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.”

http://www.counterpunch.org/2017/02/21/finance-as-warfare-the-imf-lent-to-greece-knowing-it-could-never-pay-back-debt/

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.”

http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.5256

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.“

http://www.spiegel.de/wirtschaft/soziales/spanien-verweigert-harten-sparkurs-thomas-fricke-kolumne-a-1093159.html

Finland should never have joined euro, foreign minister says

“With the northernmost euro member now set to become the bloc’s weakest economy, the question of currency regime continues to resurface as Finland looks for explanations for its lost competitiveness. Timo Soini, who is also the leader of one of three members of the ruling coalition, the anti-immigration The Finns party, says the country could have resorted to devaluations had it not been for its euro membership.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-12-22/finland-should-never-have-joined-euro-foreign-minister-says

Paul Krugman: Adjustment in the euro area [Charts]

“What about austerity? Spain did a lot of tightening in the first few years of the euro crisis, but not much since then: [CHART] […]

The question then is, does this constitute any kind of vindication of either the euro or the austerity regime? As you might guess, I’d say that the answer is a clear no. Yes, adjustment can take place even with a single currency; but it’s a very slow and painful process. Yes, growth can resume once you stop imposing ever-harsher austerity; also, if you repeatedly hit yourself on the head with a baseball bat, you will feel better when you stop. 

What is true is that the single currency isn’t totally unworkable. It’s just extremely costly.”

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/12/14/adjustment-in-the-euro-area

Paul Krugman: Iceland, Ireland, and devaluation denial [Chart]

“One of the big lessons of the euro crisis has been that Milton Friedman was right — not about monetarism, but about the case for flexible exchange rates. When big adjustments in a country’s wages and prices relative to trading partners are necessary, it’s much easier to achieve these adjustments via currency depreciation than via relative deflation — which is one main reason there have been such big costs to the euro. […]

If you look at employment instead, as in the chart, Iceland did far better than Ireland; and Icelandic unemployment similarly shows a much more favorable picture. Less formally, everyone I know who tracked both countries has the sense that the human toll in Iceland was much less than it was in Ireland.

Oh, and if you remember, everyone expected the Icelandic crisis to be much worse, given the incredible scale of the banking overreach […].

I guess I understand the urge to make excuses for the single currency. But the evidence really does suggest that there are important advantages to keeping your own currency.

http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/11/27/iceland-ireland-and-devaluation-denial/

David Graeber: Britain is heading for another 2008 crash: here’s why [Charts]

“If overall private debt goes up, that doesn’t hit everyone equally. But who gets hit has very little to do with fiscal responsibility. It’s mostly about power. The wealthy have a million ways to wriggle out of their debts, and as a result, when government debt is transferred to the private sector, that debt always gets passed down on to those least able to pay it: into middle-class mortgages, payday loans, and so on.

The people running the government know this. But they’ve learned if you just keep repeating, ‘We’re just trying to behave responsibly! Families have to balance their books. Well, so do we,’ people will just assume that the government running a surplus will somehow make it easier for all of us to do so too. But in fact the reality is precisely the opposite: if the government manages to balance its books, that means you can’t balance yours.

http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/oct/28/2008-crash-government-economic-growth-budgetary-surplus