Greece and the IMF: Three years of not understanding each other

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis http://xpresspapier.blogspot.gr/

Three years ago, then Prime Minister George Papandreou stood on Kastelorizo’s harbor as the Aegean glistened in the background and children yelped with joy. The ensuing period has proved anything but sun-kissed child’s play for Greece. The appeal made by Papandreou to the eurozone and the International Monetary Fund that day has set the tone for almost everything that has happened in Greece over the past three years. Where it will lead is far from clear.

Even though the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the IMF make up the troika of lenders that have provided Greece with some 200 billion euros in bailout funding during the last 36 months, the Washington-based organization’s role has grabbed the attention of most Greeks. Even now, April 23, 2010 is referred to by many as the day Papandreou “sent Greece to the IMF.” Even though the Fund has provided only a fraction of the loans disbursed so far, its actions often come under the greatest scrutiny. Although there has been a growing realization that some of Greece’s partners in the eurozone and the ECB have been behind some of the troika’s toughest demands, the IMF continues to be a regular target for critics.

The problem is that these often indiscriminate attacks, dismissing the IMF as a Trojan horse for neoliberalism, mean that proper analysis of the troika’s three elements is pushed aside. In this fog, it has become difficult to work out where there are grounds for genuine criticism of the IMF. In this respect, an op-ed by Mohamed El-Erian, the CEO of PIMCO investment firm, on the Fund’s shortcomings is timely and extremely useful.

“The IMF is not one, but rather, two institutions: a highly respected analytical outfit anchored by superb technocrats and delivering world-class insights; and an inconsistent operator that frequently falls hostage to pressure from its political masters in advanced economies and thus fails to deliver on its promises,” he wrote last week.

El-Erian stresses that the IMF’s key weakness has been its susceptibility to political manipulation. “Repeatedly over the last three years, the IMF has been pressured to participate in programs for struggling European economies that are inadequately designed, poorly monitored, and insufficiently financed,” he wrote. “Unsurprisingly, outcomes have fallen short of what was promised to citizens. Understandably, many have started to see the IMF not as part of the solution but, rather, as part of the problem.”

The PIMCO chief is also critical of the Fund’s role in the Cyprus bailout. El-Erian’s firm was responsible for auditing Cypriot banks ahead of the loan package being agreed between Nicosia and the troika. He said the aborted initial solution and the revised plan showed “insufficient understanding and analysis of the complexities of the country’s problems.”

“In both cases, and in other similar circumstances elsewhere in Europe (including Greece), I suspect that the IMF felt it had no choice but to succumb to pressure by European politicians,” added El-Erian. “But in doing so, it has risked more than its credibility and standing.”

These are all issues – particularly the matter of credibility – that are picked up on by Gabriel Sterne, chief economist at Exotix. Sterne, a former IMF employee, last week published what is probably the most comprehensive assessment of where the Fund has got it wrong over the last three years. His policy discussion paper has some extremely salient points for Greece.

Sterne begins by pointing out that the IMF’s analysis, which El-Erian correctly lauded, has been somewhat off target in Greece’s case. “The Fund has so far revised down its projections for the level of Greek GDP a mind-boggling 22 percent in just 18 months – an error that makes it impossible to make a fist of the medium-term budgeting adjustment that is central to stabilizing Greece,” he wrote.

“Greece has endured the largest but by no means the only forecast errors; errors which can be explained by the dismal algebra of credit crunch + austerity = output collapse,” added Sterne, underlining the fact that the Greek program has not just gone awry because of what has or hasn’t happened in Athens over the last three years.

The troika persistently argues that the slow pace of reforms has been at fault for the deeper-than-expected recession, while consistently sidestepping questions about whether the rapid pace of fiscal adjustment has pulled the rug from under the Greek economy.

Sterne argues that a failure to address Greece’s towering public debt from the start has proved a damaging miscalculation and one not in keeping with the IMF’s credo. Soon after Papandreou’s Kastelorizo speech, the IMF projected that Greek debt would reach 139 percent by the end of 2011, but by the time of the troika’s fifth quarterly review, Greek debt had reached 160 percent of GDP, despite the fact that more than 100 billion euros in loans had been disbursed.

