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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Think Twice Before Demanding a Debt Conference À La 1953!

Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA have been very outspoken about the need for a European Debt Conference à la 1953. To a certain extent, that makes eminent sense. Even Prof. Hans-Werner Sinn has proposed this idea.

However, Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA might not like if they got what Germany got in 1953. Germany was not a sovereign nation then; neither was Austria. In Germany, it was the Americans who were running the show. Documents released recently showed that not even the currency reform and the introduction of the much admired Deutsche Mark, generally thought of as a master piece of Ludwig Erhard, were of German doing.

In Austria, the Americans had a High Commissioner who had to supervise the spending of the European Recovery Fund (Marshall Plan). There were always conditions attached to the disbursements. Interestingly, already back in the early 1950s, the High Commissioner demanded that the public sector and bureaucracy would have to urgently be reduced. Well, Americans are not almighty. If Austria's public sector and bureaucracy had only stayed at the levels of the early 1950s without any reduction, then everything would be fine today!

So, are Alexis Tsipras and SYRIZA prepared to accept a EU High Commissioner, stationed in Athens, who will have the final say on every policy issue?

If not, think twice before you demand a debt conference à la 1953!


  1. No doubt that nobody would want to have a High Commissioner replacing the Troika. No doubt either that Greek bureaucracy is much too fat.
    But imho the will and capability of a Greek government to implement efficient reforms is the most important ingredient that in the past always was lacking.
    When I read that Athens underground (following Samaras suggestion) recently have hired additional 200 persons , then I come to believe that whatever party which has not had the opportunity to play that game, will either fulfill it's real duties or perpetuate the past. This can not be foreseen from the public relation show that all parties now have organized (and certainly paid with high sums).

    1. Mr. Trickler,

      If you refer to the 200 employees hired by Athens metro, the jobs were proclaimed in January 2014 and they were made through ASEP (written competition), with former employees receiving bonus points. This, because of new metro stations that opened and 17 trains to manage.

      If this is the worst that Tsipras will do, it's a blessing.

    2. The source of the information about the 200 is Nick Malkoutzis in the article linked below.

    3. Ah, the number and the "additional" threw me off. This is the case of the 287 former employees, which contracts weren't renewed after the political pressure that the Rakintzis' report created. I could write a long article, going back to 2010, but it would take 3 times the lenght and would never match the authority of Mr. Malkoutzis, being a humble anonymous commentator.

      I would however like to point out some things that Mr. Malkoutzis forgot to mention.

      1) That this passed with the votes of ND, PASOK, SYRIZA, KKE and ANEL. So, i don't quite understand how this is "Samaras' doing" only.

      2) That they aren't yet hired actually, as everything is put on halt due to elections, so it will be SYRIZA to actually sign the contracts.

      3) As you can see from this pro-SYRIZA newspaper, dated January 2014, these were also "hired" in January 2014. Well, not really, because ND alone can't pass any law alone, so they weren't hired. I don't know if this meant that in January 2014 Samaras was preparing for snap elections, as Mr. Malkoutzis implies.

      ^ For the history, Rakintzis' report, refers 10 cases of blatant CV that doesn't provide anything advantageous to Attiko Metro, extrapolating that they were all illegal. 5 employee cases out of 11 have won in court indemnity. Attiko Metro has not been convicted yet.

      Also, since it's always good to hear the other side too, this is the "defence" of Attiko Metro, which debunks (or at least tries), point per point the Rakintzis report.

      My personal idea is that some were in deed hired before the elections, but i can't say how many. Attiko Metro says that 210 out of 289 were hired in the "2nd semester of 2009" (elections were held on October 4).

      I agree though with the final comment of Attiko Metro's president, who says that they were all fired for political reasons because of Rakintzis' report (George Papandreou had no reason not to fire them), while instead, they should be judged individually.

      I also think the explanation of Attiko Metro's president on why the company was running a deficit, is more reasonable than to blame 287 workers for that, which were actually working with no pay as trainees for months.

      It is also interesting that there is a change of the traditional greek media towards more SYRIZA-friendly posture. Even long sworn SYRIZA and fiercely promemorandum Mega Channel, is said that is hiring a close colleague of Tsipras, former Avgi (SYRIZA's newspaper) columnist and former "Rizospastis" editor (KKE's newspaper) as a commentator of 8 o' clock news!

      Also, VIMA newspaper, of Lambrakis Group, a long PASOK ally, is now turning to more friendly position, with recent editor's article: "The historic chance of the Left" and he predicts SYRIZA victory with more than 5% (that most polls don't).

      Power brings new friends...

    4. @AnonymousJanuary 11, 2015 at 2:36 PM

      Thx for your precisions. Obviously it is extremely difficult to get a 'clear' image of what really is happening in Greece.


    1. ;)
      That image obviously has not been orchestrated by the professional pr agency working for him.

  3. Hear, hear, Horst Reichenbach as High Commissioner, I have said it before, why will nobody listen to me.