Chronik der Krise (Chronicle of Crisis)

(from a publikation of Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung)

Not to be denied

Yes, there were many things that were lazy in the state of Greece. Bribery in the form of bribes was commonplace. This is called “Fakelaki”, resulting from the word “Fakelo”, to German envelope. A calculation once found that a Greek family paid an average of 1,600 euros in bribes per year. Job against vote: At each change of government between PASOK and NEA DEMOCRATIA, new posts in the public service were given to party members and sympathizers. A bloated state apparatus was the result. Nepotism: One hand washes the other. Tricks in contracting, dropping, cliques and inefficient management. (“Koubaria” is called that. “Koubaros” is the godfather – in the family sense – which provides additional care for his protégés.) Illicit work: If big capital, politics and administration cheat to a considerable extent, no wonder, if the black economy is booming on a small scale. She actually has that in Greece.

And no, the country has never fulfilled the criteria for joining the Euro-Community in 2002. The national debt was far too high.

The story of “Nobody knew anything”

From the “No” of the EU-front 1998 to the inclusion of Greece in the Euro-Community until the de facto accession of the country four years later ran a gigantic cosmetics machinery at full speed. With “creative” accounting Greek debt has been hidden (including in the defense and health sectors) and the actual national debt redirected. The latter with a large-scale relief effort by Goldman Sachs using “off-market swaps”, a more than semi-permanent temporary debt refinancing. In two years only, therefore, a miracle occurred which is hardly inferior to that of a certain Jesus of Nazareth. Greece suddenly fulfilled the Maastricht criteria.

Anyone who comes along in the EU and elsewhere and claims to have known nothing about all of this must regard the world as a collection of high-grade idiots. Rather, the fact is that the inclusion of the Greeks “was a political decision”, as it says in confidential documents of the Federal Ministry of Finance of Germany.

There were good reasons for that: After the disintegration of Yugoslavia needed a calculable constant in the Balkan region. As early as 1999, when NATO was used against Serbia, with the participation of Germany, the port of Thessaloniki was virtually acquired as a base, for a few perks to Greece. Then in 2004, the Olympics in Athens, for which the country was, inter alia, imposed a large-scale IT program. Underpinned in practice by the fact that the German company SIEMENS paid lots of millions of bribes to Greek decision-makers. The same procedure was followed in the construction industry. Ultimately, the German and French arms producers exerted considerable pressure on the EU. Their flourishing arms businesses (Greece and Turkey rocked each other in their investments in this regard) would always prefer to settle these in a stable Euro.

Both eyes closed and through, was therefore the motto of the EU. De facto knowning the real circumstances. One would bring the country up to scratch in the common Euro-time.

The supposed golden years

Once in the euro, Greece actually saw an economic upturn for some time. It did not take long, however, until it was counteracted by the fact that one again and took up considerable debt. The result: when the global financial crisis erupted following the collapse of the Lehman Brothers, the country’s sovereign debt suddenly totaled 265 billion or just under 110 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP). Not a good starting point, which then took place across the EU with regard to the protection of the euro currency.

Bank rescue first!

“We should not have any illusions about what Greece’s rescue really is about. The term is completely wrong, it was never about the salvation of Greece, it was always about the rescue of certain European banks. To this day. ”

That said the SPD politician and former European Commissioner Günter Verheugen 2012, about half of the second loan program in progress. The first aid package, put together in April 2010, was de facto little more than an emergency aid for German and French banks, the main creditors of the Mediterranean country. On the detour via Greece, of course, because a direct aid as in 2008 after the global financial crisis would not get Berlin or Paris in their parliaments. The following memoranda (2011 to 2015/2015 to 2018) were mainly used to settle old debts.

The whole thing seems completely absurd when one realizes that, especially in the early years of the aid programs, the troika watched unbridled the transfer of Greek big business capital out of the country. Which one would have been able to freeze in order to bring it to an efficient and fair taxation. The non-wealthy pay the pit, you will have thought then. In the same way, it can not be explained that any intervention was left out of the game of the financial markets. In this way, it was possible to speculate successfully against the euro currency, focusing on the weakest link in the chain, namely Greece. Of course, this did not contribute to the international creditworthiness of the country. The fact is, however: it was only through this currency speculation that the Greek crisis became a euro crisis!

Negotiating with a left-wing government? Not even!

And there is one more monstrosity to mention, which concerns the takeover of the government by SYRIZA at the beginning of 2015. For the EU or the German supremacy in this was simply unacceptable. It could not be what was not allowed to be! Namely, that a left (sic!) Ruling party of the EU, the ECB and also the IMF suggested what to do. A large-scale concept worked out by new Greek Finance Minister Janis Varoufakis with other illustrious economists (not just Greeks) and presented in Brussels was simply ignored. Wolfgang Schäuble and Jeroen Dijsselbloem, to represent the two hardliners in the dispute, did not notice a single sentence. It was all about petty-chasing the new government and chasing it out of office. Just to make no example for Spain, Portugal, Italy or anyone else.

What exactly the SYRIZA government presented at the time is of no interest in Brussels. Even if it came as a reasonably viable plan for the stay of Greece in the euro, as well as for the sustainable recovery of public finances. This was followed by a dramatic six months of targeted escalation supported by the EU. And then, despite the overwhelming OXI of the Greek population, to take over the country through the troika. Ultimately, with a brutal and legally in no way supported stranglehold by the ECB: the country was simply turned off the flow of money and all payments. Prime Minister Tsipras capitulated, Varoufakis resigned.

