Thursday, July 2, 2015

George Papaconstantinou vs. Paul Krugman

The following pieces from the NYT have made the rounds:

"Greece over the brink", by Paul Krugman
Letter to the Editor, a response by George Papaconstantinou

How anyone can be blind to the unbelievable economic damage which has been inflicted upon Greece in the last 5 months by its current government escapes my imagination.

On January 30 of this year, the newly appointed Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis told the world via the Huffington Post: "You have to be prepared to blow the whole thing up!" Well, Sir, mission almost accomplished (except that it seems to have become a suicide bomb).


  1. Mr. Kastner,

    Prof. Varoufakis, as many in SYRIZA, ended with beleiving their own illusions as the truth. This was always the problem of the greek left. I know, because i was once a leftist too, but those were different years and there were more reasons to be romantics at young age (the monarchy, the dictatorship...). The left itself has changed into something more arrogant, while retaining the decisiveness of the past, that was leading to blindness at times.

    If you recall or go back to your blog's comments before the elections, you will find many anonymous posts trying to explain the evolution of the greek left, the influence of Andreas Papandreou, who SYRIZA really is, etc. Because it has little sense to believe simply in wonderful soundbites, when you don't know who the persons speaking them are. Andreas Papandreou was leagues above Tsipras in everything, yet he destroyed the mentality of the Greeks and established a new way of life. You can look at economic charts all day, but charts don't show the shifts in mentality.

    I had also written in your blog comments, that Tsipras, who has admitted that Andreas Papandreou is one of his 3 hero figured (the others being Che Guevara and Ares Velouchiotis), would have tried to emulate Andreas , in his masterplay against the Turks. Little Greece that forces Turkey to a diplomatic surrender through means of military threat. The "crazy man" theory, that worked.

    But, i had added, that there is one difference. Papandreou, wasn't an amateur in planning nor did he have ideological delusions. He had assured almost equal firepower before doing so. Tsipras didn't. He bet everything on his belief that prof. Varoufakis would be right. He is now clinging to his last hope, by using the foreigners as scapegoat to cover his own responsibilities and he is dividing the population in a way that we haven't seen since the civil war or the junta. Those who vote "YES" are the traitors, those who vote "NO" are the "patriots"...

    Unfortunately, every now and then, Greeks need to pass through a pain to admit that someone betrayed their hopes or lied to them. Tsipras will provide the pain.

  2. Mr. Kastner,

    If i may add to my short historical reference to Andreas Papandreou, i am the same who told you on Sunday that the referendum will backfire for Tsipras, despite the terrible propaganda to vote No. Allow me to make a final prediction. I believe that SYRIZA will never assume its faults for a failed plan and will forever blame everything to the creditors. SYRIZA isn't wrong on the hostility of the creditors. Nor in its critique of the creditors' policies. It is wrong on dividing the people and on doing opposition for 5 years, while calling the others traitors, as if the others enjoyed following the required deflationary policies. But , for non fanatical Greeks, SYRIZA has now shown its own weaknesses and its own lies behind its promises. And while this will come at bitter price, it will be eventually for the good of the country. For a return to common sense.

  3. Just in case some of your readers don't know who George Papaconstantinou is:

  4. I seem to remember writing that for Syriza to blow up Europe they would have to start the explosion in Greece and we would then see how far it would reach. Well, trust a Greek suicide bomber to kill only himself.

  5. And whatever they have inflicted over the last 5 months is just the tip of the iceberg to come. Currency controls do NOT go away by themselves.

  6. Papakonstantinou is the guy who, as minister, removed his relatives' names from the sio-called Lagarde list, misplaced the CD-rom, put the edited data on a USB stick, and then claimed to have done nothing wrong. He is the epitome of corruption, yet spent his working life in Paris at the OECD. (Of course, France is just as corrupt as Greece -- if note more.)

    As a bureaucrat, Papakonstantinou is a conformist -- not a critical thinker. In my own interactions with OECD staff, I see that they have self-trained themselves never to question governments and those with power.

    These two things are all you need to know.

  7. Mr. Kastner,

    If you like ironic turns of history, you may enjoy this. It is one of the electoral tv commercials of New Democracy in last January's elections. Prophetic is the word, but the wonderful speeches of prof. Varoufakis won the hearts.

