demonization. That will help.

    Yes, yes it will.

    Because Greece (and Spain, and Portugal, and Ireland, and Italy) need to wake the fuck up and realise that Germany is not their friend. Germany is not behaving in a friendly manner. And that means that they need to start playing hardball against Germany. Beginning with selectively defaulting on foreign institutions, setting up barriers to German imports to match the German barriers against their imports, and generally behave as self-interested nation-states rather than as members of a political union.

    Germany is destroying the European Union, and you are making bullshit mouth-noises about how the Netherlands and Finland are complicit, as if that makes it OK.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 02:51:30 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The grrek and spanish and irish etc elites want to thank you for your spirited defense of their interests.

    Whatever happened to the "main enemy in the own country"?

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:41:58 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    My country is not in the EMU.

    Of the countries that are in the EMU, Germany is the biggest part of the problem.

    We frequently criticise the neoliberal morons of other countries, but those criticisms are less visible because those neoliberal morons lack such spirited defenders as the German ones have.

    And, again, Germany is the biggest contributor, bar none, to the problem.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:47:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    A more complete response:

    No. I compared my estimate of the apparent response of the majority of Germans to an economic policy that is unjust, punitive and damaging to foreigners to the response of the majority of Germans to Nazi policy towards minorities. Ignoring something monstrous is different from supporting it.

    As to the moral worth of the policies themselves, I feel similarly about the policies of the USA, of which I an a native, towards Latin America, which I find comparable in monstrosity, especially Chile under Allende, Guatemala since 1954, El Salvidor and Honduras, to what the Nazis did, but more insidious, as they are lower in intensity and easier to disguise. And Latin America is only a start.

    I have to live with the knowledge that my country, in my name, is daily committing monstrous acts. At least I am willing to acknowledge what I cannot, yet, change.  

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:49:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Babbling about the american policies versus South america 40 years past doesn't change that your comment is idiotic, vile and enabling.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:53:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I am obviously lacking in the ability to compartmentalize.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 04:59:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ...or in the ability to recognise different sets of meaning and connotation. Not an unusual thing, these days.
    by Katrin on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:05:11 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Perhaps. I do not see these things from the same perspective, obviously, but the fact that the '30s were traumatic for so many, not just the obvious victims, should not make those events a taboo for discussion and even comparison. While specific events today are vastly different, it may be that there are commonalities that are at play, however painful that may be to contemplate.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:52:39 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I am absolutely not advocating to treat them as taboo! I am advocating awareness of the different sets of meaning.
    by Katrin on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:57:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I believe you and your down-thread comments certainly support your assertion.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 06:56:48 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Enabling of what, and of whom?

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:02:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    of genocide. of fascism. white-washing and minimizing is enabling.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:14:11 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You know, when you were born Germany had been a democracy for 25 to 30 years and it remains one. But Greece, Spain and Portugal were dictatorships, tolerated by Germany as part of the West (hey, they were in NATO or as close to in it it didn't matter).

    So don't fucking go lecturing people about fascism, okay?

    And apparently there were a lot of Germans who ceased to be fellow travellers as early as the night of long knives, well before the holocaust was in evidence. So not all conparisons to Nazi Germany have to be about the holocaust. You could have chosen to take ARGeezer's argument along those lines.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:19:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I am lecturing now. Very funny. And spain was what when you were born? And no, calling the citizens of democratic state supporters of a fascist dictatorship is not inside the bounds of discourse.

    Do really don't see the problem with the misuse of terms like fascism or dictatorship?  

    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:27:03 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Not that I like to get this personal, I was born the day after Franco died so we didn't have a democratic constitution until I was 3, we had a involutionist coup when I was 5 and a bit, and we were still having domestic terrorism deaths until just about yesterday. You don't happen to have personal memories of the RAF, I suspect. ETA murdered somebody on my street and exploded one car bomb in the neighbourhood of my school.

    Do you want to go on?

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:38:17 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You started this remember?

    And in my lifetime, including ma adult life the RAF was still quite active.

    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:41:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    calling the citizens of democratic state supporters of a fascist dictatorship is not inside the bounds of discourse.

    The Greek government is not fascist... yet.

    It will qualify as soon as the elections are postponed, however, as Germany is currently demanding that they are.

    So yes, Merkel's government is supporting a fascist coup in Greece. And 85 % or so of the German population is cheering on them as they do so.

    If you do not see why this is a problem, then you are not a part of the solution.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 02:50:52 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    If I would live in your alternative timeline, I would see that as a problem too.

    Happily I don't.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:44:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What alternative timeline are you talking about?

    Are you meaning to say that Schäuble has not suggested that the Greek elections should be postponed?

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:31:37 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Let's say for arguments sake, that he has suggested that.

    a) are they postponed?

    b) will they be postponed?

    c) wouldn't that be - up to certain time of course - quite legal under the greek constitution?

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:38:54 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So you are denying that he has, in fact, said that?

    And why does Greek compliance or non-compliance with Stasi 2.0's antidemocratic demands make a difference to whether Stasi 2.0 was supporting antidemocratic actions?

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:43:21 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I am never dying nor admitting anything in that respect. I don't know. Was that the famous video or are we talking about more official statements.

    To you second question, isn't it quite important to your fascism in greece thesis, if things actually happen?

    And my c), isn't a election until 2013 (or 2014) not necessary anyway?

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:49:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    denying.

    I don't make up stories about dying, not even my own.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:51:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You're a joke.

    Greece faces call to put off elections

    EUROZONE finance ministers are considering a German demand for Greece to postpone its national election as a condition of another huge bailout.

    According to diplomats close to the talks, ministers meeting in Brussels tonight to decide on a E130 billion ($159bn) loan package may require a delay to the Greek election due in April so the nation's unelected technocratic government can implement harsher austerity measures.

