Welcome to the new version of European Tribune. It's just a new layout, so everything should work as before - please report bugs here.

Did Schäuble win?

by Migeru Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 04:38:34 AM EST

While the Greek finance ministry is busy preparing their reform program to be presented to 'The Institutions' by close of business on Monday, the press is busy adjudicating victory in the deathmatchnegotiations between Schäuble and Varoufakis.

This is the Varoufakis view:

And this is the Schäuble view.Now, my own opinion is that Varoufakis got what he wanted. On Sunday night he had a draft proposed by Moscovici which he was ready to sign and to which he "added come conditionalities of their own" as a show of good will and to sweeten the deal for the other side. To this the Eurogroup reacted with a different, "unacceptable" draft. And so on Thursday Varoufakis presented a blend of the Moscovici and Dijsselbloem drafts, together with his own conditionalities. This was rejected out of hand by the German finance ministry.

The fact that the agreed draft is fairly close to Varoufakis' letter on Thursday is a German climbdown from that flat out rejection. But judge for yourselves: the two texts are side by side below the fold.


Varoufakis
Eurogroup
[Paragraph 1] Over the last five years, the people of Greece have exerted remarkable efforts in economic adjustment. The new government is committed to a broader and deeper reform process aimed at durably improving growth and employment prospects, achieving debt sustainability and financial stability, enhancing social fairness and mitigating the significant social cost of the ongoing crisis.
The Eurogroup reiterates its appreciation for the remarkable adjustment efforts undertaken by Greece and the Greek people over the last years. During the last few weeks, we have, together with the institutions, engaged in an intensive and constructive dialogue with the new Greek authorities and reached common ground today.
This is a perfunctory recognition of the disaster visited on the "program countries" by European austerity policies. The language from the Greek letter about the broad policy goals of the new Greek government, in particular improving social fairness, appears later on in the Eurogroup draft.
[Paragraph 3] In this context, the Greek authorities are now applying for the extension of the Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement for a period of six months from its termination during which period we shall proceed jointly, and making best use of given flexibility in the current arrangement, toward its successful conclusion and review on the basis of the proposals of, on the one hand, the Greek government and, on the other, the institutions.
The Eurogroup notes, in the framework of the existing arrangement, the request from the Greek authorities for an extension of the Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement (MFFA), which is underpinned by a set of commitments. The purpose of the extension is the successful completion of the review on the basis of the conditions in the current arrangement, making best use of the given flexibility which will be considered jointly with the Greek authorities and the institutions. This extension would also bridge the time for discussions on a possible follow-up arrangement between the Eurogroup, the institutions and Greece.
Here the language is essentially the same in both version except that the Eurogroup version includes the 'bridging' language which Varoufakis had been insisting on during the negotiations, but was missing from his letter on Thursday.
[Paragraph 4] The purpose of the requested six-month extension of the Agreement's duration is:
The Greek authorities will present a first list of reform measures, based on the current arrangement, by the end of Monday February 23. The institutions will provide a first view whether this is sufficiently comprehensive to be a valid starting point for a successful conclusion of the review. This list will be further specified and then agreed with the institutions by the end of April.
This adds procedural precision to the Greece commitment to embark on reforms.
Only approval of the conclusion of the review of the extended arrangement by the institutions in turn will allow for any disbursement of the outstanding tranche of the current EFSF programme and the transfer of the 2014 SMP profits. Both are again subject to approval by the Eurogroup.
The Eurogroup paragraph has no counterpart in the greek letter. What the Eurogroup offers is the disbursement of the €7bn of the remaining tranche of the current program, which Varoufakis had pointedly said were "on the table" for him to collect by "Just signing on the dotted line" but that he could not sleep at night if he signed on to extending the old program. Presumably the fact that he signed means that he does not consider this to be the same as the old program. Also, the Eurogroup offers the €2bn in SMP profits which were part of the previous agreement but had been withheld.
(d) To extend the availability of the EFSF bonds held by the HFSF for the duration of the Agreement.
In view of the assessment of the institutions the Eurogroup agrees that the funds, so far available in the HFSF buffer, should be held by the EFSF, free of third party rights for the duration of the MFFA extension. The funds continue to be available for the duration of the MFFA extension and can only be used for bank recapitalisation and resolution costs. They will only be released on request by the ECB/SSM.
On substance the Greek side got what they wanted but the additional language is significant. "The assessment of the institutions" points to the ECB voicing concerns about the ongoing capital outflows from the Greek banks. This is important as the German negotiators were arguing that the Greek banks had passed last year's stress test and so didn't need to be recapitalised. The real concern of the Germans was the possibility that Greece could use these funds to finance the government. As the Greeks insisted all along this was not their intention, they can agree to have the bonds held in custody by the EFSF but available in case a recapitalisation is necessary. The release of these funds falls to the ECB/SSM as it should be, not to the Eurogroup.
(e) To commence work between the technical teams on a possible new Contract for Recovery and Growth that the Greek authorities envisage between Greece, Europe and the International Monetary Fund which could follow the current Agreement.
In this light, we welcome the commitment by the Greek authorities to work in close agreement with European and international institutions and partners. Against this background we recall the independence of the European Central Bank. We also agreed that the IMF would continue to play its role.
(c) To allow the European Central Bank to re-introduce the waiver in accordance with its procedures and regulations.
The Greece government observes that an agreement on a program would allow the ECB to reassess Greece as solventnot at risk of imminent default which would allow it to reinstate Greek government bonds as eligible for ECB refinancing operations. This would also mean that Greek banks' recourse to ELA would no longer be necessary. The Eurogroup replaces this with a reaffirmation of central bank independence.
[Paragraph 1] Over the last five years, the people of Greece have exerted remarkable efforts in economic adjustment. The new government is committed to a broader and deeper reform process aimed at durably improving growth and employment prospects, achieving debt sustainability and financial stability, enhancing social fairness and mitigating the significant social cost of the ongoing crisis.
The Greek authorities have expressed their strong commitment to a broader and deeper structural reform process aimed at durably improving growth and employment prospects, ensuring stability and resilience of the financial sector and enhancing social fairness. The authorities commit to implementing long overdue reforms to tackle corruption and tax evasion, and improving the efficiency of the public sector. In this context, the Greek authorities undertake to make best use of the continued provision of technical assistance.
Gone is the reference "the significant social cost of the ongoing crisis". The added enumeration of commitments is something the Greek government can agree to, especially in terms as general as these.
[Paragraph 2] The Greek authorities recognise that the procedures agreed by the previous governments were interrupted by the recent presidential and general elections and that, as a result, several of the technical arrangements have been invalidated. The Greek authorities honour Greece's financial obligations to all its creditors as well as state our intention to cooperate with our partners in order to avert technical impediments in the context of the Master Facility Agreement which we recognise as binding vis-a-vis its financial and procedural content.
The Greek authorities reiterate their unequivocal commitment to honour their financial obligations to all their creditors fully and timely.
The Eurogroup does not induge Syriza's excusemakign or blameshifing, though it is true that the Samaras government put the Greek government in a bind by organizing elections within two months of the end of the previous agreement. Also, the bit about recognising the agreement "vis a vis its finanial and procedural content" was a turn of phrase which irritated the Germans and was too ambiguous. The rest of the eurogroup statement is rich in "procedural content".
(a) To agree the mutually acceptable financial and administrative terms the implementation of which, in collaboration with the institutions, will stabilise Greece's fiscal position, attain appropriate primary fiscal surpluses, guarantee debt stability and assist in the attainment of fiscal targets for 2015 that take into account the present economic situation.
The Greek authorities have also committed to ensure the appropriate primary fiscal surpluses or financing proceeds required to guarantee debt sustainability in line with the November 2012 Eurogroup statement. The institutions will, for the 2015 primary surplus target, take the economic circumstances in 2015 into account.
(G) To discuss means of enacting the November 2012 Eurogroup decision regarding possible further debt measures and assistance for implementation after the completion of the extended Agreement and as part of the follow-up Contract.
The two texts are essentally in agreement regarding the 2015 fiscal balance, but they highlight different parts of the November 2012 Eurogroup agreement. The Greek text makes a reference to possible debt relief measures while the Eurogroup focuses only on the austerity.
(b) To ensure, working closely with our European and international partners, that any new measures be fully funded while refraining from unilateral action that would undermine the fiscal targets, economic recovery and financial stability.
In light of these commitments, we welcome that in a number of areas the Greek policy priorities can contribute to a strengthening and better implementation of the current arrangement. The Greek authorities commit to refrain from any rollback of measures and unilateral changes to the policies and structural reforms that would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability, as assessed by the institutions.
Note the addition of two biting clauses in the Eurogroup statement. The first is that the Greek government commits to not rolling back previously adopted measures. Also that whether unilateral Greek actions undermine fiscal targets or not is determined by the institutions.
[Final paragraph] With the above in mind, the Greek government expresses its determination to cooperate closely with the European Union's institutions and with the International Monetary Fund in order: (a) to attain fiscal and financial stability and (b) to enable the Greek government to introduce the substantive, far-reaching reforms that are needed to restore the living standards of millions of Greek citizens through sustainable economic growth, gainful employment and social cohesion.
On the basis of the request, the commitments by the Greek authorities, the advice of the institutions, and today's agreement, we will launch the national procedures with a view to reaching a final decision on the extension of the current EFSF Master Financial Assistance Facility Agreement for up to four months by the EFSF Board of Directors. We also invite the institutions and the Greek authorities to resume immediately the work that would allow the successful conclusion of the review.
(f) To agree on supervision under the EU and ECB framework and, in the same spirit, with the International Monetary Fund for the duration of the extended Agreement.
We remain committed to provide adequate support to Greece until it has regained full market access as long as it honours its commitments within the agreed framework.

Display:
Work in progress. I'll comment on each of the side-by-side paragraphs later in the day.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 04:39:07 AM EST
Thanks. Great diary.
by rz on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 11:33:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
More or less completed the commentary now.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:51:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I "frontpaged" it.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 04:05:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for this, Mig. Look forward to further analysis.

I'm not too savvy with the EU language-code, but this still reads like the troika/TIFKAT is still alive the coming months:

The Greek authorities commit to refrain from any rollback of measures and unilateral changes to the policies and structural reforms that would negatively impact fiscal targets, economic recovery or financial stability, as assessed by the institutions .

Emphasis mine. Though we only really know after Monday how much the balance has swayed towards the Tsipras government.

Any thoughts on the primary surpluses commitment?

But all, in all this was a decent trailer. Now for the feature, coming this summer. On avance, on avance, on avance..

by Bjinse on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 05:14:43 AM EST
The purpose of the extension is the successful completion of the review on the basis of the conditions in the current arrangement, making best use of the given flexibility which will be considered jointly with the Greek authorities and the institutions.
I see this as a positive.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 05:44:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On the primary surplus, this is a wording Varoufakis could agree:
The institutions will, for the 2015 primary surplus target, take the economic circumstances in 2015 into account.
given what he proposed on Thursday:
To agree the mutually acceptable financial and administrative terms the implementation of which, in collaboration with the institutions, will stabilise Greece's fiscal position, attain appropriate primary fiscal surpluses, guarantee debt stability and assist in the attainment of fiscal targets for 2015 that take into account the present economic situation.


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 05:54:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but that:

"The Greek authorities have also committed to ensure the appropriate primary fiscal surpluses or financing proceeds required to guarantee debt sustainability in line with the November 2012 Eurogroup statement."

I interpret that as 3,5% primary surplus minus x.

by IM on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 05:10:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Primary surplus or financing proceeds" whatever that means...

