Tue Sep 10th, 2013 at 09:36:13 AM EST
George Stathakis, a professor of Economics at the University of Crete, is a SYRIZA MP and Shadow Minister of Development. Recently he wrote an article titled: "The Greek Issue in the Imaginations of German Politicians", where he points out six obvious truths about the Greek crisis that are being eschewed in German electoral discussions about Greece. Below I have translated these six points as they highlight "Eurotrib common sense", I think, and are interesting by themselves as they pretty much echo the analysis of the SYRIZA leadership, quite possibly Greece's government after the next elections (whenever they might come, and it might not be too long now)...
front-paged by afew
The Greek issue is more convenient for the German electoral campaign than the Italian or the Spanish one. It revives the initial idea of a "special case" and diverts the discussion from its true dimensions which are European. Germany, as an "incomplete hegemon", can massacre the imaginary enemy of a "problematic" Greece, avoiding the discussion which concerns it, or which should concern it which is the European Crisis. There, silence pervades.
- German taxpayers have not paid a single euro for the Greek crisis. The mechanism that provides loans for the crisis countries borrows money from the markets, not the taxpayers, on the basis of government guarantees that countries like Germany offer. The organisation's equity is only 80 billion Euros with 20 billion of those coming from Germany. Only these can be called theoretically "taxpayer money". Only in the case of a hair-cut will there be some fiscal cost for the guarantor states
- The ECB, which has been involved in buying bonds of countries under the memoranda is, up to this point, making a profit. The same holds for most of the other Central Banks that are being called to return these profits to Greece, as some have already done.
- German banks minimized their loses from Greek bonds through the first Greek memorandum, despite the PSI deal that followed, and Germany has benefited from the European crisis due to the fact that it can now borrow money at zero rates.
- The Greek programme is a parody that is sinking the Greek economy and weakening its ability to service not only the current debt, but even a smaller debt load. As paradoxical as it might seem, an economy that faces a debt problem needs, temporarily perhaps, more debt in order to recover. Austerity policies increase public debt while at the same time undermining the ability to service it
- A third "loan package" is needed because of the first and the second such package. Repayment of 300 billion might have been postponed till 2020, but until then 83 billion Euros must be paid as interest, an amount that the troika reckons will be paid by budget surpluses after 2014 that will reach 4,5% of GDP and from privatizations, which are now estimated (after revision of the initial outrageous 50 billion euro target) at 22 billion Euros. For this to happen the troika is anticipating a return to growth by 2014 and a growth rate of 3% afterwards, based on an increase of exports by 50% compared to 2009 and an investment boom that will increase capital formation to 15% GDP per annum. Simply put, this is a science fiction scenario. This means that the funding gap might turn out to be closer to 80 than to 10 billion Euros.
- Greece must exit the memorandum and avoid by any means any new loans. For this to happen three things are needed: Debt reduction - direct or indirect-, transferring the 50 billion set apart for bank recapitalization to the banking union mechanism and a generous grace period of a payment of interest moratorium or a growth clause. A return to regular borrowing by Greece will only then become feasible and only if the ECB continues to do, as in Italy, what it should do: intervene or threaten to intervene every time lending rates rise.
In my next diary I will touch on some of these points, along with an overview of the ways that Greece is being "reformed", which seems to be a major issue in the upcoming German elections...