Meanwhile in Greece...

NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
edited September 2015 in Off-Topic Discussions
All interested:

It's been called the Great Greek Depression and the Greek government-debt crisis. Both terms are apt, but the best term is just another day in the world's increasingly wonky economy.

More technically, Greece's sovereign debt crisis is part of the ongoing Eurozone crisis that was, in turn, triggered by the economic crisis of 2007/2008. Added to problems of liquidity, the Greek economy suffered a meltdown brought on by a combination of structural weaknesses (featuring epic corruption, tax evasion and cooked books), hilariously poor government oversight, unbelievable deficit financing and a debt-to-GDP ratio on public accounts that reached from the Parthenon to the moon.

Sooner or later, the party had to end.

And in late 2009, pretty much everyone was hearing the fat lady sing.
"La la la la laaaaaa!"

As fears of a sovereign debt crisis developed among investors, those investors took to insurance in the form of credit default swaps. The downgrading of the Greek government's debt to junk bond status in April 2010 triggered the tsunami that investors quickly realized could topple European banks like dominoes. For this reason, the IMF agreed on an emergency $140US billion bailout loan for Greece, but with three conditions attached:

1. Implementation of austerity measures, to restore the fiscal balance.

2. Privatization of all public assets by the end of 2015, to keep the nation's debt sustainable.

3. Implementation of outlined structural reforms, to improve competitiveness and growth prospects.

Predictably, the first emergency bail-out was not enough (this was intentional) and so a second bailout deal was established in February 2012. This bail-out came packaged with another contentious condition: The government of the day was forced to resign, and a technocratic council was appointed by a troika - called The Troika - consisting of the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the IMF. In exchange for this concession, the Troika agreed to manage all Greek financial needs from 2012-2014 through a transfer of regularly scheduled disbursements.

Alas, things really didn't improve (for example, Greece's official unemployment rate is 27.2%; the unofficial employment rate is much, much higher), and the Troika-backed austerity measures had people marching en masse, threatening to lynch a few bankers, although the IMF was pleased to report Greece's economy was the fastest growing in the Eurozone last quarter.

This bit of news was also reported by the European Union’s statistical agency, and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) with the latter organization observing "Greece is the most responsive country in the developed world in the implementation of growth-boosting economic overhauls."

But statements of this sort seem to ignore reality entirely: In its own forecast, the Troika observes Greece's public debt at the end of 2014 would stand at a huge 175.5% of the nation's annual output meaning, by servicing its debt, Greece is digging itself further into the grave. If interest rates climb - and they inevitably will - Greece's debt servicing costs will balloon.

When Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, aware of this impending disaster, stated that Greece would, out of necessity, shed its creditor shackles completely (the Greek PM is firmly of the opinion the bail-out isn't working as it should), meaning Greece would take an early exit out of IMF oversight, European stocks declined dramatically.

So... why tell this story? Well, as Bloomberg reports, another meltdown is brewing, as the third Greek Bailout Review Stalls as Troika Demands Final Steps.

It's a precarious situation: The IMF wants the Greek government to cut its spending by about $3US billion, but this essentially means increased unemployment and hardship... not to mention even more anti-government resentment. As the author observes: "The conditions attached to Greece’s bailout have restored health to public finances while exacerbating the worst recession since World War II. About a quarter of the economy has been wiped out and almost 26 percent of the country’s workforce is still without a job."

Here's hoping some sort of miracle occurs.
never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity


  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    Just an update relating current events in Greece: Greek PM warns of return to crisis days, January elections

    An excerpt from the article:

    Syriza, which has said it will tear up an EU/IMF bailout keeping Greece afloat, is expected to win if a national vote is held.

    "We shed blood to take the word "Grexit" away from the mouth of foreigners and Syriza is bringing this word back to their mouths," Samaras said in a speech to lawmakers from his conservative New Democracy party.

    "All lawmakers must now decide if we will elect a president or go to snap elections that people don't want, the markets are afraid of and which might have catastrophic consequences for the country."

    Investors have already by shaken by the sudden return to the days of crisis in Greece. Greek shares fell 5.4 percent on Thursday to hit a 16-month low. They have tumbled 18 percent this week.

    Just a note: Syriza is a left-wing coalition consisting of... well, **** left-wingers of the Communist variety. Their principle opposition is the Golden Dawn party, Greece's openly fascist organization. The ruling right-of-center New Democracy party, headed by Antonis Samaras, only holds 129 seats within the country's 300-seat parliament, and so formed a coalition government supporting the IMF's demands for economic reform and severe austerity. These austerity measures have become intensely unpopular with Greek voters (and it hasn't helped that the government has been selling off public assets at fire sale prices to the same sorts of folks who beggared the country in the first place), while the promises of extremist political parties have become that much more alluring.

    Whatever happens next will not only impact Greece but the whole Eurozone, and consequently the west.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    Greece is once again courting political and economic disaster with country's lawmakers voting in no confidence vote Monday. If the left-wing Syriza party has its way, Greece will dump its Prime Minister and pull out of the Eurozone (Disaster Scenario 'A'). If the right-wing Golden Dawn part has its way, Greece will likely become the first openly fascist nation since Hitler's Germany with the Prime Minister staying on a figure head (Disaster Scenario 'B'). And if the right-of-center New Democracy party has its way, the country will retain its Prime Minister but be eternally beggared, subject to the oversight of creditors who have very little sympathy with the hardships brought on by the Prime Minister's austerity program (Disaster Scenario 'C').

    In short, no matter what occurs on Monday, the result will likely bring about serious turmoil for the country, and for the larger Eurozone.

    Things began to unravel when the banker-turned-technocrat-turned Prime Minister Antonis Samaras surprised markets last week when he announced he was bringing forward the date of the vote from early 2015 to Wednesday last week. The announcement sent markets, already concerned about Greece's precarious politics, into a rapid decline with the Athens exchange dropping nearly 13% during the day. It was the worst single day loss since 1987.

    The first of three rounds of voting in the Greek parliament commenced Wednesday with further polls taking place on December 23 and now the non-confidence vote scheduled for the 29th.

    Stay tuned, friends and neighbours... as this is a kind of preview of what's likely to happen elsewhere in the world through 2015/2016.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
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    And so the results of the no confidence vote have been cast and tabulated: Stavros Dimas gathered only 168 supporting votes, 12 votes short of the 180 votes required. One hundred thirty-two votes were cast against Mr. Dimas' presidency, and means that at least one "worst case scenario" (see previous post) will be played out.

    At some point in the next 10 days, Greece's Parliament will be dissolved and incumbent President Karolos Papoulias will likely be announcing when the general election will be held (according to sources, this election will take place on January 25, 2015), and given the general mood of Greeks it's entirely possible the anti-bailout, anti-Eurozone Syriza party could win these elections, assuming nothing comes to light that spoils the party's appeal.

    So far, reaction to these events has been reasonably low key. While markets across Europe have dropped, they've not dropped dramatically. But it's virtually guaranteed widespread turmoil will soon breakout, and once the shoe drops who really knows where this will head.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
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    Bloomberg has posted a terrific analysis piece that takes a look at what's happening right now (and what's likely to happen in the very near future), by summarizing 'The Politics Behind the ECB's Threat to Cut Greece Funding'

    An excerpt:

    Draghi is reprising an ECB tactic honed in the Irish and Cypriot stages of Europe’s debt crisis, where the prospect of vanishing central-bank funds helped prod politicians into action. Amid anti-austerity promises by the Syriza party, which leads in polls, the ECB is signaling a willingness to withdraw 30 billion euros ($35 billion) of finance even if it tips Greece into a crisis that ultimately sees it leave the single currency.

    “While these things might be threatened, bandied around, it would be remarkable if such a step were actually taken,” said James Nixon, chief European economist at Oxford Economics Ltd. in London. “The negotiation starts off with the threat of mutually assured destruction. But to actually withdraw funding from Greek banks is the sort of thing that would mean Greece is well on the road to exiting the euro.”