    Germany's demand, which will strengthen Greek claims the rescue package is undemocratic, is being pressed by Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble and supported by The Netherlands, Finland and Italy, which, like Greece, is ruled by unelected technocrats.

    Also, this just in from the FT: Greece must default if it wants democracy (by Wolfgang Münchau)
    When Wolfgang Schäuble proposed that Greece should postpone its elections as a condition for further help, I knew that the game would soon be up. We are at the point where success is no longer compatible with democracy. The German finance minister wants to prevent a "wrong" democratic choice. Similar to this is the suggestion to let the elections go ahead, but to have a grand coalition irrespective of the outcome. The eurozone wants to impose its choice of government on Greece - the eurozone's first colony.

    ...

    A senior German official has told me that his preference is to force Greece into an immediate default. I can therefore only make sense of Mr Schäuble's proposal to postpone elections as a targeted provocation intended to illicit an extreme reaction from Athens. If that was the goal, it seems to be working. Karolos Papoulias, the Greek president, fired back at Mr Schäuble's "insults". Evangelos Venizelos, finance minister, said certain elements wanted to push Greece out of the eurozone. Conspiracy theories abound. Hardly a day passes by without a cartoon in the Greek press of Angela Merkel and Mr Schäuble in Nazi uniforms. German MPs expressed outrage at the Greek outrage. Bild, the German mass-market daily, is calling for Greece to be "kicked out" of the eurozone. I shudder at the thought of an act of violence committed against Germans in Greece or Greeks in Germany. This is the kind of conflict that could easily escalate.

    ...

    The German strategy seems to be to make life so unbearable that the Greeks themselves will want to leave the eurozone. Ms Merkel certainly does not want to be caught with a smoking gun in her hand. It is a strategy of assisted suicide, and one that is extremely dangerous and irresponsible.



    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:00:31 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The usual speculation and a link to walled content. Of an australian murdoch  newspaper.

    But I have looked it up now and he did say something like what. We will see tomorrow how far that is an official demand and more important, if the election are delayed. If the elections go on as planned, can we then lay the endless babbling about fascism to rest?

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:20:40 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    What, Stasi 2.0 has suddenly taken to making mouth-noises that are not demands?

    And no, we are not going to let you make apologies for Stasi 2.0's support of fascism just because he happens to lose. Because the fact that he happens to lose is not his doing. Support for annulling elections is support for annulling elections, whether elections are held in the end or not.

    And no, supporting the annulment of elections is not an acceptable bargaining ploy either, so don't bother making that particular vapid excuse.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:46:30 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You do know that anulling a election is something quite different?

    I know you are on "was it over when the germans bombed pearl harbour" roll, but still.

    "And no, supporting the annulment of elections is not an acceptable bargaining ploy either, so don't bother making that particular vapid excuse."

    Still makino my arguments in your head?

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:51:48 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And I will lecturing everybody about fascism I want you self appointed expert.
    by IM on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:28:45 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So not all conparisons to Nazi Germany have to be about the holocaust.

    There are some cultural differences. They are there, don't pretend anything else. Merkel with swastika in a Greek paper is a statement about occupation and lost sovereignty. Germans don't understand that. Here the same picture is understood as an accusation about genocide.  

    It's differences too few people know.

    by Katrin on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:30:49 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    They are there, don't pretend anything else. Merkel with swastika in a Greek paper is a statement about occupation and lost sovereignty.  Germans don't understand that.

    Well, Germans should understand that anti-Nazi resistance nonagenarian heroes are very pissed off. Maybe BILD should point that out to Merkel.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:40:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, maybe. I think it is wiser not to rely on Bild doing it, though. That's why I pointed out that metaphors have different meanings in different cultures, right?
    by Katrin on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:48:34 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    With Merkel's popularity at a high, I think this is all hopeless.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 05:56:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I am not using the word "hopeless" so quickly. But it is awful.
    by Katrin on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 06:00:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    As it was in the USA when G W Bush had high ratings after invading Iraq.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:58:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Good comparison.
    by Katrin on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 03:30:58 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    There are some cultural differences. They are there, don't pretend anything else. Merkel with swastika in a Greek paper is a statement about occupation and lost sovereignty. Germans don't understand that. Here the same picture is understood as an accusation about genocide.

    If the economic policies she's pushing were implemented throughout the European Union, the number of dead bodies would be similar to the holocaust. The German interpretation of that photoshop may actually be closer to the fact of the matter than the author's intended message.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 02:55:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Possibly. That would be irony then.

    It is a matter of communication skills. With these tropes you will definitely get a reaction. If that's all you want, fine. BUT if you have an intended message and want your interlocutor to understand it, I suggest you use something else. Unfair accusations will only drive Merkel's approval rates up, by the way.

    by Katrin on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 03:40:12 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I guess such communication needs to be more like psychotherapy than rhetoric. Similarly, in the US South, when one points out what seems rather obvious racism the response is a vigorous rally to the color bar. But psychotherapy only works when the subject actually wants to understand what is happening and denial is one of the most powerful psychic defenses and, hence, the most common. When it is overcome it is often by crushing trauma.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 01:16:22 PM EST
    [ Parent ]

    >If the economic policies she's pushing were implemented throughout the European Union, the number of dead bodies would be similar to the holocaust. <

    Nuts, really nuts.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:45:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    When Russia was subjected to these policies, approximately one million Russians died, of a population of around 100 million.

    The EU has 500 million citizens.

    Do the math. It's not that hard.

    Of course, if Germany, Austria and the Netherlands were exempted, it would only be 2/3 of the holocaust. But we're still in the right ballpark.

    Major industrial depressions are not a fucking game. Get that?

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 05:52:29 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The holocaust wasn't a game either. Nor a cheap rhetoric trick.

    Get that?

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:06:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    If you don't like that comparison, then maybe you should stop defending policies which, were they implemented everywhere they are being pursued, would give rise to seven-figure body counts.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:13:50 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Of course I only defend these policies in your fantasy.

