>a USB of the conversations he had secretly recorded while attending a Eurogroup discussion in Brussels
People in private converse completely differently (more freely) than in public. Judging people on what they said there by a public standard (it's impossible that this will not happen) is extremely unfair. Especially since Varoufakis knew that he will be recorded, he has probably chosen his wordings accordingly.
Let us not forget the pressure the ECB (and other european institutions) put on some countries that have come to light after the fact. (Like only allowing emergency liquidity assistance to be used based on bailout conditions, thus interfering and blackmailing supposed sovereign governments)
edit: And to be fair, while I don't like Varoufakis, the fact his party wants these recordings to come to light, means there is probably something there are is damning to someone
I honestly don't think it's that simple.
While decisions should always be public, in order to come to reasonable compromises on issues, it can be valuable for leaders to be able to have closed-door conversations outside of the spotlight, where they don't have to engage in political grandstanding; after all, it's that kind of compromise that allows democratic systems to function.
In fact, I would make the claim that at least one reason why the US democratic system has become so utterly paralyzed by polarization is because so much of political debate is now happening in the spotlight of social media, instead of behind closed doors where politicians can have the more nuanced conversations that might displease an electorate that is too busy cheering for their team to worry about actually getting anything done.
That's not to say this isn't without peril. Behind closed doors, corruption might happen as easily as compromise. I'm just not convinced the risks outweighs the benefits.
Lets (just for example, I am not saying it happened), during that meeting, the German/French Finance minister said: 'I don't care about the Greek people, we can't let German/French banks fall, so do what you must if you ever want the ECB to lend you money'. Wouldn't the greek people deserve to know and make up their mind about their part in the EU project?
(again, I am not saying this happened, but I can see similar backdoor deals being put forward)
Lets not forget that any opposition to the EU project by the citizens is seen as misinformed or misleded people. It is never the EU's fault 
 - https://torrentfreak.com/eu-commission-portrays-article-13-o... (Sorry, no time to search for other source, but the comments were also published in my local newspapers)
EG, imagine a hypothetical scenario where Greece gets into debt trouble again, but now the other finance ministers don't trust that their meetings will be kept private. The German and French finance ministers meet privately, and decide to screw over Greece and come up with a cover story about how they can't do anything else. A better outcome would be if they had private meetings with Greece and at least had the opportunity to reach a compromise. The best possible outcome might be having the same meeting with full transparency so that the public is fully informed, but that's not what would happen.
I can understand that Greek people would be angry to be "sacrified"... and that's why that kind of meeting is secret! Because to govern is not only to be elected but sometimes to have to take bad choices, when only other choices are worst
That's what democracy should mean - we don't elect representatives so that they can take decisions we don't want but that they think are good for us. We elect representatives because direct democracy doesn't scale.
At best, both would be same: elected people would explain to the people what is best for them and convince them, then people would want what is best for them in the long run.
But sadly, nobody like to be sacrified now for the long term better good of all. And politicians need to be reelected. So politicians have to hide and manipulate to some extend (for what they think is the greater good of most of the population)...
"Crowd wisdom" is nice for really specific matters... but not really for managing a population with diversities in the long run.
Quite often, especially with difficult issues, people have to take risks or make painful compromises or at least suggest them, even if the final result is nothing like them. Sometime people bluff, lie and distort in order to improve their position. There is give and take.
If everything is made public then you will essentially get discussions that are no better than discussions amongst the public, which everyone would agree is suboptimal.
This is the crux of it: All involved (except Varoufakis) apparently thought their words would remain secret forever. This is bad for democracy, because it nurtures conspiracy theories. Prompt publication is likewise bad, because it hardens negotiating positions at a distance far apart, and makes participants fearful of speaking uncomfortable truths.
The US Federal Reserve publishes its minutes, but only some time well after the participants go home. Live-tweets on their hourly progress -- say, from Mar-a-Lago -- are not a concern.
The idea that closed door deliberations must be made public after some moratorium period strikes me as a good compromise, as in the moment it allows politicians to have those private discussions that might allow compromise to occur, while not totally sacrificing transparency in the long-term.
And this isn't without precedent. The US declassification system essentially works this way (though it functions over the course of decades, which is probably too long).
The eurogroup president is already tasked with the responsibility of address the press and report on the group's deliberation.
That's not true. Greed which benefited Greeks at the time destroyed the Greek economy.
Nothing of that have happened. The public debt problem has not being solved and the Greek economy is a disaster. So who is responsible for those mistakes? They failed in their predictions and their failed in their goal (if what they say in public about their goal is the truth, of course).
It seems to me that if we leave all those politicians that decide to be "hard" on the Greeks without punishment we will have a clear case of moral hazard.
Your assertion is absurd. No measure was ever taken to "keep the Greek man down". Greek governments spent years running up a monstrous debt and cooking their books to try to falsify the actual state of the country's economy and the state's finances, going to the extent of hiring private consultancy firms to help them commit accounting fraud, and once that time bombs blew in their faces there was no other alternative than to pick up the pieces and sort out the mess. The ECB/IMF/EC gang's role was to simply provide emergency financing to buy Greek government's some time to actually sort their state's mess. It might be politically convenient to fabricate an evil foreign boogieman to distract people from the true causes but the facts speak for themselves, and there is no way around it.
The responsibility for Greece's situation must stay with Greece, unless they forgo the freedom to make their own decisions (about lending money). Nothing else works or makes sense logically. Freedom and taking responsibility are two sides of the same coin.
To be clear then, any 'bailout' of Greece is truly a bailout not of Greece, but their creditors.
