Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

Greece Suspends Soccer

Thursday, February 26th, 2015

Greece has suspended their top soccer league due to violence:

The new Greek government suspended competition in the top-flight Super League indefinitely after violence at a weekend match between the top two football clubs in the country.

Sunday’s game between bitter Athens city rivals Panathinaikos and away team Olympiakos was marred by a pitch invasion despite a heavy police presence.

The players and officials of Super League leader Olympiakos were also pelted with various projectiles and flares amid ugly scenes.

Good thing Europeans aren’t completely soccer crazy, or that Greeks aren’t already pissed off at the continuing economic crisis or successive governments telling them precisely the lies they want to hear.

(An aside: This is an actual sentence on CNN.com: “Following these incidents, the ruling Syriza Party has made its decision to impose a suspension, which will be the third team [sic] this season that Greek football has been halted.” That’s some mighty fine proofreading, CNN…)

I think this is footage from the scene:

Evidently Greek government is as incompetent at maintaining a “heavy police presence” as it is at everything else except deficit spending.

Soccer hooliganism is hardly a novel phenomena in Europe, but I suspect this incident gives us a glimpse of the widespread simmering anger in Greece over the perpetual debt crisis. Having been brought to power by that anger, it looks like Syriza is badly underestimating its depth and how to manage it. If they were smart, they’d be far wiser to let some of it boil off in soccer brawls rather than let it keep building without an outlet.

In a country that can no longer afford bread, it’s deeply unwise to start banning circuses…

Groundhog Day on the Aegean

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Greece two weeks ago: “We will not negotiate this people’s pride and dignity.”

Greece today: “Yes, Master! We’d love to grovel some more if you continue tossing pennies into our cup!”

“As far as we can tell, the Greek government hasn’t achieved even a single one of its aims so far. The bailout was extended by four months, but in spite of a few cosmetic changes to the wording accompanying it (e.g. the ‘troika’ has been renamed ‘the institutions’), it is still precisely the same bailout agreement as before.”

This is an event completely unforeseen by everyone except anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to previous installments of Greek Bailout Kabuki. For all the bluster, it’s not like Greece had many options other than to get down on all fours and really lick boot, since it was slated to run out of cash tomorrow.

Naturally anyone who was foolish enough to believe Syriza’s promises (the technical term for such people is “rubes”) is hopping mad. “It’s as if [Greek PM Alexis] Tsipras, [Greek Finance Minister Yanis] Varoufakis and the others are telling me: ‘We believe that you are stupid…and you will believe whatever lie we tell you.’” The fact Syriza was elected at all is pretty much testament to the well-grounded accuracy that belief. That, and, oh, every single piece of news out of Greece since the Euro debt crisis struck, as long as that lie involved Greece continuing to spend money like drunken sailors with a stolen credit card and never having to pay their debts back.

The open secret, of course, is that Greece will never repay its debt. “We have to be realistic here. Greek debt is now 175 percent of gross domestic product (GDP); it’s higher than it was when this whole business first started.” (Well, by one measure. Another puts Greek debt at 317% of GDP.) Yeah, that’s what happens when you continue to run huge deficits even under your “austerity” budgets.

As I previously wrote:

I’m sure Syriza would love to implement their pie-in-the-sky big spending socialism, but their real goal is to lie to the Greek people long enough for the EU to write at least one more check, and lie to the EU about implementing reform long enough to cash it. Since Syriza only recently came to power, they probably want keep the farce rolling long enough to feather their own nests with Euros before engineering a grexit. After all, center-right parties got their turns at the public graft trough; why not the far left?

And back on December 29 I wrote:

So we’ll see another election, and if Syriza wins we’ll see another round of demands for more bailouts and debt writedowns, with Greece threatening yet again to exit the Euro. We’ve seen this movie before. The most likely outcome is that another cabal of EU-phillic insiders in the Greek government will engineer a last-minute cave-in to demands from Brussels and Frankfurt, ram another toothless austerity measure through parliament in exchange for still more credit (and perhaps even a small symbolic measure of debt forgiveness), dissolve the government again following the inevitable public outrage, then have the Greek bureaucracy ignore even those woefully inadequate reforms, setting the stage for the farce to repeat itself in another 12-18 months, or until mean old Aunt Angela finally cuts up the credit card.

