Greece isnt Greece’s biggest problem

Syriza. To some it is a group of extremists which can pose a threat to the establishment. To others it is an anti-austerity social movement which fights for justice, human dignity and democracy. To Brussels and Europroject masters it is a nightmare and as an unexpected storm in the middle of the night. To investors it is a big seed of uncertainty making the euro to free-fall. But to all those, who have jumped on the ‘mass panic wave’ seeing Greece as a source of Europe-wide destabilization, I have picked 3 quotes by 3 internationally recognized economists who have perfectly described the new situation in Greece: Greece isnt Greece’s biggest problem and Syriza is anything bur radical.

Joseph Stiglitz in his interview with the CNBC told: “Greece made a few mistakes … but Europe made even bigger mistakes.” The medicine they gave was poisonous. It led the debt to grow up and the economy to go down.” He said “the real problem is Germany, which has benefited greatly under the euro. “Most economists are saying the best solution for Europe, if it’s going to break up, is for Germany to leave. The mark would raise, the German economy would be dampened.” He also thinks that if Greece decides to leave euro, it will be better and yes, Spain and Portuglar may follow, because they will see that there IS an alternative.

Jeffrey Sachs in the Guardian has written that: “Anybody who does the Greek debt arithmetic (and it sometimes seems that in Berlin nobody actually does) knows that it cannot repay its external debts, now around 170% of GDP, without a level of pain that is simply beyond the tolerance of democratic societies. The leftwing party Syriza is no anomaly; it is telling the financial and political truth in the runup to Sunday’s elections, however unpleasant that may be to politicians in Berlin and Brussels. Some Germans today insist that a debt is a debt, and that Greece must repay in full. They should recall the relief that Germany was granted through the Marshall plan, and the 1953 London agreement on German debts. Did Germany “deserve” the relief in 1953? That was not the right question. Germany’s new democracy needed the relief, and Germany needed a fresh start. It played a major role in the economic recovery and construction of Germany’s democratic institutions.”

Paul Krugman in his post in the New York Times said: “The troika [IMF, ECB, EC], while pretending to be hardheaded and realistic, was peddling an economic fantasy. And the Greek people have been paying the price for those elite delusions. [..]

So now that Mr. Tsipras has won, and won big, European officials would be well advised to skip the lectures calling on him to act responsibly and to go along with their program. The fact is they have no credibility; the program they imposed on Greece never made sense. It had no chance of working.

If anything, the problem with Syriza’s plans may be that they’re not radical enough. Debt relief and an easing of austerity would reduce the economic pain, but it’s doubtful whether they are sufficient to produce a strong recovery. On the other hand, it’s not clear what more any Greek government can do unless it’s prepared to abandon the euro, and the Greek public isn’t ready for that.

Still, in calling for a major change, Mr. Tsipras is being far more realistic than officials who want the beatings to continue until morale improves. The rest of Europe should give him a chance to end his country’s nightmare.”

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Master of austerity in charge of Europe’s social dialogue and social impact

Valdis Dombrovskis, who was Latvia’s Prime Minister from 2009 to 2014, has just been appointed as the European Commission’s Vice President for the Euro and Social dialogue. Among other things (according to his EC profile) he will be responsible for “Making decisions about support for struggling eurozone countries more democratically, legitimate and better taking into account the social impact they might have”  BUT:

…during the years of his leadership, from 2008 to 2013 the number of people living in poverty in Latvia increased by 75% which is the third largest increase in the EU after Romania and Greece. As a result of this in 2013 about 35% of Latvia’s population live at a risk of poverty.

poverty in europe

* link to the original source of data

With these facts on the table, what makes one think that this austerity master, who bailed out Latvia’s semi-Scandi-owned banking sector and implemented the ‘euro project’ at a massive social cost, will now be able to look after social impact on European level? Does this staggering outcome of his leadership years gives him in this position any credibility at all? If he could not care and do much about the social impact of his EU/IMF-praised austerity policies in a tiny Latvia with 2 million people, I just wonder how he will care better about 507 million EU citizens. I just wonder, what exactly made him the best candidate for this job?

I just wonder…

krīzes sociālā cena: 40% bērnu dzīvo nabadzībā

Šonedēļ visai skaļu rezonansi izraisīja britu nevalstiskās organizācijas Oxfam klajā nākušais pētījums par globālo nevienlīdzību, kurā tika atkāts, ka laikā no 2008. – 2011. gadam, kad pasaule bija ieslīgusi finanšu krīzes skavās, pasaules miljardieru skaits ir dubultojies.

