The crisis in Europe - in Spain and Greece, the rich get a LOT richer
Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz characterizes the Spanish bank bailout as “voodoo economics” that is certain “to “fail.” New York Times economic analyst Andrew Ross Sorkin agrees: “By now it should be apparent that the bailout has failed—or at least on its way to failing.” And columnist and Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman bemoans that Europe (and the U.S.) “are repeating ancient mistakes” and asks, “why does no one learn from them?”[...]If you work at a regular job, you are in deep trouble. Spanish unemployment is at 25 percent—much higher in the country’s southern regions—and 50 percent among young people. In one way or other, those figures—albeit not quite as high—are replicated across the Euro Zone, particularly in those countries that have sipped from Circe’s bailout cup: Ireland, Portugal, and Greece.But if you are Josef Ackermann heading up the Deutsche Bank, you earned an 8 million Euro bonus in 2012, because you successfully manipulated the past four years of economic meltdown to make the bank bigger and more powerful than it was before the 2008 crash. In 2009, when people were losing their jobs, their homes, and their pensions, Deutsche Bank’s profits soared 67 percent, eventually raking in almost 8 billion Euros for 2011. The bank took a hit in 2012, but the Spanish bailout will help recoup Deutsche Bank’s losses from its gambling spree in Spanish real estate.[...]All over the world, capital is on the march, with the goal of rolling back the social programs of the post-World War II period and returning to the Gilded Age when the rich did pretty much as they pleased.Weakening unions is central to this, as is privatizing everything capital can get its hands on, and the economic crisis is the perfect cover to try an accomplish this.[...]So, the answer to Krugman’s question, “why are they repeating ancient mistakes?”Because they are making out like bandits.
Greece faces the unenviable choice between accepting the terms of “the Troika” [the European Union, European Central Bank, and International Monetary Fund] and facing the continuation and deepening of a socio-economic crises, which includes five years of negative growth, over 23% unemployment, an astronomical rise in poverty (from less than 15% to over 40%) and mounting suicides, or a rejection of the “memorandum”, and a likely cut-off of Eurozone funding and capital markets with virtually few reserves toc over salaries, pensions or public services.[...]Greece, during its 30 year membership in the European Union actually saw its meager and backward manufacturing and agricultural base shrink, in the face of cheap and better imports from developed capitalist countries like Germany, France, Holland and elsewhere. Unlike Argentina, Greece received billions of dollars in “transfers,” compensation funds to upgrade its economy and competitiveness and prepare it for full integration (lowering of tariff barriers). However, the “transfers” were not channeled into productive activity either by the two ruling parties or by the ‘capitalists’ and ‘farmers.’ The ruling parties used the transfers to build extensive electoral patronage machines; they squandered funds for overpriced state contracts to provide builders engaged in non-productive building projects (including the multi-billion dollar swindle around the Olympic Games). Tens of thousands of unemployed graduates and party loyalists bloated the national, regional and local bureaucracy, increasing consumption, blocking any meaningful productive activity.Capitalists designed “productive projects and then transferred EU loans and handouts to local and overseas real estate investments and luxury purchases. The Greek elite transferred loans to London, Swiss and Cypriot bank accounts – while the government signed off as ultimate guarantor.[...]Most important, the economic elite – bankers, ship owners, construction-real estate – politicians, speculators skimmed off billions from the EEC transfers in the form of illicit loans to cronies and in the form of fees, management charges for credit dealings and pension funding.The European bankers, government officials and exporters were acutely aware that the “transfers” were being pillaged – but they went along, for obvious reasons of economic and political gain: lucrative interest payments flowed into their coffers; exporters took over Greek consumer markets; bankers and investment houses found willing pension fund managers ‘open’ to dubious investments. Even tourists enjoyed the sun and imports which reminded them of home: wiener schnitzel, English ale, Dutch feta. Moreover, Greece spent 15% of its budget on the military, serving NATO goals and bases.[...]Any road map out of the Greek crises will be difficult, complex, and arduous – given the “scorched earth” economy which a left government (LG) will inherit. The first and most basic concern of a LG is to end the policies and especially the agreements with the “Troika” that demand further mass firings of public employees, the reduction in social services, the cuts in minimum wages and pensions. A new LG needs to impose a series of emergency measures to avoid economic bankruptcy.It is absolutely clear that European bankers and regimes want to punish Greece for transgressions of their “austerity pact.” If Greece should succeed in renouncing the austerity pact, the Euro bankers fear that other countries – Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus and Ireland might follow suit.Greece should suspend debt payments, impose tight capital controls and freeze bank deposits to avoid capital flight, in the face of the Troika cut-off of funding. The LG should convoke a series of emergency commissions to (1) secure alternative sources of emergency financing from several reserve funds with Euro holdings. They must seek loans from Russia, Iran, Venezuela, China and other states not beholden to the Troika and (2) make an inventory of available and potential productive enterprises – bankrupt or troubled firms, indebted enterprises – and convert them into state sponsored worker-employee operated co-operatives (3) investigate public debt to determine what can be classified as ‘legitimate’(loans channeled into productive employment) or illegitimate (loans that enriched speculators, corrupt contractors, political leaders) (4) investigate and attach overseas holdings of wealthy Greeks who were engaged in multi-year multi-million tax evasion and who accumulated illicit income via unpaid loans and money laundering. Greek auditors should proceed to demand that Eurozone creditors should collect debt payments from the bank accounts of wealth Greeks who laundered and deposited in London, Zurich, Frankfurt, New York and elsewhere.The principle of the LG should be “those who borrowed the loans and profited, should pay them.”
The LG should repudiate illegal debts (the vast majority) and renegotiate and roll-over the rest over an extended time frame, pending an economic recovery.What should be recognized is that past Greek governments (despite being formally elected) engaged in illegitimate activity which prejudiced the sovereignty, productive capacity, and livelihood of an entire people.What is not acceptable is to force an entire people to sacrifice their lives because a minority of Greeks borrowed and didn’t invest or pay their debts to overseas creditors. Currently the kleptocratic millionaires are given “cover,” and their illicit multi-billion Euro bank accounts and real-estate holdings are protected by the banks demanding payments from the Greek government. Their current demands are based on a savage demolition of living standards for a whole people.
it will be very, VERY interesting to see the outcome of the greek election tomorrow...
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