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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Chile in 1977 ... Cuba in 2014 ... and Greece When?

By the mid-1970s, Chile's new economic team ("Chicago Boys") embarked on a shock treatment course to reform the Chilean economy. Where Allende had attempted - with the active support of Fidel Castro - to turn Chile into a closed, communist society, the Chicago Boys opted for an open, market-oriented economy. One of the pillars of the new economic policies was the focus on foreign investment. The simple logic of Sergio de Castro, Finance Minister, was: "We need to grow the economy at 6-8% per year in order to catch up and we can only achieve that with foreign capital". To accomplish this --- a new Foreign Investment Law was implemented in 1977.

37 years later, in 2014, Cuba is still a communist society, now run by Fidel's brother Raúl. And yet, Cuba's Vice President and the czar of President Raúl Castro's economic reforms, Marino Murillo, is saying: "Cuba needs to attract 2-2,5 BUSD in foreign direct investment per year to reach its economic growth target of 7% and to advance its socialist socio-economic model, prosperous and sustainable". To accomplish this --- a new Foreign Investment Law was approved over this past weekend.

The only way for Greece to return to a reasonable level of economic well-being within a generation is through accelerated and sustainable economic growth. When will the Greek population, at least in its majority, begin to understand that accelerated growth requires accelerated investment? That accelerated investment requires accelerated capital flows from abroad? And that such accelerated capital flows from abroad should not come in the form of debt (of which Greece has far too much) but, instead, in the form of equity, i. e. foreign direct investment (of which Greece has far too little)?

When will the Greek population, at least in its majority, begin to understand that foreign direct investment is not a game of the devil where foreign capitalists exploit all the wonderful resources of Greece? That, instead, foreign direct investment is the most realiable long-term source of foreign capital and the most effective way to transfer know-how to the Greek economy?

The Wall Street Journal sees the Cuban measure as vital for the struggling economy. Since the WSJ is a capitalist paper, let’s instead listen to the communist Marino Murillo: “Not using those sources would retard national development”. Mr. Murillo said Cuba will especially look for agricultural investment.

The Minister for Foreign Trade and Investment, Rodrigo Malmierca, another communist, said: “We have to provide incentives in order for foreign investors to come. We need to stimulate foreign investment to resolve structural problems in the economy, not just in industry but also in livestock”.

The Foreign Investment Law is a fundamental part of Mr. Castro's package of reforms, begun in 2008 with the stated goal of "updating" Cuba's economic model. Cuba is hoping foreigners will invest in sectors throughout the economy except health and education.

Below are links to what the media are saying about Cuba's new Foreign Investment Law:


When will we read media reports about a new Greek Foreign Investment Law which offers real incentives to foreign investors?

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Greek Roulette Being Played on German ARD (2)

A few days ago, I published this post about a report aired on the German ARD about misapplication of EU subsidies by Greece. The post triggered very good comments which I show below.

11 comments:

  1. I don't understand the title of the documentary: there is no game of chance being played, since the probability of EU funding being misused in Greece is well over 50%. Systematically, the Greek state and society have exploited weaknesses in the EU system to suck out money and use it for personal gain, job creation, et al. Even when the intended purposes are actually satisfied, the money embezzled can be as much as 50% of the budget.

    I have been told confidentially by investigators of massive embezzlement and corruption in the Athens metro construction -- with such sophisticated money-laundering schemes that the expert opinion was that the Greek courts could not cope with the complexity and there was no point in the Commission prosecuting. When the situation is clearer, such as the project requirements not being met, then the money has to be returned to the Commission. That happened with the land registry scheme, for example.

    Few people know that Greece is the only EU state that has been found guilty of massive fraud and conspiracy to defraud the EU, committed by the Agriculture Ministry in the late 1980s -- the Yugoslav corn scandal, where the Ministry officials conspired with farmers and importers to pass off imported Yugoslav corn as having been produced in Greece and claiming the EU subsidy.

    At the non-state level, I know of systematic fraud by small companies providing IT training schemes financed by the Commission. People who signed up for these schemes were told to turn up for the first and last days only (just to sign a form) and they would get an official certificate stating that they had completed successfully a course on IT skills. After thousands of such fraudulent schemes, the result is that people are without proper IT skills and most of the certificates they produce are meaningless.

    Basically, Greeks think that anyone giving out money is an idiot to be abused and cheated, and that anythijng goes. Equally, I have had the same experience of bringing money to Greece -- where the Greek university fake professors try to get their grubby little hands on everything while doing nothing to facilitate the collection of funds, let alone actual hard work in doing research. Many of them have never done proper research or published anything; very few have any sort of international reputation for their work.

