Monday, December 31, 2012

Make 2013 the 'Year of the Task Force for Greece'!

From ‘EU Task Force’ to ‘EU-Assistance desired by Greece/Greeks’

A. Introduction
The ExecutiveSummary of the 1st TFGR Report is a very well formulated document which subtly caters to cultural and other idiosyncrasies of Greek society (example: “The Task Force is a resource at the disposal of the Greek authorities as they seek to build a modern and prosperous Greece”). Nevertheless, it is recognizable that it was primarily written by foreigners for Greece and not by Greeks for themselves. 

The entire conduct of Greece since the beginning of the crisis can be characterized as non-ownership. This inevitably translates into a perception on the part of the Greek people that “we have to do what they (the foreigners) force upon us!”

This also applies to the TFGR. As long as Greeks have the perception that the TFGR is something which EU-elites have decided to bring upon Greece, the TFGR’s success will be limited. It will face the risk of being perceived as a type of occupation force; perhaps as enforcers of Troika-measures; and those Greeks who cooperate with it may become seen as collaborators.

To start off, below are 3 suggested mental experiments.

B. Mental experiment 1 - Who is it that needs something from whom?
Suppose, back in 2009, Greek leadership, in an attack of self-recognition, had recognized that Greece was on the fast track towards becoming a failed state, doomed to remain in the status of a developing country unless some corrective action happened in a hurry. Suppose further that Greek leadership had recognized that the only thing which could prevent such a disaster would be a massive know-how transfer (‘development aid’) from the EU. Finally, suppose Greek leadership had decided to invite brainpower and talent from all walks of Greek life to put together a request for know-how transfer from the EU which would be so convincing that the EU could not afford to reject it.

That ‘application for know-how transfer’ would have represented a very strong desire of Greek leadership! Instead of trembling whether or not a next tranche would be disbursed, Greeks might have trembled whether they get the know-how transfer which they so urgently desired.

Interim finding: Something needs to be done so that the TFGR becomes what it is supposed to be (i. e. something which the Greeks desperately desire to have).

C. Mental experiment 2 – Why not Alexis Tsipras?
The TFGR is supposed to help Greek authorities as they ‘seek to build a modern and prosperous Greece: a Greece characterized by economic opportunity and social equity, and served by an efficient administration with a strong public service ethos’ – this comes out of the Executive Summary. The same intention, with some well-meaning interpretation, could come right out of the mouth of AlexisTsipras.

Suppose Alexis Tsipras discovered that the TFGR ultimately has the same thing in mind for Greece as he claims to have. Suppose further that Alexis Tsipras understood that the TFGR is the only way to achieve a ‘modern Greece’. And, finally, suppose that Alexis Tsipras would want to go down into history as the ‘father of modern Greece’. Would it not be logical to assume that Alexis Tsipras would travel Greece up and down to explain to Greeks that the TFGR is his own invention and that it is the only solution for a better Greece? Would it not be logical to assume that a majority of Greeks would become enthusiastic about the TFGR?

Before that would happen, would it not be logical to assume that established Greek politicians/parties would try to jump on the TFGR-bandwagon before Alexis Tsipras owns it altogether?

Interim finding: Something needs to happen so that the TFGR becomes perceived as something which every Greek politician wants to be the owner of (instead of only tolerating it as a ‘necessary evil’).

D. Mental experiment 3 – Success stories
The Executive Summary correctly stated that ‘some early successes are needed to build the momentum for sustainable change’. Suppose the TFGR had been all over Greek media in the last year with success stories. Success stories of how the potential of 9 BEUR in cohesion policy projects was being utilized. Motto: a ‘huge celebration’ every time a new project, however small, gets successfully under way. Suppose it would get so far that Greek media would continually question the TFGR what is holding up more projects and what could be done about it?