Also, that's for discussion in the next 4 months and would apply from 2016 onwards.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 05:26:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to Norbert Häring (linked by Katrin upthread), at least the "or financing" part means:

Was it worth it? Concessions to Greece relative to the rejected draft of 16 February

Changes: Before it said "and financing", now its says "or" financing proceeds, an important change. "Or" means that if financing is obtained that does not improve the primary fiscal surplus, but improves debt sustainability,  e.g. lower interest rates, this will be good enough. It is unclear at this point, what the change from financing to "financing proceeds" means, but it probably means something.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 07:44:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 06:06:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This will be a Long war, and the Greeks will continue fighting long after everyone else has been bored into indifference, because they have no choice: they are fighting for their lives, whilst for Schauble, et al, it is a matter of keeping up appearances.

The longer this goes on, the more unthinkable a Grexit will become, and the stronger the Greek negotiating position will become, because the unsustainability of the Troika position will become clearer to all.

In the meantime the stranglehold of centre right austerity ideologies on EU policymaking will gradually weaken - simply because no one else is going to continue to do it indefinitely.  Elections loom, and elections matter, thankfully, still.

Index of Frank's Diaries

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 06:30:26 AM EST
This is an excellent point since the conversation among many in Greece has always been, should Greece have defaulted rather than enter into these agreements at all. Papandreou's decision to call a referendum in hindsight was very telling. He was called a psychopath. European leaders tore their hair out when he did that.

Just when these people are screaming loudest, that's when you know you have them by the nuts.

The nature of the Greek loans back then would have allowed Greece to choose whom to repay and on what terms. Whereas the rest of Europe could have then dealt with recapitalizing the banking losses.

Greece, the argument goes, would have been shunned and treated as a deadbeat. I'd argue that the last 5 years of slander are much much worse than what would have been heaped upon Greece back then.

Having chosen the road of austerity and permanent punishment, the Greeks now seem committed. If they are forced to exit the eurozone, it will be the worst of all 3 possibilities.

Option #1: Exit the eurozone in 2010
Option #2: Stay in the eurozone with austerity for a decade or more.
Option #3: Go through 5 years of austerity and then exit the eurozone only to experience the same level of infamy you would have experienced in 2010.

by Upstate NY on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 10:48:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
One thing I've not seen mentioned here when discussing Greece's options was that most of them aren't valid unless you run a country. It takes weeks or months to turn a dude in a suit into a minister that can actually make things happen, especially if the takeover is hostile. If you don't spend all your time running around talking with self-important gits to convince them not to blow up the continent.
by generic on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 06:48:00 AM EST
One thing I've not seen mentioned here when discussing Greece's options was that most of them aren't valid unless you run a country.

That is what I tried to convey with this:
A dialogue has begun. The worst case will be that it blows up next week, next month or in four months. But the Syriza government will then have had that much more time to gather itself and start putting in place necessary programs. If it blows up Greece will be no worse than it would have been had it blown up now.

It is also why I think successfully buying time, especially with ambiguous conditionalities that lean towards giving Greece more room, is a clear win.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 11:42:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the point is that as of now they won time till Monday.
by generic on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 02:07:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Effectively till Tuesday, as they have to turn in a plan by end of day Monday. If Shauble pisses all over it hoping to spook the markets it could accelerate his departure from Merkel's government. But who expects things to blow apart on Tuesday? I would say Friday at the earliest.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 04:06:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well the banks will be running out of money by Tuesday.
by generic on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 04:11:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It depends on whether the agreement restores "confidence" among Greek depositors.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 04:37:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't really see why it should.

On the other hand, I don't see why there are any deposits left in Greek banks at this point, so who knows.

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

by Starvid on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 05:08:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
deposits were at 164bl. Estimated now at 120b and falling by 3bl/week.
Not good but under control unless something worse happens which won't matter anyways.
by Euroliberal on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:04:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If Shauble pisses all over it hoping to spook the markets it could accelerate his departure from Merkel's government.
Wishful thinking?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 04:39:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps, I would certainly find his departure a good thing, but Angie has expressed her 'full confidence' in him. But perhaps he can implicate her in some of the contribution scandals that have dogged his career.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 11:58:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Is there some kind of good cop bad cop relationship between Merkel and Schäuble? Merkel would need to back off too often to be statesmanlike if she would act like Schäuble while CDU would look too soft for voters without Schäuble's posturing.
by Jute on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 02:01:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is definitely a good cop bad cop. The following news was reported after Schäuble's categorical rejection but before his last-minute 3-hour one-on-one negotiation with Varoufakis (from the weekend Newsroom):

Eurozone ministers gather in Brussels for make-or-break talks with Greece | Business | The Guardian

Germany's finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, rejected a Greek compromise proposal.

Hopes of a deal have since risen, however, as it was reported that the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, was taking a more conciliatory stance. Greece's €240bn bailout - orchestrated by the EU, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund - expires next Friday. Without an imminent deal the country faces the real prospect of running out of cash in early March because it is effectively locked out of the international lending markets.

However, Merkel's game is more cunning than simple good cop bad cop: she made every appearance of being fully occupied with the Ukraine matter.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 04:17:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We're more likely to see the back of Vaorufakis than Shäuble's.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 04:03:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
To be replaced, perhaps, by someone more hard line for Grexit?

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 06:27:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, with a more political minister.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 07:34:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Personally, I saw Varoufakis doing a much better job being a politician than I expected from an academician/blogger.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 07:40:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Word in Brussels --- and I didn't get this from Quatremer --- is that the rest of the Eurogroup ministers don't want to have anything to do with him.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 10:39:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 10:41:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They probably consider him arrogant and don't like to be lectured. This is from as early as January 15: Germany wants Varoufakis replaced for not having the qualities of finance minister
His reaction was triggered by Varoufakis' exposition at the Eurogroup meeting last Wednesday. "Instead of presenting his colleagues with a list of concrete proposals, he gave them a half-hour political speech." Quite a few of the ministers, added Poss, were desperately asking themselves how much of this they could convey to their governments or parliaments.
I read in El País that Tsipras himself was negotiating in Brussels Friday, which is consistent with Quatremer's claim that Schäuble will not speak to Varoufakis. The question is whether Tsipras will consider Varoufakis a liability because of this.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 10:57:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
He's knowledgeable in ways they aren't, is opposed to the CW they consider minimally necessary to the proper conduct of EU business, and is a loose cannon.

Three characteristics you're not supposed to possess if you've got as far as they have in politics.

But he is the Finance Minister of Greece. What legitimacy do they have other than being the Finance Minister of their respective countries, and what right to dispossess Varoufakis of that legitimacy?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 11:28:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The previous Greek FinMin was Stournaras. A more buttoned-up friend of Varoufakis's, one who actually gave Varoufakis his first job. Being demure got the Greeks nowhere. Varoufakis and Tsipras actually achieved a small measure for Greece, which was largely because of Varoufakis's big mouth.

Plus, the Greek people really like the duo, and that will be THE most important thing going forward.

There are only two reason for Tsipras to change Varoufakis:

  1. Jealousy of V's popularity
  2. Change to a FinMin in favor of Grexit.
by Upstate NY on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 11:32:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll add this, since much of the criticism of Varoufakis reminded me of this quote by a US Civil Rights fighter and eventual US Congressman:

If you object to unfair treatment, you're an ingrate.  If you seek equity and fair consideration, you're uppity.  If you demand union security, you're un-American.  If you rebel against repressive management tactics, they will lynch and scalp you.  But if you are passive and patient, they will take advantage of both.-- Congressman William Clay, Sr., speaking to the AFL-CIO Federation of Government Employees, 1975
by Upstate NY on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:02:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sounds like what one hears from women in professional settings.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:49:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right now I'd like confirmation of this story from Greek sources: Draghi asusta a los socios y a Atenas
El pacto se fraguó en las horas previas a la reunión, con conversaciones de última hora entre el jefe del Eurogrupo, Jeroen Dijsselbloem; el primer ministro griego, Alexis Tsipras; el presidente del Consejo Europeo, Donald Tusk; el propio Draghi, el ministro alemán Wolfgang Schäuble y el italiano Pier Carlo Padoan, el comisario europeo Pierre Moscovici y la jefa del FMI, Christine Lagarde. Destaca la ausencia del ministro griego Yanis Varoufakis, que no estuvo en esa ronda previa.
Draghi spooks the partners and Athens
The pact was forged in the hours before the meeting, last minute talks between the head of the Eurogroup Jeroen Dijsselbloem; Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras; President of the European Council, Donald Tusk; the Draghi himself, the German Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and Italian Pier Carlo Padoan, the European Commissioner Pierre Moscovici and the head of the IMF, Christine Lagarde. Highlights the lack of Greek Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who was not in the previous round


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:26:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ECB cancels soft treatment of Greek debt in warning to Athens  John O'Donnell and Jan Strupczewski

(Reuters) - The European Central Bank abruptly canceled its acceptance of Greek bonds in return for funding on Wednesday, shifting the burden onto Athens' central bank to finance its lenders and isolating Greece unless it strikes a new reform deal.

The move, which means the Greek central bank will have to provide its banks with tens of billions of euros of additional emergency liquidity in the coming weeks, was a response to what many in Frankfurt see as the Greek government's abandoning of its aid-for-reform program.

The decision came just hours after Greece's new finance minister Yanis Varoufakis emerged from a meeting with ECB President Mario Draghi to claim that the ECB would do "whatever it takes" to support member states such as Greece.


I can only hope that Greece imposes capital controls or extends closure of the banks on Tuesday. Greece could remain on the Euro, but obviously could not service its bond debt. Athens should contest this move with the appropriate European legal authorities. Draghi just answered the question of whether the ECB would play hardball politics with the currency.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:15:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is, in these matters, usually helpful to check the date on the article.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:36:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Additionally to what Jake said decisions on these matters are taken by the governing council and not Draghi.
by generic on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You reply to a report from February 20 with a news story from February 10, which is rather unhelpful. What happened here was that 10 days after the ECB declared Greek sovereign debt ineligible for refinancing, Draghi went to the Eurogroup and banged a few heads together to avert an immediate Greek bank meltdown and a soft Grexit, which apparently some of the finance ministers were pining for.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:48:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With apologies for using Google translate...

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 02:29:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I googled a headline that came up from the googalate translation and search. It came back with that exact title and I failed to note the date. My bad.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 05:43:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Reuters: Greece readies reform promises (February 22, 2015)
Tsipras did much of the negotiating for the deal rather than Greece's Eurogroup representative, Varoufakis. But sources close to the government said this reflected Tsipras's need to win backing from Syriza's left wing and his right-wing coalition partner, the Independent Greeks party.

Their support will be crucial in maintaining government unity during negotiations for the long-term agreement.

Likewise Tsipras needs to keep public support. Costas Panagopoulos, who heads the Alco polling firm, said the initial reaction was relief that Greece would stay in the euro. Greeks might even accept Tsipras's change in language and assertions that the troika is no more. "It may sound odd but this could turn into political gains," he told Reuters.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If people were in good faith and understood what democracy means this would be OK.

Outsiders will not be totally acquainted with the culture of the group, so it is normal they will make the occasional blunder.

Only professional politicians and insiders will know how to behave "properly".

If one cherishes democracy and not having persistent oligarchies one would appreciate outsiders bringing fresh perspectives, and so patience would be advised.