Vēlvairāk, šonedēļ arī UNICEF publicēja jauno pētījumu “Recesijas bērni”, kurā tiek secināts, ka finanšu krīzes rezultātā laikā no 2008. – 2012. gadam bērnu skaits attīstītajās valstīs (ES un OECD dalībvalstis), kuru apstākļi ir zem nabadzības sliekšņa, ir palielinājies par 2.6 mijoniem. Tā ir vesela Latvija un Islande kopā.

Visnepatīkamākais, protams, ir fakts, ka Latvija atkal izceļas uz pārējo Eiropas valstu fona un ir viena no 5 valstīm (kopā ar Grieķiju, Horvātiju, Īriju un Islandi), kur nabadzībā dzīvojošo bērnu skaits pa šiem krīzes gadiem ir palielinājies par vairāk nekā 50%. Turklāt, Latvijā procentuāli gandrīz 40% bērnu dzīvo zem nabadzības līmeņa, kas ir otrs sliktākais rādītājs Eiropā (2008.gadā tie bija 23%).

Kas nekaiš Dombrovskim tagad sēdēt mīkstajos Briseles krēslos, bet šādi dati ir skandāla vērti. Ir jau labi, ka ‘s dokumentami nam vsjo porjadki’ kā Mirtas tante teiktu un budžeta deficīts ir nomazināts līdz minimumam un eiro ieviešanas ambīcija ir īstenota, taču šo ambīciju sociālā cena ir milzīga.

Varbūt tā entuziastu grupa, kura skaitļo okupācijas zaudējumus, varētu paskaitļot kaut ko mazliet aktuālāku – sociālo cenu, glābjot Parex un īstenojot Dombrovska &IMF/ES austerity programmu. No šiem vaininiekiem varētu vismaz mēģināt piedzīt kādu sāpju naudu vai pakaunināt ar kādu izmeklēšanu (es nejokoju; iedvesmai var te palasīt par Starptautisko pilsoņu parādu audita tīklu – International Citizen Debt Audit Network).

Var jau iebilst un teikt, ka šī nav tendence raksturīga tikai Latvijai. Protams, miljardieru skaita dubultošanās lieliski pierāda augstos tempos pieaugošo nevienlīdzību un noslāņošanos ne tikai valstu iekšienē, bet arī starp-valstiski. Elite ar politisko un sociālo kapitālu un tai pietuvinātais vidusslānis spēj vai nu izvairīties no tiešām sekām vai pat nopelnīt, taču vairākums, kuru vienīgais resurss ir algots darbs, nabadzība bieži vien ir rokas stiepienā.

Bet.

Kāds par to nes atbildību. Kāds par to saņem atalgojumu.

Latvia’s pulp fiction or austerity in Latvian style

This short film by Al Jazeera was made back in 2011, but is still relevant today thinking about economic crisis in Latvia, austerity, sustainable recovery and development in long term.

This film demonstrates a typical case of misuse/ overuse of natural resources in desperation for foreign currency and keeping economy going. But everyone with common sense will agree that the long term impact can be disastrous. Forest harvesting may keep economy going, keep the GDP up, keep the export increasing, but at what cost and for how long. And then what…???

privatisation of courts or – what’s the price of democracy?

After privatization of prisons which started in early 1990s (currently 15% of prisoners stay in private prisons) and which has been followed by very contradictory reports and analysis regarding effectiveness, absolute and relative costs as well as success in achieving fundamental objectives of the prison system as such, now British government is considering privatization of courts! As a part of Tories’ austerity measures and plan to reduce public deficit further, ideas start floating around that courts system is very expensive and involvement of private sector in running courts may help to improve the services and cost-effectiveness.

Court system is one of the core pillars of functioning society and one of its major characteristics is or should be – independence. By delegating even just some of the functions to private sector it is a threat to the very basic fundamentals of modern democracy.

Can democracy ever be too expensive?

about those who choose to fight

In these difficult times in countries, which are hit particularly hard by economic crisis, people choose different protest actions: some leave, some distance themselves from everything, some try to profit from this misery, but some choose to fight. This is a new documentary about those who have chosen to struggle and fight for better future in Greece. Inspiring actually. and thought-provoking..

yes, Mr President, let the banks fail!

iceland president on banksIceland’s president Mr Grimsson is now officially my favorite president in the world. He is the only president i know who has so far been brave enough to speak the real truth about democracy and banks. Iceland is the only country which instead of bailing out banks, made the banks and bankers pay their price for the mess they made. Unfortunately, Iceland is not getting enough publicity abroad as it is an uncomfortable story for mainstream economists, politicians and austerity fans. So, make an effort and read a bit more here what Iceland did, why it did not follow the steps of other countries and why it is good for its people.