16 responses

  1. Mike Norman
    February 13, 2014

    The voters’ rationality and competence? Really? I challenge you to find a single European who wants to drop the Euro. You can even ask them in Greece. They’re as incompetent as their leaders and that’s why they get the leaders they get.

    • Bob
      February 14, 2014

      All too true, but I can’t blame the public as they don’t hear anything but the company line from the mainstream media. It’s the same thing in Canada, where a do-nothing federal budget is being praised for putting us on a prudential road to balance. Madness with the economy stagnating, but the talking heads don’t know there is a better explanation out there, unfortunately, so they go with sound finance because it sounds like common sense.

      What’s it going to take to persuade people that a currency-issuing government is different from a business or household?

      • Daniel D
        February 14, 2014

        I agree with you totally.

        Just a thought .. ?

        During the last century’s World Wars, in many nations real resources were rationed, money was not.

        Money is not a real resource, it is infinitely available at the discretion of the monopoly issuer.
        This, is an unassailable fact. Why not broadcast this reality ?

        The ONLY source for money is the monopoly issuer, counterfeiting is illegal?

        The government by choosing to ration a man made item, (money) which can be produced in infinite amounts, is a crime.

      • Bob
        February 15, 2014

        Exactly, in times of war, money is no object. We don’t wait years to accumulate a stock of money before we can buy our weapons. The government just makes it happen. Why does this same urgency not apply to the myriad wants and ills plaguing society today? We should be striving to ensure chock-full employment and eradicating poverty but don’t because the public gets hoodwinked into believing the cupboard is always bare. It’s frustrating to see us perpetually operating below potential when we could do so much better. But that’s socialism and we can’t have that.

    • Eleni Tsigante
      February 15, 2014

      Greeks (and I suspect most periphery countries) ‘not wanting to leave the euro’ is NOT a vote for the euro. The Greek majority want to avoid at all cost disorderly grexit / economic isolation PLUS perpetual debt. So, the idea is to STAY in the EZ until whatever (orderly) denouement – to reap whatever benefits might accrue from that.

      There was still enough of a cushion (savings, employment etc.) in Greece in 2009 / 2010 to have survived
      grexit. In fact this option was actually off the table & not allowed to happen – despite the propaganda – because Greek ‘loans’ were needed to pass through BoG and back into german & french banks. Not only the loans, but greek savings, taxes etc (for the interest payments).

      The cushion is long gone & GR is too far down the road of austerity to survive a grexit now….this is the thinking among the public. The bets are on EU destabilisation, meltdown.

    • Giorgio
      February 15, 2014

      Here I am. And surely I’m not alone.

    • Charles Fasola
      February 15, 2014

      Well said regarding the European citizenry. I suppose you could describe the citizens of the U.S. in a similar manner. Their incompetence, lack of understanding of even basic economics and politics certainly exceeds that of the average citizens of the Euro Nations? Take a look at what passes for leaders or statesmen in this miserable nation. Do they make you confident they have a grasp or understanding of critical issues? Do you feel secure that they possess the ability to think critically and develop solutions to the potentially catastrophic problems we are faced with at home an globally? I doubt an affirmative answer is possible?

    • Joe Firestone
      February 16, 2014

      Mike, aren’t there many Italians who want to get out? At least enough of them to give Warren pretty good audiences when he goes over and runs through scenarios assuming that they withdraw.

    • OWH
      February 20, 2014

      I like your economics and usually agree on most matters, but in this comment i have problems with your reasoning, because:

      1. The incompetence of the leaders is disputed. Is this a matter of incompetence, or “evil”?

      2. The share of the vote that is informed is usually not that large. The public cannot be expected to understand fully what they’re voting for or what their options are. Not even political analysts get it right, so how could your average Joe?

      3. There are no consumer protection laws when it comes to representative democracy, thus the the product that’s bought inherently carries the risk of being unsafe for consumption (politicians seldom keep promises and sometimes complete a 180 during their term (ex. F. Hollande, current mandate)). Perverse results of consumption are common, competence or no competence. Because of this –

      4. No one “deserves” the leaders they get. Go tell that to someone from the UK, when discussing M. Thatcher and her legacy ;).

      5. I’m a European and as i explain in another comment – I am prepared to drop the Euro and at the very least reform it. There are quite a few of us too, if you just ask the right questions.

  2. Eleni Tsigante
    February 13, 2014

    Writing from Athens, here is the unemployment rate published today (13 Feb 2014), reported by keeptalkinggreece.gr:

    Posted: 13 Feb 2014 03:45 AM PST
    Unemployment in Greece broke all previous records! General unemployment climbed up to 28% in November 2013, while unemployment has hit the youth with 61.4%. A total of 1,382,062 people are without work and income, according to Greek Statistics Authority.

    November 2013 : 28%

    November 2012: 26.3%

    October 2013: 27.7%

    Unemployment according to age criteria:

    15-24 years old : 61.4%

    25-34 years old: 38.4%

    35-44 years old: 24.6%

    45-54 years old: 21%

    55-64 years old: 16.5%

    65-74 years old: 10%

    Unemployment is highest in
    Macedonia-Thrace 29.7% followed by Attica with 28.9% and Epirus-West Mecedonia with 28.8%, Crete with 27.5%.

    Registered as “unemployed” at the Labor Agency (OAED) are 1,069,341people.

    Only 170,015 jobless receive ‘unemployment allowance’. The allowance of 360 euro is been paid for 12 months independently from the number of working years.