    You really are drunk on your own rhetoric.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:19:47 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So when I point out that the main enemies of Europe are Merkozy, her minions and the nutters in the BuBa, I'm defending neoliberals in the countries that have suffered German protectionist attacks for the last twenty years.

    But when you herpaderp about how unfair it is that I point out the simple fact that the most vocal and most powerful enemies of Europe are all German, then you're not associated with them at all.

    I'll leave it to the reader to judge whether that's a double standard or not.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:41:26 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So you "point out" and I "herpaderp".

    Is that supposed to be an argument now?

     And you are defending neoliberal elites all over europe by giving them the convenient excuse that they are underr attack from Germany. I don't excuse anybody. So yes, that is different behavior.

    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:59:23 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Derp

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:01:57 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Asshole.
    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:03:09 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Malkovich Malkovich Malkovich

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:06:42 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Have I broken you?
    by IM on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:24:48 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Heat/light threshold anybody?

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!
    by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:52:30 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Take a deep breath and count to ten everybody...

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:06:56 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You don't excuse it, you just flat out deny it.

    I'll leave it to the reader to judge whether that is better or worse than pointing it out.

    And yes, you are herpaderping when you not only make elementary mistakes such as failing to net out cyclical flows in a flow of funds model and stonewall when this obvious newbie mistake is pointed out to you.

    - Jake

    Austerity can only be implemented in the shadow of a concentration camp.

    by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 07:10:52 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    This comment really flabbergasted me, so I really feel grateful that you posted it. Are you seriously saying that in Germany, today, just like in the irrelevant subarctic backwater of Sweden with it's completely collapsed history education, the dominant view about WW2 is that it was mainly about the Holocaust, with some fighting on the fringes? Christ...

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:54:41 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No, not at all. I am entirely concerned with communication within Europe.
    1. Some Greeks sent a message alluding to World War II.
    2. In Germany a message about the Holocaust arrived.
    3. There was only one message.

    Shit.

    But history education would be another interesting topic.

    by Katrin on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 04:11:53 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    And apparently there were a lot of Germans who ceased to be fellow travellers as early as the night of long knives...

    Or worse, had to continue to go along with what they knew was evil to protect the very lives of their family, which I understand. When in a moral swamp there is often no moral move to be made. That is what I fear we are approaching as the Global Financial Rip-Off proceeds unchecked, its true essence studiously ignored by most of the media and politicians.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 07:03:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I hate to tell you this, IM, but, when it comes to enabling lawless, authoritarian government, even if it does not fully comply with common definitions of fascism, that horse has long left the barn. It is called Uncle Sam. We have just become more subtle in how we handle dissent and opposition as well as how the financial elite manage the political system. Like the Roman Empire, we cling to the forms of the republic to mask the fact that the substance is history. For that it is the blindness of the vast majority of US citizens that is to blame. Being one of them I have to accept my share.

    The typical US citizen would react to the above statement much like you reacted to my statement. I had and have no intent to facilitate fascism, here, in Germany or anywhere. Pointing out that self-absorbed blindness to the actions of leaders has and can lead to national disasters is different from 'enabling' such developments. Ignoring those actions is 'enabling', and I have to wonder if your response was tactical.

    Neither the Jews, the Germans, the Armenians, the Turks, the North American indigenous people, the USA, Spain or France or any victim or  perpetrator population have a monopoly on genocide or domestic terror. Neither do any in those populations have veto authority on the ability of others to discuss what happened and any parallels that can be drawn to prevent recurrence, and that was the clear intent of my comment. I have Cherokee ancestors who came over the Trail of Tears to Oklahoma, where I was raised through Arkansas to which I have retired.

    It has taken me a lifetime to come to some understanding of how this and other aspects of my society has affected me and, were you to complain that my understanding is highly imperfect I would certainly agree. At least I do try to understand and I don't try to shut down anyone who wants to discuss the subject, which is what you seem to be trying to do.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 06:53:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'm wondering about what comparison you are making. All governments are lawless and authoritarian - the difference is just a matter of degree, but of course, that matter of degree is very important.
    by rootless2 on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 08:02:51 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The comparison here was between the real and the ideal depictions of 'democracy', of which I have a somewhat jaundiced view. To me it cannot exist unless it includes a significant degree of economic democracy, and what little we once had has been under attack in the USA since the '60s. What the USA and Germany both have is a highly managed democracy, the implementation of which Bernays would be proud.
    (I had a much better link to a facsimile copy before my computer was struck by lightning last July.)

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 12:01:02 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I often see this theory, but I don't really see much evidence. The 1960s started with Jim Crow in full operation and ended in the Nixon era. There was a great deal of freedom for middle class white kids, at least personal freedom, but did the era of Cointelpro and of the Vietnam War had more democracy of any kind than the current era? Was there more "economic democracy" then? How?

    The "left" or what remains of it, seems to me to be crippled by a weird nostalgia for what never was.

    by rootless2 on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 11:31:17 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    rootless2:
    The "left" or what remains of it, seems to me to be crippled by a weird nostalgia for what never was.

    LOL, you're a master of the trolly red-rag-to-a-bull.

    Why do you care so much about the wheelchair-bound delusionary rump of the scare-quote left?

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 11:45:29 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I note you don't respond to my argument but focus on labeling. But the answer should be obvious: in the 1960s, the social justice movement loosely speaking, could pretty much be identified with the "left". And at that time "the left" actually meant something and really could be seen as a line of thought stretching back to the first and second internationals. Now though we have a "left" line of thought that heralds back to the height of the cold war as a golden age, from which we have fallen through the Powers of Neoliberalism. I find that to be a peculiar, incoherent, and historically confabulated argument. And it seems to me that the "left" has lost touch with a larger social justice movement.
    by rootless2 on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 11:58:29 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    rootless2:
    focus on labeling

    I did so in that comment because you use labelling provocatively. If you only want reponses to your argument, only post your argument.