Of course the reason Greece agreed is that the attendant inability to borrow after the default would be much worse for Greece than the lenders. That really goes to the heart of the situation Greece had got itself into: default would not save them.
Reality and the facts contrast heavily with this rhetoric. The eurogroup/IMF/european commission only stepped into the picture way after Greece bankrupted itself and digged a deep economic and social hole. Complaining about the organizations that mitigated Greece's pending collapse is like complaining about the cast and crutches you had to use after breaking your leg just because your leg hurts.
Much like the 'quantitive easing' ideas, they all had a theoretical basis that were vastly proven wrong. These countries only recovered when stimulous measures were applied.
Lagard herself admited that austerity was a mistake but never apologised for the suffering and deaths that it precipitated.
I remind you that elderly unable to afford medication and hospitals struggling to keep stock was a reality in Greece during this period.
Your personal assertion is flat out wrong. Although hindsight shows that the outcome was not optimal, the overall outcome of all bailout processes were highly successful. Although all states that requested bailouts were bankrupt by 2011, it took only a few years to get them back to eco omic growth and reducing their sovereign debt. Look for example at Portugal, who was arguably in the same situation as Greece but for about half a dozen years now it got back to economic growth,residual unemployment, a deficit close to zero, and lowering its sovereign debt. This turn of events coincides exactly with the last year of it's bailout process.
Who in their right mind speaks of failures when all states who underwent bailout processes and actually tried to follow the program ended up recovering from bankruptcies in record time?
The assertion of the former IMF chief (now ECB) Lagarde:
"Ms Lagarde said eurozone countries should not blindly stick to tough budget deficit targets if growth weakens more than expected. She argued that they should allow "automatic stabilisers" - higher welfare spending and lower tax revenues- to kick in if the economy deteriorated.
> the outcome was not optimal
"The report says that as part of the bailout conditions, Greece’s total healthcare expenditure (public and private) fell from 9·8% of GDP in 2008 to 8·1% in 2014. An article published by the Lancet concurrently with the paper notes that, under pressure from the Troika, the Greek government cut public healthcare expenditure to 6% of GDP."
"Greek mortality has worsened significantly since the beginning of the century. In 2000, the death rate per 100,000 people was 944.5. By 2016, it had risen to 1174.9, with most of the increase taking place from 2010 onwards."
"…adverse effects of medical treatment, self-harm, and several types of cancer stood out as consistently increasing in Greece across all ages… Within specific age groups, other causes are apparent, with rapid increases in deaths due to neonatal haemolytic disease and neonatal sepsis in children younger than 5 years, and prominent increases in self-harm among adolescents and young adults. Greek adults aged 15–49 years had increased mortality due to HIV, several treatable neoplasms, all types of cirrhosis, neurological disorders (eg, multiple sclerosis, motor neuron disease), chronic kidney disease, and most types of cardiovascular disease"
Newborns actually died of preventable conditions so that German Bank lenders would get there money back. Let that sink in for a second.
"The International Monetary Fund admitted it had failed to realise the damage austerity would do to Greece as the Washington-based organisation catalogued mistakes made during the bailout of the stricken eurozone country."
> Look for example at Portugal, who was arguably in the same situation as Greece
I am Portuguese and I am part of the diaspora of young people who emmigrated after the 2008 crisis.
> it got back to economic growth
Mostly due to tourism and foreign real-estate investment (not austerity)
> residual unemployment
Due to government spending on sponsored coop/internships and "retraining" programmes that all help to dillute the unemployment stats (But again not because of austerity)
> deficit close to zero
Due to injection of extra revenue from the 'golden visa' programmes for Chinese citizens. Tourism boom revenue. Tax incentives and tax domicialiation of retirees from all across northern and central Europe. And austerity
> and lowering its sovereign debt.
Due mostly to paying off their old debt with newer debt at a much lower interest rate now with central negative interest rates (Not because of Austerity)
> This turn of events coincides exactly with the last year of it's bailout process.
> Who in their right mind speaks of failures when all states who underwent bailout processes and actually tried to follow the program ended up recovering from bankruptcies in record time?
Who in their right mind does not see that these bailouts are not Sovereign bailouts but German and French Bank lender bailout?
Who in their right mind can be allowed to believe that it is ok to create a healthcare calamity with real, physical, measurable deaths, by holding a sovereign nation hostage so that, space forbid, Banks don't have to face a loss?
The trouble with the EU model of governance is that it's quite a bit too overreaching. Germany has 80M citizens and Greece has 11M. The ods against Greece are 8 to 1. If N. Macedonia would join the EU those ods would be more like 40 to 1. Greece along with Croatia, Romania and Bulgaria should at least make a group like the Visegrad V4 and stick tougether, but sadly it's hard to imagine Greece and N. Macedonia in the same group.
You described an authoritarian system, not a democratic one. The public has the right to know what our elected servants are doing or saying. That's what dictatorships do, they tell the public the decisions without any insight into the process.
> That's not to say this isn't without peril. Behind closed doors, corruption might happen as easily as compromise. I'm just not convinced the risks outweighs the benefits.
Well if you aren't sure, then it's usually safe to err on the side of principles rather than justifications.
A black box might work IF it can be ensured that all data considered will be bundled with the decision. But how can such a thing ever be ensured?
We'll soon have source-included but secret-compiler software as a technical possibility, by means of zero-knowledge computational proofs.
It seems a bit much to ask politics to follow that state-of-the-art, which means that closed-doors talks* should be outlawed if the EU wants to have leg to stand on v. rising anti-EU sentiments.
*. indefinitely-closed-doors talks. A mandatory post-mortem including release of the talks themselves after a set period of time would go a long way.