  8. TY Mr. Kastner,

    I liked, ALLAN SLIPHER, opinion on the vote. He had sound basis to his judgement.

    I also like your previous article "DERIVING HOPE FROM CHAOS." But what chaos will it be. A chaos or ashes of parliment or the chaos or ashes of the country. Or both.


  9. Mr. Kastner,

    You may also find this interesting, to understand better what SYRIZA is. This is SYRIZA's own newspaper:

    This the paper version that you can buy at newstands.

    There is nothing to indicate something is wrong in Greece. Only photos from protests against the euro. No bank queues, nothing. The paper edition, says:

    "No to Schauble and to the troika of the interior" (alias for the traitors).
    "Strong negotiation with a resounding No".
    "Free electricity to 212.000 people".
    "Die Lienke asks referendum against austerity in Germany"
    "Cuba-USA open embassies"
    "BCE: ELA and we will see about that".

    No bank problems, no queues, no cut in half pensions, no fuel shortages, no tourism impact, nothing. This isn't about economy anymore. This is about something worse. There is real risk i am afraid, that Greece may become Venezuela. And i don't mean the bankruptcy part, but the form of the political governance. Minister Lafazanis said they have a plan B, that he can't reveal. I hope he doesn't have to.

    1. PART 1
      Thanks for a nice post. Yes I think so too.
      Tsipras/V has played a long game plan (said ot too on Keiser Report) for to break out and lay their power-base for years to come (Dream = Venezuela)
      If they get a chance they jump at it.
      Regarding the ploy referendum it doesn´t really matter. Tsipras has organized a referendum for his own departure.
      In both cases Tsipras government is on its way out and snap elections will follow. He basically has brought himself down with all games and bad will. To top it off the EU would be very happy with both cases. If YES it is back on track - if NO - they have an excuse to print money again.
      Everything is not only crashing down on Tsipras lead communistic government now - it explodes in slow-motion in their faces - and the whole class struggle mindset and all cunning game plans goes with it. Syriza paranoia is expanding potentially and should make for good entertainment as they seal their fate in their own propaganda.
      If present situation goes on it will be a catastrophe for import dependent Greece and the structures that businesses need.
      Things roles too fast to report.
      The International Socialist gang - together - with the National Socialist gang - recommends a NO - what a lot - of course the only way supposedly for to save Greece - but in reality to lay a power base for the commies - and to use the people once again as a tool for its own purposes - like everywhere else.
      In a referendum that only serves as a political ploy - with falsified translation, dabbles with to short time, with unrelated diffuse questions that no one knows. Too expensive for the state and too expensive for the ordinary Greek that only has 60 Euro a day to live on - it is all about the last desperate endgame now.
      Prepare for snap elections, the old guard back and a fresh deal with the EU.

    2. PART 2
      (just some from the top of my head)

      You bet they want - they have no serious partner. Now - Merkel only has to let the whole thing fall by its own weight - which she does. Why shouldn´t Merkel game Tsipras like Tsipras gamed Merkel the last 5 months…?
      What goes around - comes around. Right ?

      The war is over - move on!
      Probably there are more Nazis in Greece nowadays than in Germany. (They support a NO by the way)

      EVERYTHING IS SOMEONE ELSE´S FAULT. (...and they are after - YOU!)
      No it certainly and primarily is not!
      It is primarly Greece´s own fault and responsibility that everything is a mess - and only Greece can make it a better day.
      This has been many years in the waiting. We talk about some sort of failed state here – many years in the making.
      Outside world can only help.
      (It is also certainly true that the debt is odious and the Eurozone and the EU will have its day of reckoning - but Greece’s mess is primarily from Greece.)
      The problem of Greece is a lethal mix of socialism, happy goes Zorba-mentality and corruption as a lifestyle.
      The solution is more of reason, rules and structures -more of basic capitalism but with new innovative structures and SMB entrepreneurships - which not Tsipras gang can provide and channel.

      No they won’t. Greece is small potatoes in the big picture.
      No particular risk of contagion on any front - not even the political front -
      as no one really wants a socialist revolution in Europe.
      One of these days EU will fall - but not with Tsipras as a front figure.