    As the article concludes, “It will not be in Tsipras’ interest to set his government on a collision course with the ECB,” George Pagoulatos, professor of European politics and economy at the Athens University of Economics and Business, said by phone. “But in order for a potential Syriza government to make a U-turn, we’ll first see brinkmanship and edge-of-the-cliff diplomacy.” Here's hoping the parties involved don't inadvertently drive the bus over the edge of the cliff as they dare one another to step closer to its edge.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • D2HansD2Hans Posts: 3,031 ✭✭✭
    I think it might be best if Greece just leaves the Euro currency and just let the storm happen and run its course and I believe that should go with any country.
    "Six... one, six... the nuuuumber ooof the beeeaaast!"
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    D2Hans wrote:
    I think it might be best if Greece just leaves the Euro currency and just let the storm happen and run its course and I believe that should go with any country.

    In November 2012, William C. Dudley, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York, gave a speech titled 'Solving the Too Big to Fail Problem' to the membership of New York's Clearing House, the nation's first and largest bank clearing house that was originally set up to support and develop the America's banking system.

    It's a remarkable speech, wherein Mr. Dudley addresses the question should a society tolerate a financial system in which certain financial institutions are deemed to be too big to fail? And, if not, then what should they - the bankers - do about it?

    Mr. Dudley contends the answer (to the first question) is an obvious "no": a financial system in which some firms are too big to fail is likely a system of finance that's unsound to begin with, and therefore ought to be avoided.

    Mr. Dudley's solution is just as obvious: an even bigger, unregulated, self-correcting entity that simply would not fail as it would be run by the likes of Mr. Dudley and his colleagues in the banking industry.

    Whoda guessed?

    And now you know why things are going the way they're going, and why the global system of finance has grown so incredibly powerful and so remarkably dysfunctional.

    As for Greece opting to exit the Eurozone, okay - the folks who'll suffer the most dire consequences will be the folks who already are suffering the most dire consequences. In this respect, not much will change in Greece... so let it be. However the effects of instability and excessive liquidity will ripple through-out the world much like a tsunami ripples through the Pacific after a particularly large earthquake. Depending on which beach you're standing, the tidal wave may pass unnoticed or be so devastating as to wipe out millions of folks - perhaps hundred of millions of folks - who just happened to be in the right place at the wrong time.

    It's happened in the past, it'll happen in the future too. It's just a matter of when.

    But that's high finance, baby :)
    "Vat do you mean I should haff gone short on derivatives and long on bonds?"
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    According to various sources (including the Wall Street Journal) four of Greece’s biggest lenders, including Eurobank Ergasias and Alpha Bank, are as a precaution, requesting access to the ECB's emergency liquidity assistance program.

    The ECB will consider the banks' request next Thursday when the ECB's governing body convenes for a meeting in Frankfurt.

    UPDATE @ Saturday 1:00PM - And now Greece's central bank has joined the chorus:
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
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    A terrific opinion piece posted on the Bloomberg site: Syriza for Greece Doesn’t Mean Leaving the Euro

    The upshot as per the article: That’s the view of economists in a Bloomberg survey as the anti-austerity Syriza party appears set to take power after elections on Jan. 25. They say there’s an 80 percent chance that Greece sticks with the euro even if Alexis Tsipras forms a majority government. More than half of respondents see Greece getting debt relief, whoever wins.

    And they're likely right: While Mr. Tsipras will likely be granted a resounding mandate by Greeks frustrated by the realities of IMF-imposed austerity, Mr. Tsipras will soon discover as popular as his tough talk is he cannot walk on water. For this reason, he'll need to learn the value of compromise, and the sooner he does the better it will be for all.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
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    A terrific opinion piece that's worthwhile reading, particularly it's on this Sunday that Greeks head to into election booths: Oh, Greece!

    And there's this item too: How Greece could undo the EU

    An excerpt from the latter article reads:

    [Syriza] has consistently criticized the terms of the financial bailout, saying they have plunged Greece into chaos.

    “Today, Syriza’s main goal is to . . . end the modern Greek tragedy that the Greek people are living through, with an unprecedented unemployment rate of almost 30 per cent (among young people the unemployment rate is more than 60 per cent!), widespread poverty, overindebtedness of households, closures of many small shops and businesses and an economic recession that has exceeded 20 per cent of GDP in the past five years,” party literature from late 2013 reads.

    Syriza insists it will “abolish the memoranda signed with the troika of lenders (International Monetary Fund, European Central Bank and the European Commission) when it assumes office and will renegotiate the loans.”

    Campaign literature from late 2014 shows the party is staying true to its goals. If elected, Syriza says it would immediately increase public spending by €4 billion, restore cut salaries and pensions and “gradually reverse all the memorandum injustices” brought on by austerity.

    “We are ready to negotiate and we are working toward building the broadest possible alliances in Europe,” the party says, according to a December press release.

    So, what does Greece’s future look like if Syriza forms the government?

    “Gloomy,” responds Pelagidis.

    “They are Marxists and those who are not Marxists are amateurs or opportunists.”

    And that about says it all... :lol:

    UPDATE @ Sunday 7:00AM PST - And voting is now underway. Polls across Greece close at 7:00PM local (17:00 GMT; 11:00AM PST), with 9.8 million Greeks eligible to vote. The results of exit polls are expected immediately after voting ends, with the first official projections due at 9:30PM local (19:30 GMT; 1:30PM PST). I'll post 'em just as soon as I see 'em.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    A recently posted news item on Reuters sez it all: Greece's Syriza set to sweep election in anti-austerity triumph

    An excerpt from this item reads:

    Greece's leftwing Syriza looked set for a comfortable victory over the ruling conservatives, an exit poll showed, with a chance of winning a full majority to face down international creditors and roll back years of painful austerity measures.

    Syriza could gain 35.5-39.5 percent of the vote, well ahead of the conservative New Democracy party of outgoing Prime Minister Antonis Samaras on 23-27 percent, according a joint exit poll for Greek television stations issued immediately after voting ended.

    If confirmed, the result would be enough to install 40-year-old Syriza leader Alexis Tsipras as prime minister at the head of the first euro zone government openly opposed to bailout conditions imposed by European Union and International Monetary Fund during the economic crisis.

    * * * *

    Tsipras has promised to renegotiate a deal with the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund "troika" and write off much of Greece's 320 billion-euro debt, which at more than 175 percent of gross domestic product, is the world's second highest after Japan.

    At the same time, he wants to roll back many of the harsh austerity measures demanded by the "troika", raising the minimum wage, lowering power prices for poor families, cutting property taxes and reverse pension and public sector pay cuts.

    Yep, you can imagine the response the ECB's bankers are very likely to make to these sorts of demands.

    Hecky-darn! Monday morning ought to prove itself real interesting on turbulent European markets, but what will be even more interesting will be what happens in the streets of Athens when Mr. Tsipira's naivete is eventually laid plain.

    UPDATE @ 11:15AM PST - According to initial exit polls, Syriza has effectively won the election with some 35.5-39.5% of the vote, a huge lead over the second place New Democracy party which has taken 23-27% of the vote. The fascist/nationalist Golden dawn rates a distant third, capturing 6.4-8.0% as has the left-of-center To Potami. The socialist Pasok party has captured 4.2-5.2% of the vote, lagging behind the Communist KKE party with 4.7-5.7%. The populist/far-right Independence Party appears to have attracted 3.5-4.5% of the popular vote while the Green-affiliated, pro-EU Dimar party hasn't a chance of passing the requisite 3.0% threshold.

    And, yes, outflow from Greek banks by depositors has been heavy.

    UPDATE @ 11:50AM PST - First official projection suggests Syriza party will take 149-151 seats in Greece's 300-seat parliament.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    Let the economic hilarity begin!

    Alexis Tsipras is speaking publically about his party's win in today's election, and the 40-year-old father of two, electrical/computer engineer and former proud member of the Young Communist Society, is feeling on top o' the world, mom, claiming the oligarchs and elites in Greece have at last been defeated as brave Greeks have voted to leave the hardships of European-imposed austerity behind, along with all the rest of the negativity associated with the "troika era".

    Yep, those evil old bail-out agreements that Greece signed (and have, strangely enough, kept the country on critical life support) will no longer be honored, but Syriza looks forward to dictating re-negotiating terms to with the ECB and, best of all, according to the jubilant Mr. Tsipras, "A Syriza victory is a victory for all peoples of Europe!"