That’s the whole premise of representative democracy: that direct democracy (through e.g. having referendums on everything) doesn’t work, because people don’t have time to be good at whatever personally makes them a living and also politics; and so we pay some people to do politics for a living, so that they will have the time and invested practice to make nuanced decisions.
Anything that subjects political representatives to constraints under which they have to vote according to exactly the public’s will, forfeits the benefits of representative democracy and replaces them with an implicit direct democracy.
To give an extreme example, a personally peace-loving representative is supposed to declare war on another country if their constituency wants war to happen. However, if their constituency wants an end to hunger and some are noting that the neighbours have more food, the representative should do whatever they can to end hunger, avoiding war if they know that is unlikely to help.
To be clear, we agree on this.
My point was that, in a direct democracy, it's not just the public's ends that are paramount, but also the public's preferences on means.
One good example of what I'm talking about is Ancient Greece, which was a direct democracy, despite having so-called representatives. In the Ancient Greek system, people were chosen for the civic duty of governing the country like they continue to be chosen today for jury duty: they were drafted by lottery. They weren't afraid of politicians betraying the public will, because any politician that did anything the public didn't like, would be killed.
And to be clear, "anything the public didn't like" included, for example, being friendly to foreign diplomats, or accepting gifts, even if these things would have had no later bearing on their political decision-making, i.e., on their practice of their profession.
In such a context, a politician is forced to not only act toward the will of the people, but also to "perform politics" in a way that avoids upsetting their citizen-base, and so to avoid using some of the most effective political tools because the public finds them uncouth. Also, such performances often require the use of ineffective or downright counterproductive political tools, simply to satisfy the public.
A clear modern example of the effect of direct democracy is when a municipal elected official, e.g. a county sherriff, feels pressure to put a suspect behind bars for a crime there's not yet sufficient evidence they committed, simply because the public demands that someone be punished for the crime.
The entire point of representative democracy, is that the public is often irrational in ways that makes their proximate demands an ineffective way of achieving their own stated will. In this example, the public nominally wants to see justice done—but in the implementation of it, directly demands injustice. A representative is supposed to listen to the will of the public, certainly, but to ignore the direct demands; or translate the direct demands into the will they stand for.
Patients know their symptoms but not the causes. Users know when there's a bug but not the correct fix. Well, voters know when there's a problem, too; but they're not any better at figuring out what to do about it than patients or users are.
People don't have enough money to get by? Fixing that is certainly "the will of the people", and a politician that hears that complaint but doesn't do anything about it is certainly not being a representative. But the decision between fixing it via welfare, jobs programs, minimum wage, UBI, etc? That's statesmanship. And letting the public decide which of those policies is better is just abdicating the responsibility to practice the job of politics; just like a doctor just giving someone pills for whatever disease they think they have would be an abdication of responsibility for the practice of the job of medicine.
could you elaborate on this?
In the analogy, the specification is the information provided to government officials and binary code is planned governmental actions.
If both are known and the specification process for governmental action is proven it doesn't matter what biases the officials exhibit in the decision process - then the governmental action is proven-good according to the specs (e.g. system of laws) and the information provided (in which it would be relatively easy for citizens to have a say, e.g. "you MAY NOT ignore facts X, Y and Z").
In public, yes. That's the point.
One could hope that in private, there's more sanity and less theater. I fear that it's just the same in private as in public, but one can hope.
Making a private conversation public is an extreme measure, but it also seems very appropriate in extreme circumstances.
The decisions, yes. But not recordings of every brainfart of every participant.
>means there is probably something there are is damning to someone
Probably. At least something that can be spun to be damning. However, I do not subscribe to the view that the end justifies the means. We live in times where every bad joke by a member of the elites is twisted into an outrage, and not too much good comes off this.
I completely disagree. We should expect these meetings to be held in a manner where participants should not be pressured away from doing the right thing due to concerns on how what they might say behind closed doors could be used as a political weapon to attack them. This asshole move from Varoufakis is a clear example, because this leak is designed to attack any political opponent that didn't simply rolled over to meet his personal demands.
This whole stunt is even more egregious if we consider that this boils down to a self-promotion stunt from someone desperately grabbing at their spotlight to manage to get some attention.
His personal account of what he decides to claim and express, particularly the part where he chose to portray himself as both the Savior and the sole victim of everything, including his political party, is not exactly an accurate view of historical events.
His own account of his role on Greece's referendum is enough to understand his personal motivation to come up with his personal story.
As an analogy: would you want your spouse (and vice versa) to hear recording of every conversation you have, including those with close friends/therapists/rabbis etc?
It's not completely absurd to say yes to that question. But it's notable that such a relationship would be a departure from established norms, and that most people feel even healthy and strong relationships profit from the ability to occasionally seek advice or blow of steam in confidentiality.
But even so, yeah, I would like to know if my spouse is talking with her friends/therapists/whatever about stealing all my money and screwing my best friend while they hire an hitman to off me. Exaggeration? Yes, but Greece got royally fucked with the Troika 'medicine', so yes, the people should know what led them to that place, and who fought for and against them.
He made lots of bold claims but in the end, nothing really got accomplished.
EDIT: Regarding the fact that the public deserves to know, I disagree. The public can act completely irrationally against its own interests under FUD (I guess we have some recent examples from the UK and the US), and in a lot of cases, they are better off not knowing. That's why you elect representatives (that will get into all the details of the problem) and place your trust in them. If you do not trust you representatives - do not elect them.
FUD comes exactly out of not knowing. The more obscure the workings and negotiation of power are, the more mystique they hold and the more chances for spin they have.
