Greek Orthodox Church debt 2
Democracy

Greek Orthodox Church urges Greeks to "vote for Europe" (and more austerity)

 

Greece is bankrupt, on its economic knees, humiliated before the IMF default, now begging the ECB/Germany for palliative compassion. The Greeks are in turmoil; some queuing patiently to withdraw their rationed euros from the sinking banks; others rioting and looting to put daily daktyla on the table. From Athens to Thessaloniki, from Philippi to Corinth, the people are marching against austerity, oppression and perpetual poverty. St Paul’s mission was no more desperate and no less zealous. National salvation is still and all.

You might think, as the Greeks wallow in their misery, that the State Church would side with the unemployed, homeless, sick and dispossessed, and urge people to vote ‘Oxi’ against austerity. After all, that’s the position of the State Church in England, not to mention the Roman Catholic Church, whose bishops are ecumenically ranged against the fanatical Iain Duncan Smith and his ideological crusade to kill off as many benefit claimants as possible just to reduce the deficit. But no, when it comes to ‘Europe’, the Greek Orthodox Church stands foursquare with the episcopal hierarchies of the Church of England and the Roman Catholic Church – namely that the EU is essential, and the euro indispensable. The cultic ideology of euro-nationalism trumps worklessness, heart attacks and starvation.

Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki preached to the assembled congregation at the Church St Paul in Thessaloniki that they had every right to vote as they wished (which was a gracious admission), but that he personally would “vote for Europe”.

“Vote whatever you like, that is your absolute right, but this time I too have the right to make a confession: I will vote for Europe.”

Of course, when God’s representative on earth tells the faithful that they are free to vote ‘No’ but that he (in all his holiness and discernment of divinity) will vote ‘Yes’, there is the very subtle (or not so subtle) inference that those who vote ‘No’ are supping with the devil of ‘right-wing xenophobia’. Unsurprisingly, the congregation was divided on the matter: some applauded the sermon, while others were aghast that the Lord’s Orthodox shepherd would sacrifice his Greek lambs on the altar of Euro-Mammon. Metropolitan Anthimos of Thessaloniki was forced to abandon his sermon and pray that God’s will be done (ie that the people will follow his pious example and “vote for Europe”).

Meanwhile in Athens, Archbishop Ieronymos II also called for a ‘Yes’ vote. In an official statement, he wrote:

We have to promise our children a Greece of growth and progress. A Greece that will move on with self confidence and safety, flesh of the flesh of the hard core of the common European family.

..The times we are living in are maybe the most crucial ones for our Nation since after World War Two. It’s a time of responsibility for everyone. For every institution in the country, for the political parties, the church, for each and every Greek. We are all united by the love for our country. The anxiety for its present and its future. Nothing separates us. That is why we must not allow the poison of division contaminate our souls. It will be a crime burdening the next generations.

Does it not occur to Their Beatitudes and Eminences that the “hard core of the common European family” may be divided reasonably and justly along economic lines just as they are along ecclesial histories and theological traditions? If the churches of England, Rome and Greece may righteously fracture around questions of spiritual authority and fragment upon disputations of eternal salvation, why do church hierarchies obdurately buttress the political and economic union of Europe?

What hath Jerusalem to do with Athens?

University lecturer Dr Elizabeth Prodromou told HuffPost: “The Church of Greece sees Orthodoxy as part of the European fabric and history and understands Greece to be an important part of the European project.” As does the Church of England. As does the Church of Rome. Grexit is therefore as unthinkable to the Church as Brexit (though the former relates only to the euro; the latter to the whole EU project). What a shame that Church leaders appear incapable of discerning the difference between Europe and the EU. They are not synonymous: God made Europe and set historical nations apart; man made the European Union with a teleological trajectory toward political union. The Greek people – the demos – are irrelevant, almost expendable. For the oligarchs of Brussels, their demands for liberty are ‘extreme’, ‘xenophobic’ and ultimately invalid. These ‘little Greekers’ (has that yet been coined?) don’t know what’s good for them. They joined ‘Europe’ to end an interminable cycle of civil war, factionalism and economic dysentery.

Metropolitan Anthimos and Archbishop Ieronymos II know that the people are suffering – some 3,000 are estimated to have committed suicide as a result of this economic crisis – but still the Greek Orthodox Church wants more austerity. They could, of course, sell all their possessions and pay back the IMF give it to the poor. According to the Greek Reporter:

The Church of Greece owns about 1,300,000 acres in land property, according to figures given by the Ministry of Agriculture in the past. It includes small islands and islets. The individual wealth of 2,500 monasteries cannot be measured. The Church also owns about 800 commercial buildings, such as hotels, office buildings and malls. Its liquidity is estimated at hundreds of millions of euros. It has also set up two limited liability corporations. The Church of Greece is also major shareholder in two Greek banks and in the past has lent to the Greek state at a 6 percent interest rate.

But no, it’s easier to believe that ‘Europe’ reconciles and the euro heals. God ‘hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth‘ (Acts 17:26). We can conveniently forget the bit about ‘the bounds of their habitation‘.

  • bluedog

    Quite bizarre, Your Grace, that a Greek prelate can describe Syriza as promoting right-wing xenophobia. One suspects that Messrs Tsipras and Varoufakis read that comment, if they even had time, and wondered where they went wrong.

    Your communicant strongly supports the Greek government in their quest for Greek sovereignty in the face of an extraordinary performance by the EU and its oppressive functionaries. If Britain is ever to break free from the fatal embrace of the EU, the job will be made that much easier by a Greek vote of No today. A Greek vote of Yes, as the fools in the Greek Church urge, will simply reduce the Greek government to the status of a county council at the eastern extremity of Europe.

    A Greek vote of No will have the effect of an electric shock on opinion throughout the EU, giving heart to Eurosceptic parties and Eurosceptic nations everywhere in the EU. In Brussels the shredding machines will start to run hot. Time will tell.

    • The Explorer

      Does a ‘Yes’ vote mean ‘Yes’ and a ‘No’ vote mean a delayed ‘Yes? I don’t know enough about the situation to say.

      • It usually does in E.U. referenda.
        Countries voting the wrong way are told to go back and do it again until they get the right result.
        .
        It seems to me that Greece needs neither a yes or a no.
        She urgently needs to get out of the Euro so that the currency can be devalued. But if Greece is simply cut loose without support, she will sink like a stone. There needs to be E.U. and I.M.F. support for an orderly withdrawal from the Euro and a degree of debt relief to enable the economy to recover.
        .
        However, that’s not on the table. The two options to be voted on are perpetual misery in the Euro or total collapse without support from Euroland or the IMF. Super!

      • bluedog

        Hard to say, Mr Explorer. No means chaos, Yes means utter chaos as the Greek government would fall and elections would have to be called. What then? No at least tells the EU to back off and recognise that their money has gone. That remains the case irrespective of whether Greece is in or out of the Euro or the EU or both, the Greeks can never pay back what they have borrowed.

        • Dominic Stockford

          And the Greeks would re-elect the current government. which would really cause chaos!

      • Anton

        Nor does the Greek government.

  • Inspector General

    Greek salvation lies in the army taking control, as it did before. And it’s time to reprint the Drachma.

    • Anton

      Don’t you mean, “Greek salvation lies in reprinting the Drachma. And it’s time for the army to take control”?

      • Inspector General

        Army first, Drachma second. As it stands, no one in power in Greece at the current time is seriously leaning to the Drachma…

        • Anton

          Not publicly, anyway.

  • Inspector General

    Greece needs to go into a period of administration. About a decade should do it. Suspend democracy, for they do not deserve it (referenda indeed!). Don’t think the EU will allow it? They will BECAUSE IT’S THE ONLY SURE WAY OF GETTING THEIR MONEY BACK…

    • bluedog

      Come, come Inspector. There’s not the slightest chance of anybody getting their money back from the Greeks. The real problem is how the EU explains to its citizens they’ve just done 300 billion Euros cold. Heads should roll. And the return of the Colonels is the last thing Greece needs.

      • Inspector General

        Money talks, blue, especially if it’s crying to be re-united with its owners. Everything else next to that are just whispers…

        • bluedog

          Inspector, things work differently in the Orthodox lands, attitudes are frankly kleptocratic.

          Years ago this communicant foolishly invested in a small company that held the title to the largest unmined gold deposit in Siberia. How the company acquired this asset/liability during the break-up of the USSR remains a mystery, but the potential was never realised, as they say. In any event, one was told that the company’s management was in the office of the Russian minerals minister when the phone rang and the meeting was suddenly declared closed. Why, what’s happened? asked the startled foreigners. Oh, that was a call to tell me that the money has arrived from the IMF and I’ve got to go over to the Treasury to get my share. Next stop the Bahnhof Strasse in Zurich, one imagines.

          Is Greece any different? One suspects that the principle problem facing the current government is that they appear to be honest.

          • Anton

            One of the Greek Orthodox church’s monasteries brought down a previous Greek government a few years ago in a financial scandal in which that monastery was itself deeply implicated. Here is an insightful article about Greek economics and this monastery, written by an author who worked in finance for many years:

            http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2010/10/greeks-bearing-bonds-201010

            Ther is a distinct sense of deja vu about the opening line of the article, written in 2010:

            As Wall Street hangs on the question “Will Greece default?,” the author heads for riot-stricken Athens, and for the mysterious Vatopaidi monastery, which brought down the last government, laying bare the country’s economic insanity.

          • Inspector General

            One laments their present government, blue, they have abdicated governing and are asking the people. If that is not the prime reason for a government, to make reasoned decisions no matter how bad, then one wonders why they need a government at all. So they won’t mind being put into administration by EU bureaucrats, who can run the place for them and get the money back, albeit slowly…

  • Anton

    The Greek people are divided because to get to a better future (ie, out of the Euro) they would have to go through worse pain in the short term.

    Nobody knows what their PM’s bottom line is, or the Germans’. Interesting times.

    Didn’t anybody tell those Orthodox bishops that men shouldn’t wear hats in church?

  • preacher

    If you borrow to pay off a loan, you’ll end up owing more, plus interest. It’s only a question of when – not if, ask those that have tried it.

    The EU wants to hold on to all it’s catch. If one fish slips out of the net, others will follow through the same hole. That’s why they are working frantically to repair the tear.

    • sarky

      The reason that the EU hasn’t cut Greece loose is because they know damn well that if they do the EU dream is effectively over. Once Greece go, Spain, Italy and Portugal won’t be far behind and behind them will follow Romania etc etc etc.
      I have a feeling the Greek people will cut themselves loose and basically go bankrupt.
      Then we can sit back and watch the dominoes fall.

      • Anton

        And Greece knows that which is why their PM remains defiant even in bankruptcy. This was always going to go to the wire. Game theory anybody?

      • Austria have collected over 250,000 signatures in a petition campaign to leave the EU, this is now a topic to be discussed in their parliament.

      • Orwell Ian

        Which is precisely why the EU will not let Greece leave the eurozone even if they vote “No”. So what if the Greek banks fold, have to be nationalised and issue drachmas. They will only serve as a parallel short term currency until the Troika drags everything back on course towards ever closer union and using Euro’s again. The EU will of course do everything they possibly can to avoid this hence the propaganda blitz heralding “No” as Armageddon and national suicide etc but however the vote goes I cannot see the EU letting Greece out of the Eurozone prison. They have too much to lose. Greece is a drop in the Euro bucket a mere 2% and they could write it all off if they had to but Italy, that really is a different matter, where debt runs into Trillions and the burden is large enough not only to torpedo the Eurozone but also sink the EU.