      Yes, they can.
      If you not play by the rules and don´t give a shit about anything - (Greece, where all is winners - attitude) they will not accept it. Will Greece prefer to get out by themselves or will they prefer to be there like a make-believe partner just for the show - or will it be a facesaving third way custom made for Greece.
      Tsipras could provide an answer on that - where most of the often spoken about "dignity" lies.

    3. PART 3

      Greek people basically want to be a part of Europe as they are in Europe - and is when it all comes around - mostly European in their mindset. It is only in some socialists wet dreams that there will be a pivot east - toward real handson fascist states like Russia and China.
      Europe is not changeable - Eurozone and EU might fall - but Europe is a geostrategic fact.

      Don´t get me wrong here. I support the national state against EU.
      I support trade treaties rather than EU.
      I am fully aware about the EU elite project which is the bigger problem.
      EU is a totalitarian project in all important aspects - like Vaclav Klaus so forcefully pointed out - in his speech in Brussel.
      I would not recommend investing more in the Eurozone – as it soon will crash and burn - or the EU as it will change or fade out - but Tsipras is now part of the problem.
      The real solution will have to wait a couple of years. There are no way ahead with communists at the helm.
      Soon they will fall - Eurozone and EU will also fall at its own time - but now we talk about Greece.

      A 21-year-old Greek has written into the FT, describing the fear she feels as the referendum looms. These last five days, she writes, have been worse than everything that has come before, including the financial crisis.
      Sir, Memory. No memory of life before the financial crisis; politics has dominated it ever since. But now I can hardly remember life before Friday night. Fear. I am terrified of tomorrow, all I now see is black. Uncertainty, leading us through our days, every remainder of hope for a brighter future being destroyed by the minute. I look at my three-year-old niece, I envy her ignorance, I envy her age. I am 21 years old and the past few days I feel tired by life. A referendum that supposedly gives me the right to define my future, seems to have taken it away.
      The past five days have been worse than all that has gone before

      Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
      Winston Churchill

      Better days will come!;)

    4. The war is not over, because Germany has declared a financial war on Greece. The German government chose to take over the debt of its private banks with the clear intent of using its political power in Europe to suck the money out of the Greek people. This has gone on for 5 years, and it is clear that (like the Nazis) the Germans will be stopped only with force. That is in the character of your culture: you respect only power and violence. Sadly, you have been allowed to grow strong again after 1945, when the initial idea of the Allies was to crush the German people.

    5. @ AnonymousJuly 2, 2015 at 5:35 PM

      Some points are right some are wrong, some contriditions. I'm too tired to go into detail.

      I just read that on June 24th Adonis Georgiadis from ND gave the wonderful idea to troika to enforce capital controls or better forece the hand of Alexis to push capital controls should a referendum come up as so people reject syriza. Great patriotism.

      (The is a gleeming example of what Mr. Kastner stated to me in some comment somewhere.) We are so divided nobody wants us. I don't know anymore as i have myself become nothing more than a zombie. I do not even hide this fact anymore.

      The greek issue has taken such a bombardment of information i can barely think straight.

      What i do know though is this. I can't stand to see my elderly in these torture lines. I have plenty of money in the bank as my employeer is good and paid on time As always(a man with a conscience). I have no access to my money in cash, because i can not bare the site of seeing all these suffering elderly, whom if this holds on through the summer, we will have a genicide of our own of a first kind. Imagine 40 degree heat standing for 2-3 hours waiting for the atm or bank to give out 60 euro a day and not cummulative? You need to physically go their everyday. Well maybe this is a solution for our reduction of pension funds. Half of the pensioners will die on these lines waiting.

      What i also can not bare to see is hungry people. More people on lines for food given out from the church and various charity foundations. Or children in the garbage for food.

