Readying the Greek Corpse for Burial
by Stephen Lendman
Greece is being systematically raped, pillaged and destroyed. Bankers demand it. What they want, they get, no matter the human toll and economic ruin.
Standing armies pale by comparison. Financial oligarchs wage war by other means and take no prisoners. Greece is Exhibit A. More on it below.
Last July, Christine Lagarde became IMF managing director. She replaced Dominique Strauss-Kahn. Spurious attempted rape allegations forced him out. In fact, he was targeted for supporting more responsible IMF policies. Bankers wanted his head and got it.
Lagarde’s mandate is making IMF policy meaner and tougher. Straightaway, she backed harsh austerity measures banks demand. They include debt peonage and forcing nations to place money master interests above sovereign ones.
Last November, Mario Draghi replaced Jean-Claude Trichet as ECB president. Like Largarde, his mandate also entails raping and pillaging nations to pay bankers.
In late February, he told Wall Street Journal interviewers that forced austerity is firm policy. Enforcing it he claims will return troubled economies to long-term prosperity. In other words, starving people fills bellies. Withholding treatment cures patients, and destroying villages save them.
Journal interviewers never asked him to explain:
Instead, they unquestioningly accepted his assertions about needed austerity and ending Europe’s “obsolete” social contract.
“There is no feasible trade-off” between social and labor related structural changes and fiscal belt-tightening, he claimed. Only banker demands matter. Draghi and Lagarge enforce them. Corrupt politicians go along.
In a recent talk, Michael Hudson said:
“Welcome to the post-industrial economy, financialized style. Industrial capitalism has passed (through) a series of stages of finance capitalism from the Bubble Economy to the Negative Equity stage, foreclosure time, debt deflation, austerity – and what looks like debt peonage in Europe, above all for the PIIGS: Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain.”
Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania were also raped and pillaged. Debt bondage forced large numbers to leave or starve. EU nations perhaps await the same fate. Forced debt deflation, foreclosures, unemployment and poverty’s driving them all toward eventual third world status.
Perhaps mighty Germany will succumb. With fewer customers to fuel exports and weaker domestic demand, it’s economic miracle may melt and become mirage.
Look at Japan. Its post-bubble economy became rolling recessions, weak recoveries, decline, deflation, and stagnation for over two decades.
Europe’s already in recession. Austerity and rising oil prices assure greater trouble. Yet consensus thinks EU nations will muddle through. Liquidity infusions prioritize speculation and market manipulation at the expense of economic needs.
Solutions, explained Hudson, require central banks to “monetize government budget deficits so as to spend money into (economies) to promote economic growth and full employment.”
It’s not rocket science. It’s common sense and when done responsibly works as intended. Yet neoliberal policy makers and major media scoundrels suppress workable remedies to assure bankers, other corporate favorites and rich elites get paid, at the expense of the other 99%.
Western society schools teach junk, not responsible, economics. It prioritizes financial oligarchy demands over policies fostering sustainable economic growth. When ignored, economic decline, democratic and social erosion, unemployment, poverty, and debt peonage follow.
A Historic Analogue
Current policies assure the rich get richer. The rest suffer. In Western societies, where more deeply than Greece. It’s banker occupied. Ordinary people have no say. They’re burdened by multiple austerity rounds similar to crushing German Treaty of Versailles reparations.
Fascism under Hitler emerged. WW II followed. Versailles terms were outrageous. In May 1921, Germany got an ultimatum – accept terms in six days or face industrial Ruhr Valley military occupation. With no choice, it accepted.
Moreover, colonial possessions and raw material resources were seized. In the end, both sides lost out. Unmanageable debt overwhelmed world finance and monetary policy by 1929. Wall Street’s crash followed.
An unsustainable pyramid was built on punitive war debts. Wall Street and other major banks enforced payments. They exceeded America’s annual 1920s foreign trade. Rebuilding and modernizing war-torn Europe was sacrificed to pay bankers. Germany got the worst of it. Its Reichsbank had to print enormous amounts of money to survive. Catastrophic hyperinflation followed. In January 1923, the mark dropped to 18,000 to the dollar. By July, it was 353,000, in August 4,620,000, and by November an astonishing 4,200,000,000,000.
It became worthless. German savings were destroyed, and calamitous events became inevitable.
Lost assets compounded economic misery. Germany’s colonies became League of Nations Mandates. Alsace-Lorraine, West Prussia, Upper Silesia and other territories were ceded to Britain, France, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, and Poland.
Gone were agricultural resources, 75% of Germany’s iron ore, 68% of zinc ore, 26% of coal, as well as Alsatian textile industries and potash mines. In addition, Germany’s entire merchant fleet was taken, a portion of its transport and fishing fleet, plus locomotives, railroad cars and trucks to pay war debts.
Impossible terms demanded 132 billion gold marks at 6% annual interest. As a result, inflation soared. German industrial activity plunged. Reichsbank and other German bank assets were seized. Marks became worthless. Public anger grew. Communism and fascism vied for power.
In 1923, a so-called Dawes Plan (named for US banker Charles Dawes) was adopted. Paying bankers was prioritized. Looting was enforced. It continued until 1929 when the debt pyramid collapsed.
A banking crisis followed. So did capital flight. Germany’s economy crashed. Depression emerged. Hard times empowered radical political elements.
The rest is history. WW II left 40 million dead and Europe in ruins. In other words, when public pain exceeds thresholds of no return, all bets are off. Often the unthinkable happens.
Europe in Crisis
Today, angry millions across Europe face destitution, neoserfdom, despair, and no futures. Greece is its epicenter. Multiple bailouts enforce banker pillage. Austerity assures they’re paid at the expense of economic solvency and public need.
Even the neoliberal New York Times noted a “Greek Tragedy,” saying:
It’s “chok(ing) on Europe’s conditions. (The) approach will not work.” Greece can’t possibly repay debt. The more added, the greater the burden, the less ability to service and repay.
“By forcing all Greeks to suffer with no real prospects of relief, Europe is uniting the country, now beset by strikes, against further reforms.” Politicians face “political suicide in this spring’s elections” if, in fact, they’re held or unles populist candidates are excluded.
A Final Comment
Zombie Greece awaits burial. The latest bailout deal may be the last. Greece’s debt burden already is double the reported amount.
Eventual default is certain. So is exiting the Eurozone. Expect it perhaps later this year. Markets already discounted it. Perhaps other countries will follow.
Progressive Radio New Hour regular Bob Chapman suggested even Germany may exit, saying:
“Germans are fed up with subsidizing others and want to go ahead on their own. They never wanted” Eurozone membership in the first place. Moreover, by boycotting Iranian oil, EU nations are shooting themselves in the foot. Long-term, disruptions may follow, intensifying economic disaster and public anger.
Already it’s raging on and off in Greece, Spain, Italy, Britain, and elsewhere across Europe. Chapman thinks a military coup may follow. EU solidarity and confidence are gone. “Bureaucrats and politicians have let fraud go on far, far too long.”
What can’t go on forever, won’t. No one knows when, but it’s just a matter of time.
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.