“The economic argument for Greece staying in the euro is weak. National output is down by a quarter in five years. The debt-to-GDP ratio is heading rapidly towards 200%. One in four people are unemployed and there is widespread poverty.
Demands from Greece’s creditors for more austerity is, in these circumstances, inhumane and economically crass. If Greece was not a member of the euro, but rather a struggling country in sub-Saharan Africa, the IMF remedy would be devaluation, debt relief and a welfare safety net to protect the most vulnerable.
So when the Greek finance minister, Yanis Varoufakis, rails against the stupidity of what is being demanded in return for the dubious privilege of staying in the euro, he is absolutely right.”
“Varoufakis’s move to the background will increase the probability that a chilly stalemate will give way to another Band-Aid arrangement that allows Greece to muddle along for a little longer. But unless this time is used by the country’s creditors to accept a truth that Varoufakis consistently tried to impose — that Greek economic reforms, no matter how bold, won’t succeed unless the budget austerity conditions are relaxed and there is further debt relief — the finance minister could return to the front line.
“It is preposterous. Greek debt can be efficiently restructured so that losses are minimized and properly shared. This is a European crisis in the final analysis, not Greece’s alone; behind every incautious borrower is an incautious lender. Yet there is no hint of open minds among Europe’s leaders, notably the Germans. What, we have to ask, is this all about?
It is not about a logical way out of the euro-crisis, which is perfectly possible. It is about the neoliberal war against alternative thought and the elevation of the market above all other values, including democratic process and ordinary decency. The commanding generals in this case are headquartered in Brussels, Frankfurt and Berlin.”
“The bailout ‘was about protecting German banks, but especially the French banks, from debt write-offs.’ (That wasn’t Varoufakis speaking: it was Karl Otto Pöhl, a former president of the German central bank.) […] The bailout caused a depression inside Greece.”