A Fantastic Article on Greece

At Business Insider (an app I read every day) I found this great and interesting take on the events in Greece.

Basically the article says that

1. The Greeks don’t pay taxes (tax evasion is chronically high)
2. The Greeks don’t keep their money within Greece (they move it to havens both to protect it from taxation and to earn higher returns)
3. The Greeks don’t invest in their own governmental debt (it is Euro-zone and international entities)

The article compares Greece with Japan – while Japan has much higher levels of debt, the Japanese debt is funded by Japanese individuals, companies and government entities and they have only 5% of their debt in the hands of outsiders.

I never thought about the issues in this manner but it makes sense; the Greek people “know” that it will turn out badly if they trust their poorly run and corrupt government and make their own individual decisions about how to hold their money. Why would other countries and investors “invest” in a government that their own people have no faith in (when it comes to “putting your money where your mouth is”, so to speak).

11 thoughts on “A Fantastic Article on Greece”

  1. “Japanese institutions and individuals have always bought Japanese government debt and own almost all of it. Only a sliver of about 5% is owned by foreigners.”

    World War II was financed by debt but it was held by US citizens who bought War Bonds.

  2. A smart government might consider mobile bond sales kiosks to go up right next to any protest against the Troika.

    We all have to face it. Independence is something you buy. Lives, fortunes, and sacred honor are the currency. If the sons and daughters of Greece will not commit their fortunes, they will not have independence.

  3. I’m still muling over whether I want to go there this summer. Greece seems to be turning to Russia which makes sense for a Marxist government.

    Russia has no interest in Greece fulfilling its obligations. It is conducting a cold war with the EU.

  4. But, I keep hearing that in Socialist Utopia everyone looks out for everyone else. It’s a morally superior system. Are you saying that’s not correct?

    …the Greek people “know” that it will turn out badly if they trust their poorly run and corrupt government and make their own individual decisions about how to hold their money.

    THEODORE DALRYMPLE: The Uses of Corruption

  5. No matter how bad Greece gets, it would have been worse without Socialism.

    Obama, Europe, Greece, and all truly educated people know that.

    All of our own efforts at stimulus, regulation, and correcting the injustices of the past and present, have not been enough to offset the miserable collapse of the Capitalist system. It would all be worse without our collective efforts and taxes.

    (OK, I don’t believe that, but it is the official line, and I am a mere peasant.)

  6. I loved living in Greece, on the economy in 1982 and 83 when I was assigned to Hellenikon AB. I thought that I was so lucky – even with the terrorism problem posed by the N-13 group, and wandering PLO elements, and the vicious anti-Americanism of the Papandreou government. I could see Aegina from the balcony of my apartment in Ano Glyphada, I could shop in the weekly street market around the corner, and visit the Akropolis, and explore all kinds of classical-era sites to my hearts’ content on my days off work. I used to feel faintly sorry for those American and European tourists that I met now and again – they usually only had a week or so to visit that amazing country, and I was privileged to live in it for a whole two and a half years!

    That said … there were a lot of aspects of it that were dysfunctional in the extreme, even thirty years ago. I can only imagine it has gotten even worse since then. It was nearly impossible to get a telephone in your house, for example. My landlord lived on the bottom floor of the three-story block that I lived in. His sister-in-law and their family lived on the top floor. Many is the time that I saw the single telephone unit go past my kitchen window in a plastic bag on the end of a length of rope, from the ground-floor flat to the top floor, so that SIL’s family could plug it in to the telephone jack when they wanted to make a call.

  7. I subscribe to Stratfor’s free newsletter because I enjoy George Friedman’s contrarian view of international events. I don’t always agree with him, but he does give me food for thought.

    Here is a sample of his recent writing about Greece and the EU:

    The financial crisis of 2008, which began as a mortgage default issue in the United States, created a sovereign debt crisis in Europe. … There had to be some sort of state intervention, but there was a fundamental disagreement about what problem had to be solved. Broadly speaking, there were two narratives.

    The German version, and the one that became the conventional view in Europe, is that the sovereign debt crisis is the result of irresponsible social policies in Greece, the country with the greatest debt problem. These troublesome policies included early retirement for government workers, excessive unemployment benefits and so on. Politicians had bought votes by squandering resources on social programs the country couldn’t afford, did not rigorously collect taxes and failed to promote hard work and industriousness. Therefore, the crisis that was threatening the banking system was rooted in the irresponsibility of the debtors.

    Another version, hardly heard in the early days but far more credible today, is that the crisis is the result of Germany’s irresponsibility. Germany, the fourth-largest economy in the world, exports the equivalent of about 50 percent of its gross domestic product because German consumers cannot support its oversized industrial output. The result is that Germany survives on an export surge. For Germany, the European Union — with its free-trade zone, the euro and regulations in Brussels — is a means for maintaining exports. The loans German banks made to countries such as Greece after 2009 were designed to maintain demand for its exports. The Germans knew the debts could not be repaid, but they wanted to kick the can down the road and avoid dealing with the fact that their export addiction could not be maintained.

    * * *

    Greece has been seen as the outlier, but it is in fact the leading edge of the European crisis. It was the first to face default, the first to impose austerity, the first to experience the brutal weight that resulted and now it is the first to elect a government that pledges to end austerity. Left or right, these parties are threatening Europe’s traditional parties, which the middle and lower class see as being complicit with Germany in creating the austerity regime.

    The issue then is not the euro. …

    For Germany, which depends on free access to Europe’s markets to help prop up its export-dependent economy, the loss of the euro would be the loss of a tool for managing trade within and outside the eurozone. But the rise of protectionism in Europe would be a calamity. The German economy would stagger without those exports.

    * * *

    … A free-trade zone in which the giant pivot is not a net importer can’t work. And that is exactly the situation in Europe. Its pivot is Germany, but rather than serving as the engine of growth by being an importer, it became the world’s fourth-largest national economy by exporting half its GDP. That can’t possibly be sustainable.

  8. >>I loved living in Greece, on the economy in 1982 and 83 when I was assigned to Hellenikon AB. I thought that I was so lucky…

    About ten years ago I read an ex-pat column in a Brit paper from a guy who had moved to Greece. He’d vacationed there for years, loved it, loved the weather, the history, the scenery, just everything.

    Until he lived there. He went on to say how different things were once you had to live in and survive in Greece. Street crime was out of control, anything not nailed down was stolen, jobs were rare and good paying jobs almost non-existent. Wages were low but rents were high so families lived together sharing a house. It was not unusual for a 30 year-old couple to be living with one of their parents. Even then he wrote that most working people had two jobs, one on the books, from which they supposedly earned their income and paid taxes, and their real job, which was cash only and not reported.

    What’s odd to me is that like leftists everywhere they assume someone else is going to pay for all the stuff they keep voting for themselves. They all believe it’s owed to them because that’s what the Marxists keep telling them. That Marxism is an economic and social catastrophe everywhere and every time it’s tried does not seem to enter into the collective consciousness.

    The USA is starting to resemble Greece in some ways, minus the beautiful architecture and weather.

  9. I just remembered that the wife of the Greek prime minister Papandreau prime minister was from Elmhurst, IL. I met her in the public library there once a long time ago when I was a kid. I think I said something about him being a leftist or something like that. I had a smart mouth.

    Funny she probably is worth hundreds of millions of dollars or her heirs are they say there was a lot of $ in an offshore account or at least that’s what they said at Zero Hedge.

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