“There is a strong case to be made that the bailout, by prolonging the crisis without taking firm action, did more harm than good and an equally strong case that this was to be expected,” wrote Sterne, adding that the Fund “broke one of its most essential rules by supporting a program in Greece in May 2010 which was inadequate to secure sustainability.”

Greece and the troika would have been much better off biting the debt-restructuring bullet from the start rather than addressing the issue in 2012, the analyst argues. “An earlier restructuring would also have meant an earlier reduction in debt service payments, a lower fiscal deficit, a milder and shorter recession, less funds required to recapitalize banks, and a range of other indirect benefits,” he wrote.

Crucially, Sterne points out that some profited from the decision not to tackle Greek debt, much of which was in the hands of European banks, right from the start. “The biggest gainers amongst creditors were those in the private sector whose bonds matured between mid-2011 and January 2012. The official sector funding helped pay these out. Those creditors that sold on the secondary market during the period also benefited to the ultimately disastrous end game.”

The economist’s concluding verdict on the “pretend and extend” strategy that followed Papandreou’s speech is damning. “Ultimately, the Greek procrastination was fruitless. Private lenders to Greece suffered a scalping, Greece hasn’t had a bank that lends since mid-2011, youth unemployment is 60 percent and the ECB had to intervene massively to keep swathes of the European banking system afloat.”

Like El-Erian, Sterne says the IMF buckled in the face of political pressure from eurozone countries and made a series of diagnostic errors. He identifies a range of reforms that would improve the organization, introducing more effective checks and balances, as well as greater transparency.

Three years on from Kastelorizo, there is still much for Greece to do. It has executed the most dramatic fiscal adjustment in OECD history but some desperately needed reforms are still in the works. This, however, does not take away from the fact the Greek program was ill-conceived and badly implemented by all sides. In this respect, it is vital to understand the roles that each of the three elements in the troika have played and where their weaknesses and stubbornness may lie. Launching indiscriminate attacks on the IMF or the others simply allows the troika to hide behind the received wisdom that the program’s shortcomings were only down to Greece’s slow implementation. If we are going to come to terms with the legacy of the Kastelorizo speech, a more nuanced approach is needed.

Nick Malkoutzis

39 responses to “Greece and the IMF: Three years of not understanding each other

  1. Estevão Veiga

    A beautiful article. But, again, for me it papers out the social chaos and total mistrust among the political parties that happened in Greece at that time. This is the major cause for it being the worst mistake in projection of the IMF.
    As long as this “elephant in the room” is not addressed, no long term solution exist.

  2. Is is like psychoanalysis, you can’t help a patient who don’t want to put half of the effort. If that is missing, you can do whatever you want, he will never get better.

    • Indeed. The IMF has a long history of serious mistakes, and political decisions that have nothing to do with solving economic problems. Its raison d’etre is to protect the interests of the powerful rich countries of the world — while pretending to be a fund to assist countries in need.

      The analogy is not with a psychiatrist that you visit, and you yourself have chosen and you pay the bill. The correct analogy, Veiga, is with a psychiatrist who is employed by people you owe money to. His task is to help them, not to help you, because he knows very well who is paying his high fees.

      • It doesn’t just protect the interests of the wealthy cpountries it protects all the coun tries that invest their funds there. They have strict measures as you know and can only lend funds which are repayable. We all know the financial mess Greece was in and unfotunately for all of us the EU did not have the technocrats that could deal with the situation. It isn’t a charitable association it’s a bank and unfortunately the media has never clarified to the Greek citizens this point which is disturbing as many Greeks consider the IMF and the World Bank as one entity. The IMF has stepped in to fill a void and are being bad mouthed for it. So much complaining that the measures aren’t working whereas we are left speechless again with the news that still we can’t rid ourselves of paying out wages to the three thousand public servants already dismissed. If we had cut the public in 2009 and instigated measures immediately like Cyprus to stop the flow of funds leaving Greece, maybe today would be a different story.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Thanks, klaus🙂

        Ann: the IMF policies are written by the USA and reflect its interests. There is a massive debate which has been going on for decades, with the IMF, the World Bank and other international institutions — that they are owned and controlled by a few powerful countries. If you are not aware of the debate, ok, but please stop trying to deny reality. Any competent economist not in the employ of the G7 mafia will tell you the same story as mine.