    "The Greek people's mandate is undoubtedly closing the vicious circle of austerity. Your mandate in undoubtedly cancelling the bailouts of austerity and destruction, Greek people's mandate has put the troika in the past," declared Mr. Tsipras, as thousands of cheering supporters roared their approval.

    "Our victory is useful for the European people who fight against austerity."


    Yes we can!

    (Hmmm, oddly enough, I'm thinking Europe - and all its peoples - will probably not be so pleased or jubilant come Monday morning. And I have the really odd feeling the unicorns, rainbows and twinkling stars and free stuff Mr. Tsipras seems to be promising will likely not put in an appearance either. Weird. I know. But what do I know? I was a Young Conservative once... and look how well all of that turned out. I greatly suspect the folks who elected Mr. Tsipras will likely see the writing on the wall when the lights go out... and stay out ;) )

    UPDATE @ Monday 5:50AM PST - The official vote count indicates Syriza has taken 149 seats in Greece's 300-seat parliament meaning Mr. Tsipras' party will form a minority government unless he can swing a deal with one of the other parties so as to form a coalition government with majority sway. Some reports suggest this is what's underway with the leader of the right wing Independence Party, Panos Kammenos (who also ran a campaign that was distinctly anti-bailout) stating it was a done deal: "The country has a government. Independent Greeks will give a vote of confidence to Alexis Tsipras."

    No confirmation from Mr. Tsipras has followed, however.

    In the meanwhile, the UK's Guardian is running a fine profile piece on Mr. Tsipras, and it contains a hint of what the world should expect from this particular populist.

    UPDATE @ 7:00AM PST - As his first official act as Greece's PM, Mr. Tsipras visited the town of Kaisariani (it's about 3km southeast of Athens), specifically a war memorial that's located at a rifle range outside of Kaisariani where on May 1, 1944, the **** executed about 200 suspected Communist detainees in reprisal for the killing of a German general, Franz Krech, who had been killed in a guerrilla ambush near Molaoi a few days before. But this isn't just any old war memorial, it's the National Resistance Memorial Kaisariani and, yes, Mr. Tsipras' visit is entirely intended to send a message.

    Mr. Tsipras laid flowers.

    An avowed atheist, Mr. Tsipras was sworn into office by a quick civil ceremony, avoiding the traditional participation of the Greek Orthodox Church and Archbishop Iernonymos. Tellingly, Mr. Tsipras went without wearing a tie, and appeared in a white shirt and rumpled two-piece blue suit... as did several other party officials (could be worse: at least they weren't wearing black & silver military uniforms).
    Populists yes... but they're casual young populists... so all is well, right?

    And just look at those Greek markets tumble... pulling along the rest of the world's markets, of course.
    Yep, this is going to be exciting!

    ADDENDUM: Some things simply defy a tag, as per this CNN headline that was posted about 2 hours ago: Greek F-16 crashes in Spain during NATO exercise, killing 10.

    An excerpt from this item reads:

    NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said he was "deeply saddened" by the crash.

    "This is a tragedy which affects the whole NATO family. I express my heartfelt condolences to the loved ones and the nations of those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured," he said in a statement.

    "The plane was taking part in an exercise in the framework of NATO's Tactical Leadership Programme, which aims to improve multinational cooperation in air operations," Stoltenberg said.

    Any other day other than this one, and this item would've likely raised no eyebrows... but today... it's another story entirely :|
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,348 ✭✭✭
    So apparently the economist who has been working with Valve is now Greece's new finance minister. ... nt-horizon

    I like this guy.
  • SerkevanSerkevan Posts: 1,586
    Next thing you know Greece is exporting hats left, right and center. Jokes aside, I hope he can breathe some air into the people... they badly need it.
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    Zidders wrote:
    So apparently the economist who has been working with Valve is now Greece's new finance minister.

    So imagine what it's like to wake up in the morning only to discover Yanis Varoufakis has been named the new finance minister of Greece - the temptation to return to bed is great, but the siren-like allure of coffee - heavy on the caffeine, light on the sugar - is greater. To make the day really sing along pleasantly, perhaps two over-sized cups of me own witch's brew (coffee as black as midnight on a moonless evening) will be in order.

    Yep... Yanis Varoufakis who submitted this charmingly short screed to Huffington back in May 2012, Sure, There's Greece... But What About Spain? wherein he wrote:

    Do you, dear reader, grasp what is going down here? Banks bankrupted by their own idiocy transferred their losses to a state that was, up until then, managing to report a budget surplus. This the state, and the taxpayers, folded into a long term insolvency. Then these same banks secured dirt cheap ECB loans which they lent, partly, to the state they bankrupted at huge interest rates while, at the same time, collecting from them... capital. And to allow for this 'solution' to Spain's difficulties, Europe imposed upon Spain swinging austerity that undercuts the national income from which the state must raise the taxes that will repay all these loans it was forced to shoulder.

    Yep, as Dr. Varoufakis would have it, the fault is not in ourselves but in our stars... well, stars in the forms of jolly idiotic local bankers and foolish small town politicians who are all witless puppets being manipulated by the sinister, shadowy clique of central bankers who, when they're not plotting oppressive policies of finance in Berlin or Brussels, are skulking in their castles in Transylvania, thinking of new and underhanded ways to bleed the blameless masses dry through austerity and unexpected margin calls.

    Chilling stuff, indeed. Enough to make even the most stalwart of readers shiver, even if they're big on Stephen King and short on Steven Keen (another Australian economist with provocative ideas).

    It's a theme Dr. Varoufakis first explored in his novel... err, text... 'The Global Minotaur: America, Europe and the Future of the Global Economy (Economic Controversies)' first published in 2011 but significantly revised and expanded in 2013.

    It's in this work, Dr. Varoufakis likens the current operations of the global economy (the legacy of Wall Street's influence) to the Greek myth of the minotaur. It's more than a little stretch, but it is both entertaining and instructive... myths usually are.

    Dr. Varoufakis argues passionately and convincingly (albeit entirely irrationally at times - blame the myth for that) that the ills of the global economy reflect the underlying ills of the movers and shakers on Wall Street, and therefore the various woes brought about by current crises really are all Wall Street's fault. It's a simple-minded conclusion meant to appeal to simple-minded readers, and therein is the appeal: Keep it simple stupid, right?

    Right! You betcha!

    Alas, if there's anything we ought to learn from myth (or history... or science... or two seconds worth of rational thought) complex problems rarely (if ever) have simple solutions, but more often than not it's the implementation of simple solutions that create complex problems in the first place. But - dammit! - simple solutions are so durn appealing, and so the hapless are quickly convinced while the cynics are still puzzling over a possible definition of the problem in the first place (**** them all!).

    So... let Gordian knots be severed by one swift heroic stroke!

    (and, please, don't pay too much attention to what happens next: we'll fix that too, just as soon as we can... there's no ingenuity gap, only a lack of will... and like climate change - which doesn't exist, so don't worry about it - it'll all go away if you just keep on trusting us and doubting the central bankers and scientists!)

    Serkevan wrote:
    Jokes aside, I hope he can breathe some air into the people... they badly need it.


    In more ways than one.

    (I'll just mention the DOW was down 500 points at opening this morning. It's since rallied (currently down 292.61) with inexplicable buy-ins... but recent volatility indicates investors are really starting to enter nervous mode, with huge amounts of money being shifted around, and the global markets haven't seen this sort of behavior since 1929. All this nervousness is being attributed to the news that durable goods orders are trending downwards)

    Oops... just noticed the DOW has just invoked Rule 48.
    Rule 48. Exemptive Relief — Extreme Market Volatility Condition

    (a) In the event that extremely high market volatility is likely to have a Floor-wide impact on the ability of DMMs to arrange for the fair and orderly opening, reopening following a market-wide halt of trading at the Exchange, or closing of trading at the Exchange and that absent relief, the operation of the Exchange is likely to be impaired, a qualified Exchange officer may declare an extreme market volatility condition with respect to trading on or through the facilities of the Exchange.

    (b) In the event that an extreme market volatility condition is declared with respect to trading on or through the facilities of the Exchange, a qualified Exchange officer shall be empowered to temporarily suspend at the opening of trading or reopening of trading following a market-wide trading halt: (i) the need for prior Floor Official or prior NYSE Floor operations approval to open or reopen a security at the Exchange (Rules 123D(1) and 79A.30); and/or (ii) applicable requirements to make pre-opening indications in a security (Rules 15 and 123D(1)).