  • carl jacobs

    If Greece votes ‘No’ the outcome is pretty clear. Everything is going to stop. No more negotiations. No more loans. No more bailouts. The Greek economy will disintegrate, and real crushing austerity will descend upon Greece. The Gov’t will struggle to introduce a new sovereign currency under the worst possible conditions. That new currency will fall precipitously against hard currencies, and imports will collapse. The gov’t will print more money. Inflation will spike. Businesses with external debts in Euros will suddenly have to pay off Euro-denominated loans with devalued drachmas and will go bankrupt. There will be basic shortages of essential goods as Greece discovers it doesn’t have the money to import them or the ability to move goods and services around the country. There will be food riots, unrest, the specter of famine. And unless someone closes a border, hundreds of thousands of Greeks are going to migrate North to escape the disaster. It is not unthinkable that the military could seize power to keep the country from implosion.

    It’s absolutely true that Greece brought this on itself. It wanted the money. It wanted the lifestyle provided by its otherwise unaffordable welfare state. It chose to take the loans. What it is trying to do now after the fact is convert the loans into an income transfer. Greece wants to realize the benefit of the moral hazard that is at the heart of the currency union – that excessive gov’t spending can be externalized onto the Union itself. This is what the EU is fighting so hard to prevent. The currency union has to have rules and penalties in order to make up for the fact that it doesn’t have a common unitary fiscal policy. And those rules must be enforced. Greece must obey the rules, or it will be cast into the outer darkness. The stability of the Euro is paramount.

    Europe will of course spend billions mitigating the humanitarian disaster that is Greek failure, but the moral hazard will have been addressed. Other nations will see and learn and fear. Greece will become the paramount example of what happens to countries that break the rules. The poverty and devastation will have but one message: “Stay on the program and don’t threaten the Euro.” What should happen is that the EU should admit Greece can’t stay in this currency union. It should help Greece extract itself in some kind of humanitarian and deliberate process. That would be just recompense for Europe’s portion of responsibility in creating this disaster. But that can’t happen either. The Euro is the magic talisman intended to bring about European political union. No, Brussels must crush Greece utterly or Brussels must keep Greece in the Euro under Brussels’ terms.

    There are no good outcomes anymore.

    • Owl

      In the short term, you are quite correct. Long term is “out” better as “in” means slavery (or it’s modern lefty equivalent).
      If Greece gets crushed then it can, in good conscious, look to other partners for help, e.g. USA or, maybe, Russia?

      • carl jacobs

        Russia doesn’t have the cash to help, and Greece is already a member of NATO. What is the US going to do that Europe can’t do better?

        I am not at all sanguine about Greece’s ability to recover from what would happen if an uncontrolled exit for the Euro should occur. Greece’s economic problems are structural. Those problems will all still be there after Grexit. The EU was trying to bludgeon Greece into fixing its economy. Greece unfortunately didn’t want its economy fixed. Too many rice bowls at stake. That’s why the austerity program didn’t yield the expected results. Greece didn’t want to change its pension system. Greece didn’t want to change its employment laws. Greece didn’t want to change its tax policy. Greece didn’t want to address its overpaid and bloated civil service. Greece didn’t want to fix the cartelization of its economy. Greece just wanted someone else to pay for all of the above. That was Syriza’s true mandate, and the “vision of Europe” that Tsipras has been advocating: “Get someone else to pay for our welfare state!” All of the above will still be present – just in an economy with a devalued weak currency and no access to credit.

        It’s hard not to say “The Greeks will get what they deserve” because in an objective sense Greece is getting exactly what it deserves. But Europe also knew what it was doing. It knew Greece couldn’t handle this, and it funded and enabled Greece anyways. I don’t believe that only Greece new Greece had cooked the books for Euro entry. And I’m sympathetic to the notion that the stronger economies of Europe have benefited from Greece being included – benefited to Greece’s detriment. What is needed is a civil divorce. But that means the end of the European vision. And who will dare to admit that truth?

        • Owl

          Carl I agree with the points you make.
          I just think that if it’s “out” then the debts get written off (Greece can’t pay) and a new beginning is possible.
          That Greece will be forced to change is a given and it’s going to hurt. As for the USA, well they do have some very capable management people and Greece will need a few. There is also a large Greek ethnic group in the US. I just wonder.

          • carl jacobs

            The debts don’t get written off. Refusing to pay is not the same as having the debt forgiven. They still exist. And non-payment gets factored into other applications for credit.

        • Anton

          Well said.

        • grutchyngfysch

          Mere austerity at the level of governmental policy wouldn’t be enough anyway. Essentially the whole world is being taught the lesson of fuelling today with work from tomorrow. But living within our means as both consumers and countries is painful because it involves recognition of the fact that we cannot afford what we have become accustomed to.

          A culture of austerity is the self imposition of that lesson. The market “rectifying” is the imposition on those unwilling to do so.

        • Dominic Stockford

          Carl, allow me to publicly say, as someone living in Europe, that the ‘Eurovision’ is dying.

    • Anton

      “Other nations will see and learn and fear.”

      Maybe, but other nations with dodgy economies are a lot bigger and let’s not forget the maxim that if you owe your bank manager a million then it’s your problem but if you owe him a billion then it’s his.

      A worse problem is Putin waiting to help Greece once it’s out and in serious shortterm distress.

      • Orwell Ian

        Maybe Putin is already helping Greece. How has Tsipras managed to keep ahead in the wrestling match? Just when the Euromob think they have him by the testicles and expect his heart and mind to quickly follow he bounces back with a stunt that leaves the opposition flabbergasted. For one relatively young and inexperienced how does he do it? And why is he supremely confident that a victorious “No” vote will not precipitate ejection from the eurozone? It’s as if if he was being continuously briefed by a global strategist whose intelligence service is capable of having a fly on every wall in Brussels and Berlin. The deteriorating situation is causing consternation in a number of capitals, why even Vladimir Putin expressed “great concern” over the EU’s vanishing credibility. How did he keep a straight face.

        • Anton

          Practice. He used to run the KGB.

        • Putin and Tsipras met and discussed a new Russian funded oil and gas pipeline to go through Greece to Europe whereby they would pay Greece for access. I’m not sure how much though.

    • Uncle Brian

      There are a certain limited number of possible outcomes and I think your nightmare vision of a descent into chaos is not really one of them. At the moment we’re waiting to see which of the two sides is bluffing, bearing in mind the possibility that they both are. Tsipras seems to believe that Germany and the others are so keen for Greece to stay in the euro that they’ll pay any price for that. If the No vote wins, he will find out that he was wrong, but that doesn’t mean that Angela Merkel and Christine Lagarde will just stand there smirking smugly as they watch the Greek economy spiral down the plughole. They have the option, at least, to help Greece manage its currency reform and phase in the new drachma. I suspect that they may even be hoping for that to happen.

  • A friend has just come back from the Greek island of Zante ,said there’s no problem there, business as usual, they all use cash from the bank under the bed! It seems the problems are on the mainland.

    Maybe if the rich Greek shipping magnates coughed up what they owe in tax
    things wouldn’t be so bad for Greece. Shouldn’t Angela & Co be
    chasing them rather than imposing more austerity for the Greek people?

    Thinking about the way the monetary system is going, it seems it’s heading
    towards imploding. It’s clearly no longer fit for purpose, with so
    many countries in debt and the few at the top hogging most of the
    money and printing ever more – in Feb this year the ECB printed
    another 1.1 trillion Euros.

    We all either need to get back on the Gold Standard or find another way
    of sharing the worlds resources and goods and services. Ever more
    people are using digital currency to trade and bypassing the banks.

    • Anton

      No longer fit for purpose? It never was, with a fiscal union but no matching political union. The fiends who devised that fully intended crises like this to force political union.

      • Dominic Stockford

        Or to force totalitarianism. What’s the betting that they try to impose a German president onto Greece.

        • Anton

          The situation is rich in ironies. Twice in the last 100 years Germany has tried to win an Empire in Europe and failed. This time it doesn’t want one and it is getting one.

  • Inspector General

    The Inspector is a keen observer and appreciator of other races traits and behaviours, much to others chagrin. But it doesn’t stop there, he is just as interested in national markers of behaviour. One would add at this point that there certainly is no malice or hatred involved in either pursuit. It’s merely noted, and it serves the Inspector well. From his findings, he can now understand how much of the world operates, or fails to operate as may be the case.

    We have all been treated to an insight of how the Greek mind works. Not pretty, is it. So with that on the table, just cut them loose to find their own way out. They will, of sorts. They might even come to believe that paying tax might be a good idea. Stranger things have happened…

    • Anton

      I don’t think it’s a good idea here when I look how a lot of it is spent!

    • Athanasius

      A strange position for an Englishman, Inspector. I was unaware that that race did not object to paying tax.

      • Inspector General

        Not sure what you mean Athanasius, but when it comes to the tax free lifestyle, they seem to celebrate the fact up in the mountains…

    • Powerdaddy

      So, based on your observations and appreciations, which of these races qualifies for original sin?

      • Inspector General

        Well, the concept of original sin came from somewhere. At a time when the Jews practised war on city states and tribes which involved the slaughter of every man, woman, child, and beast, it would be a most convenient exponent to achieve this. This is not to say the Jews were any worse than other stone age tribes around at the time.

        Does this help?

        • Powerdaddy

          Well, it’s not helping you.

          Original sin came from somewhere?

          I think you’ll find it somewhere in scripture.

          Eternal damnation awaits.

          You need to read your bible again.

          • Inspector General

            The point being it came from somewhere to make it into the Bible. Care to have a guess from where?

  • grutchyngfysch

    The Greek crisis is not about whether Greece will repay what it owes. It can’t. It’s about how the fallout is divided between creditors, states and taxpayers. The third group has the least power and least representation in those discussions, which is why it will end up shouldering the bulk of the burden. The only real issue is how to allot that pain by postcode.

    “Yet we are forcing our sons and our daughters to be slaves, and some of our daughters have already been enslaved, but it is not in our power to help it, for other men have our fields and our vineyards” Nehemiah 5:5

    • Athanasius

      The fallout will be divided between crediors and taxpayers roughly in the proportion of 100 per cent to the taxpayers with the creditors picking up the rest of the tab. That’s how neo-liberalism works. Of course, had we been dealing with capitalism, the lender who was as reckless as the borrower would be equally on the hook, but as I say, this is neo-liberalism.

      • grutchyngfysch

        There has been some discussion of documents from as early as 2010 showing the realisation that Greece was not good for any of its debt. Debt restructuring has not occurred at any serious level but creditors have used the intervening time to transfer the liability away from themselves into the public sector.

        The principle by which usury is usually justified is that risk is borne by the lender allowing them to extract interest as recompense. Greece will suffer for borrowing what it could not afford to repay and its poor stewardship will have lasting costs beyond its borders but it will also suffer for the mendacity of usurers whilst they evade the consequences of lending where they knew such loans would ruin the recipient.

        • …. that’s the global financial markets and modern capitalism, for you.

          • Anton

            It’s called crony capitalism and it is a perversion of the real thing. But deeper even than that, and untwigged by both Left and Right, is the immoral creation of unbacked fiat currency.

          • grutchyngfysch

            It is, blended with profligate states which encourage it as a means of delivering the short term goodies for elections wagered against the long term prosperity of both.

