Christine Lagarde…somewhat serpentine

Below is the BBCNews website’s second lead this morning. The main splash is Stephen Hester and his reward for achieving nothing bonus.

Greece debt talks ‘close to deal’

Greece could reach a deal with its creditors over the weekend, according to the EU’s Economic Commissioner, Olli Rehn.

  • Flanders: Greek solutions
  • Q&A: Greece debt write-off talks
  • Draghi warns on eurozone credit
  • Call for IMF funds from UK and US

The Telegraph, Mail and Guardian also have nothing at all about the German proposal. The Indie has it on the front page, but only as a minor feature. The author didn’t seem to see ethics or legality as an issue.

The story is the lead in German Spiegel  but absent from the English version.

It’s the lead at Reuters (which broke the story) and also in the FT; but the Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg don’t have it. The Americans are asleep: I think they’ll catch up.

All quite extraordinary. But I think that, for now, it would be as well to focus not on the threat to liberty, democracy and sovereignty (because very few people out there are interested, to be honest) but simply instead to state clearly and calmly why the IMF-Berlin led proposal is one of the most unjust and hypocritical ‘suggestions’ in European history.

The first and overriding injustice is that the people of Greece are being punished for acts undertaken by a Government they voted against when last given the opportunity. While I’m fully aware of the fact that taxes and the Greeks are virtual strangers, they didn’t suddenly start paying even less four years ago: the Greeks were allowed in to the ezone paying hardly any tax; now they’re not allowed to leave…but will be penalised for paying pretty much the same very littleness of tax.

Second for me comes the question of how Greece gained access to the eurozone in the first place. The answers overall lie at various points along a smelly back-alley called corrupt eurocrats, even more corrupt politicians, Brussels hubris (big = good/the more the merrier), French manipulation of the German position, and the Germans making a mistake. As there is little or no sign now of any of these players bailing Greece out in the proper manner, I must regrettably reach the conclusion that they wish to cover up their guilt by starving a nation, and taking away its legal right to exist.

Third is the obvious mammoth in this small back-room of Europe: had this EU/IMF operation been mounted to repay the original investors and get Greece back onto a sound footing, the ECB could at the outset have repaid all the bondholders in full – an amount of around 350bn euros – when Greece faced default for the first time last year. This would not in any way have been beyond its remit, as it would have been aimed at guaranteeing the currency and financial institutions of the global system…but it was the beyond the wit of Trichet to do it. M. Trichet is now retired on a six-figure gold-plated EU pension. We would then not have seen the spikes in Portuguese, Spanish and eventually Italian bonds that caused us to need (as of last week) in the region of 2.2 trillion euros to sort the mess out: 2.2 trillion euros that we haven’t got.

At the absolute maximum, keeping other bond markets buoyant for a few months would’ve cost 150bn euros, tops. The crisis would be history…..and the Brussels people could be introducing the ezone-wide regulations that Merkel now desires. Ah but ah but, people say, that would’ve left the ECB dangerously exposed. Quite likely, I agree: but has anyone been to look at the toxic wasteland that is the ECB’s balance sheet lately?

No: what happened – and here comes the fourth point – was that banking firms overlent to Greece (and other ClubMeds) ridiculously, and the ECB did absolutely nothing to oversee and control that. Quite the opposite in fact: Jean-Claude Trichet grasped the post-2004 cheap credit with both hands, and showered every new ezone entrant with it.

“You can’t blame banks for lending, it’s their business,” argue the apologists. Wrong: a banker’s business is to lend money responsibly to business and its employees – in a way that doesn’t threaten the shareholders or members. It is not to overload sovereigns with debt – knowing they can then trade the the bonds to Hedge Funds (or central banks) and get away scot-free.

Consider: the Greek GDP in 2011 was $312bn dollars. At the end of that year, it had outstanding sovereign debt commitments of £410bn. Was it really beyond M. Trichet’s abilities to notice that? Well, the answer to that question is, “maybe”…..because someone had been helping the previous Greek administration disguise the debt mountain in the national accounts. And that company was Goldman Sachs. The Greek PM Lucas Papademos used to work for Goldman Sachs. The Italian PM Mario Monti used to work for Goldman Sachs. The ECB Head Mario Draghi used to work for Goldman Sachs. This year the senior directors at Goldman Sachs shared a $12bn bonus pool. Goldman Sachs has never been indicted for the seminar it gave, in Athens in 2006, on the subject of lying to Brussels and the ECB. What do Goldman Sachs people have that the Greek people don’t have? Silly question, purely rhetorical.

Fifth, let’s return to a story The Slog and other bloggers ran a few weeks back. One of the first things mentioned on Geli and Wolfie’s list of Things thou shalt not spend Taxpayers’ Money on until the Debt is Serviced is ‘Defence’. Will France and Germany now accept Greek cancellation of those contracts as part of the sovereignty loss? Yes, hmm…..well. Quite. Er….

Many of us wondered what all the sabotage in Athens was about during the week. Well, now we know what it was all about. A nation of unwisely laid-back people is being sold to a pack of anti-social bankers in return for the continuance in power of their fraternity – and that of the elites that depend on them more and more. They are being sacrificed on the altar of Mammon and his greatest servants, Der fleissige Deutscher and The American Way. And my vote goes to guest-American Christine Lagarde as Serpent of the Century: she would rather her little kip at the wheel and beaming incompetence in France after 2008 went unnoticed than help 11 million largely innocent people. She is indeed La vache qui rit.

This morning, David Cameron finds himself a victim of the old adage ‘be careful what you wish for’. There’s certainly no dithering involved in the Troika takeover ‘proposal’, so what does our Prime Minister feel about it all? Well, he doesn’t care about anything except money and power really….so yesterday he quietly rolled over as the Coalition signalled that it will not challenge the fiscal enforcement role for European commission. Whether that includes sovereignty-snatching we don’t know as yet. Perhaps he’ll comment on the German ‘proposal’ later. Perhaps he won’t.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of injustice is for good men to do nothing. Mr Cameron is a bad man doing nothing. He is beyond the pail, sorry, pale.

Related: When will we get a Davos for Stavros?

                  Lots of lervely leverely Franco-German defence contracts