Similar complaints are also tended against the UKIP in the UK and I find them unfair: This is what you would get when you get "new blood" (irrespective if you agree or disagree with their political views).

by cagatacos on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 11:32:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But then telling them they are full of shit and have been killing people is not typically the start of a great friendship. It is something they needed to hear though.
by generic on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 11:41:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece should insist that he be treated properly and let it be known that, so long as he is not, there will be continual leaks of verbatum transcripts of all meetings which he attends. And they should insist that Schauble be replaced for even better reasons than are claimed for Varoufakis. They just don't like his politics and his forceful assertion of economic realitiesl. TFB.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 11:43:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A defense of Varoufakis would be best done by Tsipras speaking in the EP forcefully but with a smile, as he does so well. (No expressions of confidence!) And he could make the case for Schauble to be replaced, especially as chair of the Eurogroup Ministers, (he is the one refusing to negotiate0, while noting that Varoufakis is going nowhere so long as Schauble remains. And he could then assert that anytime media leaks result in character assassination type articles against Varoufakis that the verbatum transcripts of what occurred, with video if possible, will be released. Assert that what Schauble and others find objectionable is that Varoufakis is highly effective at pulling down the lies on which current policies are based, and that, while critics do not like the politics he and Syriza represent, that politics is what got Syriza elected and will get them re-elected with an even larger majority.    

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 11:57:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Nah, that would be silly and run against the adult in the room strategy.
by generic on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:03:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To add: Greece wants to talk macroeconomics, common sense and fairness. Moving to talking about personalities would be a win for the other side.
by generic on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:06:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I would generally agree, but where the problem is continual and aggressive dismissal of anything that remotely makes sense from a macro-economic perspective there comes a time when this must be attacked. So long as it is not Greece and any semblance of a true left will be fighting on ground thoroughly well prepared by their opponents. This has been obvious since 2008.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:10:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
About the leaks, remember it was the first  Wed. meeting where the document was leaked first to Peter Spiegel.

If leaking to the press is so untoward, why did the Eurogroup do it first to embarrass Varoufakis.

And remember, Varoufakis tweeted Spiegel to write that his conclusions were dubious.

I think the Greeks learned a lesson. That negotiations should be conducted through the press. And indeed, they stuck to that principle all the way through negotiations.

by Upstate NY on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:05:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
dodo:
I saw Varoufakis doing a much better job being a politician than I expected from an academician/blogger.
LBJ: "The art of politics consists of knowing when to hold a knife to a man's belly - and when to push it in."

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:05:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Apparently most of them aren't valid even if you do run a country.

This looks like a delaying action by all sides. Greece gets some time to Make Plans, and the Troika (wtf is a Russian word doing there anyway?) get to feel like Serious People for another few days.

My guess is that at this point Team Greece is shell-shocked by the unbridled wolfish nastiness of Team Money, and is going to take some time to regroup.

But it's not over yet. And it probably won't be for a while yet.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 05:43:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
But it's not over yet. And it probably won't be for a while yet.

Greece gets its deal.. But if the detail's wrong `we're finished' | Paul Mason | Paul Mason

Here's why I think Varoufakis has achieved something. In the hours before the deal the Greek media reported deposit flight had significantly increased. So it was not the ECB threatening Greece with capital controls but the Greek central bank and finance ministry knowing they would have to limit ATM withdrawals as early as Tuesday.

With that hard deadline clear Greek negotiators feared the position they signed up to tonight would be chipped away by their opponents to nothing - i.e. towards the German position. So by signing early, they - they believe - have removed the ticking clock issue, and if the ECB - as Mr Varoufakis expects - makes positive announcements on restoring normal credit lines to the Greek banks, the banks are safe.

Greece gets its deal.. But if the detail's wrong `we're finished' | Paul Mason | Paul Mason

Here's why I think Varoufakis has achieved something. In the hours before the deal the Greek media reported deposit flight had significantly increased. So it was not the ECB threatening Greece with capital controls but the Greek central bank and finance ministry knowing they would have to limit ATM withdrawals as early as Tuesday.

With that hard deadline clear Greek negotiators feared the position they signed up to tonight would be chipped away by their opponents to nothing - i.e. towards the German position. So by signing early, they - they believe - have removed the ticking clock issue, and if the ECB - as Mr Varoufakis expects - makes positive announcements on restoring normal credit lines to the Greek banks, the banks are safe.



'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:18:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
the Troika (wtf is a Russian word doing there anyway?)

How about the Tricycle?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 02:20:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or Trinity?
by Katrin on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 05:01:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trifecta?
by Bernard on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 06:14:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Triumvirate
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 08:58:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Obtuse triangle.
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 10:23:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Trilateral Commission?
by Zwackus on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 03:11:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I can't think of too many times in the 21st century when the bad guys didn't win.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 09:12:17 AM EST
This kicks the can down the road.

In exchange for time before going bankrupt, Greece has backtracked on the (unrealistic?) promises Tsipras made to the electorate.

The electorate will forgive because some slack has been cut, and the savvier will realise that the more that was asked the more likely something positive would ensue. Ask a kilo even when you know you'd be lucky to get 10 grams.

The problem is that the chances of Syriza being able to do anything meaningful about Greece's severest problems in that short time frame is remote.

They are in government now and need to serve up the biggest tax evaders' heads on a platter, and -equally importantly- solarise the living eff out of the place.

Those two measures would do wonders for the national debt right there, yet neither Tsipras nor Varoufakis (nor Schauble or Dijsselbloem) has even mentioned them, which really makes me slightly uncomfortable tbh.

Any political party which hasn't understood the importance of new energy policies by now is leaving its strongest tool unused. Blind or willful, you decide...

It doesn't add up, unless the energy/utilities status quo is super partes and a sacred cow neither side dares/wants to confront.

Same with massive tax evasion, another natural vote-harvester.

Damn, all that energy expended just to delay execution a few months. :(
 

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 10:18:00 AM EST

<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
by tjbuff (timhess@adelphia.net) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 10:25:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Post-agreement polling shows that Syriza shot up in popularity.

I wrote here last week that a significant part of the left to moderate electorate in Greece, especially those in professional classes, were of the opinion that Syriza and Varoufakis wanted to be forced out of the eurozone, so as not to take the blame.

What you see now if former voters from New Democracy coming around to Syriza. It is BECAUSE of the agreement made on Friday. I argued with these people that they were mistaken about Tsipras and Varoufakis (though not about Syriza) but nothing would shake their belief.

I belief Friday actually shook them.

This gov't is becoming more popular by the day, which is proof that Greek feelings are really raw as to the treatment they have received. 90% of the population never felt the benefits of all the graft over the years. And they blame the eurozone equally as their own corrupt pols for what happened prior to 2010, and the treatment they received after 2010.

by Upstate NY on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 12:10:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 02:34:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose that during the last two weeks we behaved like ostriches: trying to forget that SYRIZA is a hard-left party very prone to, lets call it politely, internal attrition.

Its a pity, because on the surface they really seem the real deal (and I want to believe that both Varoufakis and Tsipras are the real deal).

by cagatacos on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 03:25:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Did Schäuble win?"

The title says volumes. Analogy: You're a child and your family's house just burned down. What does the mentally healthy family do? Assess what useful resources remain (clothing, kitchenware, money, etc) and decide actions to BENEFIT THE ENTIRE FAMILY !  If you are a member of a fucked-up family, it's everybody for themselves, you're on your own, good luck.

That's what Europe is right now. I don't read any suggestions from the Troika/Germans to make Greece healthier; just "Pay your bills, you little shits, or we'll throw you out in the street."

Winners and Losers ... when do you work together? Wasn't that the point of a United Europe? Or was a United Europe just a non-warring method of Germany gradually enslaving/killing off the rest of you? Congratulations ... no World War ... a slow death rather than a quick one.  Yippee!

They tried to assimilate me. They failed.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 02:52:48 PM EST
Was it worth it? Concessions to Greece relative to the rejected draft of 16 February
On 16 February talks in the Eurogroup failed after Greece rejected a draft statement and received an ultimatum to ask for an extension of the current program before 20 February. Greece sent the letter and the Eurogroup reassembled on 20 February, agreeing on a Statement on Greece. It is very instructive to see what changed between the rejected statement and the one finally agreed.
by Katrin on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 05:08:15 PM EST
Great article, thanks!

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 08:17:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One also has to compare the new extension to what Samaras was offered. Remember, the Eurogroup insisted on new austerity cuts for Greece based on numbers that the troika inspectors were kicking around. When Samaras refused, they gave him a 2 month extension. but who requested the 2 months? Some reports show that the Eurogroup offered 6 months before the tranches would be paid, but that Finland (coming on elections) scuppered it. Others said it was Samaras who cut it to 2 months, knowing this would handcuff any new gov't.

Given what happened in November, the new extension is without a doubt an improvement. However, if the eurozone insists on new austerity cuts in June, then it will NOT be an improvement over what Samaras was given.

Greece is in bad shape. I give very little confidence to the possibility of reforms (of a dysfunctional gov't) improving things. I do think there is pent-up demand in Greece which could see its economy skyrocket, but no one will invest in a country with 180% debt to GDP, a country on its way out of the eurozone.

A haircut could return a huge swath of money to Europe. I really believe there is a lot of money on the sidelines in Greece. And the idea that losses in debt could not be explained to the electorate simply shows how badly the eurozone needs a solid structure, because the goal of any central bank and governing authority should be to return an economy (or many economies) to solid ground. Any structure which guarantees the loss of more funds because people are afraid of losing more funds is totally backward indeed.

by Upstate NY on Sat Feb 21st, 2015 at 07:18:52 PM EST
It's good that the deal is not as bad from Varoufakis's viewpoint than made out in the media. However, what is the Eurogroup's and specifically Schäuble's goal? Schäuble really showed his teeth in the last three days, not just by leaving the cover of the Eurogroup with his blackmail strategy but also with some quite arrogant and undiplomatic talk about Greece to the media, here is one:

Greece deal is first step on the road back to austerity | Business | The Guardian

That much was clear from the statements coming out of Brussels, not least those from Wolfgang Schäuble, Germany's veteran finance minister, who indulged himself with some patronising comments to show where the power lies. "Being in government is a date with reality, and reality is often not as nice as a dream," was the quip he delivered with a smile, one that is usually omitted from diplomacy school.

Schäuble, a man who earlier earned by-names like "consigliere" (for his work in support of then chancellor Kohl), "Stasi 2.0" (as interior minister in Merkel's first Grand Coalition government) and "intellectual arsonist" (for his quips fuelling xenophobia) is not speaking out of emotion, this is coldly calculated provocation. The following from Süddeutsche (which, despite being SPD-aligned, outright cheerleads Schäuble) might explain it:

Würde Tsipras einer Verlängerung des bisherigen Programms zustimmen, deren fester Bestandteil die Troika ist, hätte er keine Handhabe mehr, Gespräche mit der Troika zu verweigern. Er hätte sein Wahlversprechen gebrochen. Die Bürger, die ihn derzeit im Umfragen mit 70 Prozent unterstützen, würden sich abwenden. Womöglich käme es zu Neuwahlen, die neue Regierung wäre schnell wieder weg. Vertraute, konservative Politiker bekämen eine neue Chance.Would Tsipras approve an extension of the current programme, of which the Troika is an integral part, he would have no excuse to refuse talks with the Troika. He would have broken his campaign promises. The citizens who currently give him 70 percent support in the polls would turn away. Perhaps there would be snap elections, the new government would be quickly gone again. Familiar, conservative politicians would get a new chance.
Womöglich kalkulieren einige Hardliner mit diesem Szenario. [...]Perhaps some hardliners calculate with this scenario. [...]