        • dannybhoy

          Maybe the only way Greece could update their infrastructure was by joining the European cheap loan scheme?
          Now they’ve done that they may go back to being a poorish country, full of history and decent folk who don’t much care for paying taxes?

  • Athanasius

    I’m no expert on the Orthodox Church, and I certainly stand to be corrected, but it is my understanding that, unlike Rome, it does not always speak with one voice in these matters. Various bishops may have differing opinions and there would not neccessarily be a problem about expressing them. In Catholicism, national bishops, although theoretically independent of each other, are expected to speak through their national collective bodies, a situation which sometimes brings problems of its own.

  • Shadrach Fire

    Will the real Cranmer stand up? Your back then, and you brought it with you. (A great Goons gag. Secombe I think). I trust the missions overseas went well and that you are well rested.

    Why is the ‘Church’ both here and there so supportive of the EU when the EU want’s nothing to do with the church except it’s money perhaps. The EU has nothing to do with Christ and we should have nothing to do with it.

    I visited the EU parliament in Brussels the other day whilst with fellow ‘Freedomites’ on a celebrations of British Victories over the centuries. I hated the whole spirit of the place and it’s arrogance that only they know right.

    The sites of the battle fields showed me that the british have over time been willing to fight for their freedom and not to be suppressed any anyone. Yet we we have been lulled into submission through lies, disinformation and a strategy of attrition. Georges Clemenceau said, “War is too important a business to be left to soldiers.” This gave rise to the concept of the grand strategy and that is what the founders of the EU have done.

    There is no future for freedom within the EU as a political organisation.

  • Shadrach Fire

    With the Greek Royal family in Exile and our own Duke of Edinburgh being of the Greek Royalty, Perhaps we could offer Greece to join the Commonwealth. That is where I hope we will pin our future. Perhaps Charles would like to go there and be Regent.
    So long Charlie. LOL.

  • Orwell Ian

    “The Church of Greece sees Orthodoxy as part of the European fabric and history and understands Greece to be an important part of the European project.”

    If this is their position they either don’t give a fig for democracy or have too much to lose as shareholders of tottering banks. Perhaps it’s both.

    There must be serious risk to Greek democracy. On the one hand their defence minister hinted yesterday that the army was the guarantor of stability, which could mean anything from supporting the Police to a Coup d’etat. On the other hand we have Herr Schulz who has called for the elected Syriza government to be replaced by “technocrat” rule until stability is restored. The latter no idle threat. The EU has past form for this in Greece and Italy. The purpose of empire is empire, the object of power is power. Nothing, absolutely nothing, is off limits for these people.

  • magnolia

    What a superb piece His Grace has written.

    I particularly like the bit that isn’t really there about paying back the banksters.

    Best cartoon I have seen is the one on “Unfiltered news” where a guy in Greek national dress approaches two coffin-shaped ballot box coffins on legs labelled Yes and No with a ballot paper in his hand.

    It doesn’t look hopeful to me, but maybe there is hope in some unpredictable way.

    “Jesus save Greece”. Amen to that.

  • CliveM

    There seems to be an assumption by all that if Greece defaults, they get kicked out of the Euro. The Greek Govt says this would be illegal and they could stay whatever Brussels wants. Does anyone know if this is correct? What is the legal mechanism?

    • carl jacobs

      Greece will run out of Euros. It won’t get anymore, and it can’t print them. It might technically still be in the Euro, but it needs a currency it can actually use. It will have to create its own just so the economy has some way to function. There must be a means of economic exchange. So once it starts using that currency, how does it ever get back to the Euro?

      • CliveM

        Ok I understand. So it’s not that they would necessarily be booted out, they just wouldn’t have the ability to stay in as there would be no liquidity.

        Thanks Carl

      • Inspector General

        They seem to be using bitcoins. A mad hatters currency which confirms the theory that there really is one born every minute.

        • Anton

          Early days for bitcoin. Who knows?

          • Inspector General

            Gold’s your man.

          • Anton

            Absolutely. It is the people’s currency because it emerged spontaneously as a preferred medium of exchange in markets having originally been one of the many goods brought there for barter. Precious metals alone had the requisite properties of divisibility, portability, verifiability, lack of decay. They originally had value because the rich used them for decoration and they were proxy for grain – which everybody wanted or knew would be an acceptable exchange medium for that reason – stored in the barns of the rich.

            Fiat currency represents the nationalisation of the people’s currency.

          • Inspector General

            Look, old chap, a quiet aside. The Inspector has a quantity of magic beans he’s prepared to trade for Bank of England notes. Good rates too. He was going to sell them to Jack, but he’s not around…

        • carl jacobs

          I can’t imagine how anyone actually trusts that stuff.

          • Inspector General

            Don’t think trust comes into it.

          • Anton

            Exchange medium is all about trust.

        • I’m not so sure it is a mad hatters currency you know. It’s based on a finite amount of number combinations ordered via the blockchain and is peer to peer bypassing the banks and other middlemen like pay-pal etc..

          • Inspector General

            Will tell the landlord at the ‘Mouse and Wheel’ that and not be surprised when a pint of Guinness is not poured for yours truly…

          • He’s not as advanced as you then Inspector!

      • Dominic Stockford

        Apparently there is a slush fund for countries to use when they end up ‘leaving’ the euro.

      • Linus

        Greece does print its own euros. There’s nothing to stop it continuing to do so whether other European countries object or not. The treaties give it the right and ELA legislation means it can print pretty much whatever it needs to cover liquidity needs as and when it chooses.

        Legally these euros would have to be honoured by the rest of Europe. There is no mechanism in the euro treaty that enables the ejection of a country from the monetary union.

        By threatening to flood the markets with what would technically still be legal tender euro notes, Greece could force the ECB’s hand and create a currency crisis the like of which we’ve never seen. It would be nothing short of economic terrorism, but does anyone who’s ever met the revolutionary Tsipras and his unstable finance minister seriously doubt they would hesitate to set a bomb off under the money markets they hate so much?

        Something tells me this threat has already been made and behind their poker faces the Germans are in a considerable state of panic. If we wake up on Monday morning with a Greek “oxi” then Tsipras’s finger will be poised over the printing press button and Merkel will be in real trouble.

        Does she cave into Greek demands and lose an irrecuperable amount of face with her electorate? Or does she dare him to do his worst and preside over the destruction of the single currency she’s devoted so much of her political career to?

        I personally think it will be the former rather than the latter, but it all depends on the outcome of the referendum. Let’s wait and see…

        • carl jacobs

          The EU can do what it likes. Greek notes are identified by serial number. They can be treated like counterfeit money. Greece could maybe do some damage, but the EU would react quickly enough. Then what would happen to Greece?

          If the Greeks actually did what you suggest, it would be tantamount to a declaration of economic war. Greece can’t go that far in alienating Europe unless it wants to end up sealed off behind its border. It still hopes to exist in Europe and it still needs access to trade, after all.

          On the other hand, you make a good point. This is Tsipras. He might be that reckless.

          • itdoesntaddup

            Greece, along with France, Spain and Ireland, is responsible at the moment for printing €10 notes only with serial numbers for all Eurozone members. Back to 2002, it has never printed anything more valuable than €20 notes.

            https://www.ecb.europa.eu/stats/euro/production/html/index.en.html

          • carl jacobs

            with serial numbers for all Eurozone members

            I did not know that. My error. I still don’t think that this is a credible long-term threat for the reasons you suggested

          • CliveM

            Also it would not address the issue of trade. How would Greece continue to buy from abroad? The ECB could withdraw the 10 and if needed 20 from circulation and compensate in the short term by boosting 5’s. Typically there are emergency procedures in place in case of this type of economic terrorism.

          • Linus

            Think about the implications of what you’re saying for a moment.

            All of a sudden, a good proportion of the money in circulation becomes counterfeit. Someone in Paris or Berlin tries to deposit cash in his account, only for the teller to say “I’m sorry sir, this perfectly genuine 500 euro note that was legal tender yesterday is now counterfeit and therefore worthless”

            Confidence in the currency would fall off a cliff and provoke a panic the like of which we’ve never seen.

            Greece will mount a legal challenge to any attempt to shut it out of the euro, and as the treaties currently stand, their position looks pretty impregnable.

            If the ECB acts unilaterally by failing to honour Greek printed notes it will be contravening the terms of the monetary union, an illegal act that will further undermine confidence. Is Europe run by a bank now? Does the bank have the right to suffocate a member state and expel it from the union without any kind of democratic consultation? And remember, the Greeks have a national veto just like every other member state. How will any legislation forcing Greece out of the euro pass when the Greeks can veto it at will?

            Of course everything depends on the outcome of today’s referendum. If Greece votes yes, Tsipras will have to comply with Europe’s terms and his bluff will have been called. If no, he can bring the euro down in a matter of weeks. Will Frau Merkel risk that, or will she cave to Greek demands in order to stave off financial meltdown.

            In Tsipras’s head, the parlous state of the Greek economy is all the fault of greedy capitalist German bankers. Will he think twice before extorting money from them under threat of financial apocalypse? I think not. This is what happens when a country elects a corner café pseudo intellectual to high office. Hitler came to power on the back of austerity measures that weren’t so very different to the situation in Greece today. And although Tsipras is no Hitler, his half-baked undergraduate political theories make him every bit as dangerous.

          • bluedog

            ‘Confidence in the currency would fall off a cliff and provoke a panic the like of which we’ve never seen.’

            Any thinking person would have reached that conclusion on the day that the ECB failed to support the Bank of Greece. At that point the Euro implicitly became worthless.

            This communicant expects this logic to become better understood as the EMU crisis gets worse. And it will.

          • Linus

            The euro will not fail.

            Greece represents 2% of the European economy. Even if it were to declare effective bankruptcy, the combined economic might of Germany, France and all the other Eurogroup members will be enough to maintain confidence in the single currency, even if its value may dip for a while.

            Some kind of face-saving solution will be found for Greece within days. There’s too much to lose for that not to happen. The reputation of figures like Angela Merkel may be tarnished by the deal that will have to be cut with Greece in order to prevent it from undermining the euro and provoking a full-blown crisis, but Frau Merkel is enough of a realist to be able to see the necessity in that.

            It seems to me she has little choice but to step aside and let François Hollande lead the negotiations with Greece now. And Hollande, despite his many shortcomings, is actually quite good at brokering deals between seemingly irreconcilable positions.

            Remember also that a Frenchwoman heads up the IMF. Christine Lagarde is a consummate politician and a highly intelligent realist. Between them, Hollande and Lagarde will work out a deal that provides Greece with the relief from austerity that it needs while still being credible in the eyes of the market.

            So all these English Christian prognostications of doom and disaster will come to naught. They always do. The sky is always falling, only it never does.

          • bluedog

            Rejoice! Rejoice! The Greeks have won a modern Thermopylae! The Euro is crashing on global markets as the awful truth dawns – it’s stuffed. And the EU with it.

          • Linus

            The sky is falling!!!

            Only it’s not. Yes, the euro will shed some value as a reaction to what’s happened in Greece. But it won’t crash. And the EU is as stable as it’s ever been.

            Of course in Christian Cloud Cuckoo Land a completely different scenario is playing out. But as this strange and bizarre country only exists in your imaginations, anything you want to happen there can. And does.

            Have fun playing make-believe.