        Just for a start: are you unaware that the top jobs of these institutions alternate between Americans and Europeans (usually French)? Did it not occur to you that there are many far more brilliant minds than Lagarde in South America, Africa, Asia etc? This is all politics and nothing to do with economics — Lagarde is not even an economist by profession.

  3. What a miracle! Xenos being polite!
    It deserves an answer, to stimulate you to continue in this path🙂
    I think you make a mistake on your analogy, IMF is like a cardiologist. Both, cardiologist and IMF, only come to you if you ask for their help. And you only call them when you are in the ropes.
    In the case of the cardiologist he/she can be very good, but if the patient continues to smoke and drink, the hopes of recovery are greatly diminished.
    Same for IMF, if your idea is calling their help and after actively refuse their medicine, you can’t put the blame on them. And if you remember the behavior of the politicians, and society, in the first years after calling IMF, saying that they were a “reluctant patient” looks to me as an understatement.

    • Did you not understand the point, then? Or are you being deliberately obtuse? If you call for a cardiologist without someone paying him, he will not come.

    • And if you want to continue with this absurd argument by analogy, here is another one.

      You phone for a cardiologist, to the emergency number. The hospital sends someone to assist you: to your surprise, this person has no medical training and is the Director of the hospital. He was appointed by the government, because he is in a political party and they like him.

      That is what you get when you ask the IMF to help you. Not a doctor, not an independent expert (as I am) but an institution that is politically controlled with a few doctors employed in it (all of the correct political mindset, of course) who all do as they are told.

      So, perhaps with this analagy the simpletons here (I mean Veiga and Ann) can begin to understand what is going on. Only begin, of course: I have no higher expectation than that.

      • Estevão Veiga

        It is funny, I am just reading a book about North Korea and it remember me of some of the arguments here. So I am not supposed to believe my eyes who saw the flames in the middle of Athens, nor the news of my friends about the incessant strikes, nor the newspapers about the decisions on parliament and the two consecutive elections, neither the impossibility to fill the car with gasoline on my vacations, or the ferries on strike as well as the employees of the Minister of Finance…
        All this are Yankee propaganda, nothing of this happened and I am only a capitalist stooge?
        And again, who called the help of whom, it was Greece who called for help, or the EU and IMF who called for Greece?

      • Guest (xenos)

        I give you well-documented facts and you accuse me of communist propaganda? This is typical extreme right wing propaganda on your part. You are the propagandist and troll here.

        Furthermore, I have been living in the centre of Athens since 1999 and am fully aware of demonstrations, strikes, violence, political corruption and much else. The meaning of these things is that people do not accept the legitimacy of the conduct of politicians, they do not accept that Greece has democracy. How is this relevant to the role of the IMF in the world economy?

        Incidentally, I am awake in the middle of the night here in Athens. But I suspect that you are actually awake in the normal hours of either Brazil or the USA.

      • Guest (xenos)

        Moreover, it was not Greece that called for help. It was a US citizen called Jeffrey Papandreou, whom Greece foolishly appointed prime minister. It was clear that he was not interested in Greece, and was taking instructions from elsewhere — from the very outset. He did not last long, but the damage was done.

        Any competent and patriotic PM would have acted behind the scenes, and made very careful public statements. Papandreou did nothing behind the scenes, and said things in public while in France and Germany that pushed the Germans and French into bringing in the IMF and destroying the Greek economy.

      • Thanks Xenos for keeping up the good work re trolling. Meanwhile I, a real person in Athens, am banned from commenting on Kathimerini, and since an earlier comment didn’t appear on this blog, my attempt to comment now may be useless.

