Lord Elgin understood the modern Greek mentality perfectly: if it’s worth saving, take it offshore
‘Greece Steps Back from the Brink’ screamed the FT headline, somewhat triumphantly, but definitely short-sightedly, as this Fifth Column on the wonders of EMU breathed again, but for a short-time only.
‘Greece Drags Europe Right Back to the Brink’ would have been a much more accurate assessment, as the B.Eurocrats have tied a wrecking ball to the ankles of the eurozone taxpayer, which because of the sheer stupidity of the wretched Alastair Darling, when he already knew the failed experiment of 'New' Labour had been decisively rejected by the electorate, is also tied to the ankles of the hard-pressed UK-taxpayer. What a short-sighted, not to say monumental, idiot!
The rescue plan that the B.Eurocrats have contrived for Greece is based on any number of essential flaws. Take a pretty obvious one: can the indebted one pay back the loans? This poses the obvious question, ‘What with?’ The export market for olives, goats and Ouzo is at best limited. Shipping? Well, that’s all offshore, which is part of the problem in the first place, as any self-respecting Greek shipping billionaire would be laughed at by his peers if he did pay any Greek taxes, or anyone else’s. Lord Elgin understood the modern Greek mentality perfectly: if it’s worth saving, take it offshore.
The next daft belief entertained by the B.Eurocrats is that privatisation of Greek nationalised assets will yield €50.0 billion. Well, if ever there was a case of Caveat Emptor this is it. (It takes a good Roman proverb to unmask a Greek bearing Gilts). The problem with this idea is that these assets have already been 'sold off' – to the Greek Unions!
Wanna buy a narrow-gauge Greek railway, losing €1.0 billion p.a., where the timetables are only useful as loo-paper, and where the drivers of these clapped-out engines and rolling-stock are paid €70,000 p.a., with pensions on top, to travel at around 18 mph while they enjoy the view of the eastern Mediterranean slowly unfolding before their sleep-induced eyes?
Or how about a power station – how does that grab you? Well, it’s already been grabbed by the Unions, as you could guess by walking into the forum of the Union of Greek Power Workers, where a poster shows a chimney-stack belching out a cloud in the shape of an iron fist that would warm the cockles of Lenin’s long-since cold heart, as they lay their merciless plans for the next power-cut and the further entrenchment of their own already-excessive rewards.
These guys, like Kostas Koutsodimas, make Arthur Scargill look like a delicate flower. And you wanna buy into this nonsense, and take the currency risk, and the ghosts of colonels-past retaking control, as in Renationalisation?
What happens next? Do the other PIGS jump on the bail-out band-wagon before the wheels come off? Do the French, German and Dutch electorates wake up in time to the fact that the EU has become a giant Transfer Union, destined to destroy the wealth of nations? Does the inevitable Greek default happen within the next year, or two?
While the next Greek bail-out, now being talked of as €150.0 billion, gives time to the French and German banks to reduce their exposure to the PIGS generally, triggering more bail-outs, so that the EU-taxpayers can be presented with the bill while the bankers go on collecting their bonuses?
Remember the conditions of EMU entry? Annual deficits of less than 3% of GDP; national debts of a maximum of 60% of GDP; no bail-outs, ever: all very sensible, but the B.Eurocrats forgot their own rules. If they hadn’t, the eurozone would consist of wee Luxembourg and no one else! The eurobond clock is well and truly ticking: just don’t bother to be around when it goes off.