Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How does Mr. Papademos spend his time?

A Greek friend, 30 years old and about to receive a PhD, wrote to me the following over the weekend:

"I'm not a political analyst or an economist to be in a position to say who is exactly to blame. Probably all of us are responsible, even the Martyrs that tolerated this situation and did nothing to change it. Surely, we need someone descent in charge and maybe only one is not enough because the others will soon knock him out. I had hoped (and probably a lot of Greeks as well) that Lukas Papademos was our hope, but I see no change. A true will to reform Greece from its base; to reform and change the system; to really deal with tax evasion for example. There is a TV "show" in SKAI presented by Alexis Papahelas and two others called "i nei fakeli" that dealt with tax evasion and what I saw was absolutely hopeless".

That has caused me to ponder how Mr. Papademos might have been spending his time so far. Put differently: what has he done and what is he doing? How does he spend his time?

Well, if he has given a rousing blood-sweat-and-tears speech about the long dark tunnel ahead but with a light at the end of the tunnel, I must have missed it. Oh, one has to be a charismatic political leader to be such a rousing speaker? A technocrat can't do that? Well, anyone who has seen the movie where George VI gave the King' Speech will know that even a man with a speech impediment can rouse people.

If Mr. Papademos has done anything about developing a long-term economic plan for Greece, I have missed that, too. I am not saying that he, as Prime Minister, should do that personally. He shouldn't, despite all his technocratic expertise. But he could have commissioned a task force of "the best and brightest intellectual, economic and business talent" which Greece has to offer – and Greece offers a lot of that! – to develop such a plan.

Instead, everything I have heard from Mr. Papademos, via newspapers and/or social media, related in one way or another to troika issues, debt issues, austerity issues and other things like that.

So I can see why my young Greek friend is disappointed. I am, too! Particularly since it would be so easy to take some of the right steps. Just think what a regular, middle-market entrepreneur (possibly without academic education) might do when his company got into trouble.

Well, he probably would call all his employees together to talk to them about the problems. He would explain where the company has been; where it is now;  where he hopes to have it in the foreseeable future; and what everyone can contribute to achieve that. He would explain that they all have to work together, to pull on the same string in order to get there. He would explain to his employees that if they didn’t want to do that, he might as well close doors right away. On the other hand, if they did do that, they would all have a good time again in the future.

What are you waiting for, Mr. Papademos?


  1. Herr Kastner, you're asking Papademos to be a politician. Yet we all know he's a technocrat, bureaucrat, central banker who was elected by the Greek Parliament to do a specific task - negotiate with the creditors.

    I would appear that Papademos plays no part in the "fiscal consolidation" program, which is under the control of Venizelos, Samaras and the EU experts.

    I assume the Greek Parliament could just as easily un-elect Papademos as it elected him. If he starts to behave like a political leader I suspect that's exactly what Papandreou and Samaras would do, vote him out of office - tout de suite.

    And I can't say I'd blame them, as he would be stepping outside his mandate. Its the elected politicians that should be speaking the truth to the Greek people, not a bureaucrat who is temporarily wearing the PM hat in order to undertake a specific task (which is lawful under the Greek constitution).

  2. Papademos was the person who helped engineer Greece's entry into the eurozone. When the unholy union of the Franco-German (mostly German) polictical and corporate elite selected him as the entirely illegal prime minister of Greece, in a reality a simple pawn, they perfectly intended that he does whatever he is told. Your friend's comment is a very small part of what the story is. I hate to point the finger but the self-indulgent policy of Germany, which flies in the face of the supposed values of the EU, will come back to haunt it. Not that it seems the Germans are much huanted by the colelctive guilt they are taught at school. This is round 2. Of apathy if not self-interest to the point of consciously applying pain to others.

  3. @ Canutely Kind. No, it is not lawful to be appouinted the prime minister of an interim government by a different nation, neither is it lawful to sign treaties such as the Memoranda being an interim government and without the previewing by the parliament or the ratification by the President of Democracy. In every possible way, this government and its actions are unlawful by the Greek constituion, which led the Professos of Constitutional Law across Greek universities to make an official declaration, announcing this. Please be considerate and post only things you know are facts.Greeks have suffered a lot of propaganda but also untruths said due to ignorance.