Επανάσταση !

I know it is terrible of me, but I tend to root for anarchy. Let’s face it. Anarchy is great to watch on TV. Specifically, other people’s anarchy is fun to watch on TV. The Ferguson riots were entertaining, in part, because I don’t live anywhere near Missouri. Similarly, seeing Greece once again descend into anarchy promises to deliver some good entertainment.

Within minutes of the Athens parliament failing to elect a president, Alexis Tsipras, the man most likely to become Greece’s next prime minister, said the country had experienced “a historic day”.

For the first time since the foundation of the modern Greek state nearly 200 years ago, radical leftists – marginalised, tortured and tormented for the best part of the 20th century – were on course to assume power. “Greeks,” he said, “should rejoice.” The government that had put the country through an assault course of austerity would soon be over.

The onerous terms of the deeply unpopular “memoranda”, agreed with foreign lenders to keep insolvent Greece afloat, would be overturned.

“The future has already begun,” he told reporters as the nation braced for early elections, a constitutional diktat when presidential polls fail. “You should be optimistic and happy.”

I love how the lunatics at the Guardian always carry on like their ideas have never been tried. You see the same stuff in US papers. Greece may not have allowed hair-on-fire crazies like Tsipras to run the government, but Greece has been a social-democracy since World War 2. That’s why they have been a basket case economically for fifty years. That and they are full of Greeks.

But the prospect of renewed political turmoil in the country where the eurozone crisis began will bring anything but a smile to the faces of decision makers in Brussels and Berlin. Greece, ineluctably, is being drawn into a new dance of uncertainty, a rollercoaster ride of high-pressure politics.

After six years of recession, the nation is only now beginning to show the first signs of recovery, posting a primary surplus – before interest payments on its mountain of debt – and returning to the capital markets that cut off funding at the start of the crisis.

But the country cannot survive alone. And market reaction to Monday’s news was instantly pessimistic, with the Athens Stock exchange plummeting by more than 10 percent.With bailout funds guaranteed to the end of February but far from assured after that, the spectre of Greece defaulting on its loans, and possibly crashing out of the eurozone, have been revived.

The reason Tsipras will be the next PM is the people have figured out that they can do just fine alone. If Greece leaves the Euro, the country will not sink into the ocean. They can default, print their own money and start over. They will have a year of turmoil, but then things will settle down and get back to normal. Greek bankers will be screwed, but they deserve it. Therefore, the threats from Germany about expulsion carry no force. The Greeks have nothing to fear from the Eurocrats.

On the other hand, the Euro lives on the belief that walking away from it is the end of the world. If Greece leaves the Euro and survives, the stronger nations like Spain, Italy and Portugal will get crazy ideas in their heads. If Greece thrives, then Europe is doomed, at least as currently constructed. The fact the Russia will be right there to help the Greeks should not be missed either.

Athens faces debt repayments of up to €20bn (£15.6bn) in 2015. On Monday the Greek finance minister, Gikas Hardouvelis, said local banks had enough funds to survive until March but unless further financial assistance was agreed they would enter into the uncharted waters of non-liquidity after that. This makes an effectively rudderless Athens in the run-up to elections on 25 January more daunting for the “troika” of creditors at the EU, ECB and IMF.

“What we are looking at is a Greece in crisis,” said Dimitris Keridis, professor of political science at Panteion University. “The first party will be Syriza but the elections may well be inconclusive. And then, once a government is formed, it will have a few weeks to elect a new president and negotiate with the troika.”

The radical leftists wasted no time, announcing that Tsipras would hold his first pre-election speech in central Athens on Monday night. The result of the presidential poll indicated the thirst, at least on a political level, for new beginnings. Opinion polls at the weekend confirmed Syriza’s popularity among a population exhausted by austerity.

An Alco poll published in Proto Thema on Sunday showed the neo-Marxists leading by 3.3%.

Many supporters are neither leftist, nor admirers of Syriza’s anti-capitalist rhetoric, but Greeks appalled by the catastrophic effects of policies that have left 1.5 million unemployed, 3 million facing poverty and the vast majority unable to pay their bills.

The party has pledged to fight such ills – referred to as Greece’s silent humanitarian crisis – by renegotiating the bailout accords that have propped up the economy to the tune of €240bn.

