Paul Mason: There’s a case for Lexit — but not this year!

“For left wing internationalists in the UK the problem is not migration; nor is it even ‘sovereignty’ — which is always pooled in a multilateral world. It is that the EU is programmed by Treaty to destroy the core values of Europe.

The Commission’s demand that the Greek people should vote Yes to austerity in the referendum of July 2015 was the ultimate betrayal of Europe’s founding values.

It revealed that, on top of an irreformable structure there is a new problem: that Germany’s elite — and some of its people — are content to use the Euro system for their own differential advantage (link | chart), even if that means crushing the democratically elected government of another country. As a result, after July 2015 Europe became a system based on force, not rules.


Against the power of global corporations, hedge funds, and investment banks we need:

  • parliaments with the sole power to legislate;
  • a press with the power and will to scrutinise;
  • a rigorously apolitical civil service;
  • and a legal system tilted in favour of the citizen.

For the pro-Brexit left, the problem is Europe’s institutions fail on all counts.”

IWF-Experte: “Die ökonomischen Annahmen waren irrwitzig”

Der Autor Paul Blustein recherchiert seit Jahren im Inneren des Internationalen Währungsfonds.

“Bluestein: Problematisch war vor allem, dass es nicht früh genug einen Schuldenschnitt gegeben hat. Das wäre sicherlich nicht ausreichend gewesen – in Griechenland waren viele Reformen notwendig. Die ökonomischen Annahmen im Jahr 2010 aber waren geradezu irrwitzig optimistisch. Griechenland hätte unglaubliche Sparmaßnahmen durchsetzen müssen, um die Ziele des Programms zu erreichen. Am Anfang sollte ein Haushaltsüberschuss von sechs Prozent der Wirtschaftsleistung erzielt werden. Das ist viel mehr, als selbst eine gesunde Volkswirtschaft schaffen kann, dabei steckte Griechenland schon damals in der Rezession.

ZEIT ONLINE: Hat denn keiner im IWF gemerkt, dass dieses Szenario unrealistisch ist?

Bluestein: Klar, aber die Alternative lautete Schuldenschnitt, und das war für die mächtigsten Politiker in der EU inakzeptabel. Zu diesem Zeitpunkt gab es auch gute Argumente gegen einen teilweisen Schuldenerlass, nämlich die Ansteckungsgefahr, wenn auch andere Länder dies gefordert hätten. Trotzdem wurde die größte Bürde für die Rettung Europas bei Griechenland abgelegt. Das war unfair, und es rächt sich bis heute: Die Krise hält immer noch an.”

Finance as warfare: The IMF lent to Greece knowing it could never pay back debt

“For the last 50 years, every austerity program that the IMF has made has shrunk the victim economy. No austerity program has ever helped an economy grow. No budget surplus has ever helped an economy grow, because a budget surplus sucks money out of the economy. As for the conditionalities, the so-called reforms, they are an Orwellian term for anti-reform, for cutting back pensions and rolling back the progress that the labor movement has made in the last half century. So, the lenders knew very well that Greece would not grow, and that it would shrink.

So, the question is, why does this junk economics continue, decade after decade? The reason is that the loans are made to Greece precisely because Greece couldn’t pay. When a country can’t pay, the rules at the IMF and EU and the German bankers behind it say, don’t worry, we will simply insist that you sell off your public domain. Sell off your land, your transportation, your ports, your electric utilities. This is by now a program that has gone on and on, decade after decade.

Now, surprisingly enough, America’s ambassador to the EU, Ted Malloch, has gone on Bloomberg and also on Greek TV telling the Greeks to leave the euro and go it alone. You have Trump’s nominee for the ambassador to the EU saying that the EU zone is dead zone. It’s going to shrink. If Greece continues to repay the loan, if it does not withdraw from the euro, then it is going to be in a permanent depression, as far as the eye can see.”

Greece: Where did all the money go?

“The breakdown of how the programme funding was allocated clearly illustrates the crisis management strategy Greece’s lenders opted for. Eurozone leaders, with the reluctant agreement of the IMF, made a conscious decision to use almost two thirds of their ‘taxpayers’ money’ (as they like to refer to it) to service the debt which they refused even to reprofile at the beginning of the crisis, when it was essential and could have given Greece a chance of recovery.

