Why Greece Must Repudiate Its “Banker Bailout” Debts And Exit The Euro

by David Stockman, Contra Corner Now and again history reaches an inflection point. Statesman and mere politicians, as the case may be, find themselves confronted with fraught circumstances and stark choices. February 2015 is one such moment. For its part, Greece stands at a fork in the road. Syriza can move aggressively to recover Greece’s democratic sovereignty or it can desperately cling to the faltering currency and financial machinery of the Euro zone. But it can’t do both. So by the time the current onerous bailout agreement expires at month end, Greece must have repudiated its “bailout debt” and be on the off-ramp from the euro. Otherwise, it will have no hope of economic recovery or restoration of self-governance, and Syriza will have betrayed its mandate. Moreover, the stakes extend far beyond its own borders. If the Greeks do not take a stand for their own dignity and independence at what amounts to a financial Thermopylae, neither will the rest of Europe ever escape from the dysfunctional, autocratic, impoverishing superstate regime that has metastasized in Brussels and Frankfurt under cover of the “European Project”. Indeed, the crony capitalist corruption and craven appeasement of the banks and financial markets that have become the modus operandi there are inexorably destroying the EU and single currency. By fleeing the euro and ECB with all deliberate speed, therefore, the Greeks will give-up nothing except the opportunity to be lashed to the greatest monetary train wreck ever recorded. So Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis has the weight of history on his shoulders as he makes the rounds of European capitals this week. His task in not merely to renounce the ham-handed “austerity” dictated by the Troika. Apparently even the French are prepared to acknowledge that the hideous suffering that has been imposed on Greece’s less fortunate citizens must be alleviated. Yet the latter is only a symptom of what’s wrong and what stands in the way of a real solution. The true evil started with the bailouts themselves and the resulting usurpation by the EU politicians and apparatchiks of both financial market price discovery and discipline and sovereign democratic prerogatives. ccordingly, the terms of Greece’s current servitude can’t be tweaked, “restructured” or “swapped” within the Brussels bailout framework. Instead, Varoufakis must firmly brace his interlocutors on the true history and the condition precedent that stands before them. Namely, that the Greek state was effectively bankrupt even before the 2010 bailout, and that the massive amounts of debt piled upon it thereafter was essentially a fraudulent conveyance by the EU. Accordingly, Greece’s legitimate debt is perhaps $175 billion based on the pre-crisis euro debt outstanding at today’s exchange rate and the haircut that would have occurred in bankruptcy. Greece’s new government has every right to repudiate the vast amount beyond that because it arose not from the actions of the Greek people, but from the treachery of EU politicians and the Troika apparatchiks—-along with the unfaithful stooges in the Greek parliament and ministries which executed their fraudulent conveyance. Indeed, the purpose of the massive EU, ECB and IMF loans to Greece was just plain ignoble and corrupt. The European superstate deployed its vast fiscal and monetary powers to make whole the German, French, and Italian banks and other financial institutions which had gorged on Greece’s sovereign debt. For more than a decade, heedless gamblers and lazy money managers and bankers had loaded up on Greek debt bearing yields that superficially bore a premium relative to the German and US treasury benchmarks, but in fact did not remotely compensate for the self-evident credit risk embedded in Greece’s budgetary profligacy. All of this was plainly evident. During the years before the crisis and especially under the oligarchy dominated Karamanlis government, Greece’s spending relative to GDP soared. Yet Athens didn’t bother to impose the taxes necessary to pay for its public spectacles, such as the 2004 Olympics, or its vast expansion of the state bureaucracy, its wasteful gorging on German defense equipment or the ever-rising subventions to special interest groups. Historical Data Chart Historical Data Chart Moreover, it was also plainly evident at the time that even as Greece was sinking into public insolvency, its overall economy was on a fast track to crisis, as measured by a soaring current account deficit. In effect, northern European banks were flooding it with radically mis-priced debt, causing a orgy of unsustainable domestic borrowing and spending. Historical Data Chart Indeed, during the 10-year run-up to the crisis, loans to private households and businesses soared by 5X. But in the standard Keynesian fashion, the booming investment and consumption spending financed by this debt eruption was not real or sustainable. It just temporarily flattered the GDP figures, making Greece’s actual public debt burden even more onerous than the reported figures—especially after Goldman and other bankers bearing illicit accounting schemes and predatory derivative deals had perfumed the fiscal pig. Continue Reading>>>

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