      • Guest (xenos)

        @elenits
        I had almost swallowed the story that Veiga was not a troll, until this latest batch of nonsense. It is completely off-topic and tries to deny the validity of Nick’s excellent article without any arguments, and then s/he talks crap about my responses too. This is all indicative of trolling, because there is no serious debate (as Klaus discovered on another thread).

        I think Ann though is a real person — just rather bitter and twisted. Happily, I do not know her so I can openly speak my mind about her appalling behaviour on the web. It looks rather like trolling, of course — but I suspect it is not paid trolling, at least.

      • Maybe, but I have grave doubts about Ann. Not only the german capitalisations but the kind of ‘opinion’ that can be patched together at a distance but is not consistent with experience on the ground. Plus contradictory statements, but ALWAYS negative.

        A friend has been de-trolling his own blog (it is not hard to do) and it is amazing what percentage of comment threaders are trolls. And his blog is nowhere near as troll-heavy as Kathimerini english edition which must be 90%.

        If you read greek and can read greek comment threads, you’ll see they are comparatively troll-free. Because of course outsiders don’t speak greek on the whole. The trolls aim is to influence foreign opinion.

      • Guest (xenos)

        @elenits

        Yes, there are a lot of Germanic style spellings in Ann’s posts; moreover, her English is either semi-educated or non-native. There are also some other problems as you say. For me, the main one is the sheer negativity about everything in Greece (and I am rather critical of Greece, anyway). However, at this time of suffering and austerity, my sympathy goes out to ordinary Greek people and small businesses too.

  4. Estevão Veiga

    But I must admit my bias, the more you describe Greece as an innocent victim, the less I am open to admit mistakes of anybody else.

    • I have never described Greece as an innocent victim. Those are your words, not mine — showing that you are not dealing with reality. You just make things up.

      That, by the way, is typical of internet trolling. All of your conduct here suggests that you are not interested in discussion, but are most likely paid to disseminate propaganda. Either that, you are just completely nutty.

  5. Yes but I also live in Athens and 1/4 hr by train to Omonia Square. Athens wasn’t burnt and ravaged by discontent citizens but by a bunch of anarchists which have been burning Athens every 17th November but usually around the Polytechnik. Having had a business there for 24 years we endured every year the teargas, burning, injuries to civilians and police and deaths inclouding that of a 14 year old, who without the assistance of the media and Tsipras was buried quietly without burning the centre of Athens. Do you realise how many Greeks have suffered over this behaviour, how many have lost their hotels and small businesses and how many civilians that you profess pity for, would now have jobs without the burning, looting and striking which has been portrayed in every foreign media and so destroyed the tourism in Athens.

    • Excuse me? If by the 14 year old boy who was killed you are referring to Alexandros Grigoropoulos, no greek would agree with you that he was buried quietly. The consequences are still being played out among the people you so despise…

    • @Ann: you are talking right wing nonsense. Of course, there is some traditional anarchy in central Athens. There is also a tradition of bad behaviour from the Greek police, especially noted in the murder of the boy Alexandros. Your comment here (following from the Brazilian troll) is off topic. This article is about the IMF, not about your opinions of Exarcheia.

      We can also do without your nasty sarcasm directed to me — “civilians that you profess pity for…” Basically, you are a rather bitter and nasty old woman. I regret the closed busineses and damaged tourist business far more than you do. However, you are just lying when you claim that this is anything to do with youth demonstrations or anarchic violence. The damage to Greece has been caused by politicians — Greek, German and French to name but a few — along with the incompetent mess made by the neoliberal dominated IMF.

      • Read my blog I am talking ebout an earlier death during a Polytechnik demonstration. This shows just how much you know about life in
        Athens

  6. I’m still going to work what are you doing to help. No I didn’t see honest Greece citizens burning Greece I saw a group of anarchists and violent demonstrations from far left supporters. You ask around the vast majority of Greeks are sick of strikes, sick of public servants being paid when they have been dismissed from their positions and are awaiting trials. Of course this refers to the IMF some of us are simply pointing out that articles balming the austerity simply on the IMF are completely biased as we ourselves should have implemented measures to curb waste and corruption, and changed our constitution years ago.
    What a pity you have to insult everyone that disagrees with your views. Hard to believe that you are so mature as this would normally be the behaviour of a youth.

