Kako ubiti državo, četrti del

Nova pogajanja med kreditojemalkami in Grčijo glede novega programa “pomoči” so kot film “Groundhog day”. Grčija se vsako pomlad zbudi v isto situacijo – kreditojemalke, ki so jo že zdavnaj slekle do golega, ji pobrale četrtino produktivnih kapacitet, več kot polovici mladih vzele prihodnost, upokojencem pa jemljejo zadnje skorje kruha, od nje vedno znova zahtevajo nemogoče. Tokrat gre zgolj za drobno razliko v zgodbi, in sicer za spor med kreditodajalkami samimi: Nemčija bi Grčiji vsako leto (od danes do neskončnosti) izpulila 3.5% BDP (v obliki primarnega presežka v proračunu), IMF pa bi se zadovoljil zgolj z 1.5% BDP. No, tajni Memorandum predvideva še za dodatna 2% BDP rezov v javne izdatke oziroma dodatnih davkov, ki bi se aktivirali, če (bolje rečeno: ko) Grčija ne bi bila sposobna zagotoviti 3.5% primarnega presežka. Če seštejete, kreditodajalke od Grčije zahtevajo, da v nedogled v tujino transferira med 3.5% in 5.5% svojega BDP, pri tem pa Grčiji ne omogočijo, da bi se postavila na noge.

Ta nov program “pomoči” je torej “dead on arrival“. Neživljenjski in nemogoč program, ki Grčiji pri živem telesu odira kožo z mesa. Program fizično ne more delovati in kaže zgolj na brutalno izživljanje nad grškim prebivalstvom.

Francis Coppola v odličnem komentarju te zahteve primerja z zahtevami zmagovalk po prvi svetovni vojni, ki so enako zahtevale od Nemčija. Kot najbrž veste, je John M. Keynes, ki je takrat sodeloval kot pogajalec na britanski strani, protestno odstopil iz britanske delegacije in napisal “The Economic Consequences of the Peace“, brutalno strupeno kritiko bodočega mirovnega sporazuma ter njegove katastrofalne učinke na Nemčijo. Ta mirovni sporazum, ki je Nemčijo zavezal k neživljenjsko visokim reparacijam in k trajnemu fiskalnemu stradanju, je seveda zelo hitro privedel do hiperinflacije in do kolapsa nemškega gospodarstva, pozneje pa tudi do vzpona Hitlerja, ki se je za to nečloveško izživljanje Franciji in Britaniji maščeval. Po drugi svetovni vojni zmagovalni zavezniki niso naredili enake napake kot leta 1919, pač pa so Nemčiji odpisali več kot 60% dolga, odplačevanje preostanka pa naredili znosno – prek investicij v nemško industrijo in vezave odplačil na izvozne prihodke. 

V vsej zgodbi je brutalno ironično, kako je sama Nemčija pozabila na svoje travmatične izkušnje z neživljenjskim mirovnim sporazumom po prvi svetovni vojni in na pozitivne izkušnje po drugi svetovni vojni, ko so bile zaveznice do nje bolj življenjske. V bistvu je neverjetno, kako brutalna zna biti Nemčija do drugih, ko ji gre dobro.

The latest round of Greek bailout negotiations is going anything but smoothly. In fact, the growing rift between Greece’s European creditors – notably Germany – and the IMF threatens to derail them completely. The IMF estimates that the proposed 3.5% primary surplus would turn out to be more like 1.5%, making debt relief essential. But Germany insists that a 3.5% of GDP primary surplus could be sustained indefinitely with the right reforms and no debt relief will be needed. Deadlock.

But now we learn, courtesy of Reuters, that an additional set of “contingent reforms” is to be imposed on Greece. The draft Memorandum of Understanding already specifies spending cuts and tax rises to the tune of 3% of GDP: the new set would make savings of a further 2% of GDP.

These contingent measures are currently unspecified: apparently the Greek government is to propose them. Once specified, they would be passed into law by the Greek government, though they would not come into force unless “needed” (i.e. if Greece missed its fiscal targets). But of one thing we can be certain. They will not be reforms aimed at restoring the Greek economy. No, their sole purpose will be to extract yet more money from Greek households and businesses, to the detriment of the health and wellbeing of the Greek people and the profitability of Greek businesses.

The combination of the MOU with the new measures is brutal. No way can a fiscal tightening of 3% of GDP, plus a further tightening of 2% when (not if) Greece misses its fiscal targets, do anything but further economic damage. There is no monetary offset to soften the blow, since Greece is excluded from the ECB’s QE. A fiscal tightening of this magnitude without central bank support is the equivalent of doing major surgery without anesthetic. The patient may survive the surgery, but the pain and shock will set back its recovery by years.

And the surgery is counterproductive, too. It will not ensure that the creditors get their money back more quickly. On the contrary, it may mean they never get it back. The more damage is done to Greece’s economy, the harder it will find it to pay its creditors. To quote the great American economist Irving Fisher, “The more the debtors pay, the more they owe”.

There is another great – and like Fisher’s piece, mercifully short – piece that the negotiators should read: “The Economic Consequences of the Peace”, by the English economist John Maynard Keynes. Keynes was highly critical of the terms of the Versailles Treaty, under which Germany was systematically stripped of its productive capacity and its assets, and furthermore had heavy reparation payments imposed on it. Keynes’s remarks about the consequences of this were all too accurate: Germany did indeed prove unable to pay, and the debt burden coupled with destruction of its productive capacity resulted in the Weimar hyperinflation. But it took a second, even more destructive World War for the European powers finally to admit that Germany’s debts were unpayable. In 1953 the bulk of them were effectively written off.

Vir: Francis Coppola, Forbes

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