    To which I reply below, and am to some extent in agreement with you.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 12:02:36 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The "left" has - same way as the "right" - always been defined from the need to rally a mayority of the political power in order to rule. In Denmark and Norway we have today parties that are called Left - Venstre - as a result of being founded at a time when the defining charactheristica of the left/right divide was related to a) universal and equal voting rights and parliaments power over the executive and b) the abolishment of inherited economic privileges. The scene changed and they ended up on the right, but the party names stayed the same.

    So I would disagree, there never was a coherent line of thought, only worse or better narratives.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 02:59:59 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    that's true enough, I guess i'm using "left" to refer to  "social democrat to communists" but even that's an uneven track.
    by rootless2 on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:07:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    rootless2:
    The 1960s started with Jim Crow in full operation and ended in the Nixon era.

    The '60s ended with Jim Crow over and done with, and Nixon thrown out of the White House - a couple of details your account left out.

    Did the end of Jim Crow mean economic equality for African-Americans? No.

    Did the end of Nixon mean a definitive step forward for democracy in America? No.

    Was there greater "economic democracy" at that time than now? There was less income and wealth inequality, and the rise in lower incomes gave people the feeling they were part of society and not its garbage.

    Was there more freedom? There were gains in freedom, and not only for middle-class white kids (and not only in America). The Civil Rights movement and radical middle-class white movement gave the impression the world was going to be changed. Was that impression confirmed by events? No. But it's not something that never existed, and neither was it insignificant.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 12:00:18 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Aggregate wealth inequality measures are deceptive. For example, do you really want to argue that in the USA there was less wealth inequality before the women's liberation movement and the various equal pay acts?
    by rootless2 on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 12:14:55 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Do I want to go down your chosen rathole? No.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 12:32:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It was your claim, not mine.
    by rootless2 on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 03:52:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I often see this theory, but I don't really see much evidence.

    I was referring to workplace democracy, which was present in the '60s mostly as an ideal, i.e. the SDS manifesto. This has largely been driven out of the public debate, though some creative companies have seen the competitive advantages and moved in that direction, so, while there are some trade-offs, as a tool to transform society, and especially as a tool that might be reenforced by law and regulation, it has been largely forgotten and is no current threat to 'market discipline'.

    The Civil Rights Act was an important, historic step in the right direction, but not as a tool for economic democracy, certainly after the assassination of MLK. The women's liberation movement gave women options but has done little to close the pay gap and, in fact, the response by business seems to have been: "Oh good! Now we can require the wife to work for 2/3ds to 3/4rs of her husbands wage and thereby put pressure on rising wages." It would not surprise me to find this having been directly discussed by Chamber of Commerce leaders.

    The ideal has largely been forgotten while the implementation of the progressive reforms have been implemented in ways destructive to the original intent but friendly to business, largely due to the influence of business organizations on governments through campaign finance and on public opinion through owned media and 'think tank' propaganda.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 10:51:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I've long defended the view that drawing parallels with the Nazi period is not fruitful.

    This entire subthread confirms me in that view.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 06:22:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Cool. What periods of history are we allowed draw parallels with? Is there a whitelist or just a blacklist? Is the whole middle of the 20th C out of bounds? Can we discuss the fascist  movements so long as we don't bring up the Nazis?
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:10:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I was neither prescribing nor proscribing in my comment. I have consistently argued that Nazi parallels are false. I don't see anything in the above subthread that would make me change my mind.

    If you have an enlightening Nazi parallel to share with us, go ahead.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:16:56 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Further now, in the light (???) of the latest sequence of "debate", I am 100% sure I'm right that half-assed rhetoric referring back to the Nazi period is improductive of anything but invective.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:12:03 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well, when comparisons of attitudes then and now between people in the same country are so striking I begin to wonder if defensive explosions are a deliberate ploy to deflect valid comparisons. Are we or they to expect that the events of the '30s were so painful that, even in similar economic circumstances today, they could never be repeated, even in small part? If the factors that led to those events have indeed been dealt with then it should be possible to discuss those events rationally. If they have not does that mean that they should be ignored? I am concerned that events similar to the '30s could occur in the USA in the not too distant future.

    Jerome noted recently that a possible solution to the current impasse over possible ECB actions would be for the French to say the Germans were acting like Nazis and they would blink - or not. Perhaps that was tongue in cheek, but it is largely the current French government that is giving Germany cover for its current policies.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:20:07 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ARGeezer:
    Are we or they to expect that the events of the '30s were so painful that, even in similar economic circumstances today, they could never be repeated, even in small part?

    Of course not. And I didn't say that. However, you would have to define "repeated" very carefully. And, having done so, you might find the conclusion was that the parallel was too schematic to fit the real complexities of historical situations.

    ARGeezer:

    If the factors that led to those events have indeed been dealt with then it should be possible to discuss those events rationally.

    If you are ready to write the historical treatise that would adequately cover the ground you propose, I'd be eager to see it. But just making a quick cross-reference between German citizens today and those of the 1930s is not adequate. And the fact that over-reaction to it thinly disguises denial (of today's situation), does not make it so.

    Oh, and pace Colman above, and what I feel is the subtext of your comment, I am not laying down rules or proposing censorship. It has been said again and again here that editors are members of the community who are perfectly within their rights in expressing their opinion. That is what I'm doing (and presumably you and Colman too). The limits to discourse on ET (beyond certain obscure open thread traditions) are explained here and here.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:24:22 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Actually, I think you're misidentifying the problem.

    The problem is that every damn time we get critical of a specific government (despite cursing the other fuckwit leaders at the same time) the nationalist hackles rise and we get completely irrational defences. The English and Americans when we talk about Anglo disease or Iraq (well, not so much Iraq), the French when we point out how bloody racist mainstream right discourse is and that the left are providing cover for them, the Germans when we point out that their government is batshit insane and has no regard for the consequences of their actions beyond the short term political calculus, the Russians when we're mean about poor little Putin, and so on and so forth.