    When you read these things, you understand why Greece is in such a bad position within the eurozone. It is the incompatibility of a backward and corrupt culture with modern competitive economies as can be found in northern Europe. Greek society has either to abandon its dirty money-grabbing habits and learn how to work productively and collaboratively, or go back to third world status and leave the EU.
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  2. One wonders why the Germans would particularly care about any of this except to point the finger one way sufficiently noisily to keep fingers from being pointed toward them. Whatever money they lent has been returned with profit, its horrendous irresponsible banks are firewalled, and it has managed to destroy the healthy part of the Greek economy to reshape us to its own profit. I suppose its momentum depends on ongoing contempt - an old ploy.

    This is said as an honest Greek who has not cheated the greek state. Yes there are quite a few of us. This might surprise those whose agenda is only to denigrate. And of course 'you', whoever you are, will only sneer at such a statement.

    Apart from the notorious German arms and industrial bribes, there is the open "secret" that German companies deliver cash to all greek political parties according to their polling %s. Considering that the German government and industry work hand in hand this is therefore state-sanctioned policy.

    Germany through Troika has recently insisted on micromanagement of certain areas of the greek economy that will destroy greek companies and open the way to german producers to take over the market with inferior products - milk being an example. Germany (Federation of Industry) has been negotiating these last 2 years for tax free status of SEZs it plans to build here, notoriously stating that greeks will work 6/7 days a week, 13 hours a day with no benefits. But this unwanted (by Greeks) "investment" will only materialise when the Greek minimum wage is sufficiently 'competitive' - ie super cheap for German companies. Croatia's 320€ per month is held out by Germany as its goal. This is German 'investment', something that benefits only Germany and not the greek state nor greek workers - except to raise 'employment' numbers. Since desperate greeks will of course take these mind-numbing jobs since Germany has purposely, maliciously and successfully destroyed the greek economy.

    That all of Germany's / Troika's moves have torn up and thrown away the EU social contract is not only immaterial but obviously an aim. That German preferred "salaries" are 1/4 of the EU's poverty level is also immaterial to this country.
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  3. Part 2
    As an honest Greek, I can only see a history stretching back to just after the first world war of 100% negatives coming from Greece's contacts with Germany. Germany had obviously targeted and corrupted a whole class of Greeks to work for Germany's profit, not ours. I grew up in a family that saw all 'germanoellines" as quislings. This is neither a right nor left position, and is far more widespread than you'd imagine judging by your columns.

    I note in Germany that the only "doctrine" associated with Merkel, the so-called "Merkel Doctrine" according to Der Spiegel is the sale of german armaments to any and all countries that want to buy them. We can only assume that each of these sales everywhere come greased with huge bribes. Thus Germany's raison d'etre - trade - knowingly and deliberately corrupts everything it touches, while providing blackmail opportunities to the German government any time a foreign government steps out of line.

    Of course Germany looks on Greeks and Greece with contempt, as I look on Germany with contempt, and also our greek collaborators. There is an historic reason that half of Greece - I would venture to say the good half - have been strongly anti-german throughout the 20th century and well into this one. With reason.

    Germany thinks it owns Greece now. Through its illegality, bullying and limitless greed it certainly does. But it doesn't own all of us, nor the hearts and minds of greek people - who are not as ill-informed or propagandised as the germans.

    Under US protection, neither Germany nor Greece cleaned themselves of nazis or collaborators after the war, and this has contributed enormously to the present situation.

    So I won't join you in your endless denigrations and not-so-petty anti-Greek agenda. I mourn bitterly the loss of Greek independence and our present reality as a German colony. Tragically a colony of a country that no one can admire, and whose 'achievements' since becoming a country have been, at best, self-absorbed and negative. Germany the country of small engineering and tool & die manufacturing I have no problem with, but its total lack of integrity and its passive-aggressive culture of 'victimhood' has proved endlessly dangerous to all of Europe and the world.
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    Replies


    1. @AnonymousMarch 26, 2014 at 7:42 AM

      I have to concede that my rant looks a little like an informed antio-Greek agenda, but it is not. It is more like the frustration and outrage of a jilted lover, who has devoted over 15 years to his beloved only to see crooks and charlatans being invited to her bed, in preference to his own sincere overtures.