So there is an idea in the room (caught by the journalists) that toppling Syriza would get ND back in government. (And whoever has this idea considered neither a Golden Dawn victory nor a successful Syriza swing towards Grexit.) This would explain why some play for maximum pain against Varoufakis.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 04:40:13 AM EST
And whoever has this idea considered neither a Golden Dawn victory nor a successful Syriza swing towards Grexit.

If that's it, they're pretty crazy. Before the Greek electorate turns away from the far-left and jumps into the arms of the old establishment, they will jump into the arms of the far-right. Maybe not Golden Dawn (but then again, maybe them!), but perhaps some other less insane but still far-right party.

And I think Syriza knows this too, and certainly prefers Grexit to such an outcome.

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

by Starvid on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 04:50:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Eurogeroup has no particular dislike for far right groups. Remember Laos?
by generic on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 05:06:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Süddeutsche (which, despite being SPD-aligned, outright cheerleads Schäuble)
That's not a contradiction. Did you see how quickly Sigman Gabriel fell back in line Thursday?

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 05:28:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure DoDo has a clearer view, but my impression is that after the Left split off and the Hessian disaster the left wing of the SPD is basically dead. And the momentum of the Left broke a long time ago.
by generic on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 05:47:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think it's worse than following the (virtually non-existent) party line. The linked piece is an op-ed by the leader of Süddeutsche's economy department, who earlier had the same post at Handelsblatt, and before/parallel to that an author advocating "reform" (for example, he wrote a book titled The Pillage of the Middle Class which attempts to blame this consequence of the class war from above on the 'oversized' state and social supports): a typical neo-liberal revolutionary, not an SPD party soldier (in fact an opponent of the SPD's minimum wage). It's a testament of intellectual and ideological hollowness that Süddeutsche picked him.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 07:36:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that as usual the wrong interpreation. The political department of Süddeutsche my be red-green( much more green though). But the economics dapertment area bunch of die ahrd neoliberals, especially the two people writing the articles. So süddeutsche being unhappy with Greece is as sun rising in the east.
by IM on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 03:32:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that as usual the wrong interpreation.

Before we have another round of shadow-boxing over mis-read words before you realise that we actually agree on something, would you spell out what "that" points at?

At any rate, the Süddeutsche editors giving space to a bunch of die-hard neo-liberals is quite similar to the SPD's intellectual bankruptcy in turning to Harz or promoting Clement or Steinbrück allying with Koch for a shabby "reform" proposal. (Or, to leave Germany but stay with useless centre-leftists, Hollande and Renzi and their ministers hid nicely during the Eurogroup battle over Greece.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:23:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The Eurogroup says nothing of the sort, possibly because it falls outside their remit to say what the ECB would or wouldn't do in response to an agreement with Greece.

In this light, we welcome the commitment by the Greek authorities to work in close agreement with European and international institutions and partners. Against this background we recall the independence of the European Central Bank. We also agreed that the IMF would continue to play its role.
by generic on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 06:05:57 AM EST
Yes, some commentators were wondering what that reaffirmation of central bank independence was doing there.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 06:22:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I moved things in the diary a bit in relation with those paragraphs.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 01:42:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Greek government is talking this up (too much IMHO) as a first small victory based on three things: [undefined yet implicit] improvements on fiscal space, license to proceed with most of its agenda that has no fiscal impact, roll back on the November demands of the troika that would have imposed yet more austerity (reduction of pensions, VAT hike etc), a chance to participate in drafting the new program as equals, and gaining time till June.

There are two litmus tests for what this means in practice:
a. Whether the list of reforms the Greek government submits on Monday will be accepted as is
b. What effect this deal will have on the measures of the Greek government announced and whether on not any will be rolled back (as opposed to simply postponed or delayed)

On a: From what I have seen of the proposal being prepared, I would be pleasantly surprised if it is accepted by the German government. It focuses on administrative and tax collection reform, anti-corruption measures, and efficiency enhancers. Varoufakis and other ministers have guaranteed that no measures on labor market or pensions will be included. If this passes as is, it changes the score on the deal (which is IMHO now a small-score defeat in an away match against a vastly more powerful opponent) and the answer to the thread's question

On b. apparently little will change, if SYRIZA's statements are to be believed: The reintroduction of collective bargaining is still ongoing, the measures of relief on tax arrears, the ban on primary residence evictions by banks are still part of the government program. Even on the remaining EFSF funds Varoufakis has stated that the use of these funds to cut unpayable debts to banks and introduce debtor haircuts, is indeed fair use of these funds as defined in the treaty. So the Greek government is about to engage in battles over semantics against a disunited (it hopes) institutional inspection. And it hopes to fudge and fight all through June, when it better have some sort of plausible plan Z.

In the meantime the parliament has started procedures on a host of scandals involving politicians, and announced the creation of an (Ecuador-style) committee to investigate the legitimacy of the Greek debt. I would not be amazed if by March, legal claims on the German wartime forced loan are submitted to the relevant european legal authorities and institutions.

Note that a large majority of Greeks see this deal as "the best that could be done", and the biggest problem the SYRIZA leadership has is with its core supporters, which probably though, is manageable for now

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

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 06:18:23 AM EST
The first rule of insurgency warfare is to keep existing. Syriza has won simply because it did not lose.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 07:38:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
" I would not be amazed if by March, legal claims on the German wartime forced loan are submitted to the relevant european legal authorities and institutions."

That wouldn't be a good idea.

by IM on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 03:28:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the Greeks care anymore.

The clear result of the last 2 weeks is that they know now they are out of the eurozone. They just didn't want to be out this weekend. It will likely happen within the next half a year, and they can make some additional preparations. They will definitely go after the German loan since it is likely Europe will come after them for the ECB loans and others.

by Upstate NY on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 08:37:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that would still not a good idea. Even if you are right and I doubt that.
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 03:40:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The point of bringing up the reparation/ forced loan issue is to showcase that yes, treaties are changed all the time. And in this case it is not possible for Germany to go the "but this was entirely different!" approach.
by generic on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 04:15:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it is. And taking a rather tired talking point seriously is not a good idea if Greece wants to get anything substantial in the next four months.
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 04:28:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IM:
Of course it is.

This kind of unexplained blanket dismissal is unfortunately typical of your debating style.

What arguments would Germany put forward to explain why this time is completely different?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:21:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This sort of nationalistic blabbing has deserved nothing more then blanket dismissal.

This has nothing, but absolutely nothing with the Second World War or reparations or whatever. And this sort of nationalistic theatrics - "O look, nazis!" won't help Greece a jot.

There is a post war settlement and we can quiblle how old it is but the last part is at least 20 years old. To untie it would be the worst idea in post war european history.

Isn't that obvious?

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:32:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the Greek government is not talking about war reparations per se but specifically about the forced 'war loan' taken by the Axis ocupation authorities, which is a quantifiable financial commitment.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:43:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

Schäuble insists that "pacta sunt servanda". Yet treaty obligations may be waived or redefined, and there is no shame in recalling past examples to underline the fact. In particular, recalling that, in the postwar years, there were two plans for Germany. One, promoted by Morgenthau, was the utter punishment of Germany by the destruction of the industrial economy and a return to agrarianism. The other, which won out, was the re-establishment of an industrial economy by means of debt forgiveness and an economic aid programme. The West German "economic miracle" of the 1950s was built on that.

It is not "nationalistic blabbing" to wish that Germans would remember those facts somewhat more clearly than, we are told, they remember hyperinflation in 1923.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:49:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is nationalistic blabbing to talk about wartime debts.

And I could point out that the so called Morgenthau plan was partly executed. And reparations were quite massive int he east.

And as far as debts cut are concerned: Greece got one. Is that already too far away, but 1941 still relevant?

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:59:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The whole problem is precisely nationalistic blabbing. The whole fucking problem is right-wing nationalist governments putting their short-term electoral interests, expressed in terms of national self-interest ahead of EU interests or even medium term national interest.

"They started it" isn't a good excuse, but the moralistic bleating from the German government about other peoples' debts does rather invite it.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 06:21:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That isn't an argument.

And doesn't justify idiotic stunts

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:11:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No, it's politics. The German government's political stance here sucks. Tit-for-tat ensues. Shocking, isn't it?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:39:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Idiotic, even as pure politics. As a policy - well if you want to tear down everything build in europe since the early fifties...
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:01:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There are a good many of us who feel that whatever has been built in Europe since the '50s is getting torn down anyway. And that German policy bears a heavy responsibility for that sad state of affairs.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:07:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two wrongs don't make a right.

Or do you want to heighten the contradictions?

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:10:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What do you want exactly? Apart from turning a reasonable discussion that might even be enlightening into an IM I-can-be-even-more-kneejerk-than-you-think show?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:17:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think my original point was quite clear: It is not a good or would not be a good idea to raise again the issue of the greek war time loan. You won't achieve anything and it is principally not a good idea to open issues from world war two and upset the post war order. europs needed log enough to construct one.

What is so complicated about that position?  

"Apart from turning a reasonable discussion that might even be "

That is your standard of a reasonable discussion? Full of nationalism and bad history and accusations of bad faith?

I haven't said anything about Greece entering the euro with false numbers (irrelevant) or greek defaults (irrelevant) or the Morgenthau plan (irrelevant).

If we could for once discuss what my acrtual point was. that would be helpful.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If you could slow down and understand others' positions, and stop charging around shooting from the hip with supposed rebuttals that are simply insults to other peoples' intelligence, that would be more than helpful.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:35:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I do understand the position of others , I just think they are (partially) wrong.

 "that are simply insults to other peoples' intelligence,"

And o so clever movie quotes aren't much of an argument.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:38:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

I'm not going through this thread amassing quotes from you that are insults to other users' attempts to discuss reasonably. They are all there for everyone to see.

Please go and read ETiquette.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:41:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is nationalistic blabbing to talk about wartime debts.

You protest too much. What's nationalist babbling is to dismiss the debt of your own country and ignore that arguments for its validity aren't raised in the war creditor country only.

the so called Morgenthau plan was partly executed

So what? It wasn't fully executed, and something else was fully executed instead and led to the Wirtschaftswunder, which should be the blueprint for Greece now.

And as far as debts cut are concerned: Greece got one.

And so does Germany. What about agreeing a mutual debt forgiveness and then follow it up with a Merkel Plan?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:08:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The trouble is that the nationalist blabbing contains different messages for the different (national) audiences. Lifelong experience with anti-German racism has taught me to flap my ears at certain keywords and raise the middle finger. IM is right in so far  that it is not a good idea to trigger off such a reaction. I don't think that the mirroring of the German insistence on paying debts is playing the Nazi-card (on the sender's side)--but that's how it is widely seen in Germany.  

I find bringing up this forced loan counterproductive, because it appeals to nationalisms on both sides. Surely the spirit of the 1953 debt conference, which was that peace in Europe is only possible by cooperation and prosperity for all of Europe, is what we want to connect to, and not nationalism and mirrored nationalism and counter-mirrored nationalism or whatever.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:10:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Surely the spirit of the 1953 debt conference, which was that peace in Europe is only possible by cooperation and prosperity for all of Europe, is what we want to connect to"

Could somebody connect Schäuble to that?

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

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:33:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You got there first.

Though there is this.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:36:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No.