Behold The Amazing Person’s uncanny powers of prophecy! Like Groundhog Day, it’s gotten remarkably easy to predict exactly what’s going to happen. Different people may occupy the Prime Minister’s office, but all them invariably wake up to the political equivalent of Sonny & Cher singing “I Got You Babe.”

It looks like the only I thing I was off on was the piddling four month extension rather than twelve, and the fact that Syriza didn’t even get the tiny fig-leaf of symbolic debt reduction. I guess that request for reparations from Germany rubbed Angela Merkel the wrong way. Too bad Greek PM Alexis Tsipras failed to heed Basil Fawlty’s eminently sensible advice…

Greece Declares Independence From Reality

Monday, February 9th, 2015

Newly installed Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras gave a speech in which he basically declared “Screw your stupid economic reality! We’re still giving everyone a free unicorn!”

Remember that Greece is not just broke, but deeply in debt, has a declining economy, only a few weeks of money left, and the specter of a possible bank run for of people wanting to get ahead of a Euro-exit.

So naturally Tsipras is promising Greeks a T-bone in every pot.

“Syriza’s pledges to the electorate include a freeze on pension cuts, a property tax overhaul, free electricity to those who have been cut off, reinstating jobs and raising the minimum wage.”

“‘The (bailout deal) has been abolished by popular mandate,’ Tsipras said. I’d love to see someone try that “abolished by popular mandate” as a reason to stop making their car payments.

“We will not negotiate this people’s pride and dignity.” Yes, because spendthrift wastrels can have all the pride and dignity they can eat.

The EU is is not amused. How can they, when Syriza’s policies seem completely disconnected from reality?

In a lengthy list of policy actions, Tsipras also said the government plans to restore the tax-free threshold for individual workers to 12,000 euros a year and gradually raise the minimum wage to 751 euros a month through 2016. Both measures would breach the conditions of the bailout.

Tsipras said he’s committed to maintaining balanced budgets and wants to negotiate terms that will make Greece’s debt sustainable.

That’s like saying “I’m absolutely committed to eating eating a 72 oz steak every day, and to losing weight!”

Oh, and he’s also demanding reparations from Germany for World War II. Good luck with that.

Is Tsipras really that disconnected from reality? Well, he is a far-leftist (which in the context of Europe and Greece means that he probably makes Obama look like Dick Cheney). But a little further down in that Bloomberg piece, you get this:

Behind the public rhetoric, the Greek government has shifted to a more cooperative tone in recent conversations with the troika, according to an official representing the creditors. Greece has been told it needs to ask for a formal extension of its existing bailout deal in order to receive financing, said the official, who asked not to be named because the discussions are private.

It’s probably your classic “Clevon Little holding a gun to his own head” bluff. I’m sure Syriza would love to implement their pie-in-the-sky big spending socialism, but their real goal is to lie to the Greek people long enough for the EU to write at least one more check, and lie to the EU about implementing reform long enough to cash it. Since Syriza only recently came to power, they probably want keep the farce rolling long enough to feather their own nests with Euros before engineering a grexit. After all, center-right parties got their turns at the public graft trough; why not the far left?

Will the EU call their bluff? The whole purpose of the bailout regime was for insiders and bankers to dump their exposure to Greek default onto the taxpayer, something that’s largely been accomplished. These days I suspect very few of Europe’s banks hold much Greek debt (some of whcih may have ended up in various pension funds, where unrealistic promises and chronic underfunding may force managers to chase extremely risky bonds for the high yields). A grexit would put an economic hurt on Europe, but probably not one that would last terribly deep or long. A Greek economic collapse following leaving the Euro would be terrible for Greece, but would probably prod the other PIIGS into continuing to get their economic houses into something resembling order.

How bad would a grexit be for Greece? Really, really, really bad. The modern European cradle-to-grave welfare state is unsustainable, and attempts to keep the goodies flowing even after the state is bankrupt will ruin more than one nation. It’s just that Greece managed to get there first.

The farce is going to end very, very badly for average Greeks, but it always was. The only question is just how many bodies will be on the floor at the end of the final act…

Greece’s Insoluble Problem

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Greece’s left-wing Syriza party was swept into power by promising voters they could have their cake and eat it too. The problem is that not only is there no cake to eat, but Greek already owes more money than it can repay on all the cake they’ve already eaten.

