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Friday, June 19, 2015

Nikos Kostandaras: J'accuse!

"Let us not forget (however apt we are to blame others) that one of the main reasons Greece finds itself in this mess is the folly of improvisation and the lack of accountability of those in power, as well as the undermining of institutions that should have kept them in check. Such arrogance when our country’s future is at stake and such persistence from people who have never shown any achievements or skills in the past betray a deep disdain for everyone else. And while they disdain us, they claim to be the only ones who can talk on our behalf."

Anyone who has read Acemoglu/Robinson's book "Why Nations Fail" will remember one of the principal reasons which they cited: it's either good institutions or bad ones. In this Ekathimerini commentary, Nikos Kostandaras makes the above powerful accusation. "For a while," Kostandaras writes, "ministers, deputies and officials of the ruling parties and their supporters have behaved as if they have a monopoly on caring about the country’s future; anyone who disagrees with their policy is branded a 'quisling,' a 'creditors’ lackey' or a representative of a shadowy 'domestic troika.' While the government is incapable of convincing us that a rupture with our partners and creditors would not be catastrophic, it demands silence from those who worry."

On paper, SYRIZA's First Economic Manifesto of June 2012 was something worthy of discussion. The same applies to the Thessaloniki Program which formed the basis of what SYRIZA planned to do when in government. Furthermore, several of the documents which FinMin Varoufakis has published since assuming office are worthy of discussion. The major problem is not the content per se.

It is the sheer arrogance of an uncoordinated group of people who call themselves the Greek government which defies description and which destroys any credibility and confidence which there might be otherwise. They speak from the moral high ground about democracy and transparency but when a journalist publishes information which he received from the Bank of Greece, they quickly identify him as part of a conspiracy against the government. When the Bank of Greece, in accordance with its Statute, submits its Report on Monetary Policy 2014-2015 to the Speaker of the Greek Parliament and the Cabinet, its Governor gets blasted for the content of it and his firing seems to be only a matter of time. 

I first met my Greek wife 40 years ago and I have been travelling to Greece (more recently living there a good part of the year) since 1977. In short, I have met many, many Greeks both in Greece and abroad. I have never met a Greek in person who displayed the type of arrogance, the lack of polite conduct and the egomania which are displayed by members of the Greek government almost every day. I begin to wonder whether perhaps the Greeks I got to know were/are relicts of the past but I doubt it. Still, if the current Greek government are the yardstick of how Greeks want to be in the future, Greece will become a far less pleasant country.

10 comments:

  1. "I begin to wonder whether perhaps the Greeks I got to know were/are relicts of the past but I doubt it. "

    I have many times advised you, that there is no such thing as "one fits all Greek". If anything, being a compatriot of Freud and Jung, you should be the one advocating this to others. People are different and if anything, Greece is like a greenhouse where all kinds of fruit and vegetables grow... I have also in the past written that Tsipras is part the politicised left generation that grew up in the left of "no limits", during PASOK years. He was president of his school's student committee. They had always free hand to do what they pleased , because of the left. You could occupy your school, beat your university professor, vote who you wanted to be your university's dean, occupy state buildings, because if the right dared oppose, you would go to the press and should of the oppression and the junta-like concept of democracy of the goverment. Now that they have the goverment too, what did you expect to happen?

    To that, you must add the psychological factor. These people, have been in SYRIZA for 30 years, knowing very well that they were a small party struggling every time to get a 3%. They collected inside, anyone who wouldn't fit in the martial discipline demanded by KKE. Their thinking was "numbers will make us stronger. We can gather a trotskyist vote here, a neomarxist vote there". The KKE is a real party. As a matter of fact, it resembles the iron hierarchy and demands the same obedience that its soviet counterpart was demanding. Dissenting voices are first isolated and if they don't repent, they are expelled. SYRIZA (or Synaspismos or KKE Esoterikoy before it, many names, same party), was always living under the shadow of the big brother and were the exact opposite. Extremely variable, extremely loose, to fit all the KKE rejects. The best thing that they ever hoped it can happen to them, was become a lesser partner in a coalition goverment with PASOK, which could maybe earn them 1 ministry. So, they much preferred the joy of having various small factions, each having their own little manifesto inside the party. And suddenly, they are goverment! They have reduced to smitherines the almighty PASOK! Their big brother, the KKE, now seems like a dwarf in comparison! They have international spotlights on them! They became the most famous leftist party in Europe, if not in the world! Now, it's not about just governing. It's also about a leftist reputation to uphold. Were all the radical festivals they 've partecipated for years in vain?