Democracy is not and must not be limited to choosing your representative once every four years - it should be a living system of dialogue, where you constantly offer feedback and hear back from your representative (not saying it has to be personal). This is the only way to build trust and have a responsive system.
Can you please clarify if I misunderstood you: You argue that people shouldn't know the truth, because when someone lies to them they act against their own interests?
Depends on the perspective I guess. I believe he accomplished a lot, as he raised the awareness on how the EU is run indirectly by an unaccountable group of politicians serving specific interests. It's no small feat.
They are deciding about life and death of people of a country (or many). They're not discussing about what's your favourite food and which sex position you like the most.
Those conversation MUST be open and public, so people can judge the work of their delegates and decide to vote them again or not.
If you don't want to be heard, don't present yourself as a candidate. There are plenty of roles in companies that are private enough to speak privately.
Eurogroup, Ecofin, European Commission, European Central Bank, ESM are secrets just to subtract power from citizens, so to reduce democracy.
Imagine negotiating with an employer, except your inner monologue is always spoken aloud.
One unintended (?) consequence of extreme transparency for governments, is that it makes government ineffective and easily subverted or outmaneuvered by opaque organizations, like corporations and less liberal state actors.
By the way, this goes hand in hand with the encroachment on ordinary citizens' rights (often with exceptions being carved out specifically for parliamentarians).
Obviously you want your elected representatives to do what's best, not what gets you trending in the polls. In this particular case we should expect the EU to step up and help out member-states in need in spite of the political abuse and exploitation by populist parties of problems such as the sovereign debt crisis.
I agree, but an advantage over whom exactly? In this case it's simply an advantage of the ruling political and economic elite over European citizens (Greeks especially).
There are few instances when things really should be kept secret e.g. during wars, but this was not one of them.
What, Varoufakis is a world-renown professor of game theory. You don’t think he has an agenda? Is it impossible that this agenda clashes against the Good of Greek People?
Not quite, the problem are extremist and populist political parties who abuse any crisis to force their way into relevance without playing any constructive role in any part of the problem. There's a long list of examples in European history of how extremistm exploits economic and financial crisis for their own self-interest and in the process causing a long steam of suffering and misery. It happened often enough to enable us to learn from that mistake.
Not necessarily. If there is secrecy within the organization, any leader of a subbranch can abuse his power along the line of the movie Dr. Strangelove.
States create and enforce the laws, they can do whatever they want. Their only limit is the people willingness expressed via elections.
Corporations can never be above a State if they play in a game where the State decides the rules.
It's 2012-2015, Greece is about to default on that very debt, and asks responsible countries to guarantee Greek debt... and they want the Eurogroup to guarantee it because they want to issue more debt! Issue more debt! A country that is unable to repay it's current debt!
Varoufakis, playing with people's lives and futures...
We're not talking about private individuals discussing private matters informally here.
These are people with great power arguing over the fate of millions.
They shouldn't be saying things that they wouldn't want exposed and there is no reason to keep this secret.
What about watergate was that unfair too?
Sure if he was leaking offhand sexual preferences of people recorded he would be crossing a line, but somehow I doubt that's what will be leaked.
If a reporter received these same recordings in the mail, they would quite likely publish them. If they received a recording of a random person discussing their medical concerns, publishing that would be an outrageous breach of ethics.
(Hence the Gawker/Thiel debacle also. When Ted Haggard was caught having gay extramarital affairs, it was considered fit for publication because he was an evangelical preacher fighting against gay marriage. When a random private individual is outed, its not a public interest matter and can be libelous even when accurate. Thiel fell somewhere in between under both legal and journalistic rules, so we got a debate.)
I'm pretty baffled to see the parent comment imply that private discussions between politicians should inherently be kept secret. We could discuss specific news stories, reporters who violate attribution rules, and whether Varoufakis was bound by privacy laws or Eurogroup confidentiality rules. We could even argue the publication is in the public interest, and yet makes Varoufakis unfit to serve by destroying his ability to function with trust.
But just as you say, treating "that's a private discussion" as the end of matter would excuse Watergate also.
2) If pols do not fear things like this, they absolutely will abuse the public trust. It always happens. You cannot have meaningful representative government without meaningful information on their actions.
3) In general, support for smokey-back-room politics tends to be related to support for the outcomes of those decisions. It suddenly becomes a collusive outrage when the "wrong" ox is gored.
Is it then legitimate to call them out?
Remember these weren't 'at the bar talking rubbish' kind of conversations, these were extremely serious negotiations in a professional capacity where you would expect people to weigh words carefully.
Nicholson makes the point that the text of agreements should be known when they are made. The discussions that arrive at them, not necessarily.
Loans are a two party relationship and people tend to view the borrower more harshly than the lender. Lenders tend to get bailed out and somehow aren’t viewed negatively for their profligate lending. Why is it only the borrowers that suffer?
Those loans are not reparations, were never cancelled and, due to continuity of government, are still owed by Germany to Greece.
Debts must be paid after all.
The net effect of the whole saga was Greece getting to spend a lot of money in the 90s and 2000s, and the stronger countries of the Eurogroup ending up paying for (at least part) of that.
Focussing on these countries' motivation is somewhat useless speculation, and arguably unfair if you manage to twist it so far around the people paying end up as the bad guys, and the people spending as the victims.
In any case: French and German banks could have absorbed a Greek default, although it would have been painful. Because these banks held only part of the debt, it would have always been cheaper to make them whole again and tell Greece to take a hike.
Considering a decade has passed and some things happen, one might also want to reevaluate the motivations ascribed to, for example, Angela Merkel. Does she still strike people as incapable of aiming higher than just immediate parochial needs?
