Zakaj mora Grčija kapitulirati in zakaj “noče umreti”

Odličen komentar @WEAYL dogajanja glede navideznih pogajanj okrog Grčije. Zgodba je preprosta, bom povzel v alinejah:

  • dejansko ne gre za pogajanja, gre zgolj za enostranski pritisk na Grčijo naj popusti in privoli v pogoje upnikov, noben kompromis za upnike ne pride v poštev,
  • Grčije nihče ne more prisiliti k izstopu, to lahko naredi le sama,
  • Grčija mora kapitulirati (pristati na pogoje upnikov) ali “umreti” (sama izstopiti iz evra in bankrotirati),
  • in to dejanje mora tudi izgledati kot javna kapitulacija ali skok v prepad, ker bi imelo disciplinirajoč pritisk na ostale periferne države,
  • Grčija ne sme “zmagati” (doseči kompromisa), ker bi to po isti logiki opogumilo ostale periferne države oziroma manj ubogljive politične sile v njih,
  • ni nobenih realnih datumov za grško kapitulacijo ali “smrt”: če Grčija (še) ne pristane na pogoje upnikov ali noče sama “skočiti v smrt”, bodo slednji pač tako dolgo premikali “zadnji še sprejemljiv” rok dogovora v prihodnost,
  • z odlaganjem izstopa / kapitulacije grški varčevalci sicer praznijo svoje depozite, vendar za Grčijo to ni problem, saj denar ostaja v rokah grškega prebivalstva (“pod madraci” ali na tujih računih) in se bo slejkoprej vrnil oziroma porabil doma; vse dvignjene depozite pa v celoti sproti nadomešča ECB z izredno likvidnostno pomočjo grškim bankam (ELA),
  • zgodba glede medsebojnega izčrpavanja “pogajalcev” se lahko nadaljuje še mesece, vprašanje je le, kdo bo “prvi trenil z očesom”.

Given that, for all intents and purposes, there is no true negotiation, the EU has to break Greece and her new Government – Greece needs to capitulate or be destroyed (Grexit). And with Spanish and Portuguese elections looming large, and with rising periphery yields threatening to dispel the confidence recovery story, these government’s will be twitching nervously.

And the EU has to resolve this now – there has been mention of mechanisms that would kick the can into the autumn or beyond, but picture the current atmosphere with the addition of new Greek allies, or at least sympathisers in a new anti-austerity Government in Portugal, and then you have the biggie – Spanish elections before the end of the year. There is no way the EU can risk this all blowing up again in the autumn or carrying it unresolved through Spanish elections now that Podemos (Syriza II) is in resurgent mode. This has to be resolved now, definitively and unequivocally in the EU’s favour as a resounding validation of the polices being waged by the likes of Spain’s Rajoy and the rejection of all alternatives. If not the Eurozone is history and all the grand euro-schemes and dreams are for nought.

The problem for the EU is that it cannot be seen to have forced Greece out of the euro (and by implication out of the EU). Grexit reveals the euro to be reversible, not a true single currency, but little more than an exchange rate fix, and therefore infinitely more prone to unravel at any time. This is certainly the case if it can be conceived that Brussels or Frankfurt could order countries out at whim, confirming to financial speculators that, under enough pressure, countries are expendable and therefore eminently tradable.

Not least, if Brussels forces Greece to “walk the plank”, it will lose considerable ideological support among those who hold the EU up as a champion of citizens despite the austerity-mongering (especially among those on the left and therefore broadly sympathetic to Syriza) – perhaps in a similar way that the Soviet Union lost wider ideological support as tanks rolled down the the streets of Prague and Budapest crushing any idealist illusions about what it was really all about. Thinking especially about the upcoming Brexit battle, Brussels will be somewhat wary about being cast down from the moral high ground over Greece.

Whatever the treaties say, and whatever officials, named or otherwise, might hint at, the EU cannot, absolutely cannot, be seen to trigger Grexit while there is a minute glimmer of hope that a deal could be done. In other words, for as long as Greece wants to stay in the euro and for as long as the Greek Government at least turns up at the negotiating room and offers a cheek for Juncker to kiss, the EU has no alternative but to keep Greece in the euro, even if it defaults, even if the banks run out of money.

The EU cannot push Greece over the edge of precipice. Greece has to jump and has to be seen to have jumped wilfully and unnecessarily, spitefully shunning the EU’s generously outstretched hand, to plummet into the abyss. Otherwise the great European project is in serious trouble.

So the question has always been – how to get Greece to jump. The apparent solution was that as Grexit loomed, with forced redenomination and massive devaluation, Greeks would start panicking; not lining up casually at the ATMs but smashing them open with pick axes and impaling hapless and cashless cashiers on pitchforks – a riotous bank run of such magnitude that the Greek Government would have no choice but to either throw itself at Merkel’s feet writhing with contrition and begging for austerity or otherwise close the banks, impose capital controls and start printing new emergency Drachma.

The idea was always that fear of losing control would make Greece blink at the last minute. Well, the last minute is here, Grexit is palpable, but Greece is not blinking.

By taking their money out of the banks, the Greek population is essentially taking electronic money that upon Grexit will be denominated and haircut into oblivion, and turning it into hard cash, either under the mattress or safe in foreign bank accounts – in any case safe. Every million euros that Greeks take out of the banks is a million euros that will be preserved through the inevitable Grexit “corralito” – money that post-Grexit (and forced-Drachma conversion and likely evaporation of electronic money) will re-enter and rebuild the Greek economy. The more that’s taken out, the more will be available on the other side. In fact, straight away after re-denomination, the Greek government can declare the possession of more than a small amount of foreign cash (i.e. euros) illegal and subject to seizure without compensation and Greeks will have no choice but to trundle down to their local newly nationalised bank and pay in all their hoarded euros. The deposit flight, will turn into a deposit flood.

On the other hand, if there is no Grexit, or until Grexit happens, the deposit flight in itself doesn’t matter – the ECB is funding everything anyway and keeping everything afloat. And if a deal is done, the money can simply go back.

You could argue then that is in Greece’s interests to keep things going until the banks literally have zero deposits, knowing in full likelihood that the ECB will finance the banks down to that last euro rather than pull the plug and go down in history as the bankers that took out a nation.

What we are witnessing is not a deposit flight but a multi-billion euro bank heist. The ECB is essentially yet systematically being shaken down, and there is nothing it can do but dumbly smile – the great central bank is looking rather stuck and it must be getting nervous, craving closure; while the poor old IMF, for all its expertise, is left preparing a sternly worded letter as it counts its own squandered billions.

As things stand, Greece is laughing all the way from the bank, while all the EU can do is accelerate and amplify its increasingly underhand and undignified huffing and puffing, in anticipation of inciting a cathartic popular panic, and in the hope that it doesn’t backfire.


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