Monday, March 7, 2016

Thoughts on Greece

So allow me to summarize.  Greece never really had the ability nor intention to live within its means.  The country has always been subsidized in one way or another.  There were some geopolitical considerations that had an interest in ensuring that Greece was not a failed state.  This was pretty clear from the outset when Greek joined the Eurozone.  It would need a material transfer of wealth from the rest of Europe, be it in the form of artificially low interest rates, capital transfer, whichever that allows Greek people to punch above their weight in terms of their capacity to produce versus the way the country consumed.  For awhile this worked.  Greece was granted European status and all the markets regarded Greece as more safe than it actually was.  In 2010, after the financial crises, it became clear that Greece as a whole owed too much and would not be able to pay back.  So at this point the Europeans came up with a solution: let Greece nationalize their private debt, give the Greek nation a bigass loan so that the previous debt can be repaid.  So now the problem becomes how is Greece going to pay this new debt.  Well, they tried, and they tried very hard.  They cut services down to a minimum.  They paid everyone they can as little as they can and tried to collect taxes even on the previous uncollectibles.  This wasn't enough, however, and it will never be enough for several reasons.  So now we have a situation where Greece keeps gutting its citizens welfare, paying what it can, while they work out deal after deal.  Looks suspiciously like they're going to try to squeeze everything out of Greece while they can.  One day there will be a reckoning, and they will discover non-compliance is probably the best course of action.

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