February 16, 2012
The following extract from a Bloomberg article suggests that the German mission of getting Greece to file for bankruptcy on its own, thus removing the perception that Europe has given up on the first (of many) terminal patient, own has almost succeeded. “Greek President Karolos Papoulias slammed Germany’s finance minister for recent comments about his country as stalled bailout talks stoked tensions between Greece and the northern European countries funding its rescue. “I don’t accept insults to my country by Mr. Schaeuble,” Papoulias, who fought in the resistance against the Nazis during World War II, said in a speech today. “I don’t accept it as a Greek. Who is Mr. Schaeuble to ridicule Greece? Who are the Dutch? Who are the Finns? We always had the pride to defend not just our own freedom, not just our own country, but the freedom of all of Europe.”
Papoulias’s comments came as Wolfgang Schaeuble and other European officials pushed Greece to gouge more cuts out of its budget to qualify for a new bailout that would stave off an economic collapse. Schaeuble today blamed Greece’s New Democracy party, the second largest, for holding up agreement on a new rescue package and his deputy, Steffen Kampeter, compared Greece to a “bottomless pit.”
Greek politicians are expressing their frustration after European finance ministers last week rejected a Greek austerity package worth 7 percent of gross domestic product. That prompted New Democracy leader Antonis Samaras to complain that a gun was being held to the country’s head. George Karatzaferis, head of Laos, the third party in the governing coalition, said the country “could do without the German boot.”
Since we assume that Mr. Papoulias has had the chance to travel around Europe and to actually familiarize himself with both Netherlands and Finland, not to mention Germany whom he fought in WW2, it is safe to say his was a rhetorical question. To which a rhetorical answer may be due: “they are the ones who have been providing funding to Greece for the past two years.” Granted that funding may not have gotten where it was supposed to but that is only due to two things: i) corruption and ii) stupidity on behalf of the local politicians - the same ones tasked with looking after the interests of their own people. Because nobody else will.
Seen in this light, Mr. Papoulias sacrifice to stop his €300k a year salary is a little naive and, well, too little too late.
Alas, Greece should have down what we said back in early 2010 – default, and let the chips fall where they may. In that way it would have been like Iceland, and already on the way to recovery. Instead it chose the cowardly way out, and to bend over backwards to the global banker consortium. Now it can reap what it sow, with or without meaningless populist speeches.
This article was posted: Thursday, February 16, 2012 at 4:50 am