    The problem with analogies to the events of the early to mid 20th C is that it's lovely cover for  nationalist outrage. "Oooooh, you said Nazi!" It's like a fucking pantomime.  

    However, it's still extremely relevant, both psychologically - those events inform a lot of national myths, not least the Greek - and analytically. We, as a continent, are wandering along the edge of  a deep dark valley again, for much the same reasons and exhibiting a lot of the same philosophies.

    Do I expect a rise of the Nazis? No, don't be silly. However, among the lessons of that period is that is very easy for conceited arrogant fools to enable some very dangerous people to gain power. Wrecking peoples lives and discrediting democracy and shaming their group is extremely dangerous and it's pretty clear that the fuck wits in Germany and the rest of the capitals don't clearly understand this. The outstanding demonstration of how dangerous it is is the rise of Hitler and his band of maniacs. They managed to take over a pretty modern industrialised country because it had been economically ruined by idiots, democracy had been discredited and undermined and because the arrogant fools thought they could control their little monster. We paid a hell of a price to learn that lesson last time. How much will we pay this time, since we've not only forgotten history but can't remember it in order to protect civility?

     It's not the same dark valley, and who knows what's at the bottom of it?

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:04:49 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Diary

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:16:54 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Colman:
    It's not the same dark valley, and who knows what's at the bottom of it?

    Right. So diary.

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:41:04 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    "the French when we point out how bloody racist mainstream right discourse is"

    I don't know about that Colman, I know quite a few French people here who will defend your claim, not the mainstream right discourse.


    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

    by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:08:19 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I think it's the second part of the phrase that matters.
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:11:32 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Oh, of course. I possibly should have been clearer that it's not all of any nationality that do it. And sometimes it's the ones who've adopted a country that run off the deep end fastest.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:39:42 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Since I live in the USA, it goes without saying that I live in a racist society from top to bottom. It's racist toward African-Americans and Latinos.

    In Europe, where I've also lived, it struck me as absurd (being an American) that so much stock is placed in ethnic DNA.

    The prejudices on either continent are different. People of learning find all forms of racism repugnant, so that any mention of the genetic inferiority of African descendants or Native/Aborigines, etc., would be immediately countered.

    Yet, even in polite and learned company in Europe, I find an incredible ease in discussing ethnic differences within Europe. I've always felt uneasy with that ease. It is very common. In the USA, you rarely hear racial insults on the street, but I heard ethnic insults all over Europe. In newspaper columns, for instance, I've often heard the distinction between Ancient Greeks and contemporary ones with columnists pointing out that the Classical Greek bloodline has been so mongrelized that we now have a lesser strain. I shake my head in amusement when I read such things.

    I'm not trying to downplay American racism since I think its unspoken coerciveness is still easily the more virulent when compared to Euro prejudices.

    by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:43:27 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Upstate NY:
    In the USA, you rarely hear racial insults on the street

    Spontaneous politeness? Or the fact that a relatively high proportion of passers-by might be armed?

    it's the old joke : what do you call an eight-foot African with a spear?

    It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

    by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:55:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Could be both.

    Consider, there is a great deal of defensive energy spent battling the racist label. Most racists absolutely abhor being branded racist. Only a few willingly claim it with pride. I think that's the reason racism in the USA is practiced, not enunciated.

    by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:01:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    My experience with white Americans (not to generalise! but with a surprisingly big sample of otherwise-OK people) is that they lack empathy with respect to racism. That is : they cultivate a powerful sense of grievance about the supposed advantages handed out to blacks; and any claim of racism on the part of a black will be dismissed as "playing the race card", i.e. they (sincerely, at least in many cases) refuse to believe that blacks encounter discrimination at every turn in everyday life. And they will use this as an excuse for their own functional racism : "Oh we don't want one living next door, not that I have anything against them of course, but they are so full of resentment on race issues, it's sure to create unpleasantness"... Awfully pathological. A real minefield.

    It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
    by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:32:36 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Reminds me of Robert Jensen's writings on white privilege.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:33:51 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    That is how it works, in my experience.

    I've lived in inner city America from the time I was 4 on except for 3 years in Europe in my 20s.

    Recently, I had dinner with a Korean (woman) and African-American (man) at an Italian restaurant, and the waiter was from NYC by way of the Dominican Rep. The waiter launched into a circus of racial and ethnic stereotypes that had absolutely no one at the table unnerved. It struck me as the kind of easy labeling that an immigrant from the Caribbean to Brooklyn to Buffalo, NY could get away with, the sort of thing I often experienced in Europe. The lack of offense taken came from the power relations between the 4 of us at that table. This is precisely why those who deal in stereotypes have to be aware of the context in which they speak.

    by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:52:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You are allowed to draw parallels as you like. May I ask what you are drawing a parallel for? In order to make a point, to deepen a discussion, to make yourself understood? If yes, you ought to bear in mind that parallels with nazism are a source for many misunderstandings, that they are a good method to emotionalise a debate, and that they tend to offend people. If that's what you want...

    One could express the same thing much shorter: drawing parallels with the Nazi period is not fruitful.

    by Katrin on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 08:21:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Katrin:
    drawing parallels with the Nazi period is not fruitful.

    this does not make it taboo, just a heavily mined area.

    into which comments such as 'greeks are the new jews' or 'gaza=auschwitz' to chose a couple of facile invented examples would be a guaranteed source of expensive explosions.

    yet neither would surprise me if seen at a protest, against germany's present policies wrt the EU, or at a rally for palestinian rights.

    comments cleverly crafted to really seek insight, with respect to all concerned, should be encouraged, imo.

    these are major historical landmark events and should be deconstructed whenever possible, for the very good reason that we want at all costs to avoid ever smearing humanity with a repetition.

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:11:22 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    melo:
    these are major historical landmark events and should be deconstructed whenever possible,

    Diary?