Are you now surprised at my answer? I don't know what your question has to do with my post.

by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:50:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What it has to do with it is that Schäuble and the German elite in general are not behaving in accordance with the ethics you suggest.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:12:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, and my post was about the different messages that the different general publics, not the elites or finance ministers, in two nations read from bringing up that loan.  I said that it is counterproductive to send such a message. It only drives people on Schäuble's side. It is not a message to Schäuble or "the elites", but not the general public.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think Greece can win the public debate in Germany and outside it might work better.
by generic on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:49:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How do you suggest changing the behaviour of the German elite with regard to the ethics you outlined?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:59:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By cutting them off from the support of the public (or rather that part of the elites. They are ot monolithic). That means, stick to a narrative of creating peace and prosperity. Reminding the public of the debt conference 1953: it is not necessary to love the Greeks in order to forgive their debt, as it wasn't necessary then, when it was German debt. All it needs is acknowledging the fact that all of us live better by writing off this debt. With the nationalistic narratives we all can only lose.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:08:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At this stage I think your take is too optimistic. I think even mentioning the 1953 debt conference will trigger the "we are called Nazis" reaction from a large enough part of the media and the Grand Coalition to define public opinion. To give you an example where no nationalism and counter-nationalism can be involved, remember the reaction Gysi got when he compared the treatment of Greece to Versailles. I'm not entirely convinced that it's a good idea, either, but the Greek government can't fight for the objective reporting of its positions against a hostile media of a much larger country, whereas a formal suit could at least trigger serious discussion in other countries (to embolden them to isolate Merkel & Schäuble).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:07:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know. I actually had some very anti-Greek interlocutors pause, when I mentioned the debt agreement of '53, and asked what they thought why the other governments did that. It wasn't for love of Germany, they had not the slightest reason for that, so what was it? I may be wrong and too optimistic, but I sense that Schäuble is very slowly losing some ground in the German public, and there is serious discussion in other countries anyway. Time will tell, and until then Greece should not reverse that process, if they can help it. Surely, after waiting so long with  sueing Germany for that loan, they can now wait a few months longer?
by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:33:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The problem for Greece is that, just now, the long, bogus, conservative German elite framing of this issue is rolling towards smothering the life out of Greece, which has led the Greek people to support drastic measures to counter this effort. The existing framing has the effect of dehumanizing and demonizing the Greeks as feckless, lazy foreigners who are taking advantage of the virtuous sacrifices of the German people who deserve to be treated harshly. This is not the first time this has happened, either in Germany or other countries. Blacks and Native Americans have been treated in the same way by the dominant white culture in the USA - slavery for the one, genocide for the other.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 12:30:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sigh. I know I am repeating myself, but then so are you. Even if we want to see this as an attempt at slavery or genocide (your choice of words), I insist on seeing it as the ruling class enslaving and murdering the poor, and choosing the weakest link in the (Euro-)chain to start with.

Your approach favours jingoistic responses (even if that is not your intention), mine favours class-centred politics.

by Katrin on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:46:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What is this "class" you speak of? There is only national self-interest!

Hayek has won. Welcome to freedom.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 07:24:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Freedom, the road to serfdom.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 07:58:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think the whole question of the war loan is brought up in terms of public relations, but in terms of negotiation. The idea that Greece outside the eurozone will still owe Europe a ton is constantly bandied about. The war loan is a counter to that idea. This is its main purpose.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:38:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If it is not even public relation stunt - a idiotic one, by the way -
 it is even more nutty.

And it won't help you with debt hold by the ECB or the EFSF anyway.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:07:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From the distant American shores where I view this crisis, there is a whole lot of nuttiness.

Given my interactions here today, I am quite frankly stunned that some of the basics of the Greek debt problem are not known in Germany. For instance, how Greece entered the euro. And, whether Greece has really been in default over the years.

Now, I have yet another revelation. That the conversion of Greek loans in 2012 is not understood either.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:26:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What the hell are you talking about? Your theory how the conversion happened is rather weird. And I haven't said anything about how greece entered the euro (quite irrelevant now anyway) or where and when Greece was in default (even more irrelevant).
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:41:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did you not state below in reply to a question about Germany's haircut in 1953 that Greece also received a haircut?

You did.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:44:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes I did. And that is exactly true. So?
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:51:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm done going round in round in circles. You just asked me how my point about conversion is relevant. Take it away. I'm done.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:07:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You haven't got a point, you know.
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:13:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not one you would acknowledge, at any rate.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 12:32:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No, there is there there.
by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:16:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
 "whereas a formal suit could at least trigger serious discussion in other countries "

Yes other countries will be happy to relitigate world war two. A slpendid idea.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:28:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru already made this point but it's not getting through.

Take the war and morality completely out of it.

Germany was loaned an amount of money from Greece back in 1942.

Whatever was happening at the time is irrelevant.

The money taken was quantifiable.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:31:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Whatever was happening at the time is irrelevant."

Nice. statute of limitation, then.

"Migeru already made this point but it's not getting through."

What point?

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:37:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru: The loan is quantifiable.

When you say there is a statute of limitations on loans, do you believe international law on this matter agrees with you?

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:42:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know how they deal with statute of limitations in international law.

There should be ways. Closure is important in law.  

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:54:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One of the Dutch Deputy Finance Ministers recently observed that Holland was finally repaid for a loan made to Indonesia in the 1930s.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:08:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Migeru: The loan is quantifiable.

Even that we can argue about. There quite different numbers thrown around. propably depending on the interest rate calculation.

But I don't that matters. That is not the point herew and you know it.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:56:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think people were perfectly willing to forgive and forget until this crisis. There is a lot of moralizing on both sides. And the Greeks take umbrage whenever the German media cast aspersions on Greek character. That is galling to most Greeks, coming from Germany. I think Schauble is the one who gives license.

Take for instance the constantly repeated mantra in Germany about Greece's history as a defaulter. It boggles the brain to imagine such renditions about Greek economic history, while simultaneously there is the constant refrain about not bringing up the German past. Either pasts are relevant or they are not.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:11:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Forgive and forget" is not what I advocate. I have no issue with bearing the past in mind either. I warn against rhetoric that pitches nations against each other, and for that it is completely irrelevant that the Greeks did not start the nationalist blabber. Which European narrative do you want to connect to?
by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:34:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think the European narrative is actually over in Greece. They are back to what Papandreou used to say, "We are a Balkan nation." And that explicitly meant outside Europe.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:41:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think there wouldn't have been a wide positive reaction to staying in the Euro if the sentiment you see would be a majority one.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:11:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Even during the midst of the negotiations, I was reading a big turnabout on the euro.

Geithner's comments about the intention to punish Greece all along has now become common  wisdom in Greece.

Paul mason spoke to the moderates in Syriza over the weekend who said that they were dead wrong about the possibility of keeping Greece in the euro.

I think Varoufakis is likely to the very fringe of his party in terms of his sense that Greece needs to stay in the euro, and if you read Varoufakis's writing on currency conversion for other countries (i.e. Scotland or Argentina) then you know he actually has a withering view of Europe.

I am entirely convinced that the body politic in Greece (outside To Potami, the tatters of Pasok, and ND) is now ready for exiting the euro. And I think the people are there too.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:26:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
None of which addresses the positive public reaction.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:29:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
any move out of the euro requires a lot of finessing of public opinions.

It was very important for Syriza to be seen as absolutely against Grexit.

The idea has to be established in the public minds that, when it happens, the govt did everything it could do. The general sense that I got from Greek voters (who formerly supported ND or PASOK or were now in To Potami's camp) was that they believed Varoufakis and Tsipras wanted out of the euro.

These sensibilities have to be managed. They don't change instantly.

Not to mention the fact that Greeks for the first time saw their politicians as fighting for them, which actually does address the gov'ts popularity.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:50:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
By the way, here is an article in the AFP (LA Times) that shows Greek public opinion over the weekend:

http://www.latimes.com/world/europe/la-fg-greece-bailout-20150223-story.html

Nevertheless, Tsipras' popularity continues to soar, according to recent polls.

Weekend polls found that more than 80% of respondents said they were supportive of the negotiating stance, while 86% said they felt his leadership had inspired a new sense of national pride.

A separate poll found that Tsipras' popularity rating had risen by 42 percentage points in a month, reaching 87%, the highest of any Greek politician since the restoration of democracy in 1974.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:47:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny I have read a lot of press reporst how he is in hot water with Syriza (and Anel).

Seems to be a tad superficial, the damage.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, Tsipras won over the overwhelming majority of public opinion by making them feel that he is with them in wanting Greece as part of Europe, the EU and the Euro; at the expense of distress among the party faithful, some of whom may feel that the European narrative is over and "We are a Balkan nation" applies again.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:53:12 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greeks are changing their view.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:14:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had no problem understanding your perspective, though I disagree only to the extent that I find it intolerable that German conservatives, especially those from the south, still complain about references to what those they strongly supported in the '30s did and that it left such a mark on German history. I do this because my real concern is that I see the social and psychological attitudes and political beliefs involved then still acting today in analogous ways. I have the same concern for all of the US conservatives who supported Hitler, to the extent of cooperating with him in the rearming of Germany right up until their holdings were (temporarily) confiscated during WW II, after they had transferred vital technologies to Germany - Standard Oil, DuPont, Firestone, Ford, IBM, etc., not to mention Harriman-Brown law firm It is a serious concern that they were and are not now held accountable. Individuals involved included Pierre DuPont, Henry Ford (Iron Cross by Hitler), Prescott Bush, both Dulles brothers, Joe Kennedy, etc. And these same people are now supporting the current, post modern imperial security state in the USA.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:58:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes. I can only remind you that I am not particularly conservative, but that I too flap my ears at all demands to hold me responsible for what my grandparents did, or anything resembling such demands. People who want to reach the German public, or at least who don't want to alienate it, should avoid this minefield. You can either have a narrative that pitches nations against each other or a narrative that holds conservatives responsible, but not both.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:25:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a fair point, in the same sense and to the same extent that it is a fair point that you will not change Israeli public opinion by bringing up the 1948 ethnic cleansing.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:13:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that is a fair point, and as long as Greece remains in the eurozone winning the German public for the spirit of '53 should be the goal.

However, if Greece is kicked out of the eurozone and Germany insist on being repaid and uses the legal structure of the EU to try to collect, then I think bringing up legal claims against Germany might be necessary in order to remain in the EU.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 05:09:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Agreed. In that case the political climate would be poisoned anyway.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:52:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I read it in the same way.

It is a point being made to show that a Greek exit from the eurozone really does mean unrecoverable  debts for the rest of Europe.

Beyond that, Citigroup has argued that the removal of ELA automatically creates a legal liability for Europe that absolves Greece of any debt.

I would also point out that the debt conversion in 2012 changed Greek debt from being Athens based, without any collective action clauses, to London debt that required a % of creditor agreement in the changing of any terms.

by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 08:55:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You protest too much.

Now, that is called an argument. Perhaps you should try it too.

" What's nationalist babbling is to dismiss the debt of your own country "

That is just nonsense. I don't dismiss anything.

And special pleading: You don't argue for hungarian reparations, do you?

"What about agreeing a mutual debt forgiveness"

mutual? Do you remenber that there are a lot of other european creditors, even if we ignore the IMF? You can't really try the "Look, nazis!" trick on them.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:15:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now this is true trolling.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:55:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that is an argument made never in this detail or what?
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:59:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
IM:
the so called Morgenthau plan was partly executed

Very feebly. The industrial apparatus was left intact.

reparations were quite massive int he east.

Well, precisely, and that's a major difference with fortunate West Germany.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:03:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece had a 300B euro debt at the outset of the crisis. It has a 310B debt now. After 2 years (21 months) running a primary surplus.