      Of course, there is a significant number of Greek people who are not actually corrupt -- but are forced into survivalist bad practices by structural economic and bureaucratic factors. This excludes all those with houses in Ekali and Mercedes and Porsches, etc and multiple holiday homes on various islands.

      Nor do I think that the Germans care so much, apart from a moralising and hectoring attitude. Indeed, it is an excuse to ignore Greek politicians and impose the outrageous behaviour of the Troika on Greece.

      So, I agree with most of what you have written. I see the problem as being that the eurozone is dominated by one country, which lacks legitimacy for historical and democratic reasons, and that Greece is so corrupted that even the Spanish, Italians and Portuguese are either shocked or amused when I explain issues in detail. Usually, their reply is something like "We used to have problems like that here, about 30 years ago.

      Herein lies the clue: Greek society, polity and hence economy refuse to change. This is a cultural problem, and a very serious one. The destruction of Greek society by the Troika is not something that I support; on the other hand, if Greece had been handed money with no conditions then all the problems I listed above would merely have continued apace.

      In my opinion, as an inside-outsider, Greeks have to solve their own problems -- possibly for the first time in modern history. That requires removing a political class that consists of lazy and incompetent parasites, creating a new breed of meritocratic elite, and taking responsibility for the country. I doubt that many in Greece support the concept of meritocracy and healthy (i.e. professional) competition, for money or jobs. What I have seen is that most Greeks oscillate between collusion/conspiracy to limit competition (in all spheres) in order to control and manipulate others, and very nasty jealousy or bitter personalised rivalries. These are features of a very backward society that belongs in the feudal period. It does nothing for a country that is participating in a globalised capitalist world of competing production and services.

      The German/OECD idea of cutting Greek wages to half their current levels is an explicit recognition, I think, that Greece does not actually belong in the European Union (and especially the eurozone) without undergoing massive social, political and economic change. It is up to Greek people to convince the rest of Europe they are wrong, that Greece can do better. Merely placing the blame on Germany does not address the very serious issues within Greece that I have described
      Delete
  4. @Anonymous, nothing stops you from leaving the party. You will see a sign on your way out. "You are now leaving a protected economic zone and entering the real world."
    Berliner
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  5. And we are not talking about the past or isolated cases; it is on the rise with the improved absorption of EU funds. In remembrance of your metaphor of fixing the well and filling it up, RIP Lake Karla.
    Lennard
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  6. @Guest(xenos)March 25, 2014 at 9:46 PM

    Journalists think that a title must be 'sexy' and since "Russian Roulette" is a well known metaphor in Germany they changed Russian to Greek. Maybe they also wanted to hint that this game goes on until it is suddenly stopped...

    H.Trickler
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  7. Looking at the conversations between my Greek copatriot and the other gentlemen makes me wonder if it highlights one of the fundamental issues with the eurozone. We are one currency but we are not one people. How can you implement budget recycling mechanisms etc when the voters are not going to buy the idea. You can escape from the democratic will of the people for some time but not for ever.
    The whole thing has to break up, we need an exit strategy. No politician wants to risk associating their name behind it though.
    Pavlos
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  8. Still the question is: what to do with 80% of the population, now that 20% of it can produce much more than what we are able to consume.
    This is the key question, Greece falls in the 80% of unneeded, unwanted, and therefore are left to die by the economy itself.
    We are witnessing evolution at work: to survive Greece must go back to a economy where people are all employed and as now this is farming (by hand), raising chickens (only 100 at a time), fishing (only 2 people max 7mt long boats 50mt nets) etc - in short jobs which need a lot of people and produce barely enough to live.
    If they go like now they will be shredded apart by the force of natural evolution themselves.
    ReplyDelete
  9. @AnonymousMarch 27, 2014 at 11:48 AM

    Your question has a simple answer:

    Financially let the Greek government do what Klaus Kastner suggests.

    For the rest have a look at what Spain has done differently:
    They have considerable exports to EU of agricultural products including wine, manufacture cars and electronics, and last but not least have a perfectly functioning tourism industry.

    Why should Greece not be capable to do that???
    H.Trickler
    ReplyDelete
  10. There were some extraordinary good comments above. Thank you!

    I am reminded of an experience I had around 2006/07 (i. e. long before the Greek crisis when Germans and Greeks were still 'good friends'). I lived in Munich then and took Greek lessons from a young Phd student from Crete. She had lived in Germany for about 10 years by then and had also lived in other European countries. Once, when talking about Greek mentalities, she said that she couldn't think of any two countries in Europe which were mentalitywise farther apart than Greece and Germany. I expressed surpise at that as well as disbelief but she told me that she knew and that I should simply believe her.