          • bluedog

            Don’t understand where Christianity fits in to the future of the EU. But good luck, you’ll need it over there.

          • avi barzel

            Looks like old Linus is going a bit hysterical, that’s all. He’ll be fine, though, his mother has UK citizenship and Linus will be thrilled to move among the English folks he speaks so glowingly of. Surely you can put up Linus and his new partner in your study until they get up on their feet? Just imagine the smell of haute cuisine as Linus and company joyfully chirp and gently bicker in your kitchen over their cassoulet.

          • bluedog

            Many thanks for your advice, Avi. Without wishing to appear rude, it took me a nano-second to decide not to offer an airbnb service to Linus and his husband. Mrs bluedog is very vivacious and actually loves gays because they are frequently very amusing (bitchy?) and yet non-threatening. However in this case one fears that the cassoulet, however well executed, would reek of condescension rather than any other ingredient.

          • avi barzel

            Don’t knock condescension, it’s the chief ingredient that makes the overly spiced, over-cooked and over-rated French cuisine palatable. In my pre-kosher days and living in Toronto with every imaginable cuisine in the world, I discovered that delicate and fine Northern Italian, ecclectic Austro-Hungarian, meaty Argentine and, believe it or not, flavour-exploding Peruvian cuisines, beat French hands down.

          • Linus

            The EU is a secular institution. Christianity and all other religions have no effect on its functioning. Religion is a private matter and is neither regulated nor supported by the EU. Believe what you like, but don’t expect public recognition or support for it, especially when it comes to attempts to impose your beliefs on others.

            Thank you for the sincere wishes of good luck. I suppose in the true spirit of Christian charity you’ll be lobbying your government to participate in an aid program for Greece. No? Quelle surprise ! But then when did the English ever put the money, that is so very dear to them, where their mouth is?

          • bluedog

            ‘Thank you for the sincere wishes of good luck. ‘ Always a pleasure. Actually this communicant would be very much in favour of financial assistance to Greece, it could potentially help the UK’s own position. So far the Greeks have destroyed the inevitability of ever-closer union and possibly acquis communautaire too. Commendable. One wouldn’t necessarily want to include the Greeks in a rejuvenated Sterling bloc, but as the EMU implodes, such an entity could emerge faute de mieux.

          • Linus

            A Sterling bloc? Since when did a single country form a bloc? Or are you counting an independent Scotland and assuming they won’t prefer their own groat or testoun?

            By all means amuse yourself with idle fancy. Here in the real world we’re getting on with the task of ironing out the current wrinkles in European financial policy. It involves resetting a few expectations, but once everyone has been prevailed upon to be reasonable, it will be business as usual.

          • bluedog

            If you wiki ‘Sterling area’ , you will find a well informed commentary on the topic.

            Splendid news that the EMU will continue on an even keel thanks to your ministrations. It always takes longer than one thinks for these financial ships to sink once holed below the water-line. Recall that Lehman Bros failed in late June/early July 2008, but it was not until after the US Labor Day holiday in early September that year that the SHTF.

            So it will prove with the ECB. Would you like the cash balances of the French government pension fund invested with the ECB? One suspects that private capital will not be rolling over balances with the ECB from now on, and that it will become funded by the public sector alone.

          • Linus

            What is it about the British that makes them live in the past?

            There is no “Sterling area” any more. It died along with your Empire.

            Try to revive it if you like, but I think you’ll find most of the countries concerned have either floated their currencies and aren’t looking to peg them to anything, or have pegged them to the dollar. And if you think you’re going to lure former colonies away from their allegiance to the greenback, then you really are living in cloud cuckoo land.

            That’s probably the best place for all your plans for British greatness following a withdrawal from the EU. How exactly do you think you’ll fuel a British Economic Miracle by swapping Germany and France for the Falkland Islands and Sierra Leone as trading partners. And that’s if Sierra Leone will have you … they probably have other plans that don’t involve pandering to the nostalgic reminiscences of their former colonial masters.

            Still, this is all theoretical because Britain is still part of the EU, and probably still will be well into the foreseeable future. It’s hardly surprising that the same religionists who fantasize about God would also fantasize about returning to the imperial past when Britain was powerful enough to count for something in the world. Luckily, dreams are free…

          • bluedog

            ‘Luckily, dreams are free…’ Not in the EU, they’re not. Your post is a flippant disgrace. Here are the Greeks being dragged into meetings, threatened and impoverished by the leaders of the EU in meeting after meeting. All you can do is trot out mockery and condescension.
            Meanwhile the ECB balance sheet already has total assets of 2 trillion Euros on equity of 10 billion and seems to be living off the back of swaps from the US Federal Reserve, see the weekly reports. One can only conclude that the shareholders won’t or can’t lend it money from their own treasuries. Furthermore, your president and Merkel won’t admit to their electorates that the billions lent to Greece cannot be recovered for fear of the reaction. Grossly irresponsible. It will serve you right if the Greeks soon leave the EMU and the EU and get on with life by repudiating their debts to the EU nations. This could in fact cause the crisis in confidence in the ECB that appears to be inevitable. No central bank has ever failed before but the ECB promises to be the first. A 2 trillion banking crash because of the stupidity of two European leaders will be the cause of even greater unemployment in Europe.
            The silver lining is that Cameron’s ability to promote EU membership as beneficial will look like the ravings of a lunatic by the time we get to his referendum. As this communicant has said before, the EMU will be over by Christmas and the EU won’t survive in its current form till the end of 2016. What will happen? The Germans will walk, to get away from the rest of you.

        • itdoesntaddup

          You’re correct that Greece prints Euros – but only in accordance with the orders of the ECB for serial numbers and denominations. Anything beyond that would be forgeries. Of course, they might seek to duplicate existing notes, but getting them into the ECB banking system in quantity is not a trivial task. The ECB’s response would be to redesign the notes and recall the currency, and not share the new printing plates, inks and paper supplies with the Greeks.

          • Inspector General

            or even the German army came back a-visiting. And who could blame them…

    • Orwell Ian

      The only legal way for a country to exit the Euro is to leave the EU as well. There has been a lot of EUspeak in the last few hours of Greece leaving the Euro “temporarily” which sounds like a fudge whereby they are still technically in the Eurozone while using the Drachma to keep the economy on life support. Getting back to using the Euro again would require political, fiscal and currency gymnastics of Olympic standard. Rather appropriate for Greece.

    • Anton

      Nobody can stop Greeks using the Euro as their currency, just as nobody can stop them using US dollars as their currency if they wish. But they don’t get any say in Euro fiscal policy. (Some would say they don’t at the moment anyway!) Recall John Connally saying to a bunch of European finance ministers postwar that the dollar was “our [America’s] currency but your problem”. If they revert to the Drachma then the exchange rate can take the strain and let them bounce back, as holidays and Greek goods become cheap.

  • Dominic Stockford

    “cultic ideology of euro-nationalism”

    Lovely, lovely.

  • David

    What amazes me about Churches’ enthusiasm for the EU Empire, is that they appear not to have noticed that it supports Humanism, as the philosophy informing its laws. Why even its constitution denies Europe’s only true commonality, its Christian heritage !
    I do believe that many sincere folk in the churches hierarchy are deeply, politically myopic, and certainly naive.

    • Dominic Stockford

      But then they haven’t noticed many things that the Bible teaches either, so I’m not entirely surprised.

      • David

        That was an impressively quick comment !

    • Anton

      Europe has another cultural commonality and it comes from ancient Greece.

      • David

        Yes, but do you mean Reason, or Democracy ? The EU has little of either !

        • Anton

          Stuff the EU, I mean Europe. It existed before the EU and it will exist after. Our culture has the following features which all started in ancient Greece:

          * the political system: democracy (although only adult male citizens could vote).

          * theatre – we have many original Greek plays, and theatre is still popular today and is the forerunner of cinema and television drama.

          * sculpture and architecture: buildings with porticos and decorated pillars, based on temples to Greek gods and goddesses – the great houses of European aristocrats look like this, as do many town halls, libraries and public buildings.

          * sport – the Olympic Games began in Greece,
          which invented most individual sports. (The British invented most team sports, in the 19th century.)

          * thought – the Greeks produced philosophers
          such as Plato and Aristotle who have had priority in European learning ever since. Plato is a political philosopher whose Academy is the ancestor of our
          universities. Aristotle attended Plato’s Academy and extended and summarised virtually all the knowledge of the time, and inspired modern science.

          * our legends – Homer, already ancient in classical
          Greece, and Vergil the poet of Rome, are perhaps the greatest storyteller-poets ever, but they treat vengeance and war as noble things, in contrast to the Bible.

    • The Explorer

      Many of those in the C of E hierarchy support Humanism too; so they feel right at home.

      • David

        Sadly you are right.

  • Hi

    well these clerics should look to Damaskinos of Athens, who said to the Nazis, who also overthrew democracy :

    “According to the traditions of the Greek Orthodox Church, our prelates are hanged, not shot. Please respect our traditions!”

    And also against the fascists :

    “Today we are deeply concerned with the fate of 60,000 of our fellow citizens who are Jews: we have lived together in both slavery and freedom, and we have come to appreciate their feelings, their brotherly attitude, their economic activity, and most important, their indefectible patriotism..”

    Of course Germany was forgiven most of its debts and became rich again, despite the warmongering of two world wars, but forgets that when it comes to collecting its own. They’re behaving like bullies- but without shots being fired – whilst Greeks run out of basic necessities. We now know what the European union is like and I hope Britain get out asap.

    Shame, shame , shame !!!!!

    • Anton

      Britain is thankfully not in the Euro currency and can set its own fiscal policy regarding the pound sterling currency, but we are indeed in the EU and the sooner we are not the better.

      The Greeks have been taking advantage of the German desire to maintain unity in the EU by getting paid for nothing. There is nothing – nothing! – like money for causing people and indeed nations to have ambiguous motives.

      • Inspector General

        Beginning to think the Greeks are a people who now get by by parasiting …

        • Anton

          All are guilty in this sorry tale. And all are going to get punished. That the world operates by moral mechanics points to a just God.

          • Inspector General

            No. This is one tragedy purely of Greek making…

          • Anton

            It suited the Eurocrats to get Greece in and turn a blind eye to their obvious fiddling of the books to meet the entry criteria. (OK, Goldman Sachs get the blame for helping Greece cook the books, but don’t tell me Brussels didn’t know that they had been cooked in some way.) The Eurocrats want political union and hoped that a fiscal crisis caused by tension between economies going up and down within the Eurozone would force it. It suited the Germans to keep the Euro weak by including lousy economies in it, so that German exports would be cheaper in world markets. Perhaps the Germans have quietly also felt that subsidising Greece might atone for wartime atrocities, notably the mass starvation that took place late on. But they also felt that they should not have to subsidise vast State pensions for Greek State retirees in the early 50s when they – Germans have to work later.

            The point I am making is that this is a falling-out between lender and borrower and that the motives of both have been ambiguous.

          • Inspector General

            No. It’s been 70 years since any country has had the misfortune to find itself in the German sphere of influence. You have to sign up for it now, and the Germans are very accommodating.

            Greece made a bid to become Germany’s mistress. Or at least one of them, and as any kept woman will tell you, household budgeting goes out the window from then on. They see, they buy. Paying for it is no longer their responsibility…

          • Anton

            Yes, and becoming somebody’s mistress means moral ambiguity on both parts. I agree with you this time but did not agree when you blamed (above) the Greeks alone.