INTERIM CONCLUSION: It is possible to imagine, without too great an effort, that things could happen which would stimulate the sense of ownership on the part of Greece and Greeks. Without such Greek ownership, it seems impossible for the TFGR to achieve all the stated goals (that would be like McKinsey starting a consulting job without proper introduction and support from the customer’s management). Thus, a possible solution would be to find external catalysts (people and/or events) which would catapult the TFGR into the limelight which it requires and deserves.

E. Case in point – Cosco and the port of Piraeus
This seems to be a prototype-example of a successful foreign investment and it should urgently be marketed as such! Not only did a foreign investor pay a substantial amount of money to the Greek state for leasing half of the harbor; it also tripled the business volume in the first 2 years and is now investing 300 MEUR into an expansion which will create new jobs and entirely new logistics perspectives for Greece. The NYT described this as follows: “In many ways, the top-to-bottom overhaul that Cosco is imposing on Piraeus is what Greece as a whole must aspire to if it is ever to restore competitiveness to its recession-sapped economy, make a dent in its 24 percent unemployment rate and avoid being dependent on its European neighbors for years to come”.

Interim finding: Why does it take the NYT to make such a commercial for what Greece really needs? The TFGR could/should dress up and market to the public such an investment as the type of foreign investment that can be and will be excellent news for Greece! (and Cosco should be involved in that promotion). And the TFGR should present itself as the facilitator of many more such projects in the future.

F. Allies in the cause - Groups
It will not be enough for the EU to determine that Greece needs help to become a modern country. Unless Greeks themselves determine that, all efforts will be more or less futile. To promote the right kind of awareness, the TFGR should work through ‘allies’.

Let’s just identify 3 potential groups of allies: (a) media, (b) academia and (c) students.

It should not be too difficult to get the media involved. Not via press conferences! Instead, via something like ‘monthly information afternoons’. A more or less structured event where attendants get meaningful information and some food or drinks to loosen the atmosphere. A good keynote speaker would be useful. Above all, they should be involved by being asked to fill out questionnaires, make proposals, etc. If such afternoons go over well, a sense of shared mission might develop over time.

A similarapproach could be applied to the academia (university professors, etc.). And through the academia, one could get through to the students.

It should be easy to get students, particularly students of economics, excited about the activities of the TFGR. And one should offer such students opportunities to involve themselves on a voluntary basis. The typical thing would be to have a list of projects on hand which could be assigned to teams of students who are interested to participate. As an incentive, one could offer that the best projects submitted will be awarded a prize (perhaps personally handed over by some visiting EU-official).

Interim finding: The point of all this is to create momentum and excitement.

G. Allies in the cause - Individuals
The TFGR should attempt to attract the support of key public personalities as champions of its cause. One example which comes to mind would be Peter Economides (I take him as an example because I have read his writings and seen some of his video presentations).

Peter Economides is a man who has a way with words and who is a charismatic communicator. If he would talk about the TFGR in similar fashion as I have heard him talk about new branding for Greece, there would be enthusiastic followers all over. But first he himself would have to be made enthusiastic for the TFGR.

The same would really apply to other personalities who enjoy public recognition and respect, be they artists or whatever. One could even imagine that a testimonial campaign in favor of the TFGR might bring some benefit.

INTERIM CONCLUSION: Without external catalysts (people and/or events), it will be difficult, if not impossible, for the TFGR to catapult itself into the positive limelight which it needs to accomplish the desired impact on Greece. The common premise should be that prominent individuals support the TFGR on a voluntary basis, i. e. out of conviction and not out of material interest.

H. Working with public administration (WWPA)
I argue vehemently that it is not possible to change, in a sustainable way, a large social system like a public administration solely by implementing new processes, training the people and by perhaps appointing a few new managers. If there are no accompanying measures, there will be significant passive resistance to change which will offset many of the reform benefits.

I differentiate between Hard Facts and Soft Facts. By Hard Facts, I mean things like processes, flow charts, job descriptions, interfaces, etc. By Soft Facts, I mean tools which affect cultures and attitudes (TQM, change management and perceptive communication techniques, etc.).