    • Again: your aggressive nastiness. I am insulting you because you are insulting to me and to everyone, including Greeks generally. The demonstrations are not only by the Left, and certainly not by the far Left. There has been some analysis of this, which presumably you did not bother to read, because you know better. With the occupation of Syntagma, for example, it was across the entire spectrum of political beliefs, covering all age groups and social classes. You are just lying. Of course, your own maturity shows in repeated snide remarks and refusal to listen to people who know better, on what the IMF is and does.

      As far as I am concerned (responding to your personal attack), I am bringing money for research to Greece, and we should be able to employ a few assistants later this year and next year. Generally, the Greek universities have been a disaster, owing to the involvement of the political parties in everything.

      Your own solution seems to be to criticise Greeks generally, supporting the IMF and Germany and any other right wing policies that are guaranteed to suck the blood out of people, and to offer no constructive ideas at all. You just moan, whinge and criticise everyone in Greece.

  7. Dear Xenos,

    Despite your insults, I am amusing myself with what you write, because it allows me to interact with people well described in a book that I love called “Mistakes were made, but not by me”.

    Let’s start by the beginning, you write this pearl:

    “Moreover, it was not Greece that called for help. It was a US citizen called Jeffrey Papandreou, whom Greece foolishly appointed prime minister”

    Are you aware that he was appointed due to the fact that he was elected by the Greeks? With a parliamentary majority of 160 deputies? Are you aware that the prime minister represent his country due to the law of the land, not US law?

    If you are not, I will gladly give you some lessons about parliamentary republics, or international law, it seems that you skipped this classes🙂

    Second pearl:

    “The meaning of these things is that people do not accept the legitimacy of the conduct of politicians, they do not accept that Greece has democracy. How is this relevant to the role of the IMF in the world economy?”

    Well, police task are not part of IMF responsibilities, yet. Nor civic classes, nor social cohesion, nor trust among the political parties, or trust in government statistics, etc…. If Greece failed on this aspect, with the result being an abysmal depression, this is to the Greeks to decide if they want to change.
    But blaming the IMF for that, will not create a single job. On the contrary, people will continue to be afraid to invest in a country where it seems that a sizable part of the population are still on denial of the principal causes of what happened.

    Hoping having addressed some of your very amusing, but not very bind by coherence, interventions,

    Estevão

    • Veiga, you are not capable of giving lessons to anyone — least of all to someone who has taught and published internationally on political economy for 24 years.

      On second thoughts, you may be competent to give lessons on trolling. You manage to avoid any serious discussion while pretending to engage in it, all the time pushing forward the propagandistic line that you are being paid to promote. You are very professional, I have to admit.

  8. Read your comments regarding me and then tell me who is insulting . Three or four blogs and none of my comments were directed at you. Of course the demonstrations are organised by the left and far left. their unions supply the mainstream. Yes we had citizens in the past but these have dwindled away with the violence, and these demonstrations damaged hundreds of tourist businesses in Attica not just Athens and has meant loss of employment for many ordinary Greeks.
    The comments were that the IMF were wrong whereas others are saying it was a combination of the IMF misjudging the seriousness of our position and the Greek government failing to implement necessary measures immediately. We were already suffering from 2004 the lack of funds in the market were the IMF made aware of this, or was it the usual government cover up of just how serious are situation was.
    If you again add insulting comments I will simply not reply, this is a blog for comments and too many times you and your little friend turn it into a spiteful gossip column

    • @Ann: if you had not meant to insult me, then I apologise for returning the insults. However, you should be more careful about how your posts appear to others, because they still look like personal attacks on me even with re-reading.

      The IMF plan could never have worked: this is the problem. Of course, we al know that successive Greek governments have implemented very little and actually abused the Troika plans by pushing the adjustment burden onto the private sector and trying to keep all the public sector in employment (for their own political benefit). But this is not the central issue, at least for me. First, the Troika if it had been properly advised should have known that Pasok and ND would behave as they did: therefore, they should not have set vague public spending targets. That immediately indicates that the Troika was not, and is not, interested in reforming the Greek economy: far from it, all they are concerned about is protecting northern European banks, the euro and their own interests.