          • Inspector General

            You won’t like the Inspector comparing Greece to a shameless whore out for a good time, who on seeing a marvellous opportunity, stripped naked in indecent haste and jumped on his bed, then…

    • avi barzel

      Miss Hannah, the Greeks are merely the beginning of the end of the modern “social justice” state. Borrowing, expanding public sectors, fat pensions and welfare cheques, endless benefits and Free Stuff for votes; all this spells the end of democracies. So, after they default and are bailed out, after new reparations from Germany run out, after a “bail-in” by confiscating personal accounts and the last round of “make the rich pay,” what next? You’re seeing the inevitable, where the welfare state itself goes on welfare…but there is no one left to pay for it.

      • The Explorer

        Welfare goes on welfare. Nice!

        • Hi explorer,

          Indeed it does. These bailouts of Greece bailed out northern European banks and enriched vulture funds. Almost none of the money has gone directly to Greece. The welfare has been for corporations and not the ordinary European. Greek or otherwise.

      • Hi Avi

        I’m not defending the greek welfare model. What I will critique is the European project of which the Euro was supposed to be the ultimate of bringing an ever closer union to the nation states of Europe. If one looked at the exchange rate that after the bretton woods system collapsed in thr 1970s the dollar would buy 30 drachma , but by the time of the Euro one dollar was worth 400 drachma, so that might have implied an Argentine type economy .

        The Greece state should never have been allowed to join the Euro, but then the Euro shouldn’t have been created in the first place. It has basically allowed northern European states an economic advantage via a fixed and undervalued exchange rate. Even the US treasury sees Germany as a worse currency manipulator than China.

        But the real problem is that the bailout(more accurately loans) for Greece and indeed Ireland have not been for the benefit of Greece or Ireland , but for northern European and western banks who held the debt and to keep the illusions of the European project alive. I think poor countries in Asia and south America will ask themselves why they’re forced to contribute to a bailout of a rich country and in a confederacy which has at least four of the very rich countries of this earth and why those members have allowed Greece to go like this, whilst at the same time teying to drive the continent into a larger super state.

        Greece was forced to accept the bailout package when the Euro had no firewall to prevent the same thing happening to Italy and Spain. In usual imf bailouts, for example the currency is heavily devalued alongside austerity and structural reforms and creditors get massive haircuts.. non of which were given to Greece, except the austerity and structural reform: which hasn’t worked as the economy of Greece is in recession and indded the debt burden is even higher. The imf admits that Greece will never be able to repay these debts

        Greece should have been allowed to go bankrupt in 2010, with an orderly exit from the Euro, which would have meant the Greeks deciding for themselves their own fate. Banks would have taken a hit and German and Dutch taxpayers, for example, would be asking themselves why they were having to bailout their banks, rather than attack Greeks for being lazy . As it is this debacle is the beginning of the end of the utopian dream of Europe United.

        • avi barzel

          And I’m not absolving the EU and its policies and banks, Miss Hannah. All together are guilty of hubris and socialist pseudo-economics which have, predictably, devolved into soft fascism with elites, governments, unions and crony capitalists running amok. That the C of E, the Vatican and now, the Greek Patriarchate have jumped aboard this populist demagoguery is astounding. One would expect these institutions to present a sober, conservative approach which defends the intetetests of the common man, the hard-working citizen, not the elites and their governments.

          • Hi avi,

            Absolutely and I’d suggest the Greeks want their cakes and to eat them . They want a strong currency, but without the economic model they’d need to have one.

            Ps have an easy and meaningful fast.

        • dannybhoy

          Good stuff Hannahle.
          As was your slave explanation on your own blog..

          • Hi

            I’m blushing 🙂

          • dannybhoy

            You’re a sweetie.
            But Avi not so much..
            ;0)

          • avi barzel

            There you go again.

          • dannybhoy

            Get out of it!
            You want me to call you a sweetie??
            You love being ragged Avi. You just won’t admit it..

          • avi barzel

            Well, wife won’t call me sweetie anymore, as I’m apparently too grizzled.

          • dannybhoy

            She probably said ‘too shrivelled’ but I guess your ego has taken enough of a bruising, so we’ll gloss over that one..

  • itdoesntaddup

    You ask can the Greeks not just print Euros? They can – indeed, they have been contracted to do just that by the ECB – but only for authorised ranges of serial numbers and particular denominations. Of course, others are also in the Euro printing business – forgers. And the ECB itself, which is “printing” large quantities electronically via its QE programme.

    The Greek central bank could in theory emulate the ECB and print electronically. The issue for both the Greek central bank and the ECB (and the BoE and Fed come to that) is how long such a policy remains credible before it collapses into hyperinflation.

    • Anton

      O Boy! If the Greeks start to print Euros with unauthorised serial numbers or duplicate serial numbers then this could go military.

      • itdoesntaddup

        Not really. The ECB would recall the currency, and print a new design – not shared with the Greeks. It’s doubtful that the Greeks could do much anyway – they only have plates for €10 and €20 notes, and they’d have to get them into the wider EU banking system. Not easy if you can’t send them to all the ATMs around Europe.

        • avi barzel

          Perhaps their Roma, who have become experts at ATM technologies and the Africans who are washing up on Greek shores with nary a farthing can have their pockets stuffed with counterfeit Euros and sent on a reverse-direction crusade into the rest of Europe?

  • If Greece slides into chaos, and more people die through violence, suicide or hunger, it is not just Greece that will be held accountable and suffer.

    “The fifth commandment forbids doing anything with the intention of indirectly bringing about a person’s death. The moral law prohibits exposing someone to mortal danger without grave reason, as well as refusing assistance to a person in danger.

    The acceptance by human society of murderous famines, without efforts to remedy them, is a scandalous injustice and a grave offense. Those whose usurious and avaricious dealings lead to the hunger and death of their brethren in the human family indirectly commit homicide, which is imputable to them.

    Unintentional killing is not morally imputable. But one is not exonerated from grave offense if, without proportionate reasons, he has acted in a way that brings about someone’s death, even without the intention to do so.”
    (CCC Section 2269)

    • Inspector General

      Into the same realm as terrorists being awarded a few million compensation by ‘human rights’ courts, aren’t we ?

      • Completely different issues, Inspector. There is never a justification for murderous terrorist activities, although the causes do need to be addressed.

        • Inspector General

          You’ve misused CCC Section 2269, and you know it…

          • In what way has he misused it?

            You don’t think there has been “usurious and avaricious dealings” concerning Greece by those lending them money? Or economic recklessness by those outside of Greece with an agenda wider than her wellbeing? If the consequences are “hunger and death”, then, indirectly, this is morally sinful.

          • Inspector General

            If you need to borrow money, then it’s the lenders who call the shots, not you. Why are you trying to get the guilty party off the hook and transferring their guilt to us ?

          • avi barzel

            Good Heavens, Jack, you have been infected by the doctrines of His Holiness Comrade Francis and his radical politbureau…and possibly his new Canadian Marxist-feminist-environmentalist-dingbat “science advisor.” You really haven’t been your usual polically sober self lately. But there is a cure, an offardable one which won’t further strain the resources of your NHS: Off to a remote traditionalist monastery in the Pyrenees. A vow of silence, tridentine masses and bread with olives and green onions for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the refectory where only Psalms in vernacular Latin are read will set you right again!

          • The Catechism predates Pope Francis and was written under the Pontificate of John Paul II.

            The point Jack is making is that international financiers and European politicians have encouraged recklessness by Greece and thus share some moral responsibility for the mess and for resolving it. In Jack’s world, a drug dealer is as culpable as a drug user for addiction.

          • avi barzel

            O, please, Jack, really! You are applying the logic of ghetto community activists who browbeat banks to lend to deadbeats, collapsed the banks with the inevitable defaults and shifted the responsibility to the taxpayer after accusing the banks of “hooking” them onto Free Stuff. Greece took a free ride against the sober advice of those “internatiinal financiers.” They were expected to use the money to grow their economy, not to bribe the electorate with cushy perks and turn a whole generation into cafe loiterers. So, now you’ll have a situation where some starve, while others rage against having their paid vacation days and lavish pensions trimmed. And they elected a pretty-boy communist nitwit with a cretin for an “economist” to get them out of this mess! How far will you, you personsally, go to pay for their stupidity and greed? And pay you will, because Greece will not fix itself and soon others will follow.

          • It wasn’t just Greek people who were being greedy and stupid. Let the Germans, French and other members of the Euro pay. They, the financiers and the banks knew full well where all this was heading years ago. Yes, Greece has to play its part and it has to manage its economy. They are indeed culpable. But bankruptcy and the attendant social, political and economic meltdown should be avoided and assistance forthcoming from those who share responsibility.

          • avi barzel

            Well, Europe will pay, through the nose, that’s for sure; there is no chance of Greece paying back the “loans”, but are you now saying that for the privilege of having showered the Greeks with billions, and for their failure to step in…perhaps with panzers and military governors to prevent them from turning into lazy and incompetent oafs …Europe is perpetually on the hook for their welfare? But a part of me cheers on your approach; endless bailouts of a growing number of whining pauper nations is the quickest way to collapse this EU monstrosity.

          • dannybhoy

            There was never any chance that Greece or Portugal or even Spain and Italy would ever be able to adopt that “one size fits all” economic model.
            All these are nations who coped by adapting their currency to suit their economic needs. Nothing wrong with that, you make the best of what you’ve got.
            Imagine how any of the great oil producing states would be without their oil? Then you have the countries rich in mineral resources but lacking the drive and discipline to mine and market. Even Australia has struggled to really capitalise on their natural riches by further processing and ‘added value.’

          • avi barzel

            On the last point, resource based economies were often hampered by steep tariffs set up by their clients. Australia and Canada were hampered by such, in addition to simply not having enough people to set up a viable and internationally competitive manufacturing sector up until the middle of the 20th century.

          • dannybhoy

            Well, I knew they lacked the manpower and infrastructure, but didn’t know about the tariffs. I still don’t see the logic though of continuing to use up their natural resources. It leaves them quite vulnerable.

          • Inspector General

            Magnificence from you this afternoon, Avi. What sport! You certainly told Jack where to get off. Well done Sir!

          • dannybhoy

            Unworthy of you Inspector!
            I like Jack. Not only is he a Christian, he’s well informed, gracious and rarely rude to other people on this blog.

          • Inspector General

            Jack’s an economic illiterate, Danny, and this afternoon he had his comeuppance…

          • dannybhoy

            Hm.
            Someone once said that, “If men only talked about what they truly understood, not a lot would get said..”
            Guess that goes for all of us.

          • Inspector General

            Oh come on, it’s not that bad! He went all Greek on us and had his behind kicked for his efforts. Damn good show!

          • Anton

            When all is said and done, there’s a lot more said than done.

          • dannybhoy

            And many a mickle makes a muckle..

          • carl jacobs

            Now let’s be fair. Jack has moved from knee-jerk ding-bat left wing economic analysis to moderated knee-jerk ding-bat left wing economic analysis. He has made progress. We are having a good effect. Perhaps it’s time for some positive reinforcement?

          • avi barzel

            Jack and I like to tweak each other’s noses, Inspector. He will bide his time and then, when my guard is down…pinch!

          • Inspector General

            So long as it’s just noses, Avi

          • avi barzel

            Of course, our good behaviour is guaranteed; this is a family-friendly blog after all, Inspector.