    Well, I guess this only proves that, be it countries or marriages, mentality differences don't play that big a role when things go swimmingly well. They may even be a source of amusement. When the going gets tough, the tough mentality differences really get going.

    Regarding the ARD-video, it obviously comes across offensive to Greeks when a foreign TV station (particularly a German one!) airs such a report about misuse of EU subsidies. What has surprised me since the beginning of the crisis, and I have written about that, was/is that Greeks don't seem to get as excited about that as one would expect. After all, this is Greek money which is being channelled away by some Greeks. I would have expected that the people who would get most mad about that would be the Greeks themselves. I once referred to freely available EU data banks which contain every single EU subsidy disbursed, to whom it was disbursed and for what purpose. Here one doesn't have to buy any lists about foreign bank accounts in the black market. Instead, the information is publicly available.

    I once got data from the EU which suggested that, since joining the EU, Greece has received on average over 5 BEUR annually in EU subsidies. If put to proper use, that could accomplish more than the Marshall Plan accomplished then. If not put to proper use, it is ALL Greeks who, directly or indirectly, pay the price for that.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Greek Roulette Being Played on German ARD

Under the title "Greek Roulette", German ARD aired a report about the misuse of EU grants in Greece. I watched it last evening and found it to be a rather devastating report. The report focused on two separate issues:

The Lake Karla Project: 14 years ago, the project of restoring the lake as a source of water supply for farmers and cities was initiated. Roughly 150 MEUR have been spent so far. The EU spokesperson said that they have no reports about the actual status. She did not seem to be worried that the monies may have been misspent because 'in that case, we would claim our money back'. The pictures shown in the report portrayed a miserable situation: project half-dead; canals filled with garbage; water quality absolutely toxic; disagreements among decision-makers; etc.

The investigative work of Kostas Vaxevanis: this part was about all the lists of potential tax cheaters which have come up in the last years. Vaxevanis was present thoughout this part of the report. If this had been a movie, it would have be called a horror movie.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Greece and Denying Responsibility

"It is clearly nonsense to argue that the damage done to the economy and health of the Greek people is all down to corruption and inefficiency within Greece and nothing to do with Troika actions. Denial of responsibility is particularly dangerous if it means not admitting your mistakes but, instead, repeating them. The tragedy of the Greek political class is not that they failed to enact Troika policies but that they acquiesced to them. The one ray of hope is that now the Greek government is no longer running a primary deficit, so it potentially has much stronger negotiating power. I only hope they use it".

Link to original article Greece and denying responsibility.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

...and Here Comes Another List!

First, there was the Lagarde-list. Then there was a list of over 50.000 names who had allegedly transferred money offshore. Then there was a list of about 6.000 mysterious offshore companies. And now there is the "List of 1.700".

Greece protected tax cheats
Ex-official saw paltry returns

I have not seen any progress reports about what has come out of these lists so far. It seems to me that the tax office would work its way through the names and some unit like the Office of the Controller would check the work of the tax office. And somewhere along the line the public would be informed.

If I have overlooked any progress reports, I would ask for feedback.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Why Chile and not Greece?

Every time I have made the suggestion that Chile might be an example for Greece, I have received flak from just about everywhere. I can understand that because the Chilean economic model was formed and shaped during the reign of Augusto Pinochet and political correctness requires to think that everything which happened then was by definition bad.

On the other hand, I probably would not have started this blog if I hadn't lived in Chile in the early 1980s, during the time when the economic model was formed and shaped. By the mid-1970s, Chile had become much more of a failed nation than Greece is today. And yet, new economic policies led to a complete turn-around and laid the groundwork for an extraordinary economic development which lasts to this day.

Again, I see the flak coming because people will say that Chile today is not a success story at all. The uneven distribution of wealth will be cited; the uneven distribution of income; the Gini-coefficient; etc.

The point is, however, that Chile today looks back at 30 years of extraordinary growth; at an unemployment rate of 6% (down from around 20% 30 years ago); at a budget deficit of 0,7%; and at a national debt of 1% of GDP. In the last 10 years, Chile has weathered global economic down-turns exceptionally well. Chile now has a left-of-center President who plans to do some deficit spending for social purposes and investments in human capital. Good news! But the best news is that, thanks to the 30-year old economic model, Chile can afford such deficit spending.

