Thursday, November 27, 2014

Nicholas Gage Warns of "Troubles Ahead"

"So a lot more is riding on the selection of a president next February than who will be the new head of state. If the members of Parliament make a choice and avoid premature elections, a new sense of responsibility in the country may have a chance to take root and lead the Greek people to a promising future. If they don’t, the recent hardships Greeks have faced will pale in comparison with the troubles ahead".

This is the conclusion which Nicholas Gage draws in his article "A Sea of Change in Greece?" published today in the New York Times. I owe Gage some of the best reading hours of my life. His most famous book even prompted me to trace the footsteps of Eleni Gatzoyiannis in Epirus' 'most famous hamlet'.

Given his childhood experiences, Gage is obviously no friend of the left. If "Eleni" were the only book one read about Greece's Civil War, one would be convinced that there were only 'good guys' and 'bad guys' from 1946-49. When Gage visited Greece in the late 1970s, he was stunned to see that the 'bad guys' had successfully come back.

Still, the above is an assessment which I would be inclined to share. The Greek economy is far from being in a position of being able to make it on its own. Greece will require the financial support of foreigners for years to come, be that in the form of loans and/or foreign investment. And based on everything which SYRIZA has declared so far, that financial support is likely to evaporate once SYRIZA comes to power.

However, the current Greek government must understand one key point: the fact that 'the recent hardships Greeks have faced will pale in comparison with the troubles ahead' if SYRIZA comes to power IS NOT a sufficient argument to stay in power. That does not give the current government the right to act as though they are not even interested in the moods and spirits of the Greek people.

If I were a supporter of the current Greek government, I would be desperate for them to finally act in a way that I could wholeheartedly support instead of only supporting them by default. If the 'troubles ahead' will indeed occur, then it will be less the fault of those who caused them then the fault of those who were incapable of preventing them from happening.


  1. Well, Gage is no friend of Syriza, that's for sure, neither am i, so i don't blame him. However, Syriza's win, is inevitable. As Gkikas Hardouvelis said today to the briefing of ND MPs, the troika, especially the IMF, is very harsh "and they don't care who will win the elections". Once more the goverment gives the opinion of being slapped in the face and forced to take its word back.

    There are more games being played at this point. Some say, the IMF is playing rough, because doesn't want to leave its role in european projects, others that the IMF wants to prove a dead-end that will force the EU to a debt restructuring that the IMF has been asking and the EU is avoiding, others say that the troika is aware that Tsipras is winning, so they play hard ball with Samaras in order to tie Greece in a new memorandum and be able to negotiate with Tsipras from a better position. Other analysts say that the troika is afraid that if Greece has a Syriza on the loose, then what will happen if in Spain Podemos win?

    One thing is for sure, Samaras has been sold by his northern allies. Now that they see that Tsipras will win, they are turning their backs on him, while he was hoping that they would help him get a small victory in looser negotiations and come back with a debt relief to use as electoral weapon. Seems instead that they now throw him away like a used lemon.

    Glad to see though that you finally came to realize Syriza's economic "plans". Tsipras is the most macchiavelic in the SYRIZA political leadership right now, but he is no economist. And the 2 economists that scared you, are actually part of the more moderate SYRIZA wing, close to Tsipras. There is also the "true leftist" wing, that is much closer to Gage's memories in term of leftist policy.

  2. "If the members of Parliament make a choice and avoid premature elections,"

    There aren't the votes to elect new president... Samaras was hoping for a political helping hand from his european partners, like, give him the debt relief that he was supposed to have once Greece had made primary surplus. That was last spring. Since then, the Europeans play deaf. So Samaras then invented his 2nd best political weapon "exit from memorandum!". At least, he 'd have a slogan to brag about in the elections, right? "I 've taken the country out of the troika program, vote for me!". Unfortunately, now we know the troika is pushing for extension of the current program, probably in order to trap Tsipas in it too, so there goes down the drain this Samaras' plan. To this, in these days we hear troika is asking: "20-30% reduction is pensions, unique VAT at 22% for everything, raise of VAT on the islands, mass layoffs".

    How is Samaras going to "lure" the independent MPs and some small party that used to be anti-troika with all this? They need an alibi. Like "we now vote with ND, because look, Samaras has turned the tables on many things". Now, instead, the troika is harsher than usual.

    Bottom line, it's not only Merkel that doesn't need to open certain issues when she has elections, it's also Samaras. The Europeans left Samaras high and dry.

    The only consolation? If things go south with SYRIZA, at least, the Europeans will finally lose their money for which they 've been nagging for so long. At least they will be nagging for a real purpose. History repeats itself. It wouldn't be the first time that their policy blew up in their face playing the tough creditor...

  3. Where is the problem?
    Finally Greece will leave the EU. So what?

    1. Greece won't leave the EU. Unless the goverment loses more % points due to new cuts before the elections, SYRIZA will not be able to have absolute majority in parliament and most likely will have to form goverment with the "River" (To Potami). The River will never allow Tsipras to make Lafazanis' dream come true. It will be SYRIZA's watchdog. But the River must play it smart, as to not appear like it's a timebomb on SYRIZA's foundation. It must wait for SYRIZA to make a blunder, so that to have an excuse for removing confidence from the goverment. Otherwise, in new elections, SYRIZA will come out stronger. The River must play along and wait for Tsipras to do a big blunder. Then it will have an excuse for whatever time comes that SYRIZA must be stopped.

  4. Let's just get it over with, shall we?

    There are gonna be elections early next year and Syriza will win. What happens afterwards is anybody's guess.

  5. The problem with Greece is that it's aims are contradicting each other.

    - On one hand Greece needs fiscal consolidation. On the other hand it needs increased consumption so that it grows.

    - On one hand Greece needs high interest rates to entice depositors to keep their money in Greek banks. On the other hand it needs low interest rates to help borrowers.

    There's only one way these aims can be bridged: capital controls.