Saturday, June 18, 2011

Greece and the Eurozone

The street protests in Greece continue, as more and more Greeks figure out that they are being asked to transform themselves into citizens of a third-world country for a generation or so for the sake of minimizing losses by the banks of Europe. US exposure seems to exist mostly in the form of credit default swaps; how many, one wonders, were written by taxpayer owned AIG?

All in all, it looks like Greece, shortly followed by Portugal, Ireland, Spain, and Italy, soon will be forced to accept "bailouts" of the very rich by the middle classes and the poor.

? Uh huh. If it turns out to be "politically impossible" to persuade ordinary outer-edge Europeans to vote for governments that will impose the requisite "austerity" measures needed to keep the super-rich fat and happy, the availability of governments (through coalitions and similar tricks) will be sharply reduced — leaving only those "democratically elected" governments willing to play along.

Can it be stopped? Can the megacorps be compelled to take "haircuts" for fear of far greater losses, perhaps to neck level? It may depend on the Greeks.

From my perspective, it would be better to take our chances on a Greek default — and see what shakes out — than to keep the bailouts going and spreading until the eventual default becomes devastating to the point of worldwide depression. The Greeks, of course, will not be letting me write their economic policy — but maybe somebody that somebody listens to will start the conversation, and quiet the whining of the Germans and the European Central Bank.

The Eurozone — like NATO, perhaps — just expanded too fast. Letting Greece in in the first place was a sure indication of poor oversight. Right now, Greece really needs the drachma, Portugal needs the escudo, and Ireland needs the Irish pound You can't have a unified monetary policy without a unified fiscal policy — and for the Eurozon, such a policy is far, far away.

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