          • Cressida de Nova

            You know Jack, I think you are the only true Christian on this blog. The hardship that ” the least of my brethren” Greeks are going to suffer is treated with such disdain and non compassion by so many here. The Greeks have been exploited
            by the EU. It has allowed countries who were not eligible to join for reasons of self interest. Greece is a wonderful country and those who enjoy holidaying there should support them by taking wads of cash over this summer.

          • dannybhoy

            Along with all that can you recommend a good rabbi?

          • avi barzel

            Uh-uh, rabbis should stick to their assigned competencies; the fewer meddling in politics and economics, the better.

          • carl jacobs

            Hey! You used my word! And anyways. “Ding-bat” is properly hyphenated.

          • avi barzel

            Wrong on both counts. Have your staff do forensic research on the Cranmer blogs and archives and you’ll see that my use of “dingbat” pre-dates yours. And the highest linguistic authorities, such as Wikipedia, dictionary.com and the Urban Dictionary do not hyphenate “dingbat.” So, there!

          • carl jacobs

            You may have used the word first. But I possessed prior ownership. You should have known that I would use it.

          • Hi Carl

            I suspect that avi is missing his Schmaltz herring ….

          • carl jacobs

            It’s a good thing to miss.

          • avi barzel

            Grrrr! ( pace Jack)

          • Hi Carl

            Fish is good for you…

          • carl jacobs

            It’s salted catfood.

          • avi barzel

            It’s a half-fast day today and I slept in, so I’m going without coffee and breakfast.

          • Hi avi

            My custom is to fast all day till 20mins after sunset , but you have an easy fast anyways .

          • avi barzel

            Minhag here is an hour after sunset. An easy fast to you and yours as well!

          • avi barzel

            This has escalated and we shouldn’t comment further without counsel. Have your lawyer contact mine and set up a date for discovery and mediation.

          • avi barzel

            PS, and if there is hunger and death in Greece, it’s the direct responsibility of the Greek government and its supposedly innocent and stupid people, which has still plenty of resources to prevent such. You are falling for the old trick of “give us money or we’ll starve our children.” The Inspector is right, the Greeks and the government they elected have become terrorists.

          • CliveM
          • avi barzel

            Thanks! A great article. Sadly for Greece, sobee people like him have lwft or are about to. Incidently the public sector is even bigger than the long-named author tells. Today it’s 30 percent for public servants. With nationalized industries and government contracts, not to mention spin-offs the government-dependent sector is even bigger of course, leaving perhaps 60-70 percent dependent on the cliquey nomenklatura. Starting to look like medieval serf-based economics.

          • CliveM

            Yes it’s interesting how some seem to suggest this is a problem of capitalism or bizzarly neo liberalism!

          • avi barzel

            It’s the inability to absorb the fact that true liberalism is a by-product of economic liberalism. The illusion that you can have one without the other. The state has found the perfect formula previous autocracies missed; give people meaningless sexual liberties and modern versions of circuses in exchange for their rights and freedoms.

          • CliveM

            After 2000 years it’s still bread and circuses. This time justified by a good ladle of cant and self righteous morality.

          • carl jacobs

            Ummm … Jack. This wasn’t avariciousness or usury. It was about European banks being too free with credit, and Greece being waaaay to happy with the credit card. The fight has always been over the structural defects in the Greek economy, and the Greek govt’s unwillingness to take on the vested interests that benefit from those defects. To suggest that Greece is a victim in this arrangement is nonsense. Greece is the principle reason Greece is in the situation it is in.

            You can blame Europe for two things:

            1. Being too willing to lend money to Greece so that Greece could buy Northern European exports, (and because there was a lot of money around looking for investment opportunities.)

            2. Letting Greece into the Euro in the first place by discreetly overlooking the crooked Greek budget numbers.

            Even so it was Greece that asked for the money, it was Greece that borrowed the money, it was Greece that spent the money, and it was Greece that agreed to pay it back. Greece is not victim. It is the principle actor in its own demise.

          • Anton

            I’ve no wish to get into a discussion about the Catholic Catechism, but in reply to whether there has been usurious and avaricious lending of money to Greece, No there hasn’t. That term clearly refers to the lending of money to people in immediate distress in such a way as to take advantage of them by getting them out of a short-term hole but into a deeper long-term debt to you. The Greeks were not in a short-term hole when they joined the Euro and took the money. They took it out of a wish for easy money and subsidy of their huge State retirement pensions in their early 50s.

            The motives of the lenders were morally ambiguous, but the aim was never to screw Greece.

            It is said that Greece is deeply divided between Yesses and Noes. I hope that that division reflects a difference between State employees and the private sector, and I support the latter.

          • Come now, you don’t believe the lenders are losing money, do you? Or that they were unaware of where all this was heading? The usery consists of lending money irresponsibly at high rates of interest – without real risk because the loans are underwritten.

          • Anton

            It’s not black and white Jack; everybody in this has had dubious motives. My main point is that Judaeo-Christian bans on usury are there to prevent desperate borrowers from getting screwed, and the Greeks weren’t desperate.

          • “You don’t think there has been “usurious and avaricious dealings” concerning Greece by those lending them money? Or economic recklessness by those outside of Greece with an agenda wider than her wellbeing?”

            This is just what Yanis Varoufakis is saying, accusing even, Germany of.doing.

          • The German government has been the main player by underwriting Greek loans, knowing the debt can’t be paid, and keeping this away from their own people. Jack has little time for Varoufakis but he does have a point.

          • Oh! I know. The Germans have always wanted to get their hands on Greece to reform it and show them how things should be done. They want to turn it into a country like theirs and exploit their weaknesses. They love bullying the Greeks whose mentality they find so irritating with so many faults.but what they really have not comprehended is that Greece will never be a Germany MK2 otherwise they would be Germans.

          • avi barzel

            You can refuse assistance on their terms. Greece has sufficient resources to provide a ressonable social safety net for its people. What it is doing, though, is asking to have its corrupt system and its sycophants maintained first, without a threat to their posh positions, and then, and only then, will it trickle assistance down to the hoi poloi. Expect to see hunger and homelessness as negotiation tactics while the elite hunker down discreetly in their mansions and the Church and leftist NGOs sacrifice some pocket change for soup kitchen performamces for the international media.

  • Albert

    If the churches of England, Rome and Greece may righteously fracture around questions of spiritual authority and fragment upon disputations of eternal salvation, why do church hierarchies obdurately buttress the political and economic union of Europe?

    But only the CofE would see that as righteous. The Catholics and the Orthodox see such schism as sin.

  • Neihan

    For me the most interesting aspect has been watching the rise of the Golden Dawn in all of this. The combination of economic catastrophe, a massive immigration problem which no other party will even recognize as a problem, perceived threats of sovereignty from the EU, and the standard leftist advocacy of degeneracy and attacks against ethnic/cultural identity have proved a fertile ground for the rise of nationalists.

    In fact, I cannot think of a more conducive situation for the rise of fascist parties.

    In Great Britain are there nationalist fascist parties of any note, or is it as it is here in the States where they’re nearly non-existent?

    • Anton

      And, failing fascist parties, communist parties. What a complete screw-up European Monetary Union has been.

    • Pubcrawler

      “are there nationalist fascist parties of any note”

      Some would say the SNP fit that description.

  • The Explorer

    The Greek referendum. A simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’, but a 74-word motion. Imagine asking the British to vote on something that complicated.. Is it the hope that some of the electorate will be so confused that they will vote the wrong way? (Or the right way.)

    On the subject of ‘yes’ and ‘no’ it isn’t just with finances that the Greeks are out on a limb. German, Russian, English, French: an ‘n’ sound signifies negation. ‘Okay’ for affirmation is almost global.

    But for the Greeks, ‘nai’ is ‘yes’ and ‘oxi’ (or however it’s spelled) is ‘no’. I hope they remember that when it comes to voting.

  • carl jacobs

    Polls are now closed. There seems to be expectation of a “No” victory. Opinion polls are all breaking that way.

    Varoufakis says a deal can be reached within 24 hours of a ‘No’ vote. Evidently negotiators will be sent to Brussels tomorrow to discover that there is no one to negotiate with.

    • avi barzel

      No brainer as to how this will go. After all the pride and bluster, Greece will cling to the big fat EU teat.

      • carl jacobs

        That’s what they will want to do. But don’t I think they accept that a “No” vote will work against that outcome.

        • avi barzel

          They don’t need to. They know that Europe cannot let them go under any circumstance. A face-saving formula will be found, smiles and handshakes for the media, celebrate life in the cafes and restaurants and let the Devil take tomorrow.

          • carl jacobs

            I don’t think so. There is no longer a bail-out plan in place. The previous one has expired. That means there is no mechanism to give Greece money. Any new plan would have to be approved by many (hostile) European parliaments. That’s not likely going to happen. If Greece votes “No” it’s going to celebrate for a few hours, and then send a negotiating team to Brussels. There it will find a closed office with a sign in the window that says “On Holiday. Returning in September.”

            And the banks will still be closed. And the Greek economy will have no liquidity at all.

          • CliveM

            Pof the various European Parliaments will have no say at all. Part of the democratic gap.

          • avi barzel

            You are discounting Europe’s desperation and Germany’s willingness to twist the arms of its dependants. And Greece’s skill at theatre. It has become the Damocles’ sword dangling over Europe’s head and it knows it, and all of Europe knows it.

            Yes, there will be quite a bit of tragi-commedy. Sit back and watch classic Greek theatre performance unfold, my fine-feathered American friend. Against a bucolic *pinakes* scenery of painted temples and Satyrs chasing swarthy maidens, frightful depictions of poverty, military coups and revolutions will be wheeled on platform carts, *ekyklemas*, with the masked chorus keening frightful dirges. And Germany, and of gourse our Jack, will sigh and dig deep into their pockets; Germany to save the ghost of Charlemagne, the Fourth Reich of Europa, and our kind-hearted Jack to feed the starving hostages.

    • The Explorer

      Opinion polls in Britain didn’t predict the actual result. Let’s see what tomorrow brings.

      • carl jacobs

        More like two hours

  • Inspector General

    BBC says 10% of votes counted. It’s the No vote in front…

  • The Explorer

    My understanding of economics is extremely simplistic, but this is how I understand the situation.

    With an individual family, the earners (adults) subsidise the non-earners (children). It works fine, unless there are so many children that expenditure exceeds income on the Mr Micawber principle.

    With a welfare state, the earners subsidise the non-earners. It works fine, unless the number of non-earners relative to earners grows too large.

    The EU is a welfare state on a grand scale. The nations that can pay their way subsidise those that can’t. Greece can’t. So whether it votes yes or no is irrelevant: it will still need to be subsidised. The only problem is if there are so many nations that cannot pay their way that they bankrupt those that have to pay for them as well as themselves.

    I say it works fine, but there is another problem. Other nations see Greece being bailed out, and see this as the way ahead. Let others pay for you indefinitely, rather than try to develop self-sufficiency.

    St Paul would have none of it, but modern Europe doesn’t listen to St Paul.

    • avi barzel

      Alas, the Greeks appear to have modified the Micawber Principle: Earn 20 pounds, spend 3,500 and expect either the Fates or the EU to bail you out. If the latter balks, adopt a tactic by some Gypsy beggars; clothe your children in rags and surreptitiously stick pins in them to make them wail until the horrified chumps start showering them with money.

