So the latest “final” bailout is agreed upon, the Greek parliament passes the austerity measured decreed by their German overlords like good little members of the Eurocratic elite, and for their troubles Greek citizens (whose input on the issue is neither required nor desired) responded to these events with widespread arson and looting.
Here are some protesters expressing their displeasure with austerity measures via the now-traditional medium of Molotov cocktails:
Who are we supposed to root for, the Eurocrats who turned a blind eye to Greece’s spendthrift ways when they let them join the Euro, the Greek bureaucrats who went on an orgy of unsustainable welfare state spending with Germany’s credit card, or the Greek citizens who happily sucked at the welfare state teat as long as Uncle Helmut was paying for it and are now throwing a hissy fit because mean Aunt Angela wants to ween them away? It’s like trying to decide between the pusher who stops giving away free heroin after ten years, or the junkie suddenly denied their fix: There are no heroes or sympathetic actors. Keep giving me my heroin or the Acropolis burns!
Other burning Euro issues:
As long as Germany wasn’t complaining, others could make free with Germany’s credit card. Once in the euro, Greece, Italy, Spain, and other countries that bankers used to consider reckless or unstable could borrow at the same rates. (The treaties that bound all these dissimilar countries together stipulated that there would be no bailouts for those who borrowed too much, but bankers obviously didn’t believe that.) A boom in lending pushed up wages and prices in those “peripheral” countries, rendering them uncompetitive. After the financial crisis of 2008, the countries that had overborrowed were saddled with more debt than they could comfortably repay. The eurozone’s Mediterranean members have come to think that Germany ought to rescue them. But the Germany to which they are addressing their petitions is not the penitent, diffident, and easily browbeaten land that they came to know over the last three generations. Germany has its own ideas about economics and morality, and it is ready to insist that its weaker neighbors adhere to them.
The German public was dragged into the euro reluctantly and would never have consented to it had they been consulted. “The euro has always been the ‘Golden Calf,’ so to speak,” says Barclays’s economist Thorsten Polleit. “It was forced upon Germans.” There is still a lot of debate about how it was forced upon Germans. The most common explanation is that French president François Mitterrand insisted on the euro as a condition of Germany’s reunification. A number of Germany’s top politicians and economists assured citizens that the new currency would hold prices stable. That turned out to be right. They also promised that this would not mean sharing wealth and bailing out laggards. That turned out to be wrong—and perhaps catastrophically, apocalyptically wrong. In the late nineties, “many chief economists did a lot of client presentations where they told people the euro would be as stable as the German mark,” says Jörg Krämer, chief economist at Commerzbank. “I am quite happy I was young enough not to have had to do this.”
Read the whole thing.