    The statistics refer only to employees and not self-employed.

    Full statistic report here in pdf. http://www.statistics.gr/portal/page/portal/ESYE/BUCKET/A0101/PressReleases/A0101_SJO02_DT_MM_11_2013_01_F_GR.pdf (in greek, full report government press release – use Google Translate)

    PS and they happily lived ever after in Greece of success story and primary surplus.
    I add : I have not been able to find statistics in the self-employed / professional sector.
    However even in my chic upper middle class neighbourhood in central Athens, 50-60% of the shops & small business have closed down. Whole sectors such as construction are more or less nonfunctional, and most people formerly employed in this sector – from engineers & architects to construction workers – have had no work since 2009 / 2010.
    (I am an architect.)
    Meanwhile those self-employed that still have work – taxi drivers for example – have cut their fares, yet still do not make enough money to pay their social security contribution (pension & medical) of 500€ per month. They are doing well if they clear 500€ profit before taxes and after paying petrol, insurance, road tax etc. Thus most unemployed are currently without medical insurance & behind in their pension contributions.

  3. Eleni Tsigante
    February 13, 2014

    Correction: I meant most SELF EMPLOYED are currently without medical insurance & behind in their pension contributions. (last sentence of my previous comment)

  4. Eleni Tsigante
    February 13, 2014

    More from Athens and keeptalkinggreece.gr:

    Tax tsunami, wages reductions and welfare cuts create Greek Primary Surplus

    Posted: 12 Feb 2014 01:42 AM PST
    I don’t know how international media reacted to Greece’s impressive claim that the general government primary surplus for 2014 will be 3.918 billion euro. I don’t even bothered to dig deeper into Greek Finance Ministry claims and verify whether they were true or not. Greek media did it. And what I read today is a bunch of ironic comments.


    “The first question is how did the notorious primary surplus occur. Did it result from the development and the generation of wealth? Did it emerge from a fair distribution of taxes and the more rational use of public resources? Obviously not. It derived from the use of a socially barbaric recipe of overtaxing the weakest and the middle class – an over-taxation that moreover is also against development. It resulted from the drastic reduction of public goods like education , health , welfare, pensions etc. , i.e. public goods that a modern state needs to provide to its citizens.” (full comment in Greek)

    I believe that these few sentences summarize in full how the government managed to impress us #Not. Because the majority of the citizens of this country still struggle with their “primary deficit”, i.e. the constant economic bleeding to cover the holes created by exactly this primary surplus in real life. That is in education, in health, in welfare…

    There is another question, of course: if this gorgeous primary surplus is and can be sustainable. But what is “sustainability”? Sustainable is only the universe and a place in paradise or hell. But this is also questionable…

    Look! I saw a primary surplus walking down there!

    BTW: General Secretary of Public Revenues announced today that the outstanding debt of the finance ministry to companies in the form of Value Added Tax returns: 806 million euro. Average waiting time for companies to receive the money is 417 days, i.e. more than one year.

    In January, the Finance Ministry announced the primary surplus for 2013 to be 691 million euro.

    Do not be mean and dare talk about “AHA-coincidence” and things like that. The primary surplus is not real money anyway. It’s on paper. Like the calculations of the Troika. It’s all on the paper and as such it should be handled.

    PS Nevertheless, at this point, we can proudly announce that we finally understood what is means “the sacrifices of the Greek people have been recognized” :)

  5. BillC
    February 14, 2014

    1:34 PM in Italy and we are sans Prime Minister since a half-hour ago. Matteo Renzi, the presumptive successor, looks very much to me like Barak Obama … telegenic, energetic, and gives great speeches that allow just about anyone to think he favors the policies they prefer. I hope I am wrong, but I fear those who talk “growth” rather than monetary policy (Obama? Check. Renzi? Check.) knows who they really serve … and it ain’t the 99%

  6. Trond Andresen
    February 15, 2014

    Any hard-hit eurozone crisis country could effectively and fast ameliorate its crisis by – while not leaving the euro – issuing a parallel emergency currency, preferably in electronic form, no bills and coins. It would enjoy confidence since the government would accept it as a share of tax payments. A government could spend – say – 30% in electronic currencies on top if its euro spending, and demand the same share back as taxes. Wages and prices could be adjusted to the same payment shares. One would get two stably functioning parallel monetary circuits.

    See article (English) on page 14 in this collection:

    • Eleni Tsigante
      February 16, 2014

      You are right.

      But this assumes that the current crop of politicians in the periphery countries care about their people & their countries. Unfortunately most of them are Merkel puppets.

  7. OWH
    February 20, 2014

    <- Here's a European who is skeptical of the Eurozone in it's current form.

    To clarify –
    I am an internationalist and a supporter of the EU project in principle, but skeptical of the practical results under the current framework. I think most Europeans think this way, if asked the right questions.
    It's not that anyone is stupid or intelligent, it's just that the average person in a post-industrial society is incredibly uninformed when it comes to questions like this. People tend to focus on what's right in front of them – their everyday life – rather than on important big questions.

    The alternatives i would like in order:

    1. Federal union with ECB and the Brussels taking over fiscal responsibility. Moving forward as a union.
    2. Quasi-federation with fiscal responsibility included in the ECBs mandate. Financed by the ECB, organized by the member states.
    3. Dumping of the Euro and adopting national currencies again.

    Thus – I am a European who wishes to get rid of the Euro, unless the Euro elite gets some sense (which at this point seems a farfetched proposal).

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