Tag Archives: Greek

The Problem Of Greece Is Not Only A Tragedy. It Is A Lie.

greekJohn Pilger – An historic betrayal has consumed Greece. Having set aside the mandate of the Greek electorate, the Syriza government has willfully ignored last week’s landslide “No” vote and secretly agreed a raft of repressive, impoverishing measures in return for a “bailout” that means sinister foreign control and a warning to the world.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has pushed through parliament a proposal to cut at least 13 billion euros from the public purse – 4 billion euros more than the “austerity” figure rejected overwhelmingly by the majority of the Greek population in a referendum on 5 July.

These reportedly include a 50 per cent increase in the cost of healthcare for pensioners, almost 40 per cent of whom live in poverty; deep cuts in public sector wages; the complete privatization of public facilities such as airports and ports; a rise in value added tax to 23 per cent, now applied to the Greek islands where people struggle to eke out a living. There is more to come.

“Anti-austerity party sweeps to stunning victory”, declared a Guardian headline on January 25. “Radical leftists” the paper called Tsipras and his impressively-educated comrades. They wore open neck shirts, and the finance minister rode a motorbike and was described as a “rock star of economics”. It was a façade. They were not radical in any sense of that cliched label, neither were they “anti austerity”.

For six months Tsipras and the recently discarded finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, shuttled between Athens and Brussels, Berlin and the other centres of European money power. Instead of social justice for Greece, they achieved a new indebtedness, a deeper impoverishment that would merely replace a systemic rottenness based on the theft of tax revenue by the Greek super-wealthy – in accordance with European “neo-liberal” values – and cheap, highly profitable loans from those now seeking Greece’s scalp.

Greece’s debt, reports an audit by the Greek parliament, “is illegal, illegitimate and odious”. Proportionally, it is less than 30 per cent that of the debit of Germany, its major creditor. It is less than the debt of European banks whose “bailout” in 2007-8 was barely controversial and unpunished.

For a small country such as Greece, the euro is a colonial currency: a tether to a capitalist ideology so extreme that even the Pope pronounces it “intolerable” and “the dung of the devil”. The euro is to Greece what the US dollar is to remote territories in the Pacific, whose poverty and servility is guaranteed by their dependency. Continue reading

How Goldman Sacked Greece

by Greg Palast (In These Times) | Greg Palast
November 6, 2011

Here’s what we’re told:

Greece’s economy blew apart because a bunch of olive-spitting, ouzo-guzzling, lazy-ass Greeks refuse to put in a full day’s work, retire while they’re still teenagers, pocket pensions fit for a pasha; and they’ve gone on a social-services spending spree using borrowed money. Now that the bill has come due and the Greeks have to pay with higher taxes and cuts in their big fat welfare state, they run riot, screaming in the streets, busting windows and burning banks.

I don’t buy it.  I don’t buy it because of the document in my hand marked, “RESTRICTED DISTRIBUTION.”

I’ll cut to the indictment:  Greece is a crime scene.  The people are victims of a fraud, a scam, a hustle and a flim-flam.   And––cover the children’s ears when I say this––a bank named Goldman Sachs is holding the smoking gun.

In 2002, Goldman Sachs secretly bought up €2.3 billion in Greek government debt, converted it all into yen and dollars, then immediately sold it back to Greece.

Goldman took a huge loss on the trade.

Is Goldman that stupid?

Goldman is stupid—like a fox. The deal was a con, with Goldman making up a phony-baloney exchange rate for the transaction.   Why?

Goldman had cut a secret deal with the Greek government in power then.  Their game:  to conceal a massive budget deficit.  Goldman’s fake loss was the Greek government’s fake gain.

Goldman would get repayment of its “loss” from the government at loan-shark rates.

The point is, through this crazy and costly legerdemain, Greece’s right-wing free-market government was able to pretend its deficits never exceeded 3 percent of GDP.

Cool. Fraudulent but cool.

But flim-flam isn’t cheap these days: On top of murderous interest payments, Goldman charged the Greeks over a quarter billion dollars in fees.

When the new Socialist government of George Papandreou came into office, they opened up the books and Goldman’s bats flew out.  Investors’ went berserk, demanding monster interest rates to lend more money to roll over this debt.