I started this blog thinking that if Chile could make it, Greece could make it any time. Regrettably, Greece is not following the Chilean way but, instead, the Argentine way (where I lived for 4 years after Chile). It seems to me that what Juan Domingo Peron was to Argentina, Andreas Papandreou might have been for Greece.

One of the key elements of Chile's economic success was the top priority of foreign investments. Basically, the Chileans said "in order to grow, we need foreign capital and in order to bring our economy up to speed, we need foreign know-how". And, of course, the Chileans knew that foreign capital would only come if the country's creditworthiness was good and foreign investors would only come if Chile was an excellent place to do business. They put the public sector in order and they turned Chile into a wonderful place to do business.

End of story.

A Good Exchange with Nigel Farage

The video below lasts 3:22 minutes and, in a way, it says it all about the Euro.

Nigel Farage in the European Parliament on February 25, 2014

Exports --- THE Major Challenge for the Greek Economy!

Greek exports have grown since the beginning of the crisis. In my periodic analyses of Greece's current account, I have paid due attention to this fact. At the same time, I have always pointed out that, yes, exports have grown but, no, definitely not fast enough when considering the substantial internal devaluation and the decline of the Euro against third parties during the time (USD/EUR from about 1,60 down to about 1,35). Last year, exports even registered a decline over the previous year.

This article by Daniel Gros essentially reinforces my point in more detail. Suppose Greece still had the Drachma. That Drachma would have experienced a devaluation of at least 25% (combination of Euro-devaluation and internal devaluation). Wouldn't one have expected that such a devaluation would rather quickly lead to substantial export growth?

There is definitely the issue of the export capacity of the Greek economy but still: the Greek economy is operating way below capacity (so I read). So even if Greece was unable to discover new export capacities, at least existing capacities should have been better utilized. I have no details to prove this point but I think my general premise is hardly refutable.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Outstanding News for Greeks!

The Ekathimerini reported about a speech by Jose Manuel Barroso, where Mr. Barroso had excellent news for Greeks, as follows:

"The eurozone has overcome the crisis and Greece was an example of this success, said European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso during a speech at the European People's Party (EPP) meeting in Dublin on Friday".

I immediately called my friend Yiannis to congratulate him on the country's success. Yiannis, age 58, an architect who had lost his job a couple of years ago, told me

* that he was still unemployed;
* that even though he had only minimal income, he had to pay substantial income taxes because, as the owner of an apartment and a car, the government deemed him to have income;
* that they had to take their 15-year old daughter out of a private school because they could no longer afford it;
* that he had to make contributions to the engineers' pension system for another 12 months without knowing whether he would ever receive a pension;
* and, finally, that he was glad to have parents-in-law who could share with him their pensions.

I guess this proves the old saying that exceptions to the rule prove the rule. Yiannis must be an exception. Otherwise, Mr. Barroso would have told a lie and it is simply inconceivable that the President of the European Commission would tell a lie. Certainly not a couple of months before an important election!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Prof. de Grauwe's Views on How a Central Bank Works!

This widely re-tweeted article by Prof. Paul de Grauwe contains, in my opinion, a couple of very elementary mistakes:

Why the European Court of Justice should reject the German Constitutional Court's ruling on Outright Monetary Transactions

I have commented on Prof. de Grauwe's blog as follows:

"I am amazed how a reputable LSE professor could publish a paper including such elementary mistakes. Upfront, if Prof. de Grauwe’s point was to show that a Central Bank like the ECB can function even with a negative equity, he has made that point sufficiently clear. I suspect, though, that most everyone involved with finances knows that.

To suggest that interest received by the ECB flows through to national Central Banks is baffling. The ECB has its own P+L statement. Its pay-out to owners comes out of net profit; not out of gross revenue! If there is no profit (for instance because it had to write down bonds), there are no pay-out’s. Check back with Switzerland’s Central Bank which could not make a pay-out for 2013 because it had taken losses on its gold holdings. As long as the ECB has a negative net worth, it cannot pay out dividends.

Prof. de Grauwe seems to overlook that, contrary to the ECB, the national Central Banks, owners of the ECB, CANNOT operate with a negative equity (because they cannot print Euros). Should national Central Banks be required to recapitalize the ECB, that may well require recaps on their own and that, dear Professor, is indeed tax payers money.