To protect the integrity of the eurozone, the strategy has left Greece with a massive pile of debt and a quarter of the economy gone, still unable to stand on its own feet. It is this very debt and the pretence of key decision makers to present it as sustainable that keeps the country in a vortex of ongoing political instability, fiscal crises, troika fall outs and economic uncertainty. It is the magnitude of the surpluses required to maintain this sustainability pretence that in spite of the most phenomenal fiscal consolidation in ferocity and speed, Greece is still required to find savings in the volume of billions.

If the intention of eurozone leaders and institutions was indeed to keep their ‘boots on Greece’s neck’ due to the failings of its political class, as the ex-US Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner claimed in his book, they have achieved their goal. Now they need to be open about their own crisis management decisions and answer the uncomfortable question: Where did all the money go?”

Leaked memo: Seven years of demanding the impossible in Greece

Hello. It’s been some time.

“According to [IMF’s then head of research Olivier] Blanchard, not only was the task unprecedented, but Greece was being asked to achieve the impossible in unfavourable external circumstances, when everyone was barely recovering from the 2008 global financial crisis and without any other policy levers (low interest rates or exchange rate adjustment). […]

Athens is currently under pressure to adopt another 2 percent of GDP in new fiscal measures, which relate to the tax-free threshold and pension spending. Since 2010, Greece has adopted revenue-raising measures and spending cuts that are equivalent to more than a third of its economy and more than double what Blanchard had described as unprecedented almost seven years ago.”

Even the Left must exit the EU to avoid economic horror seen in Greece

I would’ve never thought that I’d be quoting The Sun one day—of all papers!—, but where this rag is right, this rag is right:

“Unemployment is touching 30 per cent of the workforce, savage cuts to pension benefits are lined up, the economy has shrunk by a quarter since 2010 and tortuous negotiations with the country’s creditors are continuing into summer.

Some things never change and Greece’s Euro-torment is one of them.

This could be happening in Britain had we listened to the likes of Peter Mandelson, Michael Heseltine, Michael O’Leary and Nick Clegg 15 years ago and signed up to Europe’s single currency. […] One glance at the horrors inflicted on Greece because it lost control of its currency and interest rates gives some idea of the quality of these gentlemen’s advice. […]

Increasingly, however, the Leave coalition is linking traditional Conservative Eurosceptics with those on the Left who, seeing the carnage wrought by the euro, are rapidly concluding that there is nothing remotely ‘progressive’ about either the euro or the wider EU project.

Widerstand gegen harten Sparkurs: Spaniens vorbildliche Sünden

„Wenn Spaniens Wirtschaft aus der Rezession gekommen ist, dann gerade weil die Regierung irgendwann aufgehört hat, wie irre Ausgaben zu kürzen und Steuern anzuheben. Und stattdessen die Konjunktur auch mal wieder ankurbelt. Den letzten großen Sanierungsschub gab es gemessen am Abbau des strukturellen Staatsdefizits 2013. Im Jahr 2014 wurde der Fehlbetrag kaum noch abgebaut, will heißen: den Menschen im Land kaum noch Geld abgenommen.

Vergangenes Jahr stiegen dann die staatlichen Konsumausgaben erstmals seit Langem wieder, ebenso wie die öffentlichen Investitionen, die von 2,1 auf 2,5 Prozent der Wirtschaftsleistung stiegen. Vor allem ließ Rajoy im Wahljahr die Steuern senken.

Ist es ein Zufall, dass 2014 auch die Wirtschaft wieder anzuziehen begann? Und dass das Wachstum just 2015 auf mehr als drei Prozent beschleunigte? Dass seitdem die Menschen in Spanien wieder mehr Geld ausgeben und dank des Aufschwungs auch die Arbeitslosigkeit endlich wieder sinkt? Natürlich nicht.

So ist das eben mit den gesamtwirtschaftlichen Wirkungsketten. Nichts für einfache Gemüter oder religiöse Sittenwächter.“