“Solution to Greece’s problems lies within the European context but the first thing we will say is that the programme has failed because it was badly planned and didn’t see the pitfalls that were coming,” said Euclid Tsakalotos, Syriza’s shadow finance minister. “Then we will address the priorities of austerity and debt.”

It will be interesting to watch this unfold. The Russians have already made friends with Tsipras and his people. They would love to use Greece to make trouble for Europe. Tsipras may be a lunatic, but he appears to be a clever lunatic. He will surely try to play the Germans and Russians against one another. That’s the oldest trick in the book. Tsakalotos is clearly signalling their intention to end the existing deal and arrangements first and talk about new agreements. That will make for some good times in 2015.


8 thoughts on “Επανάσταση !

  1. There is the old joke (or new, as it is about the Euro) of the fat German who turns up at a Greek hotel and leaves a 500 Euro note with the manager for safe-keeping while Herr Schmidt goes sightseeing. The manager scoots off to pay the butcher the 500 Euros he owes him, the butcher takes note this to the cobbler for all the shoe repairs, the cobbler takes it to the local whore for services rendered, the hooker in turn runs to the hotel to pay for the rooms she hired.

    When Herr Schmidt returns to the hotel he reclaims his 500 Euro note, and everyone in the village is happy: all debts have been settled.

    There, that’s economics for you.

  2. The Greeks just want to go back to working their old scam. They sell debt denominated in whatever the name is of their barely worth the paper it’s printed currency to suckers. Then they purposely devalue the currency to even lower levels, paying back the chumps in toilet paper with numbers written in crayon. In some parts of the world this is called fraud, but in pre-Euro Greece and Italy, this is what passed for monetary policy. To get their hands on real currency, they made sure that there were few barriers to entry to fat German auto workers, English slags, and various Scandinavian pencil pushers. The Greeks happily took their marks, pounds, and lutefisk (or whatever you call Scandinavian money), stuffed that in their mattresses, and used the pathetic Greek currency to wipe their arses as they laughed at the Northern European marks over ouzo.

    The real joke is that every banker and treasury official in Europe know this when they invited the Greek three-card monte dealers into the ECU. Much like the nice guy who marries the local tramp, believing that his virtue would transform her into an honest woman, they will be ruined: financially, socially, and morally.

  3. No country was more ill-fit to join a trans-national organization which should never have existed in the first place. Greeks love to not work. That is what they do. The largest employer is government, and no one in government works (not entirely a bad thing). People who like to work left the county, and didn’t come back. What Greeks like is to get paid for not working. The Germans made that possible, for a time.

    Yes, the Greeks can leave the EU, and the debt, and print their own money. They should. But of course everybody should know that they will do a Weimar to that currency, because they are Greek.

  4. I can dig a little schadenfreude like the next guy but I hear a faint whisper from the graveyards in Flanders Field and Bergen Belsen that Europe melting down can have serious repercussions. Hope not.

    • I think Mark Steyn has it right. In the past during times of crisis, Europeans looked for a man on a horse to lead them. Today, the men are too old and flabby to get on the horse.

  5. Dear Lord, preserve us from left-wing idiots.

    “The government that had put the country through an assault course of austerity would soon be over”

    Here’s the rub, Greece: the austerity you growl at is there because there is no money to pay for all the socialist excesses and spend-what-you-like philosophies your kind so enjoy. When you kill off the goose, the golden eggs stop appearing. Who knew?

    Oh sure, someone will come along and offer you money. That’s the thing about whores: someone will pay up for the (temporary) pleasure of your company.

    I live in another part of the EU. I’d rather not live in the EU at all, but the people who run my country think people such as me like being ruled by fat socialists in Brussels, aided by ex-communists in Berlin. Oh well, thank heavens Britain’s EU huge ‘membership fee’ precludes us having to find money to keep the Greeks solvent.

    Oh, wait…

  6. Greece has defaulted on its government debt many times within the last 150 years, and they will not hesitate to do so again.
    Aside from Russia, Iran and China will also look to make friends with Greece.
    Argentina still exists; they are running neck and neck with Greece as world champ defaulters

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