Greece’s panicked bondholders rushed to buy insurance against the nation going bankrupt.  The price of the bond-bust insurance, called a credit default swap (or CDS), also shot through the roof.  Who made a big pile selling the CDS insurance?  Goldman.

And those rotting bags of CDS’s sold by Goldman and others? Didn’t they know they were handing their customers gold-painted turds?

That’s Goldman’s specialty.  In 2007, at the same time banks were selling suspect CDS’s and CDOs (packaged sub-prime mortgage securities), Goldman held a “net short” position against these securities. That is, Goldman was betting their financial “products” would end up in the toilet. Goldman picked up another half a billion dollars on their “net short” scam.

But, instead of cuffing Goldman’s CEO Lloyd Blankfein and parading him in a cage through the streets of Athens, we have the victims of the frauds, the Greek people, blamed.  Blamed and soaked for the cost of it.  The “spread” on Greek bonds (the term used for the risk premium paid on Greece’s corrupted debt) has now risen to — get ready for this––$14,000 per family per year.

Euro-nation, the secret Geithner memo, and the Ecuador connection

Why did the Greek government throw its nation’s fate into Goldman’s greasy hands?  What the heck was in the “RESTRICTED” document? And why did I have to take it to Geneva, to throw it down in front of the Director-General of the WTO for authentication, a creepy French banker I otherwise wouldn’t bother to spit on, and then tear off to Quito to share it with the grateful President of Ecuador?

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Western Democracy: A Farce And A Sham

by Paul Craig RobertsGlobal Research
November 3 2011

Every day that passes adds to the fraudulent image of what is called Western democracy.

Consider that the entire Western world is outraged that the Greek prime minister announced that he is going to permit the Greek people to decide their own fate instead of having it decided for them by a handful of banksters, politicians, and bureaucrats living it up at taxpayer expense at “talks” in the French resort of Cannes on the Mediterranean.

The Greek economy is facing its fourth year of decline and lacks the revenues to service its national debt held by private European banks. The banks don’t want to lose any money, so a handful of power brokers reached an agreement with representatives of the Greek government to write off some of the debt in exchange for EU capital subsidies to be financed by inflicting severe austerity on the Greek population. Wages, salaries, pensions and medical care are being cut while the rate of unemployment rises to depression levels. Government employees are laid off. Valuable public properties are to be sold to private parties for pennies on the dollar. In short, Greece is to be looted.

Large numbers of Greeks have been in the streets protesting the austerity policy and have reached the point of anger of throwing Molotov cocktails at the police. Greece is disintegrating politically. The Greek people sense that the EU “bailout” is not bailing out Greece. It is bailing out the French, Dutch, and German banks at the expense of the Greek people.

The Greek prime minister, watching his party’s support and power crumble, announced that he would let the people decide in a referendum. After all, allegedly that’s what democracies do. But it turns out that “we have freedom and democracy” is not supposed to be taken literally. It is merely a propagandistic slogan behind which people are ruled through back-room deals decided by powerful private interests.

The Greek prime minister’s announcement that he would put the back-room bailout deal to a referendum shocked the EU hierarchy, Washington, and investors. Who does this Greek guy think he is permitting the people, who bear the cost of the deal, to have a say in it? Who let this Greek guy out of his cage? This is not the way democracies are ruled.

The EU power brokers are outraged over the Greek prime minister’s departure from normal procedure. But the Greek PM is relying on the Greek people to approve the deal, and not without reason.

The Greek people have been brainwashed for decades as to the importance of “being part of Europe.” That means being a member of the European Union. When the Greeks realize that voting down the bailout of the banksters means being thrown out of the European Union, which is what they will learn between now and the referendum, they will vote for the back room deal.

Polls already indicate this. A poll for a Greek newspaper indicates that whereas 46% oppose the bailout, 70% favor staying in the EU, which the Greeks see as a life or death issue.

If this poll is a reliable indicator, the Greek PM has made a brilliant political decision. The Greek people will vote in favor of what they have been protesting violently in the streets. As the Greek people will do themselves in, the politicians are off the hook. This is the bet that the Greek PM has placed.

Whatever the outcome, keep in mind that the entire Western political and investor world was shocked that a politician, instead of simply imposing a back room deal, said he would let the people decide. Letting the people decide is a no-no in Western democracies.

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