: around 30% IIRC, can't be bothered to look this stuff up again ten years later)
The motivation of the German and French governments was that German and French banks not suffer. And of course the leaders of those countries cared more about their people than the people of Greece. This is natural and part of the psychology of being part of a nation. We ended up with things like:
At any rate, both parties are at fault and both parties ought to have suffered. From my perspective only one party suffered.
Greek lenders were forced to pardon half it's debt, which ultimately caused some banks to bankrupt. Enough with this tale of how Greek governments are victims for repeatedly requesting loans, and then falsify their accounting to keep requesting loans, and then hiring professional accounting teams to optimize their accounting forgery to keep receiving loans.
Enough with this tale of how German and French banks are victims for repeatedly giving loans and looking the other way at the bad accounting!
Somehow you misread what I said. "Greek lenders" means those who lent money to the Greek state. Those were European private banks, including French and German. Those banks were forced to bear the loss of half of Greece's sovereign debt in Greece's famous 2011 debt hair cut.
> Enough with this tale of how German and French banks are victims for repeatedly giving loans and looking the other way at the bad accounting!
It's too late to act that ignorant, sykick. The truth is out for almost a decade, and you simply cannot turn a blind eye to the facts. Go browse Wikipedia's article on the subject to get an idea of how Greek governments created their whole mess and how Europe's economy and the EU were forced to bear the brunt of the economic and financial and political problem Greece's ruling regime created for their country.
Why do you ignore the fact that lenders knew the sorry state of standards in Greece and still lent massive amounts of money to Greece? Why did they continue to lend money? Isn’t the most likely reason being that the people involved in making the loans do so for short term gain knowing they won’t go to jail and they personally won’t go bankrupt? You keep neglecting to hold the lender accountable. I’ve repeatedly mentioned that borrower should suffer and is responsible. All I’ve done is mention that the lender should be held responsible too. Isn’t it obvious that the lender should be held responsible? And by lender I mean the people making the decisions not just the corporate entity.
I think clearly we won’t agree. As I mentioned before in these discussions too often people neglect to realize that lending is a two party relationship and both parties have responsibilities. My sole aim has been to point out that the lender ought to have suffered too.
"privatize" means that today all the Greek airports are owned by German companies.
Is it legit to suppose there was a slight conflict of interest between the "doctor" and the "patient"?
I mean, would you trust your doctor if he gains on your death?
"Like many EU countries, the general retirement age in Greece is 65, although the actual average is about 61. However, the deeply fragmented system also provides for early retirement – as early as 55 for men and 50 for women – in many professions classified as unhealthy."
55 and 50!
But although it was less than Germany, let's say 60 or 59 or even 55:
1) lenders knew it, so it's also their fault on not weighting the risk well or not asking for an higher interest rate or avoiding giving them money at all. To check is their responsibility.
2) IMF decisions brought an increase in suicide rate and children mortality rate. Are the lenders allowed to bring death to the borrowers? Is this illegal for the mafia but allowed for IMF/ECB/EC?
How does one make this claim? What would the alternative have looked like? It's not like the IMF just decided to tank a healthy economy.
Regarding early retirement, I'm sure this is the case in many "industrious" countries too. You probably don't want 65 year olds running around in combat boots with a machine gun and 20kg of supplies on their back.
Haha! That was a good one.
It's a win-win.
I think the accusation of ignorance is kinder than the alternative ("let's not pay our taxes, the germans will pay for us").
With all the corruption going around I would not blame them. (even without it I would not blame them regardless. There are many people all over the world -including me- who consider taxes thievery)
Anyway, please do correct me if I am wrong, but wasn't it only the rich/rich companies that did that? Similarly to how Amazon, Google, or Apple for example pay almost no tax.
> who thought it was a good idea to adopt a foreign currency when it didn't make sense economically
Do you have a citation for this? As far as I know the Greek population was not asked about it.
What do you mean the population wasn't asked? It's a democracy. The population elects polititians that vote laws and make decisions. Like in almost every country and for almost every topic. If the greeks didn't care about what their polititians did, good for them. But they aren't children. They are a sovereign democracy. They own the consequences.
Yes? Cash is the standard method of payment, what is the issue exactly? Regardless of that, employees (who are the majority of the workforce in pretty much every country) can't tax-evade.
> What do you mean the population wasn't asked?
And at the end of the day, even if there was true democracy it would still not make sense to blame all the population for the choice of the majority. In the same way that you can't blame every American for the killer drones, or every German for the election of the NSDAP.
What happened to greece was a disaster. Of course it required to be handled by adults, and they did what was necessary. But the whole thing is hardly "a success story".
On the low end of the scale someone could have used undiplomatic language that with the right media framing could anger a lot of people, without beeing that damning from an objective angle.
On the other end however you get things that we might want to know about, e.g. when someone in a high office defends a genocide, or says something so clearly evil that the potential damage of not publishing the recording outweighs every individual right.
I am not a fan of Varoufakis, but I could imagine him not taking this decision lightly (otherwise he would have published it way earlier). This points to something closer to the latter category.
In all aspects, Greece was in much better shape before the 2008 crisis than Lithuania. Now Lithuania has a higher GDP per capita than Greece. How did that happen?
But never once, anyone in public considered on "asking on forgiving on our debts". It really makes me wonder the audacity of the people that claim it's the Eurogroups fault that they have lent money to Greece.
It really makes a difference, when people own up to their future.
You know what the creditors did? They forgave Germany's debts.
So the question is, when Greece made the same argument to Germany, that it can't grow their economy under austerity, why did the Germans refuse to forgive its debts?