The European Central Bank announced that it will no longer accept junk-rated Greek bonds as collateral. That may be why Greece’s new finance minister is already backtracking on election promises:

His party, Syriza, told voters it would demand a debt reduction; now Mr. [Yanis] Varoufakis says it will settle for a debt restructuring. Syriza said it would end austerity; Mr. Varoufakis now says he will run a primary budget surplus even if that means dropping other commitments in the party’s campaign manifesto.

Will Syriza keep promises made to the EU and the ECB any more than they kept their promises to Greek voters? Of course not. Greece is addicted to excessive government spending the way a junkie is addicted to heroin. In this sense, Syriza’s willingness to shamelessly lie to both voters and Eurocrats is what makes them the embodiment of modern Greece.

Running an actual budget surplus, as Varoufakis is almost pledging, would go a long way toward solving Greece’s problems. (My understanding is that he means Greece will have a budget surplus before debt payments are taken into account, which means they’ve really slowed down the rate at which they’re digging their own grave…) But neither Greece’s voters nor its ruling class want the nation to live within its means. As I have noted time and time again, Greece has never practiced real austerity, which is cutting government outlays to match receipts. Greece’s budget deficit was 12.2% of GDP in 2014. (If it seems like I repeat a lot of this information in many of my updates on Greece’s debt crisis, it’s because I do, mainly because MSM reports seem to omit mention of these centrally crucial facts…)

Greece’s participation in the Euro has harmed it by distorting its economy and making its export uncompetitive. That’s a problem, but that’s not Greece’s central problem, which is a dogged unwillingness to live within its means. It’s that addiction to deficit spending that has Syriza talking of defaulting on its debts. And it’s addicted to deficit spending because the modern European cradle-to-grave welfare state is unsustainable.

But here’s the kicker: Neither leaving the Euro nor defaulting solves Greece’s central problem, or even provides temporary relief.

Leaving the Euro doesn’t solve the problem, because Greece’s debts will still be denominated in Euros. Creditors who hold Greek debt won’t be content to be paid in devalued drachmas, so Greece will still be on the hook for what they’ve already spent.

Defaulting will only make their predicament worse, because then no one will be willing to lend Greece money to continue their ruinous deficit spending.

Doing both and printing drachmas to continue spending will only result in hyperinflation. The Greeks can ask Venezuela how that’s working out for them.

If any Greek political party pledged to undertake real reform, reign in the Greek welfare state and end deficit spending, it’s escaped my attention. I suspect Greeks will have to experience a lot more economic pain, and no small measure of ruin, before undertaking the only obvious path to fiscal stability.

Far-Left Syriza Wins Huge Victory in Greece

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

Greece’s far left-wing Syriza Party has won a big victory there, claiming about half the seats in Parliament.

What does it mean? I took a stab at analyzing it before. Even with a majority, there’s a good chance Syriza will have to continue meeting the EU’s demands (which means pretending to impose austerity measures) if they want mean old Aunt Angela to keep loaning them money. Remember: Greece has never practiced real austerity. Not once since the European Debt Crisis hit has Greece balanced its budget, and its deficit for 2014 was 12.2% of GDP.

But even the fake austerity imposed has been too much for the Greek people, who collectively want a cushy welfare state but don’t want to pay the sky-high taxes required to pay for it. Promising people something for nothing has been the left’s popular electoral strategy for more than a century, but reality can only be held off for so long. Germany is not due for a federal election, so it’s entirely possible Merkel might still underwrite another bailout or two if Syriza is willing to continue the farce. A Greece shorn of the Euro would still be broke and badly in debt, and newly Drachma-backed securities would likely be toxic investments for all but the most speculative of bond traders. (Perhaps Syriza should investigate how well that printing money thing is working out for Venezuela.) “Forgive our debts or we won’t let you give us more loans!” is a proposition Merkel would probably find quite easy to refuse, and I suspect the risk of a Greek exit from the Euro is already priced into European markets. If Syriza insists on anything more than (possibly) a token debt haircut, the EU will probably be willing to call their bluff.