      Secondly, the IMF calculations in both memoranda are at odds not only with published empirical research on hte Greek economy (and the likely impact of their strategy) but also with any normal economic analysis. The IMF plans could never do anything other than plunge Greece into economic crisis and depression. This was therefore a clear political decision to do so, and they are now pretending that it was an error that any competent student could detect.

      Therefore, as i have pointed out above, the Troika and the IMF are not acting in the best interests of Greece. Their advice has been poor if not negligent, and it has nothing to do with the half-hearted implementation of greek governments.

  9. What a relief! A respectful answer to Ann with some points that deserve thoughtful reflection and some that, even if I disagree with the conclusion, could be debated. Let’s hope it continues this way.
    Let’s start with what I agree. It is obvious that the discovery of the difficulties that will be caused on the balance sheet of banks, who where already in a shaky position, was a powerful incentive for the Greek rescue and there is no shame on that. When you are affronting the possibility of the worst recession of the last 70 years, you don’t want banks failing.
    This said, I myself was mystified by the behavior of ND, I couldn’t believe that the entire party, apart Bakoyannis, would consciously put the entire Greek economy in jeopardy in order to score political points against Papandreou. I was thinking that the plutocracy that was funding the party would stop this non sense. I was wrong, and the consequences are what we know. I even lost money on it, because I bought the Greek bonds when they were at 50%.
    So, there was no need for machiavellism for the help from the Troika, it was the best deal that both sides could obtain.
    The second point I disagree, it is true that the IMF plan was expected to plunge Greece in a recession, but not a depression, the depression is consequence of the response of the Greek society to a kind of plan who had been implemented around the world. We where talking about a 2009 Government deficit of 15.6% of GDP, what did you expect from the IMF plan? That they will not ask for cuts, or structural reforms? They asked for what they had been asking, around the world, for the last 60 years. If you don’t like the IMF recipe, don’t call them. But if you ask, don’t come later to say “I never expected it”.
    The last point unfortunately is Xenos as we know, to write that the consequences ” has nothing to do with the half-hearted implementation of greek governments” doesn’t allow for an intelligent discussion, and I refuse to enter in the subject in this case.
    Less polemic is the part when you write:
    “we al know that successive Greek governments have implemented very little and actually abused the Troika plans by pushing the adjustment burden onto the private sector and trying to keep all the public sector in employment (for their own political benefit). But this is not the central issue, at least for me”
    I agree 100% with the description of the behavior of the successive Greek governments. I don’t agree that this is not the central issue, on my opinion it is, the only one where the Greeks, who are the most affected with the consequences of their actions, should be thinking hard, and acting in accordance, everyday.
    But it was politely written and everybody has the right to be more interested in one part of the subject than in other.

    • TROLL

      • You have just ruined what was begining to be a serious discussion for once. Are we honestly supposed to believe your claims as an academic after reading the above comment.
        You can keep your gossip column

      • Guest (xenos)

        That was not a serious discussion, Ann. That was a direct attack on Greece and a defence of the Troika. Since my approach is to take neither side, from a purely professional point of view, I am not interested in manipulative propaganda masquerading as debate.

        Moreover, it is evident that this person is a troll. There is no debate to be had, and I am not interested in wasting my time on it.

        As far as gossip column writing is concerned, that is what you and Veiga are doing. Others here are making serious analytical points and attempting to provide some footholds in the complexity of the serious crisis that confronts Greece and the whole of the EU.

