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Monday, July 06, 2015

Deadbeat Germany

Update: Due to German copyright restrictions, the translation of the Picketty interview has been removed since the original publication of this post. If you hit the link below, you will find a page of apology, along with a link to the German original (which you can run through Google translate). Fortunately, I've quoted some of the more thought-provoking passages below. 

Economist Thomas Piketty has offered a very thought-provoking reaction to the Greek referendum:
Look at the history of national debt: Great Britain, Germany, and France were all once in the situation of today’s Greece, and in fact had been far more indebted. The first lesson that we can take from the history of government debt is that we are not facing a brand new problem. There have been many ways to repay debts, and not just one, which is what Berlin and Paris would have the Greeks believe.
My book recounts the history of income and wealth, including that of nations. What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt.
Actually, France stunned the world by paying reparations more rapidly than anyone thought possible. But it was still a bitter blow, since Germany was (in my view) the aggressor in that war.
When I hear the Germans say that they maintain a very moral stance about debt and strongly believe that debts must be repaid, then I think: what a huge joke! Germany is the country that has never repaid its debts. It has no standing to lecture other nations.
Picketty also scores those who speak of Germany's alleged generosity, since the rules insure that German bankers profit from its loans to Greece. The Piketty prescription:
We need a conference on all of Europe’s debts, just like after World War II. A restructuring of all debt, not just in Greece but in several European countries, is inevitable.
The current system is unsustainable. One would like a new system to be the result of a large, civilized conference -- but history tells us that a violent upheaval usually precedes systemic change.

Hey, here's a thought. The price of art is an exercise in absurdity, right? So to pay back its $350 billion debt, Greece should sell the Parthenon to Germany for $350 billion. Just declare the land beneath the structure to be German soil. Make the Germans understand that they are now responsible for upkeep and renovation. Present the deal to the Germans as a "Take this (at this price) or take nothing" proposition.

Problem solved. 
Comments:
"Make the Germans understand that they are now responsible for upkeep and renovation."

Renovation?
 
Well, I may not have mentioned this on the blog before...or did I?...but I think that the thing should be completely rebuilt to look like the original. Complete with the big-ass statue of Athena inside. And then the Arrephoroi can make their home there to do their traditional rites.

I have lots of other ideas as to how we can improve the world, if you're interested...
 
In Greece what is happening [and has been happening over 5 long years] is a human disaster of mega proportions. The banks and financiers have insisted on crushing Greece as an example after being perfectly willing to bury the country in unsustainable debt. The austerity prescription has already cut wages and pensions to the bone while hiking taxes on ordinary citizens. This is class warfare out of control. The result? Over 28% unemployment; 50% in the 18-34 year old population. The healthcare system has collapsed and basic services are nil. People are eating out of dumpsters. Except for the elite class, that is, who evade taxation nicely and hungrily await to buy up Greek real estate and landmarks at basement bargain prices. As well as foreign sharks waiting for the same thing. It's reminiscent of the strategy outline provided in 'Economic Hitman.'

I find it interesting that Piketty has taken a public stand and called out the Germans. Tsipras said the same thing 10 days ago and was universally booed by his European masters. Piketty's standing in economic circles and beyond might have more clout at the moment, a respite from the on-going propaganda that the Greek government is a bunch of dirty, unreasonable Marxists and that the Greeks as a whole are lazy and irresponsible and brought all this on their own heads. Not much different than the American bankers and mortgage chiefs who tried and continue to try shifting all blame for the housing debacle in the US on American homeowners.

We've seen this play before. Too many times. It's just as ugly, false and downright cruel in every reiteration.

Peggysue
 
"but I think that the thing should be completely rebuilt to look like the original"

Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
"Nooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Aw, c'mon. Can't you see it? All those cute little girls in their white robes parading around with the peplos beneath that giant statue of Athena holding Nike in her hands? It'd be adorable. And it would be precisely what the original builders of that structure had in mind.

Really, I think Germany should go for a deal like this.
 