    (c) A suspension under section (b) of this Rule is subject to the following provisions:

    (1) (A) Before declaring an extreme market volatility condition, the qualified Exchange officer shall consider the facts and circumstances that are likely to have Floor-wide impact for a particular trading session, including volatility in the previous day's trading session, trading in foreign markets before the open, substantial activity in the futures market before the open, the volume of pre-opening indications of interest, evidence of pre-opening significant order imbalances across the market, government announcements, news and corporate events, and such other market conditions that could impact Floor-wide trading conditions.

    (B) Such review shall be undertaken in consultation with relevant officers of NYSE Market and NYSE Regulation, as appropriate. Following the review, the qualified Exchange officer or his or her designee shall document the basis for declaring an extreme market volatility condition.

    (2) The qualified Exchange officer will, as promptly as practicable in the circumstances, inform the Securities and Exchange Commission staff that an extreme market volatility condition has been declared, the basis for such declaration, and what relief has been granted.

    (3) An extreme market volatility condition may only be declared before the scheduled opening or reopening following a market-wide halt of securities at the Exchange.

    (4) A declaration of an extreme market volatility condition shall be in effect only for the particular opening or reopening for the trading session on the particular day that the extreme market volatility condition is determined to exist. The Exchange may declare a separate extreme market volatility condition on subsequent days subject to sections (b)(1) through (b)(3) above.

    (5) A declaration of extreme market volatility shall not relieve DMMs from the obligation to make pre-opening indications in situations where the opening of a security is delayed for reasons unrelated to the extreme market volatility condition.

    (d) For purposes of this Rule, a "qualified Exchange officer" means the Chief Executive Officer of ICE, or his or her designee, or the Chief Executive Officer of NYSE Regulation, Inc., or his or her designee.

    * * *

    The rule was approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission on Dec. 6, 2007 and has been used rarely since then.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • ZiddersZidders Posts: 14,348 ✭✭✭
    I think if more people were into Rule #34 of cartoon characters we'd have less cartoon characters running things because more people would be able to spot them when they try to run for government.
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    Greece's defense portfolio went to Panos Kammenos, leader of the right-wing Independent Greeks party which is - by all accounts - now the official junior partner in the Tsipras Government coalition.

    And what to expect from Mr. Kammenos....?


    Regarded as a tin-hatted conspiracy theorist by his opponents, he has said that Greece is being ruined by what he calls a "neoliberal avalanche" and that Greece had been betrayed by central bankers who had "forced Greece to swallow" deeply unpopular economic reforms and belt-tightening by "money lenders from abroad".

    In an impassioned speech in 2012, shortly after forming his party, Mr. Kammenos stated that Greece had been turned into a "laboratory animal" in an austerity experiment being conducted by the EU and the IMF.

    "They have chosen the wrong laboratory animal for their experiment. They used the public debt as a means of control," he announced.

    According to an article in The Telegraph, Mr Kammenos was recently accused of being anti-Semitic. Last month (December) he claimed that Greek Jews paid fewer taxes than other citizens and that they were given preferential treatment.

    His remarks were condemned by the Board of Jewish Communities in Greece as a "serious anti-Semitic act".

    Mr. Kammenos' claims were publically dismissed by a Greek government official as "conspiracy theories, lies and slander" drawn from "the dark side of the internet". And it's not too hard to find supporting evidence of this.

    So... as I wrote earlier, let the economic hilarity begin!

    (Greece's three big banks are tanking... expect the ECB to act shortly to prevent their collapse)
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • SerkevanSerkevan Posts: 1,586
    I find it annoying how everything counts as anti-antisemitism (How is it different from "standard" racism or hating on other religions to warrant a word for itself, anyway?) these days. Of course, if the remarks are false, it is indeed a deplorable offense, but it's starting to feel that one can be called an antisemitic for, say, calling out Israel on the bombings of hospitals straight-up murdering children. There, I said it.

    Back on topic, Greece is going to be a fustercluck real soon, not that one has to be an enlightened expert in politics to know that... My bet is on the rest of Europe sweeping in to make an example of Greece, kinda like 'Murica did with Cuba and the economical blockade. And we all know how utterly happily that ended for the parts involved. Seriously, I shudder to think about the Greeks*, caught between the Sword of Damocles that is Syriza and the wall that is the parties and banks that led the country into the sorry state it is. If someone were to make the sword hit...
    * And we are coming in next. I'm the first one to be wary of Podemos, but the amount of corruption in our system makes going to the "radical left" the best option by a far margin.
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    Serkevan wrote:'s starting to feel that one can be called an antisemitic for, say, calling out Israel on the bombings of hospitals straight-up murdering children. There, I said it.

    One could... no, better make that would... be.

    And how stupid is that?

    Pretty **** stupid.

    It's for this reason some folks are starting to talk about "new anti-Semitism" in order to distinguish it from the regular old variety of anti-Semitism. And what is new anti-Semitism? Well, it's the type of anti-Semitism that's become popular in the early 21st century, and its seemingly being espoused by everyone: the far-left, the far-right, radical Islam, radical Christianity and even certain Jewish groups - you name it, they're guilty of it.

    At the heart of this particularly stupid notion is a general opposition - whether legitimate or not - to "Zionism" and/or the modern State of Israel. The two are not the same, though they're often mistakenly linked. They ought not to be, but they are. It's a problem that rises out of claims based on ill-understood notions of exceptionalism: we're more special than everyone else that surrounds us.

    For this reason, whenever I trip across the term "exceptionalism" I substitute "arrogance" - it explains things a bit better, I figure. Predictably, this sort of thing drives a few of my American pals crazy... but then their reaction says it all, doesn't it? ;)

    But here's where the kicker is: much of what may be legitimate criticism of Israel (by various individuals and world bodies who are otherwise respected for their political and social neutrality) easily becomes associated with a more generalized (and very real) demonization of Israel, Judaism and Jews, and that, together with a pernicious, almost virulent resurgence of hate speech directed against Israel, Judaism, Jews and Jewish symbols (and the eager willingness of Israel's right wing to use this as evidence of Israel's being victimized all over again a la politicians of the Avigdor Leiberman variety) it's no wonder it remains a hot button issue that quickly crashes into predictable (and surprisingly tiresome) arguments that we've all heard before... probably too many freakin' times.

    Anti-Zionism, anti-Americanism, anti-globalization, anti-central bank, anti-immigration, anti-this and anti-that... it's nothing new, and they all generally trivialize the actual meaning and reality of anti-Semitism:
    Seventy years ago today, Auschwitz-Birkenau was liberated by the Soviet First Army (Ukraine) under Marshal Koniev.

    In recognition of this anniversary, the History Channel is running multiple episodes of "**** Stars" followed by "American Pickers" and "Cryptid: The Swamp Beast"

    Unreasoning and ruinous hatred.

    But I'm not here to lecture folks... honestly, I'm not... especially here, on our boards (well, they do belong to Runic, but y'all know what I mean) where, frankly, I'm constantly reminded of the genuine goodness of folks - It's found if you take the time to look for it.

    From folks like yourself, Serk (for your sense of ethic and fairness and genuine concern for the well-being of others), through P (whom I openly adore for her courage and faith and her smarts) to Gold (for his dazzling intellect and personal integrity) and Zidders (for his compassion and gentleness and good humor) and Hans, Wolf, Doom, Lurker... ye gods, there's so many names... a list of 50,000+! Sheesh! I'd never finish typing... anyhow, I hope y'all know how much I sincerely appreciate everyone.

    Group hug! :lol:

    (Sheesh! Sentimental me!)

    Point being, I'm inclined to believe in the better nature of people than I am willing to criticize them for their faults - this isn't a statement of my candidacy for sainthood so much as it's my attempt at fostering a bit of rationality.

    Like everyone else in this world, I have my biases and prejudices and am just as likely to lapse into faulty judgement as the next forumite (oh, look - Runic's enabled AdSense... only they didn't... ooops). When I do lapse into idiocy, I pray folks kindly correct me and forgive my lapse, and it's left at that.