My argument is that the Soft Facts have to prepare fertile ground so that the Hard Facts can be put to successful use!

I. WWPA – Third-party (neutral) evaluation
The process of transmitting know-how from the ‘expert’ to the ‘student’ must be continually checked and evalued by a neutral third party (an ‘observer’) to make sure that the process is indeed working. An elite French civil servant might think that he has just passed on the greatest wisdom to a Greek civil servant without realizing that he has perhaps reached the ears, but not the mind and heart of the ‘student’. A Greek ‘student’ may, without noticing it, turn off the teacher’s motivation by continually acting like he knows everything already, anyway. Above all, they may not be dealing at eye-level and without that, the relationship will not work well.

The ‘observer’ would act as a coach who makes sure that both sides are on the same wavelength; who recognizes any need for improvement; who organizes on a monthly basis feedback sessions between ‘teacher’ and ‘student’; etc.

J. WWPA – Selection of counterparties
It is imperative to have a strong representation of ‘practitioners’ both among the ‘teachers’ as well as the ‘students’. It is much easier to establish shared wavelengths among ‘practitioners’ than among ‘elitist technicians’ (who may focus on outsmarting one another).

‘Teachers’ should not only be selected on the grounds of their technical qualifications but, even more importantly, based on their ability to communicate well and collegially.

Among the ‘students’, it is important to open this process also to people on the lower end in the hierarchy, particularly to motivated, impressionable and enthusiastic young people (‘little heroes’).

In any group there are likely to be one or more ‘leading steers’, that is people who can sway group opinion in one direction or another. Particularly ‘observers’ should look out for those ‘leading steers’. If they are positively-minded, they should be moved into the limelight. If not, they should be neutralized.

It may be necessary from time to time to set an example of harsh measures so that the group can get back to order. If so, that measure has to be really harsh and symbolic (disciplinary action) to get everybody’s attention back into the right mindset.

K. WWPA – Verification
A perfect example would be where a ‘teacher’ explains a new process, where the ‘student’ understands it but turns around and suggests even an improvement to that process. That would be a ‘home-run’. With some creativity, one can actually ‘manufacture’ such home-runs a bit so as to provide for more frequent experiences like the above.

In any event, there must always be verification that things have not only been ‘learned’ but also ‘understood and absorbed’. To think back of my Latin classes in Gymnasium: my teacher should not only have checked that I translated the Gallic Wars perfectly into German but he should also have checked whether I had learned what happened during those wars.

L. TFGR – Internet presence
I could not find any internet presence of the TFGR. In general, it is not good enough to do good things; one also has to talk about them in order to create momentum and to involve people.

There are sites like Branding Greece, Greece-is-changing, repower Greece or Invest-in-Greece whose common denominator is to create awareness. The TFGR should consider a similar presence. In fact, it might consider assuming the lead among all such internet presences promoting a ‘new Greece’.

Blogs, twitters: there are roughly two dozen serious and competent bloggers/twitters who focus on Greece in English and who have influence. They cover the political spectrum from The Left to the center-liberal. Over 90% of their postings relate to Troika-measures and debt issues. In other words, they focus on the ‘derivative’ of the problem. Hardly anyone focuses on how the Greek economy could be gotten into shape, which is the ‘underlying’. My point is that playing around with the ‘derivative’ will not solve anything unless the ‘underlying’ is fixed.

The TFGR should capture the attention of these bloggers/twitters. If the latter became as involved with TFGR-issues as they presently are with Troika/debt-issues, life would be perfect for the TFGR.

The effort required to accomplish the above would not be very significant. And, of course, one should also work on something to reach Greek-speaking bloggers/twitters.

M. TFGR – Organizational positioning
It would be interesting to make a survey among Greek parliamentarians and members of government checking who knows what about the TFGR. It would be particularly interesting to learn who knows which minister is responsible for the TFGR.

