“A key argument [Wolfgang Schäuble] has been putting forward is that a debt write-down for Greece ‘would be incompatible with the currency union’s rules’ but that such a write-down would be possible if Greece left the euro.
While this claim is being widely repeated in the German press, the truth is it is really Grade-A concern trolling (‘I’d love to help you guys but I can only do it if you leave the euro’) dressed up as legal argumentation. […]
[T]here is no ‘Eurozone rule’ against a writing off Greek debt. […]
Beyond Mr. Schäuble’s selective interpretation of Europe’s rules, there has been a wider commentary in recent weeks implying the necessity of being tough on Greece because it has ‘broken the rules’ of the Eurozone. […]
[The Wall Street Journal’s Simon] Nixon explains the real rule that Tsipras has broken:
Like Italy’s Matteo Renzi, France’s François Hollande and others before him, Mr. Tsipras has had to learn the rules of the European game: that you don’t gain leverage over other leaders simply by winning elections—they have all done that—but by winning their respect by showing you have the capacity to make tough decisions at home.
This gets it about right. The rules that Tsipras has broken are unwritten rules that reflect the power the euro area’s creditor states have to ruin any member states that don’t do as they are ordered. Accepting such a large loan from these states in 2010 was probably the biggest mistake in Greece’s economic history. Indeed, I would bet most Greeks wished now there really had been a no-bailout rule.”