    I figure, really, when all is said and done, that's why we're here (and not just here as "on the forums"): to help one another to find a better way to get things done. This of course can work for us as it can work against us: do we bring out the best in one another or the worst? I'm inclined to believe we're all trying to do the right thing... and it's not always easy or expedient. I also like to believe that this is possible because, no matter the issue, we remain open to the viewpoints of others, even when they're seriously at odds with our initial instincts.

    Of course, where there's serious disagreement, this is when a difficult choice should be made. That's just one of those durn consequences of responsibility... or, more to the point of behaving ethically and thinking morally.

    Fortunately, I know I'm in good company :)
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    "Bones, buckle up!"

    Because, yep, it's going to be one **** of a ride, especially when Greece's line of credit with the EU starts to run out in February.

    But even if Greece's fragile economy is already tanking, Mr. Tsipras doesn't seem too worried. Nope, it's **** the torpedoes, and head the ship straight towards the iceberg - full steam ahead!

    In defiance of the obvious, Mr. Tsipras promised "radical" changes are forthcoming. Greece's markets predictably tumbled. Did this slow up the government's string of announcements as to what those big changes are? Nope. Not at all. Greece's markets predictably tumbled some more.
    Bombs away!

    This prompted the folks in Brussels and Berlin to make an unusually straight-forward announcement of their own: the EU will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its debts.

    Did Mr. Tsipras get the memo? **** no!

    Instead he announced that the planned sale of a 30% stake in Public Power Corporation of Greece (PPC), the country's largest utility, was halted. PPC, which is 51% owned by the state, controls almost all of Greece's retail electricity market and accounts for about two-thirds of the nation's power-generating capacity, and it was believed a sale of a portion of the publically-owned utility would raise some much-needed capital for public accounts and, with increased investment by private operators, allow some improvements to the nation's power grid.

    At the time, it was a fairly good set of ideas. But, from all appearances, those ideas are now off the table. Consequently, shares in the utility dropped nearly 13% in a matter of hours.

    Yep: "Scotty, I need more power!"

    Worry not, despite a core meltdown underway in the nation's warp drive, Mr. Tsipra carried on, announcing his government's priorities would be in helping the underprivileged by increasing social security (particularly to pensioners... which is a good idea) by implementing policies that would eliminate endemic corruption in the economy, cronyism in political circles, and reduce bureaucratic waste (presumably in the bureaucracy) while at the same time cutting Greece's record unemployment rate.

    How will Mr. Tsipras accomplish this? Magic! And with this wonderful ability, Mr. Tsipras' ministers have pledged to reinstate laid-off public sector workers and - going one better - hire a few more.

    Ah, populism - a thing to be admired.

    Mr. Tsipras stated his government would pursue balanced budgets, but at the same time would not seek to build up "unrealistic surpluses" to service Greece's massive public debt (now more than 175% of the nation's GDP, and growing rapidly). He added that he expected a "productive" session on Friday with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the Eurozone's finance ministers' group.

    Oh, to be a fly on the wall for that happy meeting.

    And speaking of happy meetings, yesterday the government announced it was blocking the privatization of the port of Piraeus. China's Cosco Group, along with four other multinational suitors, had been shortlisted. The sudden cancellation of the deal raised more than a few eyebrows, and realizing he may have made a boo-boo Mr. Tsipras had an emergency meeting with China's ambassador to Athens, Zou Xiaoli, wherein Mr. Tsipras repeatedly stressed his understanding of the importance of good relations with Beijing.

    No comment from Beijing just yet regarding this matter... and that's not a good sign: When Beijing is unhappy, it's quiet.

    So... where is all this train wreck headed?

    Well, a few days ago I mentioned Moscow's curious offer to Athens: dump the EU, and we'll talk.

    I mention this because Greece's newly-appointed Foreign Minister Nikos Kotzias is scheduled to be in Brussels tomorrow to meet with other EU foreign ministers. Their purpose: to discuss possible additional sanctions on Russia over the conflict in Ukraine.

    However, Mr. Kotzias, a former member of Greece's Communist party, has already presented Greece's position on the matter: no more sanctions on Russia. No. More.

    Considering he'll be (at best) a junior player among giants, Mr. Kotzias doesn't appear too worried about the ramifications of upsetting his senior colleagues, nor does he seem too worried about the consequences of displaying his cards before anyone else has really sat down at the table.

    (makes one wonder if he's a serious player or just plain stupid... I'm guessing - former professor of political theory or not - he's not a serious player)

    As per Bloomberg:

    In recent months, Kotzias wrote on Twitter that sanctions against Russia weren’t in Greece’s interests. He said in a blog that a new foreign policy for Greece should be focused on stopping the ongoing transformation of the EU “into an idiosyncratic empire, under the rule of Germany.”

    Yep... one **** of a ride!
    "Faster, Thelma! Faster!"

    UPDATE @ 10:00AM PST - Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has released a special statement that places the status of Greece's sovereign debt in a credit watch with negative implications.

    Sez S&P: "The CreditWatch placement reflects our view that some of the economic and budgetary policies advocated by the newly elected Greek government, led by the left-wing Syriza party, are incompatible with the policy framework agreed between the previous government and official creditors. In our opinion, if the new Greek government fails to agree with official creditors on further financial support, this would further weaken Greece's creditworthiness."

    Yep. Horse has wandered off, barn door left open. Bonus points for lovely understatement.
    For non-finance people, S&P's message ought to be read as: "Run! Run very quickly!"
    For those who just like action and things randomly blowing up: Stomp, stomp "Rawwwwrrrr!" Stomp, stomp, stomp
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    And now Russia's Finance Minister Anton Siluanov is indicating Russia would certainly "consider" a request from Greece for an emergency bail-out should Mr. Tsipras make the request.

    Of course we all can all appreciate the delicacy of Mr. Siluanov's carefully-worded statements - considering the perilous strait Russia is currently navigating with it's own economy, shouldering the burdens of Mr. Tsipras' loads may be a bit too much for even the manly Mr. Putin to accept... unless he has already secured the backing of China ;)

    But, hecky-darn, if Mr. Obama is willing to take on Mr. Poroshenko's load (knowing Ukraine is now in excess of 80% chance of default according to current market analysis, but knowing the ECB has already agreed to help Greece out if it accepts a few conditions), it's only fitting... right? Right :?

    Here's to the hilarity of unbridled economics!

    UPDATE @ 3:30PM PST - Bank stocks on the Athens exchange have crashed in excess of 50% since Alexis Tsipras was elected as Greece's PM on the promise he would challenge the EU's power structure. Looks like it's a plan that's working just great!

    Marcel Fratzscher, head of Berlin's DIW Institute observed that Mr. Tsipras is playing a "very dangerous game" that places Greece in a position where it will lose everything.

    "If people start to believe that he is really serious, you could have massive capital flight and a bank run. You are quickly at a point where euro exit becomes possible," he said.

    Holger Schmieding, an official with Berenberg Bank, issued an unusually grim assessment that indicates his belief events may soon spin out of control.

    "Vicious circles can start fast," he said. "And once they start..." He did not complete his sentence, but simply shrugged.

    Other finance ministers are undoubtedly stating it's time for Greece to leave the Eurozone, accept the disastrous consequences of debt default (it wouldn't be the first nation to default... plenty of third world nations have done so in the 20th Century... and, yeah, decades have passed and they're still a serious mess... but... that's what happens when you're reckless) and then attempt to move on through debt restructuring.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    Greece’s Feisty Finance Minister Tries a More Moderate Message

    Signs of moderation among the immoderate? Possibly... but, then again, possibly not. But it'll help, I think, if the neo-Marxist rhetoric and foolish rabble-rousing is ditched - and ditched quickly - in favor of something everything and everyone else favors: honesty.

    Here's an excerpt from this New York Times produced article:

    On Thursday, Mr. Varoufakis vowed that Greece would not have a financial “accident” or be forced to exit the euro currency union. Although Greece should probably never have entered the euro union, he said, he likened it to the Eagles’ song “Hotel California,” saying, “You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

    Mr. Varoufakis also insisted that Greece would not default on debts owed to the International Monetary Fund or to the remaining private holders of Greek bonds and Treasury bills. Greece owes private creditors €460 million that comes due in July.