An outsider gets the impression that the TFGR is a Brussels-based effort which has an outlet in Athens and which interfaces with the Greek government. One would definitely not get the impression that the TFGR is a priority project of the Greek government itself.

Until the Greek government (I think it should be the Prime Minister) comes out and assumes loudly and clearly ownership of the TFGR, its effectiveness (and even its success) will be much lower than it could be otherwise. If the Greek Prime Minister does not take the initiative for that on his own, he should be ‘prompted’ to do so by EU-authorities.

In mid-2011, McKinsey came out with a very interesting Greece Ten Years Ahead report (which, not surprisingly, was more or less ignored in Greece). Beginning on page 27 of the Executive Summary, there is a section titled “A new National Growth Model”. In it, the establishment of an independent Economic Development and Reform Unit (EDRU) is recommended as an institution directly reporting to the Prime Minister. This EDRU would be critical to support the Greek state in coordinating, facilitating and monitoring the implementation of growth reforms.

I argue that the establishment of some type of this structure is imperative and I argue that the TFGR should assume an eminent role in that structure. I further argue that the personal responsibility for this project must be with the CEO of the government, i. e. the Prime Minister.

If the Prime Minister has trouble with that, one should prompt him by warning that Alexis Tsipras, should he become Prime Minister, would make it one of his first decisions to establish such a structure and he would be applauded for it!

Finally, to quote the OECD from its latest Public Governance Review of Greece: At the core of its administration, Greece desperately needs a high-level structure which has the authority, responsibility and capacity to lead the development of a strategic vision and direction for public policies, and the effective implementation of this vision in practice and over time.

N. TFGR – A ‘facilitator of foreign investment’
As important as shipping was to the Greek economy (and, to a lesser degree, tourism), remittances from Greeks working abroad (such as guest-workers in Northern countries) were by far the largest source of foreign funding from 1950-74. Since most of that money was spent on material and immaterial investments (such as education for children), it is fair to say that those guest-workers laid the foundation for Greece’s recovery after the Civil War.

Remittances are similar in nature to foreign investment. As remittances withered away in the 1970s, other sources of foreign funding replaced them. They came in the form of EU-grants/subsidies (about 200 BEUR until 2010) and foreign loans (a net increase of 283 BEUR from 2001-10). Very little came in the form of direct foreign investment.

Thus, it is clear that the driver behind the Greek economy has been funds flow from abroad. Since the Euro, satisfactory employment (more or less) could only be maintained because, on average, at least 30 BEUR flowed into the economy annually. Now that this funds flow has forcefully been reduced, the internal and external accounts are approaching a balanced situation but it has become clear that, when balancing internal and external accounts, the Greek economy cannot employ its people.

Thus, it is also clear that if Greece is to have a better future, the funds flow from abroad has to start up again and instead of taking the form of debt, it needs to take the form of equity. Without significant foreign investment, the Greek economy lacks a perspective. Foreign investment not only as a source of funding but, equally important, as a source of know-how transfer in all areas.

The TFGR should bring that message across to Greeks at every stop along the way.

O. TFGR – A ‘pillar of non-corruption’
It is clear that Greeks have lost confidence in their political leaders. The latest index by Transparency International shows that, since the crisis, Greeks perceive their elites to have become even more corrupt.

What would have been wrong if the journalist who had received a list with 2.000 foreign bank account holders, instead of publishing the list, had handed it over to the TFGR with the request to handle it in such a way as a ‘civilized’ country would do?

What would be wrong if the TFGR were to begin to show more ‘curiosity’ in some of the more obvious abuses which are characterizing Greek public administration all the time?

The TFGR would not be doing that as a ‘spy’ for the EU. Instead, it would be doing that as a great service to the Greek government and Greek people. And any Greek politician who sees that differently should speak out and explain to the Greek public why he thinks so. Not to mention the fact that making life harder for corrupt elites would make the TFGR quite popular on Main Street.

