Deepening Greek Tragedy
by Stephen Lendman
Greece is banker occupied. Ordinary people have no say. Parliamentarians get orders and obey. Despite multiple painful austerity rounds, Troika power demands more – the IMF, EU and European Central Bank (ECB).
Money power dictates bankers get paid first. People needs are sacrificed for them. Bankers also want implementation guarantees for enacted policies and more coming. For starters, they demand cutting another 325 million euros.
European Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said more had to be done no matter the human harm and economic ruin. Ordinary Greeks face impoverishment and neoserfdom. Since 2007, Greece’s economy shrunk almost 20% en route to total collapse.
Its real debt burden approaches $650 billion, around double the reported amount. The latest bailout deal’s for about $170 billion. Current debt exceeds what Greece can repay. Increasing it elevates crisis conditions. Forced austerity assures harder than ever hard times.
Rising unemployment exceeds 20%. Youth unemployment approaches 50%. Only a third without work get unemployment benefits. They’re being slashed another 20%. Plans are for laying off another 150,000 state workers by 2015.
Private sector wage cuts exceeded 20%, public sector ones around 50%. Poverty affects millions. GDP’s collapsing. So are pensions, Greece’s life force, and the ability of most people to survive.
Other European economies are also troubled. In December, EU industrial production sunk 1.1% month-over-month, its fourth straight monthly decline. In Q IV, contraction was 6.8% annualized, the worst showing since 2009 Q I. It also exceeded the worst 2001 recession decline.
Conditions worsened at yearend 2011. Q IV contraction was 7% year-over-year. EU economies show continued quarterly contractions.
Moreover, economic powerhouse Germany slid 2.9%, exceeding the Eurozone average. Portugal looks like the next Greece. Its GDP plunged at an annualized 5.1% rate. It was its fifth straight quarterly decline. Like America, massive liquidity infusions alone keep Europe from collapsing. The strategy’s doomed. An eventual bad ending’s assured.
Economist Charles Wyplosz calls austerity madness “pseudo-science.” As a result, he thinks debt default awaits Greece, Portugal, Italy and perhaps other troubled Eurozone economies. The longer they wait, the deeper the hole and greater pain.
Progressive Radio News Hour regular Bob Chapman says if Greek parliamentarians don’t pass enabling legislation, regional problems will increase. However, if they do as expected, voters will replace them in April.
Under disastrous current conditions, Chapman thinks Greece faces 30 years of Depression. Parliamentarians expect austerity to help. In fact, it assures eventual collapse.
However, even if agreement’s reached, “it cannot be kept. (Greece) will need bailouts every year. That means despite trillions of dollars thrown into the European cauldron,” endless monetary chaos is assured.
Democracy’s birthplace took its last breath and died. Banker appointed prime minister Lucas Papademos (a former ECB vice president) and finance minister Evangelous Venizelos (a former Bank of Greece official) have virtual carte blanche discretion on cuts.
Moreover, parliamentarians opposing them were sacked. New Democracy’s Antonis Samaras expelled 21 MPs, including the party’s whip and shadow defense and interior ministers. PASOK’s George Papandreou removed 23 opposition MPs, including former government ministers.
In other words, MPs defying banker diktats are being replaced by supportive ones. Whether or not April elections change things remains to be seen. Some officials want them replaced by military-backed extra-parliamentary rule. Other manipulative ideas are also being considered as ordinary Greeks won’t support current MPs in legitimate elections.
Perhaps tyranny’s coming under martial law, followed by new rounds of austerity cuts until Greece is bled dry and collapses. Commenting in its English language newspaper Ekathimerini, Nikos Konstandaras said:
Greece “cannot seem to escape the weakness which trapped us on this course of destruction….Our incompetent state does to citizens what Europe does to Greece – it condemns them to deprivation and insecurity and then sits back and watches them founder and react and fall into dead hands….The flames are licking at our future and at the (failed) vision of Europe.”
It’s based on looting economies, impoverishing millions, creating depression level unemployment, and wages to low to live on to pay bankers and other large creditors.
If EU officials approve new bailout funds, they want them escrowed, requiring disbursements pay them first. Whatever remains, if anything, can pay wages and keep basic services going on life support at best.
Germany wants an unelected budget commissioner (a financial czar) handling Greek spending decisions. Whatever’s finally agreed on, eventual default’s certain and likely Eurozone exit.
The longer it’s delayed, the greater the pain, but bankers only care about one thing – getting paid, no matter the pain, human suffering, and certain economic collapse. In the fullness of time, it’s coming.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.