Many people quote the haircut to Greek debt without realizing that the debt was converted, not eliminated. The net benefit to Greece was a 7% reduction.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I would content myself with Germans remembering Brüning's austerity with nearly as much clarity as the 1923 hyperinflation.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 06:16:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is NOT about reparations. I don't know how many times it needs to be said.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:24:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course it is. Just claiming so doesn't change the fact.
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:21:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If reparations are on the table, what about Italy?

Or has the War of '40 been retconned?

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:34:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If reparations are on the table

It would be nice if, instead of another knee-jerk reaction, you would follow the actual discussion and notice that this isn't about reparations but wartime loans.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:11:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That was a pretty typical feature of german occupation policy, this formally two sided trade with a occupied country that created ever larger german debts never to be repaid. So yes, it very ,much belongs into war time damage and into a reparation context. there is nothign special anout this "loan".  
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:19:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece declared war several years ago on the EU. Only a few Greeks knew it. They stole all your money. It is theirs now. That wartime gov't is out of power.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:12:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
No you are descending into dadaism. or ascending?
by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:15:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
IM:
That wouldn't be a good idea.

Why not? Are there other countries lined up after Greece to ask The Big G for reparations too?

When a country makes such a huge mistake as The Third Reich was, there are consequences. Odd how Germany is all too ready to play the moralist, but only when convenient.

Playing the victim while in the catbird seat won't wash, no-one is convinced except Der Bild knuckledraggers, useful idiots for the 1% like the Teabaggers.

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 09:07:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Are there other countries lined up after Greece to ask The Big G for reparations too?"

Yes, they would. And that is why this isn't a good idea.

"When a country makes such a huge mistake as The Third Reich was, there are consequences. "

In 2015? you are nuts. Such nonsense will only undermine the greek position further.

But I think Germany will be a quite ready to pay - about six months after the italian payments starts.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 03:37:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The big difference between Greece and other countries was that the Nazis forced a wartime loan for the occupation, because they had a resistant population on their hands. And they stole the gold reserves from the National Bank of Greece.

These are entirely two different things. War reparations in Greece would entirely blot out the current Greek debt. The actual value of the loans and gold ranges from 11B to 54B.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:41:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It doesn't matter.

The EU is basically about putting WW2 behind us. Acting in this way is completely against the spirit of the EU, and will only put German backs up even more. Which is understandable.

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

by Starvid on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:03:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The EU actually does not put anything behind it in recalling the Greek past. In Frances Coppola's article last week, she actually was told that the Eurogroup referenced Greece's propensity for defaults in the past.

Besides, I am referencing Greece's position outside the eurozone and possibly outside the EU. This is in the context of Europe attempting to recover debt that Greece owes to Europe.

I am surprised that you don't see the enormous damage caused already in Greece's relationship to Europe. This is really a divorce.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:37:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If the debate veers towards Greek historical propensity to default, King Otto's loans (and austerity) can be brought into the debate.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:56:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It has veered there. I have seen this repeatedly lately.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:21:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A divorce where the vast majority of Greeks want to remain in the Eurozone. Strange.

And while I don't think it's relevant to point out that Greece has been in default for like half the time during the last 200 years, it is relevant that Greece cheated to get into the Eurozone, and hasn't implemented the reforms it promised to implement (no matter if the reforms were good or bad).

My point is that this creates a lack of trust. People don't trust Athens. Maybe we should trust Athens because the new guys are fundamentally different from the old ones? I argue that we should. But the Eurogroup apparently wants the new government to earn its trust.

Fine. I expect Syriza to be serious about structural reform, just as I expect Syriza to do anything it can to get a fiscal breathing space. Both are good and important things. And as long as the Eurogroup sees Syriza is serious, trust might return.

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

by Starvid on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:30:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and hasn't implemented the reforms it promised to implement

The OECD disagrees.

by generic on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:38:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
If all the reforms have been completed during these five years, how come Syriza is still talking about all the strucutural reforms that remain, including absolutely basic things such as tax evasion?

I'm not talking about fiscal "reforms" here, i.e. austerity, but real structural reforms.

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

by Starvid on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 03:52:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What makes you think that EPP and ALDE are at all in favor, or even tolerant of, real structural reform? They're completely in favor of corruption and tax fraud in every other case.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 03:58:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That seems the essence of EPP politics. What they call 'reform' is just changes that make looting easier.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 12:44:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When Russia will learn to do this... The BRICS alternative banking system is under way.
by das monde on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 02:48:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia has no alternative economic ideology. Meaning every financial system they'll design will suck just as much. There is however something to be said for having two terrible systems instead of just one.
by generic on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 03:28:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Russia has no alternative economic ideology.

  Really, they do, but it is still under a cloud. Baptize Marx as a Russian Orthodox thinker, downplay Lenin, keep the analysis, implement state driven and regulated planning with private firms and corporations and you have an approach potentially better than anything on offer in the "Free World". Further, there is a large population still alive who are familiar both with the analysis and the corrupt, damaging application during Soviet times.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 09:09:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Eh, Marx was as much a German thinker as a Russian one and as far as I know is similar popular in the governing circles of both countries.
by generic on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 10:26:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I though Marx was very popular in Germany.
German soldiers used broomsticks painted black instead of guns during a joint Nato exercise last year due to severe equipment shortages, it has emerged.
You did mean Groucho, didn't you?
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 10:31:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So Marx is popular and an important part of the thinking of the CDU? I don't doubt that Marx is embraced by many in the Russian government, but not, so far as I can see, when it comes to how the Central Bank is run, though. I don't know how much he had to say, if anything, about the role of central banks.

I am partial to the post Marxist economists I have read, such as Nitzan and Bichler's Capital as Power and Varoufakis' Global Minotaur and, back in the '60s I found the writings of 'Marxist' English historians such as Chris Hill on the English Revolution and Civil War and E. H. Carr's classic on international relations, The Twenty Year Crisis 1919-1939, to be the most cogent analyses I found on their respective subjects. More recently I have found Eric Hobswam's works on the long 19th and short 20th centuries, and on our current period quite informative and a pleasure to read. I have never waded through Capital, nor do I consider myself a Marxist, but I do value Marx, especially his social analysis, as a Sociologist.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 11:20:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't doubt that Marx is embraced by many in the Russian government,

Why? What makes you think that?

by generic on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 01:25:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Just that until 1990 or so most Soviet university graduates were taught Marx. Many didn't like the indoctrination, but there were many for whom it formed the basis of their world view, even while they were highly dissatisfied with the legacy of Lenin and, especially, Stalin. I think it unbalanced to dismiss the idealism that some, not just Gorbachev, displayed, the belief that socialism could be rescued. This view is not popular with conservatives, but I likely could find support in the writings of Stephen F. Cohen, for example.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 01:56:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Methinks being taught Marx applies to virtually every 45+ economist in post-East-Bloc countries who now advocate neo-liberalism. And by every indication, Russia's economic policy today is a version of neo-liberalism, even if it differs in details from the EU or the US version.

If I may bring my sector as example, while the USA always was private railways owning train and track, and Europe now tries re-privatisation via open access and franchising, Russia embarked in recent years on partial or full IPOs of separated-out company branches, including almost the entire freight transport.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 02:07:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"Under a cloud", as I said. And there is money to be had via neo-liberal reforms that is irresistable to politicians. But Putin has had to rein in some of these newly created oligarchs, and I doubt that none remain in government that believed there could be a better socialism, let alone in academia.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 03:00:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Family on Wall Street tell me that Marx was incredibly popular there circa 2007. People were reading him (as if) for the first time.
by Upstate NY on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 02:10:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Try Varoufakis's (with two coauthors) Modern Political Economics which has a section devoted to Marx's economics, including what he got right and also what he got wrong.
by gk (gk (gk quattro due due sette @gmail.com)) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 03:32:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It has been on my list to buy - when I can find a reasonably priced hard copy.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 04:10:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The first part deals with how societies functioned in antiquity, before coins and money were developed - temple and palace based records of account, drawing on Thorstein Veblin, Lewis Mumford and Michael Kalecki.  the split of political economics into economics and political science and the consequences. Capital as Power is organized as a comparative history of economic thought going through such topics as the theory of prices, labor theory of value, productivity, what are the factors of production, etc. with a critique of Classical, Neo-Classical and Marxist views emphasizing the limitations of each. None them can really even explain adequately how prices are determined, or where profits are derived, in part because they all leave out the aspect of power. For Nitzan and Bichler, capital is the embodiment of power, the ability to creatively reorder society so as to serve the interests of the capitalists. In more traditional societies this was the role of the kings and/or priests. The book is now available free from the Nitzan Bichler Archives at York University in Canada, though I paid close to $50 for it in 2010.
   

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 07:55:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
 The BRICS alternative banking system is under way.

once again?

Reminds me of:

"Brazil, the country of tomorrow and always will be

by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:14:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It is the alternative payments clearing system, out of the direct control and influence of the US Treasury's economic warfare unit, that is one major benefit. And now trade between Mid East oil suppliers and China, amongst others, doesn't have to be denominated in $US, nor does all trade between participating nations. This has been the case for the BRICS for a while, though, until recently, it was based on bi-lateral agreements.  They now have a choice of payment clearing systems. It is also a possibility for Iran, if they can get beyond 'Athiest Communists'. Washington, London and Frankfort can just go suck rocks. Sanctions are just driving this process ever more rapidly. While Obama talks about a 'pivot to Asia', Russia is doing it. And that is where a large part of the development opportunities in Eurasia for the 21st century lie.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 09:04:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Real structural erforms? Like labor laws? I know that's LaGarde's favorite thing.

But in Greece right now, with 27% unemployment and 55% for the youth, you have a wild west labor market.

What good are reforms when workers go for weeks and months without pay?

Do you think a  regulation can address that?

What good are reforms when people work overtime hours for part-time pay?

No loosened regulation can address that.

When you have desperate workers, you ave people driven to markets which are not countenanced by any regulation whatsoever. The very idea that looser labor laws will make a difference is a huge fantasy, especially when you consider that it is much harder to fire a German than it is to fire a Greek.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:11:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Did Greece lie?

I think you are laboring under misconceptions.

Read this: http://www.risk.net/risk-magazine/feature/1498135/revealed-goldman-sachs-mega-deal-greece

Equally murky is the exact effect of Goldman Sachs' transactions on Greece's publicly reported national accounts. Since the deficit was a comfortable 1.2% of GDP in 2002, it is more likely that the cashflows were either used to help lower the debt/GDP ratio from 107% in 2001, to 104.9% in 2002 (by funding buybacks) or to lower interest payments from 7.4% in 2001 to 6.4% in 2002. But why did the large negative market value of the swaps not appear on the liability side of Greece's balance sheet?

The answer can be found in ESA95, a 243-page manual on government deficit and debt accounting, published by the European Commission and Eurostat in 2002. As revealed by Piga, the drafting of ESA95's section on derivatives was the subject of fierce arguments between the government statisticians and debt managers of certain eurozone countries.

The statisticians wanted derivatives-related cashflows to be treated as financial transactions, with no effect on deficit or interest costs, and with the derivatives' current market value stated as an asset or liability. The debt managers opposed this, insisting on having the freedom to use derivatives to adjust deficit ratios. The published version of ESA95 reflects the victory of the debt managers in this argument with a series of last-minute amendments.