You blame the Greek people but it was the German and French banks that lent Greece the money. Why didn't the banks do their du-diligence and refuse to give the loans?
So when Greece got the bailout money, that money went straight back into the German and French banks and left the Greek people holding the bag.
Shouldn't this actually make you wonder whether the Greek austerity was a good idea?
> It really makes a difference, when people own up to their future.
Why do you think it makes sense to hold millions accountable directly for the corrupt dealings of a few members of a country's elite (and of a few foreign bankers, politicians etc.)?
That's how democracy works. If you are not happy with your current government, elect the one you are happy with.
Over time, I've found that the elected government really does represent the general population.
They are also often deliberately kept in the dark about the decisions being made. Even if they had the necessary information available, it would be almost impossible to keep up with everything since people have other more important things to do to e.g. work.
> Over time, I've found that the elected government really does represent the general population.
I don't know where this happens, but if/when it does it's more of a fortunate accident than the default outcome.
This is a sovereign nation though, it should be expected to operate with sound fiscal policies and banks shouldn't base lending on political programs. Lest we let banks regulate policy through their willingness to lend money. That's the situation we did get in the end though, with austerity through blackmail. Greeks are now furious at the German government for protecting their financial institutions from collapse. While it might be more apt to be furious at those whom voted for policies not fiscally sound.
So what is the way forward? Certainly not what the IMF suggested at the time, as they as much have admitted to. But is Varoufakis pointlessly relegislating that decision or is he trying to sell a book?
If you want open talks, they need to be done so with everyone on board.
lender is responsible for checking how much the borrower can take. My bank reasonably doesn't give me a billion.
Default likelihood exists because there is an interest that prices it.
When default happens, shame on the borrower and shame on the lender for having been a bad checker or just shame on no one if that default was one of the "expected" and covered by all the debt+interest already cashed in.
An any case increasing suicide-rate and child mortality-rate is not the right answer, unless you are called "mafia" or "IMF".
Considering that laws probably does not assume possibility of bankrupcy or other way of dealing with insolvency for sovereign, that does not mean defaulted debt disappears. It may or may not be reclaimable in local courts (based on local laws), but it likely could be reclaimable in foreign courts. That would cause long-term legal clusterfuck for Greece and that would likely be much worse than the current state.
But the EU is supposed to be an a collective of allies and partners, not a network of purely financial transactions. In that context surely the shame belongs to the partner that betrays the trust and confidence of its friends?
Not that I'd argue that Greece "deserved" everything that happened. But this line of argument seems to justify a complete refusal of responsibility on Greece's part.
Do I get this correct?
If the supply of money has essentially been exhausted, then both borrowers and lenders have been doing something wrong, and it should be BOTH that suffer, so that both are incentivized not to resch this point again. What happened in Greece instead was that only the borrowers suffered, the lenders got all their money back.
Even worse, it'll be the borrower's children who will suffer the consequences.
But what is the solution here? Be really angry to the lenders and make them keep writing checks to the fraudulent borrowers?
I mean, do I get this correct? Would you say that when people need to pay their debts, the bank gets to enforce measures despite it causing the debtor's children dying (i.e. increased child mortality)?
I might have gotten you wrong here. It is not easy to parse a 100+ word sentence.
You can argue that if that money was not given in first place is just as bad as asking it back.
I am sure the poorer EU countries would also lower their mortality rates if they were given the free check. What's special about Greece, why Romanians can't lower their mortality rates by living a good life on credit? Why the UK can't do that?
They both have higher child mortality rates than Greece: https://www.ined.fr/en/everything_about_population/data/euro...
Are they not clever enough? Not important enough? What's going on here?
What is going on here is that debt in the current financial system is at conflict with current moral standards. Debt is being transferred from parents to children (mostly in the form of state debt), while defaults are being pushed almost exclusively on the the debtor from the debtee. The consequence is that there are a lot of people being punished for events outside of their control.
Yeah, when a debt cannot be filled, debtor and debtee need to share the consequences proportionally. And in the case of Greece, the 30% haircut is not remotely proportional.
“Think of the children” argument should stop being abused.
It looks like the Greek gov(which represents the Greek people) was not very responsible when it took the loans and arguably neither when it nearly got bankrupted.
I want you to explain to me why it's reasonable that the lender makes profits when things go right, but the public has to take the loss when things go wrong.
Isn't in the nature of a free market that lending is an inherently risky business ?
It just reflects the general european position on separation of powers. That central bank and its monetary policy should be independent of executive branch of government in a similar manner like supreme court or whole judiciary branch.
It is a position of authoritarian leaders who promote that everything should be under the control of the people (i.e. under their control as people representatives).
OP stated monetary policy, not economic.
Furthermore, Greece's problems were primarily caused by the way Greek governments systematically mismanaged the Greek state, having resorted to a perverse and continuous push for a combination of massive accounting fraud and overspending fueled by collosal levels of sovereign debt.
Should state elections in Mississippi drive US Fed policy?
Most of it was due to the fact that Greece had forged their nation accounting to falsify their actual state and hide sovereign debt, and once they faced bankruptcy they had no alternative than to come clean and straighten their accounting.
Another important fact that is oddly left out by proponents of the "austerity is a conspiracy" rhetoric is the fact that EU's national accounting reform kicked into effect in 2014, and included anti-accounting engineering measures which were highly abused to artificially inflate GDP and mask sovereign debt.