    • Hi

      Interestingly enough Greece is one of the few countries in Europe that spent more than the nato minimum requirement. Who benefited from this , but, oh Germany and their u boat industry . At least according to rev giles in the guardian.

      • avi barzel

        Funny; the only real enemy Greece has is Turkey which is still and inexplicably a NATO member and candidate for the EU. A final irony: Greece getting the boot and Turkey joining, with EU’s cuddly pet, “Palestine,” next on the list. But I shouldn’t even joke about actual plausibilities, I guess.

        • Dude

          Israel, Greece and Cyprus could work together to stop turkey from getting their mits on the rest of the large quantities of gas in the med sea….

          • avi barzel

            Fat chance for that with this crooked commie Greek government and Turkey’s bff, Obama, at the helm for another year and a half. Greece is having trouble running its navy and slowing down the deluge of African and Arab refugees. It’s why Europe can’t let it go.

          • dannybhoy

            “Israeli Air Force Team Up With Greeks to Train Against S-300 Missile System”

            Read more: http://sputniknews.com/middleeast/20150508/1021873995.html#ixzz3f30zIWL3

      • Hannah

        You’ve been speaking to Maria the Cypriot (from accounts) again….

        • avi barzel

          Not one to butt-in on your management philisophy, Sam, but with revolutions in the wind, I’d keep an eye on that Maria, making sure she’s in her cubicle crunching numbers and not in the nearby cafe fomenting rebellion and nationalization of your business.

  • Inspector General

    Bravo you fiscal bandits! You’ll destroy the EU the way you are going. One almost feels sad for your tribulations to come. Almost….

    • avi barzel

      I fear for your emotional state should the EU collapse, leaving a bereft Britain without its wise and able guidance, an island all on her own. You will need serious grief counselling, Sir, so perhaps if you give us a delivery address for the crate of champagne?

      • Inspector General

        Ah, there you are Avi. The Inspector is back and notes no less than 62 new comments. History in the making, as they say…

        • avi barzel

          Indeed, Inspector, and future historians will ooh and aah at our pithy and prescient commentary.

    • Orwell Ian

      Well a 10% lead for the No vote will really put a spanner in the Euroworks. Stand by for a sea of red numbers in the Markets tomorrow. We may be about to find out just how fireproof those reinforced European banking firewalls really are.

      • Inspector General

        Yes, one understands the Euro is 1.4 to Sterling, on Friday. A most impressive collapse…

  • carl jacobs

    With 50% of the vote counted, the margin for “Yes” is 22.5%. This is a small ray of good news. A bitterly-divided election would have created the potential for violence over the result. But it does seem like Tsipras has received his mandate. “To do what?” is the important question.

    • avi barzel

      How can anyone be bitterly divided over a question no one understands and a choice of two options which are practically indistinguishable?

      • And why are they voting on a proposal which isn’t formally on offer ?

        • avi barzel

          Pfft! Good point. I take it your question is rhetorical.

          • Yeah dude, I’m being rhetorical.

          • dannybhoy

            You’re really at your best when you’re being rhetorical..

          • Okay not a rhetorical question : why do Greeks smash plates after meals ?

          • avi barzel

            Because the EU will buy them new, safer, ISO standard ones? (Tra-da-boom!)

          • dannybhoy

            Tra da Boom!?
            Tah Daaah! works better..

          • avi barzel

            “Tradaboom” for the comedian’s drum roll at the end of a bad joke.

          • dannybhoy

            You were making a joke?

          • avi barzel

            Enough out of you!

          • dannybhoy

            :0)

          • Pubcrawler

            I thought it was ‘ba-doom tish’

          • avi barzel

            Too much strife in the world. Let’s show them how to compromise and propose “trada-doom-tish” for a referendum.

          • dannybhoy

            a) It’s beneath Greek men’s dignity to wash up
            b) It’s good for the plate industry.

          • The Explorer

            Why can’t the women wash up? Keep them in their place. Like wearing black permanently if you’re a peasant widow

          • dannybhoy

            The women cook.

            There are not many good looking Greek women
            Consequently the men drink ouzo.
            Then they have difficulty walking back to the kitchen with the dirty plates.

            So they smash ’em instead.

          • The Explorer

            Alternatively, maybe it’s a commemoration of the Battle of Plataea.

          • dannybhoy

            Very good!

          • avi barzel

            Oy.

          • sarky

            Not many good looking Greek women? ?

            Think You need the services of specsavers dannybhoy.

          • dannybhoy

            Said to raise a laugh Sarkers..
            I like Greece as a country. Is beautiful, is friendlay, much historical fings there, innit.
            Although the authentic mousaka I ate in Athens was so drenched in olive oil, she was already drownin as well.

      • carl jacobs

        Side A will blame Side B when the food and medicine runs out. That’s already happening, btw. I think you underestimate how vulnerable Greece’s economy is.

        • avi barzel

          I have a pretty fair idea, actually. I took a two day trip a few years back, when everything was supposedly hunky-dory, and marvelled at the inability of the cheerful inhabitants to see that their economy is a one big bluff flavoured with hopes and dreams. Yes, food and medicine are already running out; Greece hasn’t fed itself in years. The army better get ready to protect the few farmers who still grow crops and raise a few chickens. Tourism, the only viable economic activity left, is about to end too, what with bank closures, social turbulence and thousands of broke Africans and Arabs living in parks and roaming the streets.

          • carl jacobs

            Then you know how bad it s going to get, and how fast it’s going to get there.

          • avi barzel

            Oooh yeah. If I were in Greece, I’d take the next plane out…even a flight to Aleppo.

          • carl jacobs

            This is why I keep thinking about the Army. It’s generally the worst possible option, because Generals know nothing about running a country. But … you could have a complete collapse of civil order in Greece.

          • avi barzel

            A hungry Greek army in the streets, with officers helping themselves to luxury imports and foot soldiers to other people’s ouzo and women will only accelerate the collapse. Wait! Perhaps Germany will kindly offer the services of its modern disciplined Wehrmacht to keep das ordnung….

          • Also they’ll need to protect tourists. Apparently non Greek bankcards will still let you take out more than the sixty euros that Greeks can get out. That and Britain at least has told it’s holidaymakers to bring wads of cash to use rather than credit cards or travelers cheques.

          • avi barzel

            A perfect scenario. Pommies and Yanks running around with wads of cash and nothing to buy, with cash-strapped Greeks, Gypsy ATM stalkers and starving Africans running afyer them. We can make a cool computer game out of this….

          • sarky

            “Greek theft auto”, “fail of duty”???

  • Uncle Brian

    This is what the Greek government is now telling the voters:

    “The negotiations which will start must be concluded very soon, even within 48 hours,” government spokesman Gabriel Sakellaridis told Greek television. “We will undertake every effort to seal it soon.”

    Euclid Tsakalotos, the government’s chief negotiator said talks could restart as early as Sunday evening.

    This, on the other hand, is what the Eurocrats are saying:

    First indications were that any joint European political response may take a couple of days. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande will meet in Paris on Monday afternoon. The European Commission, the EU executive, meets in Strasbourg on Tuesday and will report to the European Parliament on the situation.

    Conclusion: They can’t even agree about the timing, It looks as though somebody is getting their bluff called.

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/07/05/us-eurozone-greece-idUSKBN0P40EO20150705

    • It’s that Greek guy in the treasury : he’s an expert in game theory. But I don’t think that works with our German friends.

      • Uncle Brian

        Is it a good thing to have a game theory expert in the Treasury? Wouldn’t it be more useful to have someone who knows how to balance the books?

        • He’s resigned !!

          • avi barzel

            More like turfed by Motorcycle Boy Alex to save his own skin.

  • The Explorer

    Hans Andersen has a story about the Prince who tries to conquer Heaven. He gathers a massive army. Eventually, God sends a gnat. The gnat gets inside the Prince’s helmet and drives him mad. The soldiers mock him, and the assault collapses.

    It would be a strange irony if the mighty EU were brought down by one of the least of its members. On the other hand, since the Greeks invented irony, perhaps not.

    • Dude

      More like the emperor’s new clothes!

      • The Explorer

        Great at undermining human pretension wasn’t he, Andersen? (In both stories.)

  • The Explorer

    I found the wording of the motion so convoluted I’m not at all sure from memory what either vote was actually about. If the Greeks vote no, what have they actually voted no to and what have they voted for?

    • avi barzel

      I’ve been too embarassed to admit that I too can’t keep straight the yes and the no. Good thing they had the sense to close polling by noon, before the populus got fortified at the local canteens. Not that it would have made much of a difference either way….

      • The Explorer

        It’s Greek to me.

        • The Greek word for no reminded me of the oxo cube, but the referendum question was as confusing as a rubix cube.

    • carl jacobs

      They weren’t voting on the motion. They were voting on Tsipras. They gave him a mandate to refuse whatever he wants.

      • The Explorer

        So that’s what it meant!

        • carl jacobs

          The motion was formally to accept or reject some proposal the Greek gov’t made last week. But that wasn’t the point. This referendum was a vote of confidence in Tsipras. That’s the political significance.

          Europe now has to let Greece swing by the neck until Europe decides to introduce some humanitarian aid. No deal will get done with Tsipras in power. No European leader would trust him to keep it.

          • The Explorer

            A vote of confidence by voting no? Only the Greeks could come up with something like that.

          • carl jacobs

            Yes. Exactly. Tsipras wanted a “No” vote. He wanted to be seen with the Greek population standing behind his rejection of creditor demands.

          • avi barzel

            Hm. Good old machismo wins. Expect Russia to wade in with glee. A bare-chested Putin on a troumphal ride through Athens on the back of Tsipras’ cool motorbike. Maybe the Russians can help to keep civil order in Greece, they are far more experienced at looting and rape than the Greek army.

          • carl jacobs

            Russia offered Tsipras maybe a pipeline someday. Russia isn’t going to do anything.

          • avi barzel

            A pipeline? Not from Russia to Greece, surely. With Russia going the way it is, it might need Greek gas in exchange for sunflower seeds from newly conquered Ukrainian lands.

          • carl jacobs

            The important thing wasn’t this pipeline deal. The important point of the meeting (June 20th thereabouts) was that Putin didn’t discuss the possibility of financial aid to Greece.

          • avi barzel

            But we don’t really know what was discussed. Being true to type and its Cold War traditions, my bet is that Russia greased (no pun) the government’s palms for some kind of interference in Europe’s boycott. They learned long ago that grand donations to the insatiable masses are expensive and useless.

          • bluedog

            The other Balkan nation on the naughty step is Serbia, where they don’t like Muzzies. One can imagine Serbo-Greek solidarity in the SE corner of Europe. Serbia is not in the EU.

          • avi barzel

            Makes sense when nei means yes.

          • Pubcrawler

            I suspect the framers of the question had the resonance of this in mind:

            https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ohi_Day

          • bluedog

            Actually its the EU which is swinging by the neck, the dynamics of this situation are not as you think. If the Euro was backed by a sovereign, your view would correct. However the Euro is backed by a committee that offers comfort to the ECB. It is the ECB which is the point of weakness in this exercise as Varoufakis seems to fully appreciate. Once the ECB withdrew support from its agent in managing the Euro in Greece, the Bank of Greece, the Greek government had them cold and has gone for the kill with this referendum. The gambit could have backfired but it has turned into a resounding victory for Greece and a crushing defeat for the EU. Expect well-coordinated revolt in other EU nations where debt is being used by the EU as an instrument of control.