Or maybe the British govt can pay fees for 'borrowing' the Elgin marbles? They could also pay for repairing the damage inflicted on them by drugged-up poshies at parties for the super-rich.

(Some things are the same everywhere. Soviet Politburo members used to hold wedding receptions for their daughters in the Hermitage in St Petersburg, where art treasures often got smashed up in the frolicking.)

On the subject of national debt, I'll mention the Irish partition arrangement. The Free State, which later became the Irish Republic, took on the obligation to make annuity payments to the 'Anglo-Irish' aristocratic landowners (try to find a list!) who'd lost land during the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-21. It also had to make a contribution to payments on the British national debt.

In other words, the new state would pay large sums each year to the British state, who'd pass it on to a small number of aristocratic families and private bankers. Free money for landowning aristocrats until 1971 - that was part of the partition deal.

During the depression of the 1930s, the Irish govt kicked up a fuss, with De Valera even claiming that Britain should pay his crew the money they'd grabbed in Ireland for generations.

Britain slapped a tariff on its imports of Irish agricultural products, which accounted for practically all Irish exports of anything anywhere. Readers will doubtless have heard of the Irish famine of 1845-52.

Few accounts relate how the 'trade war' ended. What happened is that the Rothschilds bought much of the debt.

That family has traditionally managed to support both the outgoing regime and the incoming one in times of upheaval and 'regime change', notably the Bourbons and the Revolutionaries in France.

Today the names of the Shylock scum who are telling their 'technocrats' and 'officials' in Brussels and Frankfurt to blackmail Greece and hold a tourniquet around its neck aren't being revealed. This is precisely what radicals should be asking. Let's go and demonstrate outside their houses, y'know!

Instead, practically everyone allows the questions they ask, the issues they form opinions on, to be decided for them by the propagandists immediately above them in the chain, with concepts such as 'the EU' and 'the eurozone' looming large in their tiny follower minds. 'Expert' chatterers may also like to know that the EU can't stop the Greek govt from using the euro, whatever the Washington Post may say.

Many media organs are already talking about Greece being heavily reliant on food imports, and a few have even mentioned that control over the currency gives control over those imports. Oxfam, well known to work closely with British intelligence, have released a statement mentioning that they were created in response to the Greek famine of the early 1940s. The actual message is between the lines: pay the Shylocks or starve. This is coming over loud and clear.

I can't predict the scale of the upheaval that will ensue in the next year in Greece, but it is obvious that the next economic crash will dwarf the one of 2007-08; and that food will increasingly become the biggest issue of all. Expect the threat of famine not just in Greece but in several other 'advanced' countries too. Hoard food. The preppers have got it right.

What's likely to happen is a breakdown of money itself in some areas of Greece, as also happened during the Russian civil war when the rouble collapsed there. In itself, that'd be good. Everything money touches turns to shit. It'd be great to wave it bye-bye, to burn it in the street. Of course, things aren't as simple as that. Everything depends on the capacity of ordinary people to take their lives into their own hands - and to free their minds of the muck of ages./i
 
Great comment by b. That is all.
 
In 2011 all EU nations except the UK signed up for a treaty that would help bail out Italy and Spain. A critical part of that treaty, not noticed by many, was that it enshrined in law the obligation for balanced budgets and near-zero structural deficits for EU members. The EU had effectively outlawed expansionary fiscal policy, a critical tool for improving depressed national economies. It banned Keynesianism, insisting that grinding poverty and asset sales were the only legal option for depressed EU economies.


I also think a Greek military coup is likely -- in the interests of "public order and stability" you understand.
 
Watch for growing feeling in Greece against NATO membership.

Imagine, another snap referendum - it could happen. There's also growing anti-NATO feeling in Bulgaria. Syriza should strike while the iron is hot.

The analysts at the US embassy will be paying close attention to this possibility. Now is the time for Wikileaks to release whatever they've got on the US military and NATO in Greece. Without waiting for the New York Times and Guardian to work on the packaging. The word is volatile.

Butter before guns!!
 
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