      Is it democratical to influence votes one way or another regardless of if it is an election or referendum? Threats by european officials in the mannerism of "if you vote "no" you will be punished harshly, if you vote "yes" we will see if we give you a deal. Junker stated today. Supposedly loves greeks. With friends like that who needs enemies. where is the feedom of choice? Shouldn't we be free to choice to send a message? How they interpret the message and use the message is their job. All them. See this referedum is another example that we people, the normal people are not free. By conveying messages of what to vote is undemocratical. By advertising what to vote is fascist. As both sides advertise i can not stand the smell of irony. That both syriza and ND or pro yes are completely and utterly fascist. Both sides hungry for power without understanding the true reprucusions on the people. Had we had the ancient law of athens where we could choose which politician should be removed from government we would have a high race in who would go. Actually in greece the whole lot of them need to go all 300 of them. And everytime i see that number 300 i can not stop to think the irony in that. The 300 spartans versus the 300 mps. The first died for freedom the current die for power.

      I don't like the rift of the people being created within this country.


    6. What is the only encouragement is the outcry of the ordinary people of europe for what we are going through. I have always stated and advocated that the people of europe are good people. Unfortunately the people do not control europe.
      And by the way the majority of Germans are so civilalized we should be jealous and stop using that piece of candy anymore. Don't judge a society as whole for a few bad apples.

      Only bad can come out of this greek crisis which ofcourse will demise. But it will leave a scar on europe. The scar will be the people of greece.

      It is the people with the power that have no clue what the everyday people go through. They should all be hanged. But should they? We the people voted for these officials. We gave them th power. What does that make us? And so i am completly clear i mean ALL the people in power. lefts rights conservatives labourers etc etc. we voted for these people.

      To be honest, i believe your comment that eu will blow up in our faces. But just not yet. But soon. There are still not enough people who are hungry yet.

      Sincerely and Very Tired,

      PS: To Following will be an excerpt from a book as i always jot down things that stand out

      "Δεν έκανα τίποτα που αξίζει τις ευχαριστίες ενός σπαρτιάτη βασιλεία. Μάθε δε και τούτο. Στη μάχη της Σηπίας εναντίον σας έχασα δυο γιους. Όμως θα προτιμούσα να χάσω άλλους δυο, παρά να δω όλα αυτά τα καλούδια στα χεριά του Πέρση. Φάε λοιπόν, κύριε μου. Ο δρόμος σου είναι μακρύς, άλλα ευλογημένος απτούς θεούς.»

  10. Tsipras, who divided the Greeks in two, today said in speech: "we must preserve national unity, as if it was our eyesight". The gall!

  11. At least we can still laugh with our misfortune... Today's vignette from one of Greece's most famous cartoonists:

    "What is the difference between the goverment and the organized crime?"
    "The crime is organized".

    Two days ago, Tsipras on TV, when asked what will happen if he loses the referendum said that he isn't an "all weather" prime minister and the procedures will be initiated as the constitution and the laws of the country dictate".

    Today minister Flambouraris stated: People will vote no, but we will administer any result".

    1. haha...
      That was a nice one!:)

    2. Thanks for the laugh.

    3. Actually this is an older cartoon by Arkas - not "today's vignette".

    4. This was a funny one too.:))
      Saw it today in Zerohedge.

      In an unexpected move the socialistic comrades in Scotland - SNP - threw in their support for the YES campaign in Greece!:))

  12. SYRIZA's central committee secretary: Let the people vote on what policy wants. We can't apply a memorandum.

    Why didn't they say so in March?!

  13. Minister Tsakalotos: "We anounced the referendum because otherwise the goverment would fall"

  14. I expect Syriza's central committee to count the votes, they always did in USSR.

  15. Just an idea: Perhaps a Grexit is indeed quite unprobable, simply because Syriza is not able to implement a new currency. In this case we may have a Greek bancrupt within Euro-System. But totally different than Syriza dreams about, more the detroit bancrupt style.

    1. I believe that both routes (Yes and No) will without doubt lead to snap election - some coalition of some kind - and a fast deal.

      Yes - Syriza can´t possibly stay.
      No - Syriza will have an acute emergency at hand and a failed system and no real options. Tsipras will not deliver a fast deal. Syriza is damaged goods. People wont accept that. Syriza will leave or it will be a military coup.
      But surprises can happen.

      In the big perspective though - it is the start of a major change in Europe and globally where different interests will thrive for influence. It will be a major change from the old order.