A bitter realization of all these years: The obvious was not done. Immediately, the Greek government in solidarity to the curb take and state economic incentives and promotion according to the Keynesian model tackle. So that the store is running reasonably well again. And not, as later inevitable, everything is completely out of control. The prospect of success, as many experts confirm today, would have been great. And so speaks the left-wing politician Fabio De Masi of “devastating economic and social consequences.” Whatever else. The always false claim that one can bring an economy back on its feet in such a way that one sets a leaden fetter of austerity for a society, is criticized meanwhile (see IMF) even by former advocates.

The misery multiplied

Record to date: The troika drove the cart completely into the dirt. The government debt ratio, which was supposed to be pushed down by “adjustment”, rose in the period from 2009 to 2017 from 126.7 percent of gross domestic product to 178.6 percent. For 2018, 185 percent are forecast. The approximately 289 billion euros in loan payments, which Athens had received since 2010, flowed mainly in the debt service, of 95 percent of the “aid” is, as mentioned, the speech. The other editions of the austerity program seriously weakened the Greek economy. Domestic demand fell, investment collapsed, people were impoverished across the board. In the private and public sectors all substances were consumed. The Troika also privatized the country’s silverware in a special trust. First and foremost the benefit of German companies and fatal consequences for the Greek future.

Public spending on the healthcare sector fell from 16.2 billion euros in 2009 to 8.6 billion euros in 2016. The budget for state hospitals has been cut by 50 percent and the public health system is collapsing completely. In Greece, one-third of the population is at risk of severe poverty, the Greek statistics agency ELSTAT reported at the end of June 2018. 34.8% of people live in conditions of significant material deprivation, which goes hand in hand with social exclusion. One third of households can not afford sufficient heating, 40 percent can not pay their rent and other running costs. On the other hand, the case law on termination without notice or seizure of one’s own house was successively facilitated.

Prime Minister Tsipras has already approved a further pension cut as of 1 January 2019 by a whopping 18%. It will be the 23rd pension cut since 2010! With this new measure, Greece’s pensioners will lose an additional € 20bn on the basis of the “single retiree network” assessment, having already lost € 67bn from the first two memoranda. Currently live well over one million pensioners with monthly just 364 euros!

Unemployment in Greece is among the highest in Europe. In the annual average for 2017, the official quota is 21.5 percent (2010: 12.7 percent). Youth unemployment (under the age of 25) is the highest on the continent at 45.4 percent. The proportion of low-income earners in Greece has increased enormously. The minimum wage is lowered from 862 to 683 euros a month. More than a third of all private sector employees do not earn more than € 700 net per month. If the annual average salary for a single of the middle class without children in 2010 still at around 18,500 euros, it is finally only 14,900 euros. Furthermore, at the beginning of 2020, the basic personal income tax allowance will decrease from 8,600 euros to as much as 5,700 euros. This process can also be preferred to early 2019. Increases in VAT and consumption costs (electricity, water) are also on the rise again. In addition, the topic of water privatization is still not off the table.

Hundreds of thousands of young, qualified people leave the country. Those who remain are also confronted with a stricter trade union law that radically limits the right to strike. Banks are still suffering from billions of bad loans. The so-called non-performing loans (NPLs) (loans that have not been serviced for more than 90 days) account for 48.5 percent of all loans on average. In Germany it is just 2.5 percent. All this to the blessings of the austerity programs. How should all of this become a self-sustaining economic development?

The madness continues

“The core mistake is that the German government considers the economy as a zero-sum game: Whoever has debts, they should pay back. Unfortunately, it gets out of sight that you can only pay who has revenue. Without high growth, Greece can not pay its loans, but nobody cares how the Greek economy could be stimulated. Berlin behaves like a farmer who does not feed his cow but expects plenty of milk. In fact, Berlin behaves even worse – like a farmer who still beats his starving dairy cow. ”

So the economical journalist Ulrike Herrmann end of July 2018 in the journal taz. It concerns the dismissal of Greece from the third memorandum and the associated further conditions. In which once again Germany excites bad. So the next phase of insanity has begun. And thus a future of the Mediterranean, which can not be one. This requires fundamental changes, which in turn require a substantial debt relief. Jerome Roos, Fellow for International Political Economy at the London School of Economics, assesses the supposedly successful rescue of Greece as a political farce for which generations of workers and citizens will still have to pay in Greece. “The Greek crisis has not been resolved ‘It has been postponed until later,’ says economics professor Charles Wyplosz, a researcher at the Geneva Institute for International and Development Studies. The EU has shown a “spectacular cynicism in dealing with the crisis in Greece,” Wyplosz criticizes. She had pretended that the problem had been solved – according to the motto: “After me the deluge.” Greece would already “clearly before 2032 again in the crisis stuck. In some way it will explode, “he predicts.

Main thing Germany benefits

If one could posthumously designate Germany as a war profiteer by virtue of its equally perverse and tricky removal of all repair and debt settlements from the Second World War posthumously, the aid programs have also made “very big cream”. Nearly three billion, the FRG has raked from the aid programs for Greece in interest rates. By convention, all interest-rate profits should actually be returned to the Mediterranean. However, one still blocks and calls, so the Friday, on the further fulfillment of the conditions and new reforms. Even with benevolent handling by Olaf Scholz still two and a half billion net profits would remain in the bag – means: The three billion have long been transferred to the federal budget.

But that’s not all. Because of the European Central Bank’s (ECB) ultrafile money strategy triggered by the Greek crisis, former Treasury Secretary Schäuble has been saving billions of dollars every year by re-financing his public debt at low interest rates (through the same ECB !!!). Estimates range from 120 to 140 billion euros in four to five years. A small stroke of genius of abysmal calculation: what the southerners, especially Greece, has used in nothing, redeveloped to a considerable extent, the dominant middle states. It is thus rehabilitating a Germany that was once able to get back on its feet economically only by canceling the war debts by the Allies.