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21 Φεβ 2016

The beginning of the end

                                                                                    Anastassios D. Retzios

The current situation in Greece ranges from tragic to comic and back.  The government hardly functions, the various ministers are more interested in the “assessment” of the troika than in governing the place, and many of the same ministers find it convenient to accuse others.  The whole situation is more reminiscent of a nut house than of a functioning government.

In the meantime, the troika is turning on the pressure and this government has nowhere to go.  It seems that squeezing more money from the population in terms of taxes and special fees is coming to a logical end; at the same time, economizing by cutting pensions again is becoming tougher and tougher to accomplish.  The government finds it close to impossible to deliver on the “promises” included in the 3rdmemorandum.  The creditors are, justifiably, upset and they promise to stretch the “evaluation” (aka, clear exercise of occupation) well after the summer, at which time the government would either “cry uncle” or exit the Euro. 

I think that it is pretty clear that the government cannot satisfy the population and the creditors at the same time.  It is locked in the horns of a very nasty dilemma.  If it decides to satisfy the creditors, then it would have to enable really suppressive measures to quell a possible societal eruption; it may also have to get a number of other parliamentary allies in order to survive various challenges.  Most of these “allies” may decide not to share its fate.  If it decides that it cannot satisfy the creditors, then it would need to organize a “Grexit”, but, based on the record thus far, this present government is likely incapable of undertaking this challenge (or even some minor ones), to which, it actually does not believe.  In summary, the end play is going to be very messy and very disruptive of the Greek society, of what has been left of it.

I do not have to tell most of you that the economy is sinking faster than it was originally thought.  Economic activity in Greece has slid back to the level it was in 2001.  Unemployment is at stratospheric levels. The banks have been looted, again, despite the $300 billion devoted to them already.  Real property values are falling fast; investments are non-existent.  Business are failing in high numbers  Instead of going forward, we are quickly going backwards and backwards and backwards.  Much of the country is disintegrating.  It has already been divided in clear interest groups that have little or no communication with each other.  For example, if the farmers succeed in their demands, they are unlikely to support the lawyers and the engineers or the teachers.  Each group would end fighting the others and the clash would only grow more bitter as the infighting continues.

Excellent articles have been written regarding the orderly exit from the Euro; I do not foresee that any of these would come into play.  The exit would be disorderly, messy, disruptive, vituperative, and possibly, violent.  I think that even the supporters of the Euro now understand that it cannot be delayed for too long. 

So, this is the beginning of the end.  How long the end would stretch before the final curtain, it is not possible to be predicted.  Hopefully, all will end by a vote in the parliament, not by storming of the parliament by the people, although all scenarios are possible.

The shape of the end of will foretell the shape of the polity post-end, post Euro, post-Eurozone, post- Schaeuble, post EU.  No doubt, there would a great percentage of the population that would maintain a life-long hatred of the EU and its institutions, especially when the details become known by the wider population.  But after a very long occupation, it is what one would expect.

It would be interesting to hear your opinions as to what this end would look like.

Anastassios D. Retzios, PhD
San Ramon, California, USA