P. TFGR – What if nothing works?
What if those Greeks who are saying that ‘nothing will ever change in the Greek public administration and public sector!’ turn out to be correct? Well, that may happen but if it does happen, then even the TFGR won’t be able to do anything about it.

Happy New Year to the 'Greek Task Force with EU assistance'!
Klaus R. Kastner 


  1. Wonderful Idea!!

    At the moment I am working at the third version of part number seven of the "Task Force" video serial. Three full days of work are lost because YouTube creates problems: there is much going on, not everything is allowed to use (music for instance) and you know that when the video IS already uploaded. Then you get a warning to delete it or the channel will be deleted. But the message about the why was so confusing that also the second version had to be deleted. Now number three is rendering, with another version of "Alexander" (Vangelis) and hopefully this will be accepted.

    After that still two to go, but I have prepared them already (music, pictures, etc.) so it will take lesser time.

    I want to suppor the idea of making 2013 to the year of the Task Force for Greece.

    The text of this post will be my next video after the serial is finished with the ninth video.
    It will be a Marathon video in length, but good to pay attention to this brilliant idea....

    Thank you for your support to Greece and Europe in 2012, and please continue with more.....

    Happy Newyear, Prosit Neujahr! :)

  2. Klaus you seem to be wishing that the TFGR be what the Greek xenophobes think it is -- an occupying power, a surrogate Greek Government.

    It's a task force comprised of bureaucrats & policy wonks from the EU, WB, IMF and other EU countries, it provides Technical Assistance at the behest of the Greek Government - it has no constitutional authority to implement anything.

    Its up to the Greek government, the Greek media and other Greek institutions to handle the PR, not the task force. They can advise on that if they're asked but they cannot take responsibility for doing it, besides which they don't have the competency. Bureaucrats who take on a high public profile create confusion, often with disastrous consequences - e.g. Easy Al Greenspan.

    When a private enterprise contracts an outfit such as McKinseys to do business re-engineering, or what ever its called these days, its the job of enterprise management to inform stakeholders (employees, investors, customers, suppliers etc) of what's going on - not the consultancy. They may shape the messages, but they don't deliver them - because they are not accountable to the stakeholders.

    An exception is with outsourcing deals, the firm that gets the outsourcing contract will usually take a higher profile - because staff will have a new employer, suppliers will have a different customer etc.

    If the Greeks want to outsource their government then I suggest they look almost anywhere but the to the EU - it couldn't even run Kosovo. My suggestion would be a consortia of Singapore, Switzerland and Norway.

    When Greece was admitted into the EZ it was the Greek government who told the EU that the books were in order - not their financial engineering consultants.

    IMO what you are wishing for won't happen, and nor should it. But don't despair, when it doesn't happen at least you'll have the satisfaction of blaming the EU elites, intelligensia, nomenklatura, politburo - whatever.

    Happy New Year - CK

    1. If the Greeks are going to do it without the Task Force they create an abortion of a future.
      What kind of people you would like to put in the Task Force?
      Of course I also have my doubts, but I sense that all is better than to let it only in the hands of the Greeks.

      Of course they may do it alone, they have my agreement.
      But then they should also say no to the money the same "bad" Europeans (in your eyes) have offered the Greeks.
      How do you think that "they" have found the money?
      How do you think that all works there, in the rest of Europe, so, there, where it is not Greece?
      Why does it work in the rest of Europe and not in Greece?
      Maybe because you do NOT have the right people there on the right spot? Maybe you have a huge need of real intellect?

      How dare you to offer Greece's future by letting the Greek media decide how it will be: by their information? Do you ever see one peace of news from there? I guess not.

      The Greek media is a criminal organization, and once there will be a time that the most of them are accused for killing the mind of a wonderful people.
      By brainwashing them daily.

      All is better than that. All.
      Even the most (in your opinion) worse member of the Task Force.