> it and was forced into austerity by the Troika
This conspiracy theory is absurd, as it weirdly imits the fact that member-states that underwent bailout processes had already exhausted their own access to sovereign debt markets resulted from their own financial and economic colapse, and the ECB/EU/IMF trio were quite literally the last people in the whole world willing to lend emergency funds that helped them soften the blow of the problem these countries' governments created to themselves over the years.
You're getting emotional and in the process trying to out words into others people's mouths for no good reason. Greece's problems were a political and institutional problem, and it's not possible to hide this fact and its consequences. You cannot have a string of governments patently and systematically committing state-wide accounting fraud, and even resorting to paying consultants to optimize their fraud, and still try to spin it as emotional pettiness. Eventhough the actual Greek people had to bear the blunt of the problem, that changes nothing with regards to the problem, what caused it, andwho were responsible for it.
Here, check out this graph, which rather obviously shows the benefit of joining the EU in 1981: https://www.google.com/search?q=greece+gdp&oq=greece+gdp&aqs...
But when push came to shove in 2008, the debts were exploding not in Germany, but in Greece.
And this is where you're wrong. Borrowing money has a direct and deep impact on ta country's level of production, mainly because that cash is dumped on the economy by spending it on buying goods and services.
The real "fair" solution would be: to auction off their sovereign territory to the highest bidder, and paying off debt with that cash. If they try to object, confiscate their merchant fleet and block ports with aerial minelaying.
Because all the actions that took place "to fix" Greece was in order to fix the problem of the public debt. So, I suppose that now, after all the "hard medicine" the problem is solved. Well, it's not and it's not predicted to be in the future.
So, what was all this about?
None of the predictions made at the time by all those hardliners in Germany and company have become a reality. Of course, the guilt is going to be again on the Greeks. Then they will complain when the people turn anti-European and rationalistic.
That assertion is quite wrong and fly in the face of facts and history.
For example, Greece received a massive debt pardon which whiped out about half the state's debt toward private banks. This alone triggered the bankruptcy of a bunch of private banks, including from other countries also undergoing bailout processes of their own.
Additionally, the bailout process was focused on controlling structural deficit, and not debt. Debt is not the problem, but depending on loans just to keep the state operating is a collosal problem. After Greece's accounting fraud was blown, Greel governments were forced to face the problem of the Greek state enduring double digits deficits. "Austerity" is just a fancy word for "we need to reign in all this overspending", and it boggles the mind how the fact that Greece was routinely spending over 10% of it's fiscal revenue, resorting of loans after loans to cover the difference, is simply omitted or glanced over.
I think this isn't going to get fixed until the debt between nations will not be given against some specific collaterial with understood and universally accepted means of taking it regardless of sovereignty. I.e. don't give money to those stronger than you, and be ready to take it back at gunpoint.
> Should state elections in Mississippi drive US Fed policy?
EU is not a Federal Country, not a State and most of all not a Nation. It's just a common table where each country fights for their interests and the biggest state try to eat all the others not caring about its level of export.
This is a comparison of Italian GDP between 1929 crisis, IIWW and 2007 crisis.
Definitely they didn't go down like IIWW but they didn't bounce either, so in the long term far more growth has been destroyed.
Should we force the (next generation of) citizens of Mississippi (who didn't personally lie about anything) to pay all this debt for the next 50 years?
Due to these uncertainties, and undoubtedly also to pressure from the rest of the EU, Greece decided instead to renegotiate their debt with the Trojka.
Now that the debt has been turned from public to private, it might be easier to handle as a situation, but I doubt the EU is able to handle such a crisis gracefully.
Greece is stuck to a never-ending extend and pretend program which will effectively kill the Greek economy in the 21st century.
Make no mistake, such a process would present a challenge for any government.
I'd quip that politicians making that argument could just as well legislate for good weather. But considering Greece, I'm now wondering if they may have already done that. In which case I owe them an apology.
After some digging, I found this:
> The Eurogroup on the 11 July 2015 discussed the request by the Greek authorities for financial assistance from the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) and their new proposals for a reform agenda.
So presumably, the recordings provide evidence of some kind of back-door deal between the EU and Greece as terms for refinancing its debt.
I had a really hard time to sympathise with him as I got the impression that he didn't pay attention to the reality of the situation and kept complaining that it's not like the way he likes it.
He seems like a nice guy to drink with but not a person you would like to do business. My guess is that the recordings will prove how cool and smart is he and it wasn't his fault.
Or he paid too much attention to the reality of the situation.
According to him, as a professional economist, the Euro is structurally unsustainable and is going to implode in the next 2008 because of the way the EU is set up politically creating a situation of a central bank without a country and countries without central banks.
What angered him is the way Eurogroup bureaucrats pretend this situation does not exist, even when they themselves admit they understand the same thing, which, to an academic like him, is a crime against logic.
They did not convene there to fix the grand issue that was well known since the inception of the Euro. Not really a scientific discovery he made, a hot topic since ever.
Some professional economists argue that the current capitalist economy is not sustainable, how well do you think it will go if an economist brings this up in his meeting with his bank about the restructuring of his debt he/she racked up?
It's simply ridiculous. It's like those tech people over-obsessed with the technical aspect of an issue who get a managerial job and screwing up royally, get fired and keep bugging people about how company X is doomed because they did not implement his tech idea.
He simply did not understand what job he got and where he is. He thought that he had all the answers for all the problems of the world and he can fix them in those meetings with the eurocrats but they did not listen to him.
The meetings were even simpler: he went there for debt negotiation with an election mandate to not capitulate and with the most open mind for compromise, and was immediately handed an ultimatum to capitulate, with quote verbatim "elections cannot be allowed to change economic policy."
The crime against logic was what he discovered afterwards.
It was a referendum among the Greek people about what their government should do.