          • avi barzel

            Hmmm.

          • carl jacobs

            The ECB is soon going to come under pressure to remove all support from Greece in accordance with EU law. There isn’t any deal. There isn’t any prospect of a deal. The Greek financial system is going to be cratered. The immediate short term prospect for Greece is catastrophic. And its gov’t is run by a bunch of idiot Communists. Where do you think this recovery is going to come from?

          • avi barzel

            The EU will convene an emergency UN vote to declare a Palestinian state. It will fix everything; the Greek default, Syria, the ISIS crisis, the Spratleys, global warming….

          • bluedog

            Expect the Baroness Catherine Ashton to be dispatched to Athens as EU Minister and Plenipotentiary responsible for the Hellenic Republic. Her orders will be to ensure Greek submission to the will of the European Union by all necessary means. HaHa!

          • bluedog

            The ECB has already removed all support, that’s the point. Some EU idiot has told the Greeks that if they vote No they can no longer use the Euro. Impossible to police as the EU has no military and in any event Greek opinion will demand the drachma. Once the Greeks realise the full extent of their victory, their psychological dependence on the EU will completely evaporate.

          • carl jacobs

            The ECB has only capped the level of financial liquidity. If they said “No more money is coming” (which they will be pressured to do) the Greek banking system would immediately collapse. In the meantime, the Greek economy is coming to a halt. The Greek economy is heavily import-dependent. (Let’s start with 50% of its food, and all its pharmaceuticals.) The price of all of those imports will spike because of the drachma. Where will they get fuel to run the transportation network? Companies will go bankrupt for inability to move product and pay bills. And it all depends upon the drachma being a convertible currency. Would you want to be paid in drachmas? Plus, the idiot communists are going to crank of the printing press and induce hyperinflation. They will do everything they shouldn’t do. Greece is going through a slow-motion wreck at the bottom of the cliff. It’s pretty much over.

            In the world of realpolitik, Europe should close the border and let Greece serve as an example of what can happen. But there are humanitarian factors to consider. Europe doesn’t want famine on its southern border, and pockets of famine are a real possibility.

          • bluedog

            With 60% youth unemployment, Greece certainly has the potential to be a source of terrorism. However there are a number of options available to ensure the Greek economy functions. In the first instance they could follow the precedent of Panama and Zimbabwe and use dollarization; one would expect the Euro to be unacceptable to the Greeks. In the second instance they could resurrect the drachma on the basis of a US dollar peg. Clearly the Greeks are going to have to accept a lower standard of living now that they are divorcing the EU. But that’s typical of most divorces. Another currency option may be the Rouble…

          • carl jacobs

            To Dollarize you need a large amount of dollars. Where will they come from? And Greece would be in the same situation it is in with the Euro – an economically weak country using a strong currency managed by a Bank that cares not a whit for its impact on Greece. To peg its currency, Greece would also need a large foreign reserve to defend that currency from speculation. Where is that large reserve going to come from?

            Greece is going to create its own currency, and the gov’t is going to make it non-convertible. This outcome is a disaster. Euroskeptics might enjoy the pain inflicted on Europe. But this is going to a human catastrophe for Greece.

          • bluedog

            It seems unlikely that Greece would revert to the blocked drachma, its previous currency. One suspects that even though Yanis Varoufakis has resigned, Greek economic thinking has moved on from there. A pegged currency would have to be more in the line of a managed float against the USD. It goes without saying that Greece would not have the resources to take on speculators, nor can one imagine it doing so. Hence a large pool of USD would not be required. In short, the prospect of a non-convertible currency is zero.

            As it happens the Greeks are re-opening negotiations with the EMU. The overwhelming victory of the No vote and the subsequent effect on global markets puts the Greek government in a remarkably strong position. The EU and the EMU have been out-thought and comprehensively out-manoeuvred. Tsipras has nothing to lose by dictating terms to the EU, after all, EU refusal leads them to the abyss.

  • Inspector General

    The German ambassador handed the Greek PM a final note…

    • Pubcrawler

      Did it read ‘There’s no money left’?

    • bluedog

      It said, ‘The Euro is now worthless. Buddy, can you spare us a dime?’

    • avi barzel

      …whilst the “multipurpose” Wehrmacht Kriegsmarine frigate, the Bremen-class Niedersachse , escorted by two diesel-electric attack submarines, steams towards Greek waters to assist German civilians and property, if necessary.

      • carl jacobs

        Ummm … Kriegsmarine.

        • avi barzel

          You’re right.

          • carl jacobs

            You finally noticed! Let’s see what other subjects we can identify to which we can apply that most important of all insights.

          • avi barzel

            Meant to add “for once”, but unwisely decided to be generous.

          • dannybhoy

            Lol!

      • carl jacobs

        I’ve been wondering. Why would a frigate need a submarine escort?

        • avi barzel

          As far as I know, the Kriegsmarine does not have an aircraft carrier and so, cannot form a proper battle group with a protective perimeter aerial patrols can privide. Diesel-electrics, which are quieter than nuks can form an excellent early warning envelope, even if only for sea-borne threats. It’s either that or having to rely on one of your carrier groups in the Med.

          • avi barzel

            PS Long range air patrols might be possible, but I’m not sure Germany can sustain air refuels.

          • carl jacobs

            The Germans evidently have four AAR aircraft.

          • avi barzel

            You mean missile warning systems? Not much that they can do, except issue a “Vampire! Vampire! All personnel abondon ship and plug ears!”

          • carl jacobs

            Air to Air Refueling.

            Offered for your edification by way of explanation:

            We refueled on the way to the valley
            In the States it had always been fun
            But with thunder and lightening all around us
            ‘Twas the last A-A-R for Teak One.

            The entire song can be found here:

            http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/song-midis/Red_River_Valley_(2).htm

          • avi barzel

            Good Heavens! Where do you find such arcana? An old cowboy song modified…when? Vietnam bombing missions? The SAM reference suggests that.

            Thought you meant the AAR 47 which is a pretty neat laser system immune to radar countermeasures. Anyhow, extrapolating along (until HG tells us to stifle it), would four tankers suffice for an air squadron all the way in the Med?

          • carl jacobs

            Yes, it’s a Vietnam War song. I heard it once when I was a kid and spent years searching for it. Eventually found it on the internet. There are many versions of it. In fact, I think you have several versions collapsed together on that webpage. There are also additional verses not present.

            Four aircraft should be fine for the mission.

          • avi barzel

            Cool! I wonder if Red River Valley was a nickname for some place in the Mekong Delta and if Teak One was based on an actual mission name. As for the missing verses, it’s a fair bet that they were a little too much for general readership.

          • carl jacobs

            The Red River flows through Hanoi. And Teak was an actual call sign. (A flight of four aircraft gets a call sign – in this case “Teak”. The lead aircraft is called Teak Lead or Teak 1. The other three are identified as Teak 2 through Teak 4.) The song originated because so many aircraft with the call sign of Teak Lead were shot down. The call sign was eventually banned.

          • avi barzel

            One forgets. I was a kid in Prague during the attempts to bomb the Hanoi bridges. Of course, reporting was from the perspective of the other side and the campaign was presented as an attempt to target Vietnamese children. In the political cartoons US pilots were depicted as grotesque Uncle Sams with top hats. We even had a supposed Vietcong in black “pajamas,” home made tire flip-flops and one of those conical hats to speak to us in accented, but comprehensible Czech. The mystery was solved a few months later when, at a routine dinner with my parents at the Charles U cafeteria, I spotted the chap at a table with other Vietnamese students, putting lettuce and vinegar into their bland Czech chicken soups and dipping pieces of bread into their glasses of cola. The weird stuff one remembers.

          • carl jacobs

            Northwest of Hanoi, there is a ridge line running northwest to southeast on the north side of the Red River Valley. In the middle 60s, pilots flying out of Thailand would fly to that ridge line and turn southeast for the run-in to targets in Hanoi. The ridge line was called “Thud Ridge” because of all the F-105 Thunderchiefs that had been shot down over it. If you are of a mind to read such things, there is a book called “Thud Ridge” that tells the story of the bombing missions over NVM in the early days of the conflict. It was written by an F-105 pilot before the war ended, and it is the best book I have ever read on the Air War in Vietnam.

          • avi barzel

            In my late teens I read quite a few Vietnam books, mostly memoirs by veterans, until they gradually disappeared from the bookstore shelves, public libraries and at last, used book stores. It’s possible that I even read this one too….and looky here, see what I found:

            http://thelearnedturtle.blogspot.ca/2013/06/book-download-thud-ridge-by-jack.html?m=1

            …a free download, as the book is no longer in print. Thanks for the bed time read suggestion; til later, then!

          • dannybhoy

            Were you and your family able to leave Czechoslavakia freely or was it difficult? Havel Vaclav became president in 1989 so presumably it was under Husak?

          • avi barzel

            Yes, Dubcek was already in trouble and Husak and the collaborators were starting to get hold of things. Dad had been with the Free Czech Radio, fairly well known at least among the other students, and it was high time to split. We left in late ’69, almost too late, just as Russkies were finally able to figure out how to get around the city, feed and clean themselves and organize their occupation. We left everything behind as if going on vacation, took a train to Zagreb and once there, to Vienna, as the Yugoslavs were letting refugees go through. We were getting settled in Vienna, but the Austrians weren’t much to admire on many fronts and Mom, who had already witnessed Russian troops as a kid after WW II, wanted to get out of Europe for good and so, we wound up in Canada, after considering Australia and South Africa.

          • dannybhoy

            Wow!
            I thought it had to be earlier. You look pretty ancient in that picture of you looking despondently into a mirror.

            Your father must be quite a guy then Avi. As is often the case Jews get involved in freedom/dissension movements, but to have to leave everything behind must have been very painful, especially for your parents.
            I think your mother was wise to refuse Austria; beautiful country, and some ugly people. Canada was a smart choice.
            Years ago (1975) I did a three month Christian field trip, going right through Europe taking in Rome and the sites of the early Christian churches in Greece, Turkey and what was the Soviet Union. We went through Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, into Moldova and then Ukraine.
            In Moldova (Kishinev) our guide was Jewish and I met quite a few Jews in the town. That was interesting for me because of course I had met quite a few Russian and Eastern European Jews in Israel..

  • The result shows the lack of wisdom in clerics involving themselves in politics.
    Stick to the Gospel, Anthimos and Hieronimos, if you know what it is.

  • Phil R

    20 years ago I drove a large trailer to Cyprus behind a big 4WD

    At the port in Athens my family and I were told to get out of the car enter a huge almost empty shed a wait in line for some bit of paper to get a stamp.

    We then went though a body scanner and my wife’s handbag was scanned. I was frisked.

    We then went outside and drove the car and trailer on the ferry. Neither was checked.

    Also the only way to find the ferry was to drive up and down the dockside reading the names on the ships until you found your boat. That was the “system”.

    The Greeks are simply not suited to the EU. Or completly suited and the Northern Europeans have have simply paid for a massive free lunch.

  • avi barzel

    All will be well! Tsipras just announced, “As of tomorrow, Greece will go back to the negotiating table and our primary priority is to reinstate the financial stability of the countryside.”

    As his team may have to wait and fidget at the table for a little while, donations of new or used playing cards and board games (not Monopoly, please) will be gratefully accepted.

  • bmudmai

    Nothing to worry about, Tsipras has probably already done a deal with Russia…