      Read, word after word, (let all words go deep inside of your awareness) the document "Questions and Answers on the Task Force for Greece".
      I bet you did not even read it.
      Maybe very quickly, so too quick to understand it all.

  3. Sorry, I think I lost the word 'almost' in my first sentence - as in

    "You _almost_ seem to be wishing .."

  4. Antionettte - I'll assume you missed my correction.

    If the TFGR were to set up its own website it would have to have everything approved by the Greek government and people paying the bills - the EU Commission, the relevant EU national governments, the World Bank etc. This would take them away from what they are supposed to be doing - giving advice the Government of Greece. And it would reinforce the view that they are foreign invaders.

    Whereas if it were a Greek Government website, perhaps under the umbrella of the Greek Institute for Growth (IfG) it would not get tied up in the labyrinthine procedures of a dozen or more national and multinational bureaucracies. The TFGR delivered its initial findings on the IfG in October. It was initiated by the Greek Minister for Development. I've not seen the brief that the Minister would have been given the TFGR, nor their initial report (although I've looked for them). But I wouldn't mind betting the brief is based, in part at least, on McKinsey's “A New National Growth Model” - KK posted a link in this article.

    The TF can't publish or publicize the reports it gives to the Greek government. That's not the way these things work, there are protocols and niceties to be followed. I would also assume that the Task Force members would have signed Non Disclosure Agreements, these are career bureaucrats, so they are not going to step out of line.

    What needs to happen in Greece is not very different to what happened in the former Warsaw Pact countries after 1989. There were various institutions that advised those countries - EBRD (Reichenbach's previous employer), EU, NATO, UN etc. The new governments of Poland, Slovakia, Estonia etc by and large took the advice and made the changes to transform their economies, which were arguably more radical than what needs to happen in Greece. Not only did they take responsibility for doing what needed to be done, they took the credit when it went right, and the blame when it went wrong. The institutions proffering advice had low profiles.

    That's all I ask of Greece - that it take responsibility for transforming its institutions and economy, based on what it considers to be the best advice available - which may come from the TFGR or elsewhere.

    The initiative for Cosco's involvement in Piraeus came from direct from Cosco. In 2008 negotiations commenced with the Karamanlis (ND) government, they were concluded with the Papandreou (PASOK) government in July 2010. I would assume Greece examined Cosco's involvement in places such as Felixstowe (UK), Rotterdam (Netherlands) and Bremen (Germany), And sought the advice of UK, Dutch & German authorities. Hong Kong based Hutchinson Whampoa was planning to do something similar for Thessaloniki - but they pulled out following the 2008 Crash and the collapse of East Asia exports to Europe. I mention Cosco/Piraeus for two reasons.

    a) AFAIK this project had no significant involvement of any third party agency. If the TFGR were to champion the project as a success in a manner where it _might_ be perceived as claiming any responsibility for that success then the TFGR would lose all credibility - it didn't exist until July 2011.

    b) to remind us that Greece, did on this occasion at least, seize the opportunity on offer and do what was needed to implement a successful project. Without having Troika's or TFGR's looking over its shoulder. What's more it was done by the same 'people' who are in power today - ND & PASOK.

    I often ponder on this - if ND and PASOK are so bad, how is it that they managed, separately, to make a success of this project. Was it the lack of the interference from the EU etc, or the single minded attitude of the Chinese - or a bit of both.


    1. Dear CK,

      Thank you for responding, and I would like to start with reacting on it, to create a clear view, in myself, together with how you see it.
      First: I read your second comment, but I did not feel the difference in my awareness. It is good however that obviously things are not as you tried to make it clear in the first comment. That is good. I try to create more videos and I need to be well informed to reach the Greek subscribers of my Greek YT channel in the right way.