Theoretically it is true that the ECB could, in fact, buy ALL Eurozone sovereign bonds out there, I take it 8-10 trillion Euros, and simulatenously forgive all issuers the debt. All that would mean is that the ECB would run a 8-10 trillon Euro negative net worth but that would not hamper its operations. In fact, it could do that until doomsday. That’s the theory. Anyone suggesting that the practice would unfold the same way should take a walk outside the ivory tower.

If Prof. Grauwe feels that the GCC lacks understanding how central banking works, he should take note that courts are not required to understand central banking. Courts are required to understand things like statutes of the ECB, EU law and, in this case, German law. If its statutes do not allow the ECB to fully act like a Central Bank should, then the founders of those statutes did not sufficiently understand central banking. Then those statutes should be changed."

Frances Coppola Hits the Nail on the Head. Finally!

Frances Coppola declares that she has come 'off the fence' and writes this outstanding article:

The ECB is irrelevant and the Euro is a failure

My comment to this article is below.

"This is an outstanding analysis! Had you come 'off the fence' earlier, I would not have misinterpreted many of your opinions which, to me, focused far too much on monetary policies and instruments. European elites are always quick to criticize Americans when they intend to introduce the American way of life to other cultures. They accuse Americans of lack of cultural understanding and sensibility. What we have seen in recent years is a dramatic lack of cultural understanding and sensibility WITHIN Europe; certainly within the Eurozone. (Lord) Ralf Dahrendorf said in a 1995-interview with Der Spiegel the following: "The common currency project drills the countries to German behavior, but not all countries want to behave like Germans do. For Italy, periodic devaluations are much more useful than a fixed exchange rate and for France, higher government expenditures are more meaningful than a rigid adherence to stability criteria (which are, above all, an advantage for Germany). Yes, France and Italy go along with German demands if for no other reason than national pride. However, the price for that is very high and it could soon become apparent that it is too high - psychologically, politically and economically...The idea of a common currency union is a big mistake, an adventurous, reckless and mistaken goal which will will not unite Europe but, instead, divide it".
I have been married to a Greek for almost 40 years but only since my retirement 3+ years ago have I spent more time there; about half of the year. And I am only beginning to scratch the surface when it comes to understanding 'how Greeks tick'. Instead of understanding how individual cultures tick and adapting to it, EU-elites have put a value judgement on it: 'if you don't tick the way we think is right, then you have to change'. Good luck! Just a Greek problem? Well, have the French, the Italians, the Austrians, even the Germans - have they radically changed their cultures in the last 100 years? You hit the nail on the head when you said "You can’t overturn tribal and cultural identities that go back thousands of years at the stroke of a few politicians’ pens".

I link below an excerpt from The Encylopedia Britannica 1911 (!) describing Greek mentalities and cultures. Everyone is invited to judge how much those mentalities and cultures have changed in the last 100 years. And now we are expecting that they will change within a few years? And all of that because of the wonderful unifying currency called Euro?"


Encyclopedia Britannica 1911

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Greece - Still a Failed Nation?

In this recent article, Prof. Yanis Varoufakis says that "Europeans must grasp a simple fact - that Greece has been, and remains, a failed nation-state". He concludes with the following facts:

* There are 10 million Greeks living in Greece (and falling fast due to migration), ‘organised’ in around 2,8 million households that have a ‘relationship’ with the Tax Office.
* Of those 2,8 million households, 2,3 million have a debt to the Tax Office that they cannot service.
* 1 million households cannot pay their electricity bill in full, forcing the electricity company to ‘extend and pretend’, thus ensuring that 1 million homes live in fear of darkness at night while the electricity company is insolvent.
* Of the 3 million people constituting Greece’s labour force, 1,3 million are jobless.
* Of the 1,3 million jobless only 10% receive unemployment benefits. The rest must fend for themselves.
* Of those who work in the private sector 500 thousand have not been paid for more than three months.
* Contractors who work for the public sector are paid up to 24 months after they provided the service and pre-paid sales tax to the Tax Office.
 * Half of the businesses still in operation throughout the country are seriously in arrears vis-à-vis their (compulsory) contributions to their employees’ pension and social security fund.

These clearly are facts of a failed nation. Regrettably, it is not possible to segment these facts into the failed part of the nation and that part which has not failed at all.

Suppose, in theory, there were a list of all 11 million Greeks, ranking them by personal net worth (including foreign assets). My sense is that the upper 10-20% would certainly reflect a very successful nation. Regrettably, such information cannot ever be put together.

My sense of Greek society is that, since Independence, the few have always benefited at the expense of the many. The Euro acted as a turbo in this development. A failed society more than a failed nation-state.