      • Estevão Veiga

        Dear Ann,
        It is only now that you noticed that Xenos is not an academic? He is as much an academic than I have a PhD.
        I want you to know that I share your frustration of the absolute incapacity that the “Greek defenders” have to stay in rational discussions, it is amazing how fast they are out of their depth.
        But what they do have is a vast range of formulas of jargon to bring you in the range of emotions, on that they are quite good. And so they come to phrases like “Others here are making serious analytical points and attempting to provide some footholds in the complexity of the serious crisis that confronts Greece and the whole of the EU.”
        Obviously this “serious analytical points” are never shown, because they don’t exist, and if you ask for them they will insult you, in order to obfuscate their ignorance.
        So, if you continue to participate in this column, accept the fact that they will continuously try to drag you on the field of emotions, because there they are quite good. But substance? Forget, Xenos was unable to stand even a second round.

  10. Dear Veiga I just cannot see the point in slanging matches. One would presume that if anybody is bothering to blog on here that they want the very best for Greece and the Greek people and not simply to brag. My complaint is that once again we are looking at the past why/what, which frankly the majority of Greeks are not interested in at all we are all only interested in tomorrow. This to me is a Greek sickness always looking at the past (without learning from it) instead of the future. To my ind living here so many years the only hope for Greece is the present coalition. Samaras alone ciould not have implemented the measures they have so far even though they are far short of what is required. We have two ministers from the Democratic Left in the most important positions at this time that if they cannot sit down together and sort out the problem of our public workers, then one or both should resign. Our law courts are chaotic and have been for years, Guest is quite right to say our education system is a disgrace, so it is, but the whole public system is.

    • It is not a slanging match, it is a TROLL who is on here. Without stating any qualifications or training in economics, the Troll claims superior knowledge of economics to mine and to that of Klaus. In fact, all that s/he writes is right wing propaganda that is supportive of Germany and critical of Greece. Moreover, the Troll does not live in Greece, it seems.

      As far as your own comment above is concerned, I agree with it. But you do have to understand (which I know well from reading) that Greek politics has been like that since the Revolution. Moreover, since Byzantium Greeks have had little (successful) experience in managing a state and promoting a social consensus on how to organise things. Contrast that with Germany, Britain or the USA. The same can be said of the economy.

      Therefore, it is very difficult for a small country rapidly to acquire these missing ingredients — arguably, impossible. Nor can it passively follow the manipulations of the Troika or of Germany, which are clearly unworkable, inspired largely by the self-interests of powerful countries and the dogma of now-discredited neoclassical economic and liberal ideology.

      The way forward… that is the question. That path will not be found by telling people to do as they are told by Germany and the IMF. It will not be found by posting propaganda on website, with multiple trolling. It will not be found by posting very negative and obviously frustrated comments on how badly Greece is run. It requires new political movements, new ways of thinking and an abandonment of the old ways that impeded Greece in the past. Those have to come from the Greek people, and cannot be imposed by outsiders.

  11. Dear Ann,

    The slanging matches are a product of shame. When you feel shamed the only thing that you want is to exclude the people who remembers you your shame. When you feel guilty is completely different, you want to repair what you did wrong, learn from it and move away.
    Here, all this discourse of:

    ” Those have to come from the Greek people, and cannot be imposed by outsiders.”

    Is only because they want to exclude anybody who may remember them of their failure, it is disagreeable when somebody from the outside comes with different ideas, because he may be right and we may be wrong.

    And the entire last intervention of our “friend”, particularly the last two paragraph, is sad to read, it is not even original, it is a copy verbatim
    of any publication of Socialist countries of the XX century, with their refusal to learn anything from their more successful pairs and their emphasis in “self created” ideology. In North Korea it is called “Juche”, in Stalinist Russia the “crime” was called “Cosmopolitism”, but the essence was the same “we have nothing to learn from the outside”. In general the result of this kind of discourse is shallow, if we are generous, and the consequences had been the premature death of several millions people.

    So, don’t make yourself any illusion, the only way to impose “discipline” is by insults, and this will not stop.

    • Just stop the trolling please. You have been exposed and nobody is fooled any longer. You know nothing of economics, you are not Greek, you do not live in Greece… and you write thousands of words telling Greeks to obey the Germans whom you admire.

      If that is not trolling, then what the ^&*! is it?

  12. Pingback: No Sheep Zone Views on the Eurozone | No Sheep Zone

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