      Your sentence:
      ".. (...)..And it would reinforce the view that they are foreign invaders."
      My reaction:
      Since my video number 8 (yesterday evening) I feel it IS a kind of a foreign invasion what is happening with Greece. I felt it very strong when I was creating this video , with the photos of Reichenbach, Rehn, Hahn and Andor. Also the photo of Brussels, and the music I needed for it because of the importance that also typical European music is finally in my videos: Beethoven, and his ninth symphony (the start of it).
      When watching the photo of Athens and listening to Beethoven's music at the same time it felt as if an invader was overruling Athens, as if an emperor was covering all buildings with his strong and different energy.

      But IF Greece wants to join Europe really they will have to step over their behaving solitary-minded (do you understand the word: I mean: there is just one culture there and it is their culture, all other influences are avoided. I "hear" (=sense) only FEAR and often aggression in videos when there are issues as Macedonia, Turkey, Cyprus, name it. As if they live on an island, and on that island all is good, and has to stay as it is. Afraid because of too much cruel invaders in the past.

      The fear for letting in even Beethoven is there, because it is a too huge step: the music is completely different from what Greek composers create.... "We", in western Europe, are used listen to Beethoven, Mozart, but in Greece they are seen as foreigners, , because Greeks do not feel European, though they ARE a part of it....

      They have to let go the past, the horror of what has been there, and to wake up from the dream that it is enough to be the children of the big Alexander, Socrates, Pythagoras, Aristotle, Plato, and other Impressive Names, to feel safe among other European countries as a part of Europe. They need to think bigger.

      I sense that much has to be done to open the Greek unseen doors of their soul for what is different from what they like, or heard.
      Indeed, this is a very important part of the success: how to use the right words, the right views, in that way that they, the Greeks, understand it, do not feel attacked, do not feel overruled and do not feel fear for what is >different< from what they think. If they get the right insight the fear will be gone.
      This is also my Greek friend's opinion.
      What you say in your latest comment is completely his view and: warning.
      Till so far... Later back for more reactions on what you write.

  5. The problem of Greeks isn't that "the foreigners force it upon us".

    That's ridiculous. Only the newspapers claim that, and the newspapers were never exactly faithful to their adaptation of reality.

    No, the problem of Greeks is that they're getting less money than they used to.

    Or to translate it into real economy terms, that resources in the economy are sitting idle doing nothing.

    The latter one is an extremely serious problem, and shows not only the limits of the Euro, but also the limits of European intellect.

    That is, the "European elites" still pretend that currency issuance isn't a monopoly of the state, and thus choose to let these resources sit idle just because the private sector refuses to do it.

    Furthermore, the private sector isn't independent. It merely responds to the motives it is being given by whatever political course is applied. Which highlights even more the moral bankruptcy of these "European elites".


    1. "(...) ...the limits of European intellect" ....

      Yes, the intellect needed on this very moment is unfortunately not enough to create a smooth solution. The Intellect is as much as it is. But fortunately there IS some.
      With nice ideas.

      Not only INTELLECT is needed, also an ear and a mind to understand.
      INTELLECT needs to be reflected, otherwise it is dead.

      Reflecting is needed, and how?
      HOW do YOU reflect?
      The same as the Greek media?
      Just by spitting negativity?
      Well, I can spit also.

      But at least I DO something also.
      First: READ, word by word, the entire post.
      It takes about half an hour if you do it in the tempo that you can understand it as it has to be understood.
      You can read the words also on your iPad, mobile, etc. when you go to:

      Join my personal campaign.
      If you might have suggestions: you are welcome!

    2. "(...)...the moral bankruptcy of these "European elites"."

      HOW dare you.
      IF you ever take one penny of the money those moral bankrupted countries have offered (because they will NEVER get it back!!) than I declare you as the thief of my own wallet. I have offered MY tax money to pay you, with my bankrupted mind?

      IF I would have been ONE of the European elites, then I would NOT have offered the money, why?
      Because I do NOT trust ONE Greek anymore in using it fair.
      Too much of the high Greek values of their wonderful ancestors have been bankrupted by the newer generations.

      Greece is not only financially bankrupted, also in a moral way.