    “There will be no new haircut of private sector debt,” he said.

    As for whether Greece could grow its way out of debt, Mr. Varoufakis said growth needed to be addressed first at a Pan-European level.

    He called for a “New Deal" investment-led recovery program around Europe. But he dismissed a plan proposed by the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, to invest €300 billion to stimulate growth on the Continent without adding to debt, calling it “a public relations gimmick that has unfortunately occupied the minds of good people for too long — it will be a failure.”

    He added that a recovery could not occur in Greece “just through old-fashioned Keynesian stimulus” but through private investment, which he predicted would return to the country once the debt burden was reduced.

    Mr. Varoufakis played down concerns about the health and safety of Greek banks, despite reports that billions of euros in deposits have been fleeing the country.

    “We expected that the first few days of our government, things would be turbulent,” he said. “Once the markets see that the proposals coming from this government are sensible, cooperative and therapeutic, we anticipate that share prices are going to” recover.

    He also said Greece was not halting privatizations, despite remarks on Wednesday from another minister suggesting that this was the case. “We want to ensure that this country becomes an attractive destination for foreign direct investment, but not interested in a fire sale or selling the family silver,” he said.

    “I understand the fear in our partners’ minds that if Greece is given an opportunity to reboot, we may go back to our bad old ways and end up where we were in 2009,” he said. “It is important that we reassure them that we won’t do that, because we don’t want to do it ourselves.”

    UPDATE @ 3:00PM PST - File this one under 'Well, it coulda been worse'... Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis met Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the head of the Eurozone's finance ministers' group, for what both men described as "constructive" talks.

    But things apparently didn't go so well; the talks were definitely not constructive, and the meeting - approximately an hour in length - appeared to do nothing but set the tone for what is to come: the end of Greece's economy.

    Mr. Varoufakis, sounding not exactly confident but brash, stated Greece had no intention of cooperating with a mission from the lending "troika" of the European Union, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund, which had been due to return to Athens.

    He then went on to state Greece would not seek an extension to a February 28 deadline with Eurozone lenders.

    "This platform enabled us to win the confidence of the Greek people," he asserted. "Our first action as a government will not be to reject the rationale of questioning this programme through a request to extend it."

    Without access to bail-out funding, Greece's banks - already in dire straits - would lose their access to ECB emergency funding.

    When asked about any possible contingency plan, Mr. Vorufakis was unable to offer indication that there was any alternative plan in the works.

    The opposition New Democracy party, which lost in Sunday's election, issued a statement declaring the new Tsipras government "does not understand at all what it is about to do."

    It's likely a fair assessment of the situation.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    edited January 2015
    All interested:

    An' here it is: ECB's Liikanen: No lending to Greek banks if no deal by end of February

    As it's an important article, here it is in full:

    Jan 31 (Reuters) - A deal on extending Greece's bailout deal must be found by the end of February or the European Central Bank will not be able to continue lending to its banks, ECB council member Erkki Liikanen said on Saturday.

    Europe's bailout programme for Greece, part of a 240-billion-euro ($270 billion) rescue package along with the International Monetary Fund, expires on Feb. 28 and a failure to renew it could leave Athens unable to meet its financing needs and cut its banks off from ECB liquidity support.

    Greece's new leftist government, which aims to ease the strict terms of the bailout that have imposed harsh austerity, opened talks with European partners on Friday by flatly refusing to extend the current programme or to cooperate with the international inspectors overseeing it.

    "We (ECB) have our own legislation and we will act according to that... Now, Greece's programme extension will expire in the end of February so some kind of solution must be found, otherwise we can't continue lending," Liikanen, also the governor of Finland's central bank, told public broadcaster YLE.

    "I don't believe that one can hide from the realities in the economy," he said in an interview.

    Asked about the possibility of a Greek debt haircut, Liikanen said: "A significant debt restructuring has been carried out with private investors. The ECB cannot fund a state directly, which is what it would mean in this case."

    (Reporting by Jussi Rosendahl; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

    So here's hoping, come February 28, the ECB and the Tsipras government will reach an agreement (that I have no doubts that the Tsipras government will not honor anyways... but good form is what it is, right? You betcha!).

    In the meanwhile, sane and well-connected Greeks now have a month to pack their bags and flee to the relative - and I stress that word heavily - safety of Europe as what's most likely to happen next in Greece will not be pretty.

    As a completely random aside with no possible or intended connection with the above article, here's the Wikipedia entry that deals with an overview of the Greek military: It's handily titled 'Military of Greece'. It's an interesting article, especially as it doesn't mention this other completely-unrelated Wikipedia article, 'Greek military junta of 1967–74'. Fortunately this latter article does mention the CIA's invaluable role in helping the citizens of Greece maintain truth, justice, mom, liberty and apple pie baklava from Communist oppression by backing yet another coup.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • SerkevanSerkevan Posts: 1,586
    "Realities in the economy" such as "we give money to the banks so they can eat it and request more money with no consequence for their misuse whatsoever"?
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    Serkevan wrote:
    "Realities in the economy" such as "we give money to the banks so they can eat it and request more money with no consequence for their misuse whatsoever"?

    This is a point that desperately needs to be addressed. And I mean desperately. So, let's begin with a broad statement of what the real issue is: systemic corruption.

    Corruption, of course, has been a problem through-out history, and it's also played a huge role in establishing the relative success of the IMF and World Bank since their formation in 1946.


    Well, the reason for this is the most obvious one: America - like the empires of Rome and Great Britain before - came to realize (and very quickly too) that it was easier to buy the erstwhile loyalties of a few dubious allies than it was to send in the army to kill everyone indiscriminately.

    This point was underlined recently back in 2009 when it was reported the International Development Association (IDA), the arm of the World Bank that makes grants and interest-free, long-term loans to poor countries around the world, entirely lacked effective safeguards against corruption, not to mention the Bank was underwriting very questionable governments. The authors of this report: the Bank's own Independent Evaluation Group (IEG).

    The report concluded that the IDA, which then was granting about $10US billion annually to governments in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, didn't protect its funds adequately from theft and diversion, and that the problems of corruption were both systemic and widespread.

    News of this report couldn't have come at a more awkward time for the World Bank, particularly the wake of the all too numerous scandals that followed Paul Wolfowitz's appointment as its head by President George Bush in 2005. It's not too much of a stretch to argue the World Bank became just another arm of the Bush Administration's foreign policy, and the fall-out from those four years is just now starting to take hold.

    In April 2009, the G-20 called on the World Bank to step up its lending to cope with the global economic crisis, and the acceleration began in earnest with a massive streamlining of loan and grant approvals. Allegations of corruption be damned - there was an even greater need of global liquidity, all happily underwritten by the US that had recently (and happily) engaged in a program of open money printing, called QE.

    At this same time, the IEG report was released quietly in mid-April, and was buried deep in the World Bank's website. The crucial section about failure on anti-corruption measures was buried deeper still in Volume II, Annex D.

    And the Obama Administration's response to this damning report: Nothing. And I mean nothing. Mr. Obama (whose two campaigns were heavily financed by the global movers and shakers of high finance) had it on good advice that the IMF and World Bank were quite capable of handling the problems internally. And so Mr. Obama - the great social crusader - let things be.

    However, the real problem isn't just a reflection of America's waywardness. The Bank's failure reflects a failure of will at the top of the Bank's administration, and a culture that oddly resembles that of the CIA: whatever it takes to position the interests of America, be it the stick or the carrot.

    Add to this the findings of the Government Accountability Project (AGP), for example, that indicated that while the Bank was constantly announcing measures aimed at limiting corruption it was at the same time besmirching the reputations of whistleblowers and ruining the careers of employees who questioned the ethics of the Bank.

    And this had lead to the current state of nonsense that typical of the World Bank: it's been very adept at promoting the impression that corruption has been successfully dealt with but this is, quite simply, not the case. Corruption has flourished. It's pretty much a correlated with the increase of money.

    The glowing speeches, however, continue, and by all accounts the cause of America is that much more advanced (just ignore the possibility of a nuclear war breaking out in the next few minutes, and certainly don't worry about climate change, economic collapse or growing socio-economic disparities).