It’s generally best for the driver of a 1974 Ford Pinto to avoid engaging in a game of chicken with a Tiger tank…

Greece Inches Closer to the Endgame

Monday, December 29th, 2014

Just because the European Debt Crisis hasn’t been in the headlines much as of late doesn’t mean it’s gone away.

Greece’s government has fallen again and they’ll be holding general elections next month. “Opinion polls point to a victory by the radical leftist Syriza party, which wants to wipe out a big part of Greece’s debt, and cancel the terms of a bailout from the European Union and International Monetary Fund that Greece still needs to pay its bills.”

The problem is that Greece wants to continue spending other people’s money to prop up a bankrupt welfare state, and the rest of Europe has decided they would really prefer to stop pouring money down that particular rathole. Syriza is against “austerity,” which is to say they oppose the Greek government even pretending to practice fiscal restraint. Because pretending is all they’ve done.

Remember, real austerity is reducing outlays until they match receipts. All those “austerity” street protests were over lowering Greece’s budget deficit from 9% of GDP to 7.5% of GDP. The rest of Europe didn’t ask them to stop digging their own grave, they just asked them to dig more slower. And this year, Greece’s budget deficit stood at 12.2% of GDP. Evidently even fake austerity is too much to ask of them; even the illusion of fiscal restraint is intolerable. This is why all news that Greece has “balanced” next year’s budget should be taken with several grains of salt.

So we’ll see another election, and if Syriza wins we’ll see another round of demands for more bailouts and debt writedowns, with Greece threatening yet again to exit the Euro. We’ve seen this movie before. The most likely outcome is that another cabal of EU-phillic insiders in the Greek government will engineer a last-minute cave-in to demands from Brussels and Frankfurt, ram another toothless austerity measure through parliament in exchange for still more credit (and perhaps even a small symbolic measure of debt forgiveness), dissolve the government again following the inevitable public outrage, then have the Greek bureaucracy ignore even those woefully inadequate reforms, setting the stage for the farce to repeat itself in another 12-18 months, or until mean old Aunt Angela finally cuts up the credit card.

Europe has had several years to acclimate itself to the fact the Greece might exit the Euro, and the possibility of a “grexit” has been priced into the markets for some time now. I do not pretend to understand the intricacies of the European banking system, but my impression is that much of the “stress testing” of European banks this year was to prepare for one or more of the PIIGS leaving the Euro. I suspect that the European elite have minimized their own exposure to a Greek default (which is really all they care about), and that the EU and the European Central Bank has found new, sneaky ways to put taxpayers on the hook for any possible sovereign defaults, strengthening the banking system without addressing Europe’s long-term economic problems (unsustainable levels of debt to support cradle-to-grave welfare states for shrinking populations).

It would be great if Greece actually undertook real structural reforms of their bloated, dysfunctional government, but I see precious little evidence that they’ve actual done so. Expect more pain ahead, and at least one more bailout…

LinkSwarm for January 29, 2014

Wednesday, January 29th, 2014

Lots of news from around the world, where the global economy is handing like a Kia that’s just started losing traction on an icy hill:

  • Bundesbank: Don’t look at us, broke PIIGS, you’re going to have to screw your own people.
  • Does a big default loom in China?
  • Russian bank halts all cash withdrawals?
  • Meanwhile, reports that Chinese banks have stopped allowing withdrawals turns out to be a false alarm.
  • European earnings outlook: Zero.
  • Problem: Greek economy still sucking wind. Solution: change how GDP is calculated.
  • Japan hits record trade deficit. Remember when they were supposed to take over the world?
  • The ruble flirts with record lows.
  • Obama and the Democratic Party’s numbers are worse than they were in 2010.
  • Planned Parenthood wonders what’s the big deal with a little statutory rape among friends?
  • Florida heroin kingpin is an illegal alien on food stamps.
  • Another Democrat convicted of that vote fraud that doesn’t exist. (Hat tip: Dwight.)

  • Democrats actually polling worse than they were in 2010. And that’s from Dem pollster/booster John B. Judis.
  • Target’s part-time workers get ObamaCared.
  • We have a winner for troll of the year:

    Every time I hear someone say that feminism is about validating every choice a woman makes I have to fight back vomit.

