Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Grisis 6/30

Anil KashyapGreece has not paid its IMF loans, which (the reporting says) is technically being in arrears, not in default. Reuters link.

Reading the mainstream reporting, I am struck by the total focus on finance and overwhelming sympathy to the interests of the Greece's creditors, to the exclusion of the suffering of the Greek people. It's very odd when one considers how widely-hated the banksters are in the West. I had to go to the Trotskyist World Socialist web site to find any recent coverage of that, and that doesn't even show up in Google News. WSWS link. I tried looking on the far right, but the Greek fascist Golden Dawn web site (find 'em yourself) has nothing—I suppose the fascist superman is strong and silent in the face of adversity. Likewise Stormfront (neo-Nazi) and Free Republic (fascist.) The Free Republic more-or-less supports the ECB position of further Greek austerity, not that they'll ever admit it.

Tsirpas and Syriza are between a rock and a hard place. So far as the reporting I've seen shows, the Greek public both wants Greece to stay in the Euro and wants an end to austerity, and that isn't a deal that the masters of the Euro are willing to make. Tsirpas and Syriza have failed in persuading a majority of the Greek public that Greece can have one or the other, but not both. As in the USA, the connection between policy and personal lives is hard to communicate. So the vote is (reportedly) balanced on a knife edge.

Postscript: "A Primer on the Greek Crisis: the things you need to know from the start until now." (PDF) A historical analysis of the Greek financial problems from Anil Kashyap of the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business.

Postscript 2: "The Greek Crisis: Grandparents on the Table?" Laura Shannon. Coverage of the human cost. I believe some of the policy specifics are wrong.

The TPP: Making the Crazy Real

(An old note, from my files.)

A few weeks ago, I had a reminder from last March's New York Times that the Trans-Pacific Partnership allows companies and investors sue governments for loss of expected future profits. Does an environmental or safety regulation cost money? We're sued.

Congratulations, major parties. You've managed to make the Tea Party claims of loss of US sovereignity seem reasonable. Obama and most Senate Democrats are working hard to make them come true. And, no, I won't believe the laws you say will prevent this will do so, unless you show it to me in the text of the treaty…which you won't do.

What a gift to the crazies. What a loss for the Democrats.

NYT Article: "Trans-Pacific Partnership Seen as Door for Foreign Suits Against U.S" by Jonathan Weisman, March 25, 2015.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Grisis: 6/29

Don’t be taken in by claims that troika officials are just technocrats explaining to the ignorant Greeks what must be done. These supposed technocrats are in fact fantasists who have disregarded everything we know about macroeconomics, and have been wrong every step of the way. This isn’t about analysis, it’s about power — the power of the creditors to pull the plug on the Greek economy, which persists as long as euro exit is considered unthinkable.—NYT link, paywalled, Economists View link, open w. discussion.
Greek PM Alexis Tsipras interview at 10pm EEST (noon PDT)
EU has issued an ultimatum: accept our terms or you’re out of the Euro (The Guardian.)

The terms are very bad. Joseph Stiglitz:
We should be clear: almost none of the huge amount of money loaned to Greece has actually gone there. It has gone to pay out private-sector creditors – including German and French banks. Greece has gotten but a pittance, but it has paid a high price to preserve these countries’ banking systems. The IMF and the other “official” creditors do not need the money that is being demanded. Under a business-as-usual scenario, the money received would most likely just be lent out again to Greece. Guardian link.
In the old days, following Stiglitz and Krugman’s advice would lead to an invasion of Greece. Now, who knows?

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Breaking News: Pray for Hellas

“I never discuss economic policy with Germans, because for them it’s not about economics, it’s religion.”—anonymous senior Eurozone official, quoted in the Guardian

My previous articles on the Greek fiscal disaster:
So it has come to the breaking point, and in less than 45 minutes, the hour at which Greek banks open will pass, and the banks will not open. Numerous possibilities follow on this, most of them bad. Here's a few links before the storm:
  • The Guardian: Greece crisis deepens as banks close for a week after weekend that shook euro. An overview. Also contains the most clueless remark of the week so far: German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, was “perplexed and depressed” by developments.
  • How Eurocrats, Greeks, Germans, and Eastern Europeans View the Greek Crisis. Possibly the best English-language commentary on the mass politics that have lead to this pass.
  • Paul Krugman: Grisis. "The troika clearly did a reverse Corleone — they made Tsipras an offer he can’t accept, and presumably did this knowingly. So the ultimatum was, in effect, a move to replace the Greek government. And even if you don’t like Syriza, that has to be disturbing for anyone who believes in European [democratic] ideals."
  • Where is My European Union? Commentary by Greek Alex Andreou, on democracy in the European Union and the disaster austerity has made of Greek life.
  • (Added 6/29) "Tsipras had only two red lines it would and it could not cross […] What the past week made clear is that this, and only this was the objective of the creditors.—Francesco Saracen, It's the Politics, Stupid.
Now less than ½ hour.

We are fighting wars in these cradles of Western civilization: Palestine, Iraq, Iran, Greece. How can this be? Why?

I am left wondering whether a unified currency is appropriate for a multi-national, multi-cultural federation.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

In Which We Suspect That Police in the Carolinas Approve of Mass Murder

We now have the confirmed report that "Cops Bought Charleston Suspect Burger King After Arresting Him." I am left wondering if, had North Carolina florist Debbie Dills not pursued Roof, and made sure he was apprehended, the police would have let him escape.

I now add my blog's alternate tag line for this year, because "Well, that was unpleasant" isn't strong enough for some situations: "F—, F—, F'ity F—."