    But the World Bank is not the only institution guilty of this awful corruption and infuriating hypocrisy: it's endemic to most institutions, and has been connected to the oddest events that eventually make the news and effect the lives of people who are just doing their jobs (including a particular Canadian engineering company with too close ties to the Libyan Khadafi family by way of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service and, of course, the CIA).

    How is this problem to be solved?

    Alas, there's no easy or quick solution... and the appointment of radical governments or authorities (even if they arise from the best of intentions) is likely to make an already perilous situation worse. In most cases, much, much worse. Just read history for proof of this.

    But, all the same, here's where we all play a role and make a choice: by choosing not to become part of the problem.

    It's not easy - the allure of easy money and power (and I mean a lot of money... more money than most people ever have a chance at obtaining, even if they win the local Powerball lottery) and power (for all it's worth, and it's not worth much, IMO) can prove overwhelming to even the most stalwart. But it's like the Bible asks, 'What does it profit a man (or a woman) to win the world... blah, blah, blah?'

    I'd say forget looking to the world's formal structures, authorities and organizations for a solution... if they're not already corrupt, they're too easily corrupted, and just get on with the promotion of a better life and better world with that one simple choice: just be as kind and nice and helpful a person as is possible. It may not change the world anytime soon (and, let's face it, after 2.5 million years, it's unlikely H. sapiens is likely to its errant ways any time soon) but it does change everything all the same.

    Ah, well...

    Here's hoping other forumites will weigh in on this one - even if they don't post their thoughts, it's important people think about these events carefully.

    UPDATE @ 11:15AM PST - Germany, ECB play hard ball with Greece

    An excerpt:

    (Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel ruled out a debt writedown for Greece on Saturday, and a European Central Bank policymaker threatened to cut off funding to Greek banks if Athens does not agree to renew its bailout package.

    The euro zone's paymaster and the ECB are both taking a tough line with Greece's new leftist government, whose leader swept to victory last Sunday promising that five years of austerity, "humiliation and suffering" were over.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    Interesting news item just launched by Bloomberg: Greece Will Repay ECB, IMF, Reach Deal With EU, Tsipras Says

    (Bloomberg) -- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras sought to repair relations with creditors after a week-long selloff in bonds and stocks, a move welcomed by euro area officials concerned they were headed for a showdown with the bloc’s most indebted nation.

    Greece will repay its debts to the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund and reach a deal “soon” with the euro-area nations that funded most of the country’s financial rescue, Tsipras said in a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg News on Saturday.

    “The deliberation with our European partners has just begun,” Tsipras said. “Despite the fact that there are differences in perspective, I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole.”
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    edited February 2015
    All interested:

    Mr. Varoufakis arrived in London this morning intending to make his best "pity us" pitch, hoping to gain the UK's sympathy when it comes time for Greece to make its play at seeking debt relief from the ECB, IMF and World Bank... (and, hey, really, let's call a spade a spade and not an entrenching tool, and declare Greece is seeking protection from the hordes of ravenous and sinister German bankers who are intent on crushing the plucky Greeks as they make their final heroic stand at the Hot Gates...)
    Mr. Tsipras and Ms. Merkel enjoying a tender moment:

    Ooops... wrong picture...sorry 'bout's the right one:
    Feel that chemistry! <sings theme from 'Love Boat'> "Love... exciting and new;
    Come Aboard. We're expecting you!..."

    And with that - hi ho! - it's off to visit the Second Lord of the Treasury and the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the Right Honorable George Gideon Oliver Osborne, MP, at #11...
    My fashion instincts reel. Ugh... Desperately in need of mom's intervention here, I think.

    Where the two men - one the heir apparent to the Osborne baronetcy, the other a radical suffering from a severe sense of fashion-impairment - met for a brief confab...
    So far, so good... and no sign of an impending knife fight breaking out... jolly good!varou%20biker%200.5.jpg

    Alas, just a few minutes later, Mr. Varoufakis left #11, and wandered down Downing without answering any questions from the nearby scrum... alas, things didn't go so well. But the good news is, there's always the duty free shop to stop at where Mr. Varoufakis can stock up on supplies (be sure to purchase plenty of TP and maybe a tie!) before returning to Greece.

    Here's the play-by-play :)

    EDIT: Replaced broken link and fixed glaring typo that severely impacted potential humor quotient (**** auto correct!) :oops: .
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    An excellent opinion piece posted on the Financial Times website: Greece should bail-in the Eurozone

    Here's the bottom line:

    Syriza is a populist government, and some of the policies it has already implemented are disturbingly similar to those of other populist governments that eventually failed disastrously. It must resist the siren voices that want to wipe out the pain of the past and restore lost prosperity through a highly expansive fiscal programme. This is a road that must not be travelled. There can be no magic wand: recovery requires hard work and enterprise, and there will still be pain to come.

    But the EU, too, must not allow its fear of populism and scepticism about Syriza’s motives to dominate its decisions. It now has an opportunity both to restore hope to Greece and to secure its own future as a union. It should take it.

    UPDATE @ 10:30AM PST - Rating Agency S&P has downgraded Greece's credit rating from "B" to "B-", stating: "In our view, a prolongation of talks with official creditors could also lead to further pressure on financial stability in the form of deposit withdrawals and, in a worst-case scenario, the imposition of capital controls and a loss of access to lender-of-last-resort financing, potentially resulting in Greece's exclusion from the Economic and Monetary Union."

    That S&P would even mention the term "worst case scenario" in conjunction with Greece says plenty; that S&P in this same warning states further downgrades of Greece's credit may be forthcoming pretty much indicates a line has now been drawn. Here's hoping Mr. Varoufakis now considers his next move very carefully (he won't, of course... meaning... ah, well... the headlines over the next few days will tell the rest of the story, I'm sure ;) )


    Yep, it's official. If Greece fails to comply with this demand, things will become... well...errr, exciting!... very, very exciting... and quickly too, particularly if you had money stashed somewhere in a Greek bank.

    UPDATE @ 1:30PM PST - And Moody's joins the action beneath the big top too.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    Presented without comment: Greek PM Tsipras pledges to deal with the wounds of austerity

    An excerpt:

    (Reuters) - Leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said on Sunday that was sticking to his campaign pledges, including giving free food and electricity to those who suffered from austerity.

    He also announced a series of cuts to politicians' benefits such as banning ministerial cars and selling one of the prime minister's aircraft.

    "The first priority of this government ... is tackling the big wounds of the bailout, tackling the humanitarian crisis just as we promised to do before the elections," he said in his first major speech to parliament as premier.

    * * * *

    In a symbolic move that appeared to take direct aim at Greece's biggest creditor, Tsipras finished off his speech with a pledge to seek World War II reparations from Germany.

    "And then - hey! - I'm going to repeal the law of gravity! Simply because I can!"

    Also, some priceless comments made by Mr. Varoufakis earlier today: Greek finance minister says euro will collapse if Greece exits

    An excerpt:

    (Reuters) - If Greece is forced out of the euro zone, other countries will inevitably follow and the currency bloc will collapse, Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said on Sunday, in comments which drew a rebuke from Italy.

    Greece's new leftist government is trying to re-negotiate its debt repayments and has begun to roll back austerity policies agreed with its international creditors.

    In an interview with Italian state television network RAI, Varoufakis said Greece's debt problems must be solved as part of a rejection of austerity policies for the euro zone as a whole. He called for a massive "new deal" investment program funded by the European Investment Bank.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
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    Concerning Greece...


    Enough said for this morning, I think ;)

    UPDATE @ 2:00PM PST - According to sources, Greece has requested an emergency meeting with its principle creditors on Wednesday in Brussels. At this time, the Tsipras government will propose accepting 7 billion euros (about $8US billion) as part of a much-needed bridge financing program while at the same time it will reject a good portion its existing financial obligations with the EU, ECB and IMF as it seeks to establish a new financial arrangement with the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) which, as per the surprisingly small world of international finance and the merry happenstance of odd coincidence, happens to consist of the exact same people and organizations whom make decisions on behalf of the EU, ECB and IMF... go figure.

    Greece's remarkable proposal would also include a request that the negotiation period currently available to Greece (scheduled to expire in May) would be "significantly extended" (perhaps to the end of August), allowing Greece time to reach a "new contract" with its existing creditors.