In particular, ESA95 states in a page-long `clarification' that `streams of interest payments under swaps agreements will continue... having an impact on general government net borrowing/net lending'. In other words, upfront swap payments - which Eurostat classifies as interest - can reduce debt, without the corresponding negative market value of the swap increasing it. According to ESA95, the clarification only covers `currency swaps based on existing liabilities'.

Legitimate transaction

There is no doubt that Goldman Sachs' deal with Greece was a completely legitimate transaction under Eurostat rules. Moreover, both Goldman Sachs and Greece's public debt division are following a path well trodden by other European sovereigns and derivatives dealers. However, like many accounting-driven derivatives transactions, such deals are bound to create discomfort among those who like accounts to reflect economic reality. For example, the Greece-Goldman deal may be of interest to credit rating agency Standard & Poor's, which upgraded Greece's long-term debt from A to A+ in June 2003.

That Greeks "lied" to get into the eurozone is yet another canard poisoning the relations. But it serves the bankers well to say, "We didn't know."

It is doubly odd that the left's ire at Goldman Sachs is used in this case to buffer the position of the banks. Pretty odd that.

by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:30:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
just to remind you that Greece's claims didn't just appear two weeks ago.
It was Germany that used the delay tactics so that now it seems we are talking about issues from 70 years ago.
by Euroliberal on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:38:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That is nonsense too. They haven't been mentioned in ages prior to 2010 or so. It is still an idiotic tactic.
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:04:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Germany wants yet again to create a dominion on the rest of the EU, then, yes, it is a good policy to remind them that they already tried and that the people living around their country might not agree with their natural superiority.

Germany got where it is now by pillaging the continent during the war, and that's a fact, and being perdonned afterwards, and that's another fact. So a little bit of consideration for the people around might be in order.

by Xavier in Paris on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:17:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If Germany wants yet again to create a dominion on the rest of the EU

"If" Sine ven you should now that this isn't the case, we can ignore the rest.

"Germany got where it is now by pillaging the continent during the war, and that's a fact, a"

That is the most ignorant reading of economic history that I have seen recently.

"perdonned afterwards, and that's another fact"

Not really.

by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 12:24:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe you should try to make a bit of calculus on the advantage of having a slave labour during 4 years, and pillaging of all technologies, patents, machinery during the same four years, without having to pay for anything after the war, and without having to give anything back, as Morgenthau plan was not implemented, just to have in 1953, for a trick, avoid to pay anything in indemnity to the people germany invaded. And, while France has been forced to maintain rationing well after the war, to try and get its industry working again from scratch (and the same is applicable to almost all other countries that have had the chance to have Germany as a neighbourg), paid for by people taxation and sacrifices, whereas Germany could just use the marshall plan and the assets stolen during the war.

And everything has been conveniently put in the closet again in 1990 during the reunification, which cost Germany has fraternally exported to its partners, just to be smarting over the few problems that appeared in the eurozone, that represented a ridiculous amount of money, and still smarting and generally telling the world how good germans are, and how morally superior they are to almost all their neighbourgs...

Well I don't think that this is a particular display of modesty and friendliness.  But what do I know? I'm just another arrogant frenchman.

by Xavier in Paris on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That is not very accurate. Much of the slave labor was wasted, spent on the war effort or used for stuff that was later bombed.

Also deindustrialisation began in Germany:

Allied plans for German industry after World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The first "level of industry" plan, signed by the Allies on March 29, 1946, stated that German heavy industry was to be lowered to 50% of its 1938 levels by the destruction of 1,500 listed manufacturing plants.[2] In January 1946 the Allied Control Council set the foundation of the future German economy by putting a cap on German steel production capacity: the maximum allowed was set at about 5,800,000 tons of steel a year, equivalent to 25% of the prewar production level.[3]

Leading to easily expected effects:

Allied plans for German industry after World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Worries about the sluggish recovery of the European economy (which before the war was driven by the German industrial base) and growing Soviet influence amongst a German population subject to food shortages and economic misery, caused the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Generals Clay and Marshall to start lobbying the Truman administration for a change of policy.[14] General Clay stated

"There is no choice between being a communist on 1,500 calories a day and a believer in democracy on a thousand".

However, all that dismantled industry did end up somewhere:

Allied plans for German industry after World War II - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Contrary to common myth, the US did in fact take "reparations"; parts of it by John Gimbel called "plunder and exploitation", directly from Germany. The US for instance took an 8.9% share of dismantled Western German industry.[27][not in citation given]

The Allies also confiscated large amounts of German intellectual property (patents and copyrights, but also trademarks).[28] Beginning immediately after the German surrender and continuing for the next two years the US pursued a vigorous program to harvest all technological and scientific know-how as well as all patents in Germany. John Gimbel comes to the conclusion, in his book "Science Technology and Reparations: Exploitation and Plunder in Postwar Germany", that the "intellectual reparations" taken by the US (and the UK) amounted to close to $10 billion.[29][30][31] The US competitors of German firms were encouraged by the occupation authorities to access all records and facilities.[32]

Anyway, reintegration of Western Germany into the European economy was necessary for the European economy then, just as an end to austerity is necessary for the European economy now.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 05:28:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The mechinical and chemical engineering departments at Oklahoma State University had labs filled with equipment from Germany while I was there in the early '60s.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 11:27:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No you are an nationalist. In other words an idiot. And like all nationalist you seek refuge from reality in mythical version of the past. Some of your distortions have already been pointed out. I will just add that in your version of the past the Marshall plan for some reason duidn't include France.

And a more whiny description of the Trente Glorieuses I have necvr heard.

by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:11:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

IM:

In other words an idiot.

You seize every opportunity to insult other users. That sentence is absolutely unnecessary.

Stop behaving like this or you'll be stopped.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:19:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Don't you think your moderation is more then a bit one-sided?

I mean that:

"You seize every opportunity to insult other users."

is simply a slur.

by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:56:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No you are an nationalist. In other words an idiot.

No, really, that's just kicking the player in the shin rather than kicking the ball.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 07:10:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Moderation Technology™]

No slur at all. I've already told you I'm not going to waste my time compiling a list of that kind of comment from you, this thread is full of it.

As to complaints about "one-sided moderation", they get nowhere round here. Editors are not here to apply your (or anyone else's) idea of balance.

Read also ET Editorial Guidelines.

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 07:38:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I take it that this sub-thread is a very feeble attempt to illustrate my point.
by Katrin on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 08:01:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I strongly believe that the expletive you use against me could very well be applied to you.
by Xavier in Paris on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 08:53:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[ET Pretty Policing™ Technology]

The heat-to-light threshold on this thread was exceeded long ago.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 08:55:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Stepping back a little, the whole discussion is nonsense, from top to bottom. The economic discipline[1] being imposed by the right across the EU is nonsensical and counterproductive and is being sold by appeal to nonsensical nationalist, xenophobic, moralistic and essentialist "arguments'. The German establishment have not been the slightest bit afraid to indulge in that sort of propaganda in order to impose their will[2].

In that context, raising nonsensical issues like ancient debts doesn't seem so unreasonable. That the German establishment is outraged that anyone would have the cheek to mention their own past foibles and that they can't or won't understand why everyone is so upset at them is at least as idiotic.

Getting upset at the lazy Greeks - who relatively recently escaped their own little military dictatorship, don't forget - for reacting in kind demonstrates something of an empathy failure. But then the right doesn't do empathy.

So sure, calling for war reparations is idiotic, but it's in the context of opponents who think you can cut your way out of a depression and deny that people are dying as an inevitable result of their actions, which is possibly worse than idiotic.

[1] In the whips, chains and leather sense.

[2] Better on immigrants than (say) the Brits, but that's a pretty low bar.

by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 07:22:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But neither IM (an apparent left-wing Social Democrat) nor Katrin (apparently in the wilderness left of the Greens and the Left Party) can be described as part of "the right" or "The German establishment". The above doesn't do justice to their respective positions in the debate however I disagree with them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 12:40:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And that is an indicator of the depth of the problem.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 01:12:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I wasn't suggesting it represented their positions at all.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 01:12:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The "the whole discussion is nonsense" part made me think so.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 01:44:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I meant the larger discussion. At EU level.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 02:01:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"So sure, calling for war reparations is idiotic, "

It is and context doesn't help. Mostly because you here forget the existence of other eurozone countries outside Germany and Greece. Why should "second world war something, something2, play e. g. in Belgium?

by IM on Fri Feb 27th, 2015 at 03:25:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Last I read Belgium wasn't in need of debt relief which was denied by Schäuble.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Fri Feb 27th, 2015 at 03:37:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Exactly. It is a creditor in regard to greece. So how will this talking about reparations help Greece vis a vis them?
by IM on Fri Feb 27th, 2015 at 03:41:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LOL. Although Overtveldt is part of the club, last I heard it wasn't him who made pacta sunt servanda arguments and took an uncompromising position but Schäuble. (And a debt settling with Germany alone would of course already go a long way to improve the situation.)

Why do you defend Schäuble? He is not on your party.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Fri Feb 27th, 2015 at 04:18:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It is very convenient for the other eurozone countries, ism't it? Do you really want to claim that Finland,  the Netherlands and Slovakia etc were on the brink to strike half of Greece's debt but big bad Schäuble prevented it?

How do you think that the "we had it bad in world war II and need a special dispensation" argument will play in Slovakia?

And were exactly did I defend Schäuble?

My position is that the war debts stunt is an rather idiotic move. Karl Marx or cardinal Marx as german finance minister wouldn't change that.

by IM on Fri Feb 27th, 2015 at 04:30:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"And a debt settling with Germany alone would of course already go a long way to improve the situation."

Yes. Unicorns will ride on rainbows. sparkling unicorns.

by IM on Fri Feb 27th, 2015 at 04:37:28 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps you may have a point. In the debate today second world war was mentioned by

...Schäuble.

by IM on Fri Feb 27th, 2015 at 04:39:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There was another war related issue in Belgium, back in 2011:

Germany tax levy on Belgian Nazi slave labourers provokes fury - Telegraph

Last week demands for hundreds of euros from tax authorities in the German state of Brandenburg began to land on the doormats of surviving "dwangarbeiders" or their widows.

"It hits me not only financially but emotionally," Simone De Vos, 84, the widow of a forced labourer told the Gazet Van Antwerpen.

"My late husband had anxiety attacks for decades after his time in Germany. It is outrageous that the Germans now want money back."

According to media reports in Belgium, the German authorities last year passed a law stating that pensions for former slave labourers would be taxed at the rate of 17 per cent.

The tax has been applied retroactively from 2005 meaning those Belgian survivors of Nazism or their widows awarded pensions by Germany as a form compensation now face large bills.

by Bernard on Wed Mar 11th, 2015 at 03:21:34 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Holocaust survivors who were forced to work in ghettos receive monthly stipend from government

Some 8,400 Holocaust survivors who lived through forced labor in the ghettos established by the Third Reich have received compensation from the German government recently, and 22,000 will be paid similar dues, Yedioth Ahronoth reported [in October 2010].

The German Labor and Social Affairs Ministry will compensate the survivors or, if they have passed away, their family members, with a total sum of half a billion dollars [...]

The German government approved the 'Ghetto Pension Law' in 2002, stipulating that survivors who worked in ghettos under Nazi occupation are eligible for a monthly stipend and retroactive payments from 1997.

Since then, some 60,000 claims have been filed by Holocaust survivors, half of them in Israel. Around 93% were turned down, but in June the German Supreme Court overturned the decisions, making the survivors eligible for compensation.