    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:13:26 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    this does not make it taboo, just a heavily mined area.

    I can't say I'm seeing many minesweepers around.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:10:36 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    very tricky gig...70 years is not long to integrate the lessons of such horrors. it is so raw still in the collective memory, most will just not go there, or if they do lose their dispassion.

    another 100 years or so maybe we can safely discuss them without so much flammability in the air.

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 02:29:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Nazis can be discussed, it is just then when you draw a parallel with something from Nazi Germany many readers will react as if you draw a parallel with the holocaust. Which is also why parallels with nazis are emotionally powerful and thus tempting.

    If you compare something today with a fascist movement that most readers lack a particular image off (say the Albanian Fascist Party for an audience outside Albania) you are much freer because it lacks pre-existing emotional content, but then again that lack may make it pointless.

    So I would say that drawing parallels with nazis is fine as long as your intention is to draw parallels with the holocaust. Otherwise it is likely that your actual point is lost amid mis-interpretations.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Sun Feb 19th, 2012 at 09:34:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    So we can't draw parallels because too many people are historically illiterate? Rational man indeed.

    Anyway, the interesting parallels (mainly) aren't in the workings of the fully fledged Nazi state, they're in the rise of that entity.

    Mind you, as discussed above, and given the way history works, it's not entirely unlikely that the current lunacy will eventually manage to produce it's own holocaust(s).

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:10:44 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No, the problem is not historical literacy, it is the emotional content. The Nazi regime, the Holocaust and the second world war is not only a piece of history, it is a story that is the mayor historical emotional reference point - reinforced through gun'n'nazi-movies - that establishes our secular devils and angels.

    Unfortunately for mankind, but fortunately for those who wish to draw historical comparisions, most things the nazis did has been done to a larger or lesser extent somewhere else, so it is only a problem if you either a) don't know any other examples or b) want to draw on the emotional content of evil nazis.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:41:51 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I think the idea is that Germany has had a confrontation with their past, and there's been a national cleansing of sorts, so that any mention of the Nazis (as analogy) seems grossly unfair as it wipes away the postwar confrontation with history.

    But I place much of this discussion on an analysis of certain repercussions that have not yet been dealt with.

    Frankly, I've been shocked at the depiction of Greece and Greeks by the German media and German hierarchy. Given Germany's history vis-a-vis Greece, I did assume Germany would be more chaste in its approach.

    This is what sticks in my craw more than anything: when discussing Greece's history of poverty and defaults on its loans, it's apparently OK to go back centuries and insinuate there is something rotten in Greek genetics or DNA, but with Germany, it's verboten to go back in history to make the same examination. As well, we hear of heeding the dangers of inflation given Germany's pre-war experience, but such references block out the experiences of lesser countries that suffered under the Nazi boot by focalizing events solely through German eyes.

    To sum up: there's a double standard at play in the revision and analysis of history. If you're going to look back, you can't delimit the discussion. It presents a skewed context if you do.

    by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:49:54 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Germans have not learned a thing except to be quiet while talking about Jews when there are other people around, and I say that as a German.  
    by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:25:20 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Really. Do you really thing present day Germany suffers from e. g. militarism?
    by IM on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:46:37 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    let's face it -  Germans are super arrogant.  

    in a lot of southern vacation spots, they have two areas - one for Germans, and one for the other guests.

    I know scientists who went to do some work in Germany and could not stand the arrogance of the scientists they were working with, who did not have the knowledge or experience of my North American friends but would simply say "We are German, of course we are better scientists".  This, while my friend is a consultant to help them set up their apparatus.

    Germans are super defensive and consider that they should be supreme in all aspects of everything.  For example, in my last job, the Germans would tell me that while I knew American movies,  I did not seem to know German movies so well -  maybe because Germans haven't made such a big impact as Americans have on the field!

    And on, and on, and on.

    They are no longer so military, but their aggressiveness and superiority complex needs to be toned down quite a bit.  They are obnoxious.

    I am, of course, speaking in generalities here and not every German fits into this type, but a LOT of them do.

    by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:28:00 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    when I was working for the EU project, there were 2 groups -  the Germans, and everyone else.  The Germans did not mix with the others, despite being invited.  They would go to Germany for lunch from Strasbourg every single day, despite France being known for its good food.

    And as I said, I AM German, speak it and have a German passport.  And I had real problems tolerating them.  

    by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:35:14 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    If anything, they suffer from pacifism.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:13:05 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Some Germans.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 11:48:53 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    that goes without saying.
    by stevesim on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:28:20 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't claim it is fair. But neither is really the role of devilish Germans in the gun'n'nazis version of history that takes Nazi Germany out of context by leaving out the atrocities and genocides various european powers committed in their colonies. Still, it is what it is, mention nazis and many - not limited to Germans - will immediatley jump to the Holocaust. Within a national discourse in a country that was occupied by Nazi Germany I guess the occupation may trumf the Holocaust as primary reference and thus be instead if you mention nazis you better say something about the occupation because that is what your audience will have on their minds.

    The rest of German history is another matter. Blame them for the Latin empire, or imposing that deadbeat German prince who failed to pay his bills and I don't think you will get the same reaction.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:30:57 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Actually the interesting parallels are in the striking similarity of values shared by the pre-war fascists and the modern corporadoes.

    The Nazis were more extreme and systematic about pursuing their aims, and they did the militaristic jack boots and pantomime thing, which the corporadoes don't do to anything like the same extent.

    But it's desperately naive to believe that just because there are no jack boots and sieg heil salutes the corporadoes aren't inherently fascist and totalitarian.

    It may be a more a sophisticated form of fascism with more indirect violence and abuse. But for anyone who can be bothered to do some basic research, there are obvious similarities between the pre-war fascist doctrine of violence and war as inherently virtuous, and the corporado ethic of 'competition' as an unarguable social good.