    Do people really think that a stay at home mom is really on equal footing with a woman who works and takes care of herself? There’s no way those two things are the same. It’s hard for me to believe it’s not just verbally placating these people so they don’t get in trouble with the mommy bloggers.

    Having kids and getting married are considered life milestones. We have baby showers and wedding parties as if it’s a huge accomplishment and cause for celebration to be able to get knocked up or find someone to walk down the aisle with. These aren’t accomplishments, they are actually super easy tasks, literally anyone can do them. They are the most common thing, ever, in the history of the world. They are, by definition, average.

    Amy Glass, come down and collect your coveted Trolly! (Hat tip: Instapundit.)

  • “Woman Takes Short Half-Hour Break From Being Feminist To Enjoy TV Show”
  • In case you didn’t notice, Iran’s mullahs are still lying, violent scumbags.
  • Strangely enough, Israeli’s trust Netanyahu more than Obama. Funny how a mere 40+ years Palestinians breaking every agreement they’ve signed will sour people on the peace process…
  • Michael Totten wanders around Cuba some more, where he let’s us know that Cubans can be arrested for unauthorized shrimp.
  • California Court determines that disgraced serial journalistic liar Stephen Glass is too dishonest to be a lawyer.
  • In other news, Eugene Volokh stuns Washington Post readers with non-liberal thoughts on guns and other topics.
  • Have you ever considered the possibility that Woody Allen isn’t a child molester?
  • Drive a Fit, a Prius, a Yaris, or a Fiat 500? Hope you’ve made out a will.
  • Anthony Weiner forced to downsize to an apartment whose rent is a mere 6 times my mortgage.
  • LinkSwarm for September 13, 2013

    Friday, September 13th, 2013

    My schedule is finally close to getting back to normal after Worldcon, so here’s the latest Friday LinkSwarm:

  • Greek unemployment hits 27.9%. Remember: For all the mentions of “austerity measures,” they’ve never balanced a budget.
  • Why we were in Benghazi. Short answer: Smuggling arms to Syrian rebels. Remember: No Americans died in Iran-Contra.
  • Syrian rebels do what they do best: kill women and children.
  • Obama’s Syrian policy is “is an unmitigated cl*st*rf*ck.” And that’s from his friends at The New Republic.
  • Charles Krauthammer calls it epic incompetence.
  • Today is the 20th anniversary of the Oslo Accords, which, as we all know, finally brought long-lasting peace and stability to the Middle East. “Decadal stasis points to the sterility of the Arab-Israeli diplomatic process.”
  • Mark Steyn on ObamaCare.
  • Mickey Kaus is worried that Republicans can still snatch amnesty defeat from the jaws of victory.
  • How often does Defensive gun use occur? “From about 500,000 to more than 3 million per year.”
  • PPP’s poll data showed Giron was in trouble, but they didn’t release the poll, ostensibly because they didn’t believe it. That may be the case, but their explanation is suspect, given they actually testified in court as part of the effort to get the recall effort thrown out. Also, they didn’t do Giron and the gun-grabber side any favors by suppressing the results (the Liberal Reality Bubble strikes again). Bonus: Pollster Twitter slap fight!
  • Is the House Republican leadership actually stupid enough to kill the sequester in a deal with Obama? Let’s hope not…
  • Jihadi rapper killed by fellow jihadis. And you thought Vanilla Ice’s reviews were brutal…
  • To a visitor from India, America looks like a classless society. “I’ve noticed that most Americans roughly have the same standard of living. Everybody has access to ample food, everybody shops at the same supermarkets, malls, stores, etc. I’ve seen plumbers, construction workers and janitors driving their own sedans, which was quite difficult for me to digest at first since I came from a country where construction workers and plumbers lived hand to mouth.” (Hat tip: Ace.)
  • How can Newspapers make money these days? How about by selling off their old photo morgues?
  • UK’s NHS: Now With Added Death.
  • Million Muslim March falls a mere 999,970 marchers short of their goal.
  • Rep. Peter King of Long island is running for President. Expect GOP voters to greet his campaign with the same enthusiasm with which they greeted Jon Huntsman’s.
  • Super-genius astronomer wants to name an asteroid “Trayvon”.
  • New Jersey police: hate crimes don’t happen to white people.
  • Police Chief meeting with Sheriff Joe Arpaio on his own time and money? That’s a suspension.
  • Austin: 13 murders in 8 months. “Otherwise known as a slow weekend in Chicago.”
  • Holly Hansen takes a look at Williamson County judicial races.
  • LinkSwarm for August 23, 2013

