Monday, 6 July 2015

Oxi - did they expect that?

I don't know enough about economics to know whether the "no" vote in Greece is a good thing or a bad thing or what will happen as a consequence of it.
I am deeply concerned for the poor in Greece - and indeed in places like Spain where serious "austerity" measures are in place. Does "austerity" work? I don't know.
Economies of countries are not like household budgets. They do not work on the same terms as Mr Micawber's simple understanding of happiness and misery. Our present state government is deeply in debt but their accountants are predicting an election "surplus" next year. Oh yes, you can do a lot with the figures if you know how. 
I suspect Greece did precisely that when they handed their books over to Goldman-Sachs prior to entering that curious club which runs on the Euro.  I also suspect that the United Kingdom and Denmark did well not to join the club. 
If I am to be completely honest, I have doubts about the European Union. It is an interesting idea in principle but it doesn't really work.
It can't work. Some countries, particularly Germany, are stronger than others. Money talks. 
The EU is also expensive to run. Of course it was supposed to be cheaper but the reality is that bureaucracy has just increased while restraints on trade grow. It has also encouraged economic migration to Europe - now seen as one big, wealthy country that can support anyone who wishes to migrate there. 
Nobody seems to learn from this. Asia is, supposedly, getting more cooperative as well. There is a new Asian banking club  which has similar aims to the European Central Bank. Apparently it is supposed to be "good" for "investment". I have my doubts. It means borrowing money - on the lender's terms and for the purposes of the lender of course.
Cultures across Asia are even more diverse than they are in Western Europe. The idea of "one big happy family" won't work. It can't work.
I don't know what the Greeks have voted for. I doubt they know what they have voted for.  More than likely they have voted against austerity rather than for poverty - the result will be little different, except in their minds. A Greek migrant told me yesterday, "The European Union was an experiment. It doesn't work. Germany is too strong. It has too much power. They expect too much. Greece has nothing."
Perhaps he is right. 
"I couldn't vote but I would have voted "oxi"," he told me, "We need to learn to stand alone. It will be hard but it has to be done."
Germany has the most to lose. Failure to keep Greece in the EU and the Euro under the current bailout terms will be seen as a massive failure for Angela Merkel.
I don't envy the Greeks but, if the rest of us could learn from their situation, they could do us a

1 comment:

cathyc said...

Living in a country that aids and abets rich anti-social thieves from around the world who hide their money in Swiss banks to avoid their social responsibility of paying tax, I note that the Greek economy is no doubt suffering from this as well. Greece has lambasted Switzerland for this, so far with no result. The US has been making their citizens do the right thing and has forced Switzerland's banks to admit their guilt. Large sums of money are involved. Greece doesn't have the massive resources, legal and political to force Switzerland to do the same for them. At the very least tens of billions of Euros are at stake.