    Likewise with the explicit social Darwinism of the Nazis and the implied social Darwinism of the corporadoes, where individuals who cannot be forced into delivering value to the state must be punished - see e.g. the current Tory pogrom against those on disability benefits.

    And so on.

    I think it's more dangerous not to acknowledge the parallels, than it is to flee shrieking from them because they break some imaginary rule about Godwinism.

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:46:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Not just the fascists. It seems widely forgotten that most of the stuff the fascists picked up was lying around in the conventional wisdom of the time. Eugenics. Nationalism. Racism. Corporatism.

    All of which have happily been purged from the modern union.

    I don't think that calling the modern manifestation of that "fascist" is helpful. It's more the ground fascism and other fun weeds can grow in.

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:22:59 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I don't see the distinction. The fascists took those ideas and tied them together so they could sell them as a political brand, with a sideline in coloured shirt sales.

    But arguably the older colonial European cultures were equally fascist - concentration camps were a British innovation, after all. They simply called it 'patriotism'.

    Now we have a different and more sophisticated brand, which uses financial dictatorship as an excuse for political oppression.

    Financial dictatorship has denuded Africa and swept third world populations into corporate slavery, so I'm not sure it's any less morally acceptable in practice than Nazism was. There are fewer outright wars - more or less - but I'd guess the body count is similar, if perhaps less specifically targeted.

    The one key difference is that the stated reasons for violence are more subtle - in the sense of not really making any sense - and therefore more difficult to challenge directly.

    And if there's any talk of a class - perhaps not a race, not quite - which deserves everything at the expense of the disposable and defective, it never goes far beyond board rooms. (Although from what I hear it's not an unusual sentiment at public schools in the UK.)

    I'd suggest this understatement is a feature and not a bug.

    Really, the Nazis were terribly vulgar, and one doesn't need to be quite that blatant to get what one wants.

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:48:33 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I'd guess the body count is similar

    I'd guess it's at least an order of magnitude bigger.

    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:50:58 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    You appear to be using 'fascist' as a synonym for 'evil'.
    by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 08:51:49 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    No, I'm using fascist as a synonym for a certain kind of politics.

    If I was using it as a synonym for evil I'd be including extra goodies like paedophilia, top-down drug dealing, and certain brands of media ownership.

    by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:09:43 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    One of the defining characteristics of fascism is the close link between business and the state. In Nazi Germany the state was dominant in that relationship. In some ways it is worse that today business is dominant - so much so that the entire political and regulatory apparatus is little more than an auxilliary to corporate power.

    From the corporate point of view a disadvantage is that any given corporation has to share the control of the political system with other corporations. Hence my analogy of the US being run by a cabal of pirates. But they are all united in their insistance that the government let business be business, especially when business is giving the business to some hapless mere individual.  

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 01:57:05 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Violence through war and economic and colonial oppression are constants throughout history. What gives "fascism" enough difference that we should want to use the word?
    by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:22:33 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    It's a not-so-subtle variation on the "Shoah business" card that international Likud has so badly overplayed.

    It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
    by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:57:52 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    sorry, that was in reply to this.

    It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
    by eurogreen on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 12:03:43 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ThatBritGuy:
    Now we have a different and more sophisticated brand, which uses financial dictatorship as an excuse for political oppression.

    The history of the Albanian fascist party might actually be enlightening.

    See, Albania had accepted help form Italy with loans, army training and a central bank located in Italy. Gradually they became totally dependent and when Italy finally invaded - because Albania could not pay their debts - the armed forces with its many italian officers did not even put up a resistance. Then the Albanian fascist party came to power.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:36:35 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ThatBritGuy:
    I think it's more dangerous not to acknowledge the parallels,

    spot on.

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 09:04:21 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    ThatBritGuy:
    I think it's more dangerous not to acknowledge the parallels

    I think it is ineffective communication to bring up the Nazis.

    Italian fascists, Spanish falangists, the Albanian fascist party and so on contain similar stories and are less likely to immediatley trigger an assocation to the Holocaust.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 04:40:09 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well to defend some of the rhetoric in Greece, when Greeks say "Nazis" they do not refer to the Holocaust (although that claimed a disproportionate number of Greek Jews), but to generalized horror. Travel to Crete for example, and you will see in inland villages, column after commemorative column with the names of those executed summarily, by the Nazi occupation forces. And these are events within living memory of many. Apart from the actual mass killings, murder and pillage, the German occupation was also indirectly responsible for the last recorded famine in Europe AFAIK, where ~300.000 people starved to death, mostly in the cities. My mother-in-law has childhood memories of the cart that went daily around her neighborhood picking the corpses of those starved to death from the streets and the sidewalks, which then they moved on to bury in unmarked mass graves.

    So when soup-kitchens form around Greece, and thousands of people go homeless as a result of policies widely perceived to be instigated by the German government, it isn't the Shoah people have on their minds when carrying plackards with Merkel in a Nazi uniform.

    The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake

    by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:16:19 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Talos, I know that. Most Germans do not, though. They find these placards very offensive and unfair and in an emotionalised climate it is impossible to speak about it, and about the different meanings of the nazi symbolic. I suspect it explains a bit of the high approval rates for Merkel. I find the German rhetoric and the lazy-Greeks-campaign at least as offensive and I am shocked that the communication can break down so quickly.
    by Katrin on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 06:44:02 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The show of solidarity around Germany (i.e., i.e.2) helped a lot I can tell you. So did a group of German protesters, protesting outside the German embassy in Athens and getting arrested for it... The thing is, as people are pushed below poverty en masse, Schauble on TV pontificating on how y'all deserve it doesn't help at all...

    The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
    by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 07:05:57 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Maybe the lack of a common language is more important than we care to believe.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker
    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 01:32:09 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Well here comes that argument again. When Germans see Nazi references, is the holocaust the first thing they think of? Not WW2? I feel a bit confused.