    Friday, August 23rd, 2013

    Another Friday LinkSwarm on Friday, to make your Friday seem more like Friday:

  • Why work when welfare pays better?
  • Europe’s Jews fear that their days are numbered.
  • Ted Cruz: traitor to his class. From the number of MSM attacks on Cruz, they obviously see him as the biggest threat to derail Hillary’s coronation in 2016.
  • And since there was a little mini-boomlet of “Ha, conservatives must hate that Cruz’s given name is Rafael!” stupidity from the leftosphere, here’s a video that reminds you that Ted Cruz’s father Rafeal is all kinds of awesome as well:

  • Surprise, surprise, surprise! Greece will need another bailout.
  • Hospital called LICH just can’t seem to die. (Hat tip: Dwight.)
  • Well, this is lovely: The Department of Homeland Security employees a black supremacist preparing for a race war against white people and gays.
  • Forced sterilization of “mental defectives” returns to the UK.
  • Dear Jeff Bezos: Maybe the Washington Post could make more money if they didn’t alienate half their potential audience by hyping anti-Republican witch hunts.
  • Fail to wear a veil when you leave the house? That’s a dismembering.
  • “Bradley Manning Is Not a Woman. Pronouns and delusions do not trump biology.”
  • Foreign aid is destructive.

    To improve the socio-economic development of Africa, the continent desperately needs private innovations, empowered by rule of law and an ambience of free enterprise, free of restrictive government regulations.Economic growth and development is indeed a vital ingredient towards achieving prosperity and a free society. However, it takes a spontaneous market driven approach without state interventionist barriers to achieve the noble aim, not foreign aid.

  • Remember folks: Partisan redistricting is perfectly constitutional. And Texas Democrats of it were masters of it for decades.
  • Sears posts $194 million loss. In other news, Sears is still in business.
  • Basketball statistician kills himself, and leaves behind meticulous suicide website explaining why he did it. One reason (among many others): “Economic collapse is inevitable (see U.S Financial to the left). The United States’ annual debt and cumulative deficit is way beyond the “out of control” label usually associated with it. It’s spiraling into oblivion and it will take society with it. Today the deficit is $16.9 trillion dollars with another $125 trillion of unfunded liabilities such as social security, medicare, prescription drug and federal pensions. It’s hopeless.”
  • What happens when rats have all their food needs met and are allowed to breed without restrictions? Social death followed by physical death. Though usually interpreted as an indictment of overpopulation, it could just as easily be about the the pitfalls of a purposeless life…
  • State Rep. (and Appropriations Committee chair) Jim Pitts will not seek reelection. Pitts, one of Speaker Joe Straus’ allies, recently was accused of seeking preferential treatment of his son at UT law school. Pitts was also one of the legislators pushing for…
  • The Impeachment of UT regent Wallace Hall for the crime of actually investigating wrong-doing, such as the law school slush fund.
  • European Debt Crisis Update for July 22, 0213

    Monday, July 22nd, 2013

    It’s shaping up to be another busy week, so here’s a quick update on the European Debt Crisis front:

  • EU Debt burden hits an all-time high.
  • Greece shuts down its bloated, money losing ERT public television/radio network. “Problems with Greek democracy are not the reason that ERT was shut down. ERT was an extravagant public company. Many, though not all, employees were hired under suspicious conditions, due to favoritism and nepotism, and receiveddisproportionately large wages (8000 Euros per month through the financial crisis and 13000 Euros per month before).”
  • Taki (who is Greek) offers some pungent assessments of his home country’s continual crisis.
  • In Europe, the law is seen is “an obstacle rather than a foundation.”
  • Spain steals from tomorrow’s retirees to pay for today’s retirees.
  • Portugal refrains from blowing up for a little while longer.
  • Germany’s finance minister tours his vassal state.
  • Don’t expect the EuroZone to explode before German elections on September 22. Plus calls for an “EMU Truth and Reconciliation Commission.”
  • First review of UK’s relationship with EU comes to the conclusion that everything is just hunky dory.