The Cost of Dependency

Rioters have clashed with protesters in Athens where thousands of people are rallying outside parliament to condemn new cuts.

Scores of masked youths attacked a group from a communist-backed trade union with stones and petrol bombs, and police fired tear gas.

A 48-hour general strike is under way in protest at austerity measures aimed at reducing Greece’s crippling debt.

The Socialist-dominated parliament is expected to give final approval to a new austerity bill on Thursday.

The commentator in the video adds that “no modern European country has ever been asked to cut so much so quickly,” but no modern nation so lavishly spoiled itself with money it didn’t have, and then lied about it for years. Essentially the Greeks are asking the Germans to continue to work hard to pay their bills.

There is a Keynesian argument to be made against austerity: it will lead to a contraction that will further the deficit problem. Not all economists believe that, but let us for the sake of argument say that it’s true. Are these protestors really arguing this, or are they fighting like hell to keep their (unearned) entitlements? If there were to be a Keynesian stimulus now, would these same protestors accept spending cuts in the future? When the Socialist Party is the party of fiscal responsibility, you know a nation is in trouble.

The austerity measures will almost certainly be passed to satisfy foreign lending demands. Even with such measures, the Greeks have proven themselves catastrophic to their bond holders.

Private holders of Greek debt may need to accept losses of up to 60 percent on their investments if Greece’s debt mountain is to be made more sustainable in the long-term, a downbeat analysis by the EU and IMF showed on Friday.

Euro zone finance ministers threw Greece a lifeline on Friday by agreeing to approve an 8 billion euro loan tranche that Athens needs next month to pay its bills.

But the European Commission, European Central Bank and International Monetary Fund — the so-called troika — issued a gloomy report on Greece’s ability to pay its debts.

Among three scenarios it examined, the only one that would reduce Greece’s debt pile to 110 percent of GDP — a level still regarded as high — was one in which private bond holders agreed to a 60 percent haircut.

The bond holders are required to sacrifice, but not the Greeks – who collectively act like spoiled teenagers demanding to borrow the car without having first done the dishes.

Let the Greeks default and leave the Eurozone to return to the drachma. Their bondholders will take their losses. The drachma will be allowed to depreciate relative to the Euro which will spur the Greek economy. They’ll be unable to borrow foreign money, and so will be forced into austerity. If they try to print their way out, only the Greeks will be hurt, not all of Europe. They will have to live as responsible adults, not spoiled teenagers. (The difference is that adults pay for their lunches. Teenagers believe they are free.) The rest of the Eurozone can worry about their balance sheets and the health of Spain and Italy – “too big to bail, too big to fail.” The Euro would be strengthened and its interest rates lowered. It would also be more respected as a currency and a stronger rival to the USD as the world’s reserve currency.

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Filed under Economics, Europe

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