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
    by Starvid on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 05:13:34 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, Germans will understand that as a reference to the Holocaust, which is why they find the current produce of Greek cartoonists so unfair.
    by Katrin on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 06:22:08 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    But you can't really separate the two. Without the war the holocaust is hard to imagine. Even the action T4, that is the killing of mentally handicapped, started at the beginning of the war. It is easier to justify all sorts of killing when organized killing has started anyway, to hide a heap of corpses with a heap of corpses.

    Quite apart from the facts, in the consciousness in Germany the Second World War is the holocaust and then the eastern front in the Soviet union. It is a bit as if you would ask if the americans remember slavery and not the civil war.  

    Anyway I was very much not talking about any protest signs in Greece but about comparisons partly to the nationalsocialistic dictatorship, partly explicit to the holocaust right here on this blog.

    by IM on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 08:50:13 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The holocaust would have been unthinkable without the war, but you can't reverse the statement.

    You have read Talos's post above (btw, I have been to Crete, and I have seen impressive memorials there). It's not only Greece: many Europeans connote "occupation and starvation" rather than "holocaust" when they make a nazi reference. They think they can make themselves understood that way.

    Germans connote "holocaust" before other concepts. They too think that everyone connotes in the same way.

    by Katrin on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 09:06:21 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    here in rural italy there are people who remember and still talk about how cruel the nazis were.

    perhaps that cruelty was par for the course for most any invading/occupying war machine, while the holocaust was novel, in its sheer scale and industrial efficiency, so that's why people in germany blow off any other parts as just normal behaviour during wartime. all armies are perceived as more or less inhumane after all. no saints on the battlefield...

    ethnic cleansing is as old as time, whereas the holocaust was organised genocide on an historically unsurpassed level.

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 11:41:15 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    I think that aside from the Holocaust, the other pillar of Nazi horror is that it brought to Europe practices and methods used till then by Europeans against Third World colonies and darker skinned folks. I note that a decade after the war, the UK didn't have a problem with large scale concentration camps and a massive military operations affecting non-combatants, including starving them, as long as it was in Kenya...

    The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
    by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 12:39:38 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    excellent, under-appreciated point...

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh
    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Thu Feb 23rd, 2012 at 04:16:05 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Yes, I understand that. And I don't really have a problem with rethoric in Greece, as I wrote elsewhere:

    A swedish kind of death:

    Within a national discourse in a country that was occupied by Nazi Germany I guess the occupation may trumf the Holocaust as primary reference and thus be instead if you mention nazis you better say something about the occupation because that is what your audience will have on their minds.

    Of course, when this get quoted in Germany, the perceived meaning shifts. But then again media in Germany has showed little willigness to understand the situation in Greece at all, so anything said in Greece is likely to be misunderstood by the general public in Germany after the German media has interpreted it.

    What I am primarily concerned about in this discussion, is communication on this site. And here, I think it is important to notice that a lot of people (not at all limited to Germans) read nazis as a reference to the Holocaust and thus it becomes ineffective communication (or at least communication with a high probability of being ineffective) if you want to highlight something using, lets say Nazi sports policies.

    A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES!

    by A swedish kind of death on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 04:18:48 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    On this site it then should be a little easier to establish that many non-Germans find collective, exemplary punishment, such as killing all of the inhabitants of a village from which a few killed a German soldier or engaged in other hostile action, when used as a policy, to be almost as monstrous as the holocaust. And, in fact, these were subjects that were partly dealt with at Nuremberg, (and that precedent still haunts US actions.)  

    Such collective punishments happened in Greece, in Belgium and elsewhere. This attitude is in spite of the fact that the countries from which they come have committed and continue to commit similar atrocities, even if the memory has been suppressed and/or the PR handled much better. The Nuremberg precedent and the UN Charter of Universal Human Rights are a high point when most of the world agreed to a higher standard of behavior. It is being eroded and that erosion needs to be opposed.

    I would hate to hold up the USA as an example of proper behavior, given such incidents as the infamous helicopter press slaughter in Baghdad and the  slaughter of witnesses to atrocity in Iraq by US soldiers, but, at least, this is not official policy.  The regular troops get themselves involved in trying to execute plans in virtually impossible situations and take their frustrations out on civilians, but I  blame the leadership, right up to the President, more than the troops for such occurrences. I do not hold Germany to any higher standard than I hold my own government.

    As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

    by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Wed Feb 22nd, 2012 at 03:34:28 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    The way unit labor costs over the whole economy are defined they are pretty much a factor times the percentage of labor income over GDP. So demanding that ulc drop to retain competitiveness as a global imperative, is tantamount to demanding even greater income inequality, globally. Which is of course the point of this whole rhetorical exercise...

    The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
    by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sat Feb 18th, 2012 at 10:49:57 AM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Wage suppression is retarded, stupid, idiotic, moronic, inane and does not work.

    In the short run, it does work as long as you suppress the wages through currency devaluation. In the long run you don't even need devaluation for it to work. But in the long run...

    Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.

    by Starvid on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 01:29:24 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    as long as you suppress the wages through currency devaluation

    Well, in a currency union you have to find something else that works. Such as transfer payments.

    tens of millions of people stand to see their lives ruined because the bureaucrats at the ECB don't understand introductory economics -- Dean Baker

    by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 20th, 2012 at 03:26:32 PM EST
    [ Parent ]
    Starvid:
    Wage suppression is retarded, stupid, idiotic, moronic, inane and does not work.

    In the short run, it does work

    reminds me of war...

    both need heroic levels of social obedience. 'king & country' have morphed into 'deutschebank and goldman sachs'. as secular democracy is where state and church are brightlined apart, what is the word for a democracy that similarly firewalls financial 'orchestration' from legislature?

    money is religion, after all... both promise heaven tomorrow and deliver hell today, (for the 99%).

    "We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

    by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Tue Feb 21st, 2012 at 10:32:21 AM EST
    [ Parent ]

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