      And that makes me very very suspicious about HOW the money of what you say "bankrupted Europeans" (elites or not) will be used.
      How soon it will be gone, disappeared, and a new request will be there.
      Until Europe finally is bankrupted. Financially.
      I bet you would laugh. But not long.

      Because who can help you then?
      China IS already searching to find doors to get in.
      Be very very quick with doing something with your borders!!
      I can recommend the Task Force for Greece.

    3. Give me a break.

      What, you think that Germans keep money in a vault, and then they lend it to Greece? You are a few centuries out of date.

      Let me bring you up to speed. Money is merely credit expansion. Nothing more. Now, the Euro belongs to 17 countries. If one of these 17 countries wants to pursue credit expansion (in response to private credit contraction) to fight the depression, then it should be allowed to.

      If other members object to that, then they shouldn't have joined a monetary union.

    4. Jim Slip

      Bear in mind that the Euro neither belongs to any one country nor to 17 countries in total. Whether or not they realized that at the time, all 17 countries decided to give up their 'local currency' in exchange for a 'foreign currency' whose printing was/is outside their control. In short, they gave up a very important part of their sovereignty.

      Only the ECB can decide about monetary expansion and/or contraction and if one were to go literally by their statue and declared mission, the ECB should not pursue any goals aother than monetary ones (as opposed to the Fed which has a 2-prong mission; monetary and fiscal) and it should be completely free of political influence. So the inventors of the monetary union created a seemingly un-restrained superpower.

      If Germany/France had adhered to the rules of the monetary union which they joined, they wouldn't have set the terrible precedent of violating the Maastricht criteria. If Greece had adhered to those rules, there wouldn't be the crisis which the country has today.

      Personally, I think it is cheap-shooting to over and over again focus on themes like "1 against 16" or allowing regional credit expansion like this would really solve a lot. But perhaps I need to be brought up to speed on that.

      No, Germans do not keep their money in their vault. They give it to banks and the banks don't keep the money in their vaults, either. The money which the lending countries lend to Greece is either existing money supply which then cannot be used for other, perhaps even better, purposes. Or it is new money supply created by the ECB. Perhaps I could bring you up to speed a bit as well...


  7. Yes, the question of "ownership" is paramount. And that is precisely why the TFGR is very low-key, and correctly so. I'm not attacking it - I actually think it's one of the most hopeful elements of a greek solution to the crisis.

    But the emphasis there is on a *greek* solution to the crisis. The taskforce is doing various dull, tricky things that can go badly wrong, and without a sense of ownership in Greece, they most certainly will go wrong.

    Good column, generally. More optimism and talking about the successes in the greek media would be very welcome, and even economically vital.

    A couple of detailed points.

    1. On foreign investment, I saw a comment by Reichenbach a month or so back, that the EIB was being too conservative in its risk assessments on granting credit. This is counter-productive. They need to get credit into the country. That is precisely what the EIB and EIF (focussing on small businesses) are there for.

    2. Some of the Taskforce's programs are going to go wrong. For example, the attempt to reform local government appears to have stalled in talking-shops (working parties). It was probably a mistake to give Germany the leadership on this. The way things are at the moment, greek local government workers are not going to take advice from german experts. One simply has to be pragmatic about this.

    1. Yes, it takes quite some 'cultural sensitivity' to assign a German to the task of heading the Task Force, not to mention a German with the first name of Horst...

      However, I believe the responsibility of government reform has been assigned by the TFGR to the French. So you can figure out what is better: a dogmatic German who counts one-two-three or an elitist French bureaucrat who doesn't understand why Greeks don't speak French...

      I, too, think that institutions like the EIB will have to play an important role (the open question to me is: who slows down lending? The EIB or Greece?). But I keep repeating and repeating over and over again: before lending begins, there should be equity. Equity in the form of new foreign investment. Foreign investment not only brings money and credibility to the country, it also brings what Greece may need even more than money --- know-how in all areas of public and private governance!