You can't hold a referendum about what other people should give them.
The UK got a Brexit referendum and they got out. Nobody would have cared if they held "EU gives as market access but we do not allow Europeans coming over and work referendum" which is what the UK essentially wants.
That was his personal political goal but not Greece's collective goal or will, and he did nothing more than to run political manoevers to try to manipulate Greeks to assume there was a ridiculous conspiracy by the whole world against them.
That assumption doesn't hold to scrutiny. If he was half as attentive as you portray him or if he actually cared about reality of the situation or how to fix Greece's economic problem, Varoufakis wouldn't have repeatedly pinned Nazi comparisons on Germany's government has he did, not to mention the Russia stunts.
In fact, Varoufakis' erratic political behavior and systematic diplomatic and political screwups are more in line with a political plan to render a solution within he scope of EU and the euro completely impossible, and in the meanwhile create conditions to force Greece out of the euro, EU and even NATO, which incidentally line up with his ideals and contrast with the will of the Greek people.
Citation please? A quick search finds that he did exactly the opposite:
"Germany must be proud of the fact that Nazism has been eradicated here," he said in a press conference with his German counterpart.
In theory you’d want everything to be public in the interest of informing your populace.
In practice that’s nonsense. There’s genuine national security concerns, forthright debate of alternatives by advisors, and discussions of limits on negotiating positions.
Earring on the side of transparency is a good idea but there’s a whole lot in government that should never, and will never, be public.
OK, national security and foreign negotiation is a special topic where secrecy can be warranted. But if the government of a country or union of countries is considering, say, pay cuts, why on earth would the population not be entitled to hearing all sides of the argument?
Not that I'm against transparency, but there really are two sides to this. In the best case, politicians act in the interest of the people, which makes publication of their private dealings unwanted. In the worst case, they act against the interest of the people, which can only be dealt with by complete openness and independent justice. In practice, there's a balance between the two.
And it's worse if the decision makers are judged by people that are only partially affected, such as in EU decisions.
If there were real transparency, the public can also, in time, grow together with their politicians, and understand why certain decisions must be taken, and can help the public take a more active and measured role in their own government.
Controlling the actions of politicians who explicitly act against the public interest is at best a minor win. Open and honest dialog is the much more important aspect of this.
And the best case of this is - a politician working for the public interest convinces people to be mindful of their long term goals even when it contradicts their short term goals.
Deliberations are not arguments. Arguments are delivered after deliberation is complete.
If you consider a group of advisors acting as an extension of the chief executive, it’s no different than asking for the chief executives private thoughts which is ludicrous.
But being more serious, deliberation is normally done between friendly parties before a negotiation, and perhaps it is usually fair to keep it private, especially before the actual negotiation has taken place.
But the actual negotiation is an excersie in arguments and offers and counter offers, it is no longer a private affair. If the negotiation is over, you can no longer trust the parties to accurately tell a story of the real arguments that took place, since the arguments they tell everyone may well have been a result of the negotiation.
Such governments should be destroyed. Everything in government should be made public sooner or later. Everything in government is public property and belongs to the public.
There may be short term national security issues that may warrant secrecy, but even those in the long term needs to be released to the public.
It's so strange that people actually believe " there’s a whole lot in government that should never, and will never, be public." And this is why so many people distrust the EU and its supporters.
As can be seen, Greece is towards the top and Germany close to the bottom of the ranking.
This should not be taken as saying that the Greeks are better than the Germans. It's just that individuals in Greece, like those in many other places, spend their lives working hard and they don't deserve to suffer for the corrupt dealings, incompetence and prejudice of their or other countries ruling elite.
A guy with a pickax can work very hard and still be a lot less productive than a guy with an excavator.
I know of MEPs that have pushed for more open decision making in the past, and not making a lot of progress.
As a greek, this kind of thing being "news" is insulting to me. This guy is a veritable idiot: a rich boy academic with little-to-show, who became popular for talking in economic gibberish to the most foolish part of the readers of The Guardian(1). After he was summarily dismissed at a cost of at least 100B, which caused needless pain and the first capital controls in my life, he proceeded to write a novel, make a movie, and write another novel for his personal vendetta. He now leads a tiny party of the worst champaigne socialists of europe (who thankfully are on their way out of life). Yes, we have scumbags of this kind in this country, but this is not a representative specimen, or at least it shouldn't be the model of greek citizend who are struggling to catch up with the rest of europe.
1) I 've been tricked to watch a lot of his speeches. I couldn't find a single damn coherent actionable proposal there.
And indeed, "Another Now: Dispatches from an Alternative Present" will be published soon.
I don't know where you get this piece of information, but in all his books he argues against Bitcoin and crypto-currency as a reserve currency, making a point of the impossibility of apolitical money.
If no one else does, will try posting a link in reply to this comment when it does,
That's an extremely loaded word for negotiating consensus. It's as if populist parties are manned by opportunists who have no qualms to throw everyone under the bus if that gives them any advantage.
That's either extremely naive or disingenuous. It's quite frequent in negotiations that you have to concede parts that might be spinned as collosal political losses even if they are completely inoquous or even in line with the greater good or your political mid to long-term interests. The sovereign debt crisis is an excellent example, as even though it was in no one's best interests to let states go bankrupt, a hand full of member states were forced to navigate populist and extremist political parties and movements who were fundamentally opposed to both the EU, euro, and bailout processes who were spinning this issue to further their personal agenda. It's absurd to even assume that needlessly exposing your nation to this sort of manipulation is in anyone's best interests.
The people you voted and elected for that exact role of course. That's what being a democratic republic is all about.