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  2. " When the Bank of Greece, in accordance with its Statute, submits its Report on Monetary Policy 2014-2015 to the Speaker of the Greek Parliament and the Cabinet, its Governor gets blasted for the content of it and his firing seems to be only a matter of time. "


    There is a follow up to this. Aside the fact that Mrs Konstantopoulou (the president of the parliament), had no authority to refuse the distribution of the report to the MPs (there is nowhere written in the Parliament's regulation that she has such powers) nor to send in back as "unacceptable", now, she called Stournaras to... explain himself to the parliament.

    Stournaras replied that he will go, but not on Monday, because he will be busy. Mrs. Konstantopoulou warned him, that if he doesn't go, "there will be conseguences" (whip him?)

    http://www.protothema.gr/politics/article/486180/-i-zoi-kanei-polemo-ston-stournara-ton-kalei-tin-deutera-gia-exigiseis-stin-epitropi-thesmon/

    As usual, the official SYRIZA doesn't get involved in the matters where Mrs Konstantopoulou decides to have her way.

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  3. Konstantopoulou is a clown. A dangerous clown, but a clown nonetheless.

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  4. A must read - preferably before Monday:
    The Troika’s Policy Towards Greece Is Based On A Fatal Statistical Error
    by Michael Bernegger
    http://www.socialeurope.eu/wp-content/uploads/2015/06/OccPap-8.pdf

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    1. The above report must be contrasted with the one below:

      http://www.cesifo-group.de/ifoHome/publications/docbase/details.html?docId=19161354

      The numbers show the following: "Calculated from the onset of the crisis, in net terms one-third of the public credit has contributed to financing the Greek current account deficit, one-third to paying off private foreign debt, and one-third to capital flight by Greek people."

      The net inflow of rescue debt since 2010 and until March 2015 (i. e. the amount of money which 'stayed' in Greece) was 72 BEUR. Add to that roughly 25 BEUR in EU subsidies received during the period and you get the total of loans/subsidies which Greece received from institutions and which stayed in Greece.

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  5. "It is the sheer arrogance of an uncoordinated group of people who call themselves the Greek government which defies description and which destroys any credibility and confidence which there might be otherwise"

    Usually, arrogance is displayed through actions-one does not simply conjure up the quality out of thin air. Seeing as the Greek government has really acted but marginally since it was formed it really makes one genuinely wonder. In what manner has a body that is practically in suspended animation acted so as to display behavior conducive to arrogance?

    Also, you write "The major problem is not the content per se". If it were not an issue of content then the deal would have been struck on February and now everybody would be bathing at the Greek isles instead of watching the haggling over pensions cuts etc

    In closing, the report that the Governor of the Greek Central Bank presented to the Greek parliament, was effectively pointing the finger to the newly elected government in accusation about the sad state of the Greek economy and was warning against all sorts of devastating events that would prevail save for an 'agreement' is reached with the creditors. I was under the impression that the mandate of the central bank was to safeguard and preserve the financial system, not fuel negative feedback. I think the Speaker, Mrs Kostantopoulou, acted in good faith and with the intention of safeguarding the separation of powers

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    1. Back in June 2012, I wrote this article which, by the way, is by far the most read of all the over 1.000 articles which I have published:

      http://klauskastner.blogspot.co.at/2012/06/hybris-of-prof-yanis-varoufakis.html

      Strange that already back then I sensed the arrogance of the people involved.

      If you compare Stouraras' report to previous such reports of the BoG, you won't find all that much difference. The BoG has always dared to be quite outspoken vis-à-vis governments.

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  6. Yes, but Stounaras is disturbing their dream, he is telling them what the situation is, not parroting their wishful thinking. And while they try to muzzle him, they tell us they will make an independent tax authority. Corrupt and populist governments need week institutions. They also need many laws, there must be at least 3 contradicting laws covering the same issue, that way the politicians can always "interpret" the laws for the judges. That is called a political solution.
    Lennard

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    1. Yes, that was the Argentine system back in the 1980s. Laws with 'creative ambiguity' so that one could never be certain how to comply with laws 100%. Put differently, the authorities always had a certain call on you which they used whenever it pleased them and for whatever purpose.

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