    UPDATE @ 7:15PM PST - I usually agree with Senator Bernie Sander's take on things as he usually makes a great deal of sense, and so it's interesting to read Mr. Sander's latest initiative: Sanders to Yellen: The Federal Reserve Needs to Stop Abetting the ECB's Destruction of Greece wherein the good senator makes an interesting argument... how interesting? I'll leave that up to readers to decide for themselves.

    UPDATE @ Tuesday 5:30AM PST - Greek defense minister says Greece has Plan B if EU rigid on deal

    Yep... Plan 'B'. Essentially it's stiff the creditors from Plan 'A' (meaning Europe) and seek a new set of international creditors who'll race to accommodate Greece knowing they'll also likely be stiffed (meaning Russia, China and perhaps as a last resort America - all countries known for their uncommon generosity, lack of business sense and tolerance for being stiffed).

    As per the article:

    (Reuters) - Greek Defence Minister Panos Kammenos said that if Greece failed to get a new debt agreement with the euro zone, it could always look elsewhere for help.

    "What we want is a deal. But if there is no deal - hopefully (there will be) - and if we see that Germany remains rigid and wants to blow apart Europe, then we have the obligation to go to Plan B. Plan B is to get funding from another source," he told Greek television show that ran in to early Tuesday. "It could the United States at best, it could be Russia, it could be China or other countries," he said

    Yep... Plan 'B'. Winner.

    In related news, the Tsipras government has announced a lengthy list of policy actions, including a gradual increase in the nation's minimum wage and an increase to the threshold of tax-exempt income. The plan will be put to a confidence vote in Greece’s parliament today, and it will pass (given the Tsipras government has the majority) though the proposed measures breach the terms of the nation's emergency loans agreement with the Eurozone and the IMF.

    At the same time, Matthieu Pigasse, head of Lazard Financial Advisory, a consulting firm hired by the Greek government to advise it on issues related to public debt and fiscal management, is of the opinion the nation requires a debt cancellation of about 100 billion euros ($113US billion) for the nation's debt to be manageable. Greece's current national debt is $373.2US billion, meaning creditors would be required to accept a 30% write-down on the value of their investments.

    UPDATE @ 11:30AM PST - An interesting item that's recently appeared on Blomberg's website: Schaeuble Says ‘it's over’ for Greece Unless Aid Program Accepted

    The upshot: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble doused expectations of a positive outcome for Greece at an emergency meeting with its official creditors tomorrow, saying there are no plans to give the country more time.

    Speaking to reporters in Istanbul after a two-day meeting of finance chiefs from the Group of 20, Schaeuble said “it’s over” if Greece doesn’t want the final tranche of the current aid program. Greece’s creditors also “can’t negotiate about something new,” Schaeuble said.

    EDITORIAL - Considering the vast sums of money being printed by central banks around the world - a figure that's in the trillions - a hundred billion lost here would very likely be picked up elsewhere by taxpayers and depositors who are already on the hook for the lifestyles of the high-flyers. No one should for a moment believe that any write-down of debt (in Greece... or anywhere else in the world) will be carried by the top end wealth holders: capitalism and finance simply do not work that way (it's for this reason credit default swaps exist, and why governments around the world have recently insured the estimated $100US trillion trade in derivatives). Additionally, low end wealth holders are similarly shielded: costs of write-downs are not borne by folks who do not pay taxes or keep money on long-term deposit (though historically, this is the group that suffers the most in terms of deprivation and loss of security). Nope, this one - like almost every debt write down in the history of finance - is going to hit the middleclass, and hasten its demise that much faster. But, worry not, this sort of thing has happened time and time again over the last 5,000 years, and eventually another (mercantile-based) middle class arises - N.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
  • NeophytoiNeophytoi Posts: 3,539
    All interested:

    And here we go...

    Today's main card event features a no-holds-barred cage match where a sartorially-challenged Yanis Varoufakis will square off against a tag team made up well-dressed European finance ministers, none of whom would ever think about making an appearance in public with their shirt tails hanging out the back.

    Expect Mr. Varoufakis to hold his ground, believing Greece's massive indebtedness and dubious political posturing is of sufficient magnitude as to keep even the most aggressive European finance minister and Eurozone supporter wary of direct attack. As tactics goes, this rivals that of a particularly fat sheep thinking its unseemly mutton-headed fluffiness will dismay the snarling, slavering, lean and hungry pack of murderous-eyed wolves that have recently taken up position around it.

    "Wait! I have the murrain and so many little lambs to care for!" bleats the sheep. "Growl, snap and snarl!" howl the wolves in reply, all fangs and fury.

    Yep, soon the wool will be a-flying and a number of lambikins will be sized up for yarn.

    Anywho... here is what to expect of today's big smack down: Mr. Varoufakis is expected to propose a multi-billion euro bridge loan, a cancellation of sizeable portion of Greece's debt, and an across the board rejection of the EU's existing austerity demands before going on to similarly reject an extension of the EU's current bailout package.

    How the EU's finance minister's will respond to this chutzpah will depend on several conditions, with the most important condition being what sort of underwriting agreement has been made by the IMF (alas... any agreement of this sort would be highly confidential, and would never be announced to the public). If the IMF hasn't agreed to absorb Greece's debt, expect today's meeting to last about 10 minutes as there will be no negotiation, simply the reminder an agreement already exists, that the clock is ticking and that time is money.

    (some folks seem to be laboring under the illusion that Greece could use its debt as a kind of club of Damocles that it could hang over the heads of the EU and European banks and so keep them afraid and in line...but, considering they've had about a decade to consider the question of what to do about Greece (and Spain, and Ireland, and Italy and Portugal) it's safe to assume the major banks are sufficiently hedged so as to protect their interests more than adequately, meaning if Greece were to seriously consider departing the EU, the banks would be cheerfully replying "toodles!" and "cheery bye!" and "hasta la vista, baby!" And the champagne and crackers would soon appear. In Greece, however, similar celebrations would be very short-lived... especially when the lights get turned out. Make no mistake about it, Russia and China would have about as much use for Mr. Tsipras and his coterie as a fish could use a bicycle)

    Other than that, here's the official schedule:

    Leaders to arrive from 15:30PM GMT (7:30AM PST)

    •15:30PM GMT (7:30AM PST) - Arrivals
    •17:30PM GMT (9:30AM PST) - Roundtable discussion
    •19:00PM GMT (11:00AM PST) - Post discussion press conference

    Meanwhile, Greece's foreign minister, Nikos Kotzias, is in Moscow today, visiting with Sergei Lavrov. It's widely believed that if Mr. Varoufakis' meeting goes poorly, Athens will immediately seek financial assistance outside the Eurozone, likely seeking a bridge loan from Russia (who has likely already secured China's backing on this one).

    Now, this is where the in camera wheeling and dealing will get interesting: both Russia and China are facing domestic economic difficulties, and while they're quite able to carry a short-term loan to Greece, such a demand could not have come at a more inconvenient time. This of course introduces the US' strategic interest of undermining any such economic alliance, particularly if it could effectively challenge the pre-eminence of America's use of the World Bank as an instrument of soft persuasion.

    Either way, we'll all know how this turns out soon enough.

    UPDATE @ 8:15AM PST - According to sources, sounds like an agreement is going to be reached with the EU willing to concede an extension of the repayment deadline for Eurozone loans, a marginally lower rate of interest rate and an extended moratorium on debt service payments. But Greece is also having to make some important concessions...

    UPDATE @ 8:30AM PST - Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the IMF, made an interesting comment moments ago, observing her recent meeting with Mr. Varoufakis was "good"... that tells me everything I need to know ;)

    A few additional details relating to Ms. Largarde's meeting with Mr. Varousakis: IMF's Lagarde says Greece is competent, thought about issues. Yep... there's definitely a "fix" in place.

    UPDATE @ 2:15PM PST - At around 1:00AM local time, discussions came to an end with no indications of substantial progress being made, let alone hinted at or announced, but talks will definitely continue. So... there's every reason to believe a series of compromise solutions (see earlier comments) will eventually be agreed on.
    never let your hatred of people who would bar you from the Inviolable House of Worship lead you into the sin of aggression: but rather help one another in furthering virtue and ****-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity
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