Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I will translate and publish the above (starting with my blog), somehow in a Greek newspaper (just send me how you want your name to appear!), and I am open to suggestions as to how it might reach a reputable english language publication; however one question:

Should Greece present the ECB with an ultimatum, will the ECB and the Commission take it lying down? Is there no punitive countermeasure they can resort to? This is a question that applies to Ireland as well, but even more so in Greece where the real economy is weaker. Isn't this really an extortion by the ECB/EC?

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

by talos (mihalis at gmail dot com) on Fri Feb 18th, 2011 at 04:33:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Both ECB and the Commission are way out of their mandated zones of action, so I do not think there is much they formally can do (like taking Greece to court). Informally the Commission can not do much if the Greece government is willing to use its veto to fight back. Maybe Greece does not get an EU institution, but that is about it.

There has been speculation as to what the ECB might do, which I understand as boiling down to messing with the monetary system. However, as long as the police and military gets their paychecks from the government, not ECB, there is in the end little ECB can do.

Just issue notes saying "this bill is good for paying 100 euros in taxes to the goverment of Greece" and stop paying your debts. First problem solved.

Since Greece runs (or did run) a trade deficit, some imports need to be slashed if trading partners are not found of collecting future opportunities for paying taxes in Greece. I would suggest starting with government imports of advanced weaponry.

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

by A swedish kind of death on Fri Feb 18th, 2011 at 08:05:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Should Greece present the ECB with an ultimatum, will the ECB and the Commission take it lying down?

No, they will probably refuse. That's why this recommendation would have been impossible half a year ago: Back then, it still looked like the costs to Greece of leaving the € were larger than the costs of playing ball with the deficit errorists. But unless things begin changing posthaste, leaving the € will be preferable to continuing to appease the deficit errorists.

Is there no punitive countermeasure they can resort to?

They have a variety of creative ways to screw Greece over. They can refuse to carry Greek bonds, thus leaving Greece at the mercy of the markets. But if Greece quits the €, Greece can tell the markets to go and commit unnatural acts with farm animals. They can refuse to release EU funds for Greece (which is a net recipient). They can sue Greece in the European courts (but that takes years and years). Greece will lose prestige, standing and political capital in Bruxelles (but political capital only matters if you have an actual policy to push in the first place...). And a variety of other innovative forms of mean-spiritedness.

But the point of the Greek situation is that, short of sending a naval task force or ejecting you from the EU altogether and putting up punitive tariffs, they can't do anything worse to you than they already are doing with this AusterityTM crap. Having your back firmly pressed against the wall is enormously liberating in terms of policy options.

Now, it's important to note that leaving the € won't make the pain go away completely. Following a default, it will take a year or two before Greece is able to borrow at anything resembling reasonable rates in the international money markets. What leaving the € will do for Greece is restore Greek government control of the domestic money markets. That means that domestic Greek economic activity can be funded at reasonable interest rates, but hard currency will have to be rationed, presumably by explicit import quotas and capital controls, as well as activist ForEx policies to rapidly build foreign currency reserves.

The question you should be asking yourselves is whether the inability to import Siemens and Samsung for the next two years is better or worse than AusterityTM.

Isn't this really an extortion by the ECB/EC?

"Extortion" is such a crude word. I believe that the internationally recognised term is "foreign policy."

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Fri Feb 18th, 2011 at 09:28:14 AM EST
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Followup diary to your The "Euro Crisis" - Both more and less than meets the eye? That was just three months ago, not six... The rot is accelerating...

Keynesianism is intellectually hard, as evidenced by the inability of many trained economists to get it - Paul Krugman
by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Fri Feb 18th, 2011 at 10:27:18 AM EST
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