Forced labour under German rule during World War II
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Controversy over compensation

The German Forced Labour Compensation Programme was established in 2000; a forced labour fund paid out more than 4.37 billion euros to close to 1.7 million of then-living victims around the world (one-off payments of between 2,500 to 7,500 euros). Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel stated in 2007 that "Many former forced labourers have finally received the promised humanitarian aid"; she also conceded that before the fund was established nothing had gone directly to the forced labourers.

Thus, a resolution of the forced labour under Nazis is pretty new. In particular, the victims from the Baltic states were receiving some compensation from Germany and Austria. In turn, the Baltic states are completing compensation to Jews for lost property, assets.
by das monde on Wed Mar 11th, 2015 at 04:42:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if 1941-45 is too far away, then how about reparations for the victims of the 2010-15 sanctions?

Let's assess each life lost to austerity at, say, € 1 bn. At a body count of (conservatively) 50 thousand to date, that should do a number on the Greek debt to the Troika.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:19:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I talked about the loan and not the reparations because the first is pertinent to the current situation and is much more easy to defend in an international court. So regardless of the merit of the reparation claims, and the fact that today the Chair of the Greek Parliament announced the creation of a parliamentary committee to demand both, I think that the loan especially should be requested.

If the general idea is that past debts should be paid always, regardless of government changes, then either the German government pays up or it doesn't demand that others do. The 1940s isn't that far away. It is frequent that countries pay off debts incurred a century ago.

As for the loan itself, this is what it is all about according to the renowned German historian Hagen Fleischer, a man who is one of the foremost authorities on the Nazi occupation of Greece and the Greek Civil war:

...it's important in this case to make a distinction between reparation payments for war crimes and repayments of so-called Besatzungsanleihe: monthly loans demanded from the Greek government in 1942-44 to pay for the maintenance costs of the German army in Greece and further military activity in the Mediterranean, even delivering food from starving Greece to Rommel's "Afrika-Korps". In early 1945, in the final days of the Third Reich, a group of high-ranking German economists calculated this "German debt (Reichsschuld) to the Greek state" to amount to 476m Reichsmarks, which would be roughly €10bn today.

Compared with the highly emotionally charged issue of wartime reparations, this debt is relatively free of moralistic baggage. It could - and should - form the basis for talks about the foundation of a "future fund", a foundation dedicated to a joint rehabilitation of a "shared" history and the financing of a symbolic infrastructure project.

This would however require a major change of attitude on Germany's behalf. Only Berlin has the power to open talks about a historic consolidation with Greece. Until then, we continue to exist with an absurd situation where democratically elected German postwar governments of all colours continue to be in denial about the existence of this debt, which was officially recognized even by the Nazi regime.



The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:43:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As an aside, people are still being prosecuted for Nazi war crimes.

So 'It was a long time and doesn't matter any more' is hardly a - literal - get out of jail free card.

But the real problem with the loan argument is that it attacks the entire foundation of German self-regard as a creditor nation, and undermines German racist views about lazy southern beggars.

Some squealing about that is only to be expected.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 05:33:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Not the real problem is that overturning the post war settlement is not a good idea. Would make the whole founding idea of the EU obsolete.
by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:08:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The founding idea of the EU was implicitly sacrificed by the compromises that led to Germany's participation in the EMU. Implicitly, because the continuation of the social programs so important early in the EU's history became contingent on the forbearance of the German Government, which vanished along with Helmut Kohl. The collapse of '08 just pulled the trigger on a loaded and aimed gun.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 11:49:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
you are making the point that:

Greece's solidarity and generocity towards Germany was a contributor to the "whole founding idea of the EU" whereas the mantra that "lazy Greeks should not expect neither solidarity nor generocity..." must be one of the pilars for "our common European future".

Fuck me senseless!

by Euroliberal on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 11:52:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No I don't make that point. That are you, putting words in my mouth. Trust me on this: If I would think "lazy greeks", I would say it.
by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 12:13:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
..it's important in this case to make a distinction between reparation payments for war crimes and repayments of so-called Besatzungsanleihe

Thta is nonsens, whatever the guy says. As he himself clearly explains that was very much a part of war damages, in other words a repasration matter.

And to underscore the point:

", and the fact that today the Chair of the Greek Parliament announced the creation of a parliamentary committee to demand both, I think that the loan especially should be requested."

It is the same matter and this recently invented distinction is spurious.

" The 1940s isn't that far away. It is frequent that countries pay off debts incurred a century ago.

seventy years. And no, that isn't frequent at all. or obvious reasons

by IM on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 06:06:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
This is not recently invented. The two have been distinct issues for as long as I remember. In this case the then legal gvt of Germany officially acknowledged that it took a loan from Greece at the time of the loan. The damages incurred by the occupation is a completely different issue.
American war loans to Britain were fully repaid in 2006. Haiti was paying its "independence debt" to France 140 years after its imposition. Etc. I'm sure that it's not that hard to find international sovereign loans that are being paid back after 70 years

The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom - William Blake
by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Tue Feb 24th, 2015 at 07:26:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
FT.com: Greece scrambles to send draft reforms to EU institutions (February 22, 2015)
Eurozone officials have for weeks complained that Mr Varoufakis's reform proposals were not sufficiently detailed and had not come with estimates of how much they would affect the economy and government budgeting. Officials who have seen the weekend submission from Athens have indicated it is similarly vague.

The reforms would be "mainly of a structural nature" and would not include details of projected revenue increases or spending cuts, a Greek government official said. Still, Athens intended to spell out measures to crack down on tax evasion and fuel and cigarette smuggling that could raise about €2bn-€2.5bn this year, the official added.

Another Greek official acknowledged Mr Varoufakis's proposals amounted to "a list of actions to be taken" without a detailed breakdown of numbers.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 04:15:19 PM EST
I wonder if Varoufakis's training in math is preventing him from making up bullshit numbers?

This may be a real problem for Greece. The last thing Greece needs is a pointy-headed academic who is trained to provide actual numbers in his projections.

Clearly, the EU homework for this weekend was to just make shit up. And the guy can't do it.

by Upstate NY on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 08:32:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Upstate NY:
Clearly, the EU homework for this weekend was to just make shit up. And the guy can't do it.

Authenticity as liability in a liar's world...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sun Feb 22nd, 2015 at 09:00:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Heh... so when structural reforms are actually structural and not fiscal, they are not relevant any longer?

Peak oil is not an energy crisis. It is a liquid fuel crisis.
by Starvid on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:47:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
All that matters is where Varoufakis is going to get the Schäuble's pound of flesh.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 08:09:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Has anyone seen a better estimate of the net worth of the ten richest Greeks than this? All but three are in the USA and none of the shipping magnates are on the list, no Onassis, though 55% went to his daughter and 45% to foundations located in tax haven countries.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:14:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Comment by Daniel Schneidermann re the "bad behaviour" of Varoufakis and Tsipras:

Mélenchon et ses éruptions - Arrêt sur images

... si on casse les règles, on casse les codes. Si quelqu'un connait le moyen de tordre le bras des Allemands sans casser les codes, qu'il révèle la recette d'urgence. Pour l'instant, cela dit, la Grèce a cassé les codes sans casser les règles.

... if you break the rules, you break the codes. If anyone knows how to twist the Germans' arms without breaking the codes, let us know the recipe, it's urgent. For the moment, this said, Greece has broken the codes without breaking the rules.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 04:07:51 AM EST
Bloomberg: Spain Said to Lead Push to Hold Greece to Terms as Podemos Grows (February 22, 2015)
As euro-region finance ministers turned the screw on Greece in Friday's talks, the group's usual enforcer, Wolfgang Schaeuble of Germany, was eclipsed by Spain's Luis de Guindos, according to two people with direct knowledge of the talks.

De Guindos took the toughest line with Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis as the bloc forced him to adhere to the terms of the country's existing bailout to retain access to official financing, the people said, asking not to be named because the conversations were private. When the group rejected Schaeuble's call for a Tuesday meeting to scrutinize Greece's plans to meet those conditions, De Guindos insisted, winning agreement for a teleconference, they said.

...

De Guindos, at times raising his voice, railed against Varoufakis in Friday's meeting, telling him he has to win the trust of his euro-region counterparts and learn how politics is conducted at the European level, one of the people said.



A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 04:38:13 AM EST
I blame Franco.
by IM on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:32:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Generalissimo Franco is still dead, but his heirs are alive and kicking in the Spanssh People's Party.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 05:44:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Schaüble's "ha ha we won, you lost, suck on that" crowing (unless he habitually behaves like that?) can surely only be a sign that he's scared of his home constituency. He can't afford to be the one who caved in to the Greeks, so he's declaring victory.

It's a sign that the deal can't be all that bad.

And now, he has the quite difficult task of explaining which particular line items of internal Greek policy he intends to personally veto.

I think it's quite clever to have manoeuvred him into that position. And if he really goes down to the wire and says "no, you have to cut pensions" or "no, you have to sell your second port to the Chinese", how well will that actually play with the German public?

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

by eurogreen on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:31:00 AM EST
Most Germans bought into the story that Greece was bailed out, that Germany helped Greece with money. These people are miffed that Greece is damn ungrateful and apparently wants more money. Varoufakis was very careful to emphasise that he doesn't want Germany to pay more, that he actually objected to what German taxpayers had to pay for. Under these circs Schäuble can't very well say he is opposed to collecting tax from Greece's rich and cutting health care for little children instead.
by Katrin on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 09:44:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Greece should reject any attempt at line-item vetos outright.

The signed document clearly states that a package will be presented, and a package will be approved or rejected. Nowhere does it stipulate that Stasi 2.0 gets to botanize it.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:25:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I think that's exactly what's going on.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 02:36:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]


A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:01:25 AM EST
Yeah, he thinks he's funny.
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:06:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Gideon Rachman: A Greek deal cannot fix the flaws in the euro (23 February 2015)
Ever since a single European currency was first mooted, I have believed that it would eventually collapse. That belief is based on three simple propositions. First, a currency union cannot ultimately survive unless it is backed by a political union. Second, there will be no political union in Europe because there is no common political identity to underpin it. And so, third -- the euro will collapse.

...

But there is one aspect of the euro crisis where my starting certainties have given way to doubts. My initial belief was that since the euro was a bad idea, its collapse could only be a good thing. Now I am not so sure.

...

The challenge of Russia is not the only problem that makes EU solidarity particularly important at the moment. There are going to be many more refugees heading towards Europe from north Africa and the Middle East in the near future and the EU badly needs to organise a collective response.

So, the only reasons Gideon Rachman thinks an EU collapse would be a bad thing are Russia and Fortress Europe.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 10:59:14 AM EST
It's not an argument to stand up and cheer about. But it's certainly true that the EU (and probably even the Euro), while deeply dysfunctional and no doubt unfixable, are infinitely preferable to the alternative.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 11:08:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Why do you say unfixable? I agree it looks that way at present (by sheer force of habit probably), but if Varoufakis can emerge out of Greece then who knows what else can happen?
So much depends on public opinion piercing the veil of economy-speak and Greece may just be the icebreaker in that regard.
Maybe people are not the dumb sheep they've been when times were (relatively) good.
Hard to stay sleeping as social pain mounts...

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty
by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 01:12:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Including a curious interview with Germany's deputy finance minister, who spends the interview talking about the rule of law and pacta sunt servanda. In particular, there is no moral authority other than following the agreed rules.

A society committed to the notion that government is always bad will have bad government. And it doesn't have to be that way. — Paul Krugman
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 03:37:07 PM EST
Incredible tone deafness.
by Upstate NY on Mon Feb 23rd, 2015 at 07:04:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]