In Greece, the truth is dead. Only graft and the greater scheme of things remain.

This isn’t President Vladimir Putin swimming in the waters off Greek island Katalokon yesterday. Ooooo nononono. It looks like him to me, but Moscow says no, it’s powerful Russian banker  Andrey Kostin, complete with 45 security officers, four helicopters, and a large jet on standby. No, it still looks like Rasputin to me. Perhaps he was inspecting the Greek mineral wealth personally. But even if he was just on holiday, why deny it?

However, one thing I can tell you for sure about this shot: it doesn’t look anything like Andrey Kostin, because he looks like this.

Well, as The Slog’s been trying to make clear for some time now, Greece is the place to be these days. Anyone who’s anything in energy and rare-earth minerals is enjoying the waters there. It’s just that we mustn’t talk about it, because of course, the Greek crisis is purely about fat, idle greasy kebab-house owners not paying their taxes.

Be it geopolitics or debt repayment schedules, the truth is dead in Greece – bludgeoned to a pulp by the people in Washington, Brussels, Ankara, Athens and Moscow who just want to help the poor Greeks out of their fiscal hole. Take the Troika: now that Geithner is promising viable alternatives to the Brussels flow of milk and honey, the officials working for this Chinese triad gang EU/ECB/IMF philanthropy centre are falling over themselves to assist the Greek Establishment in its maze-like search for redemption and solvency.

For example, Troika officials are due to meet with Justice Minister Antonis Roupakiotis on Wednesday to discuss the liberalisation of the legal profession. Mainly this is about the faster dispensation of justice. Greece has hundreds of thousands of legal cases outstanding. For tax matters alone, there are 165,000 cases outstanding. The embezzlement of billions by past Greek leaders remains an investigation-free zone, but tax arrears…well, that’s important, because tax arrears bring more money in quickly, with which to pay off all those bondholders who probably bought the bonds as a cert for insolvency insurance in the first place.

But if the Troika is here to help, Berlin is concerned to keep those perfidious Greeks on their toes. German Transport Minister Peter Ramsauer has become the country’s latest politician to raise the prospect of Greece leaving the eurozone. In a television interview yesterday, Ramsauer said Greece “will no have no alternative but to leave the eurozone if it does not receive any further loans”.

The self-fulfilling logic of that one is decidedly odd, suggesting that Greece is about to truculently turn down the next tranche of bailout money in a fit of Mediterranean pique. Perhaps aware of what he had said, Herr Ramsauer added that Germany “should stop contributing to the aid for Greece if the IMF ends its help for the indebted country”. So, um, if the Troika  leaves Athens with bad vibes, Germany should back out too, and then, er, Greece will have no money and leave the eurozone. Yes, I think that’s what he meant. Maybe somebody should try and put his observation into words.
As it happens, Greece has its own legal & tax corruption watchdog, and thus doesn’t need such interventions by CSU MPs. Astutely (and amusingly) Leandros Rakitzis, Greece’s public administration inspector and top watchdog on corruption in the public services, observes that thus far,  “the debt crisis hasn’t lowered corruption, just the price of it”. Such an anti-inflationary effect should surely be applauded, but the entire less corruption = more tax income equation breaks down spectacularly when one learns that the worst offenders by far are officials working at…..the tax authority. (Who, by the way, just blagged themselves higher wages and more bonuses plus bigger pensions)

“The struggle against corruption is not easy and demands persistent political will,” Rakitzis wrote in a recent report. But that political will exists only as an aspiration in the watchdog’s mind: the civil servants committing the corruption crimes are usually to be found silently working at their old work places, following a minor knuckles rap or a hastily granted immunity.

Beyond them, corrupt evasion tends to emanate from the corporate sector: Financial Crimes Units (SDOE) of the Finance Ministry report that the majority of  businessmen in the Greek island holiday resorts, for example, never issue receipts, therefore depriving the State of at least 23% in Value Added Tax. The SDOE has found that a staggering 70% of businesses have committed tax evasions. As Elena Tsigante wryly observes, “This is an austerity drive being applied to moral values”.

Correct. None of the robots in Brussels, the IMF, the ECB, Athens and interested geopolitical players has told a scintilla of truth about Greece for a very long time now. The truth about Greece is dead and buried. It lies, forgotten, an unmarked grave among many others in that large cemetery called Honour.


83 thoughts on “In Greece, the truth is dead. Only graft and the greater scheme of things remain.

  1. Good stuff JW… did you notice that LeGard is now praising Greece’s reform efforts yesterday?… Geithner must have had a chat with her too? Whatever…


  2. Looks like the London olympics are the place to be today because according to the BBC, Putin is here to watch his Russian boys in the judo this afternoon.

    For whatever reason the Greek government refuses to even halfway improve its tax administration system, despite the kind Germans offering to show them how it should be done. If I was a creditor it would indicate to me they are not serious about ever paying their bills. It should not be that difficult. They are like an exasperating child who know what they should be doing but wilfully refuse. You keep on bailing them out because you love them. Do the Germans love the Greeks enough? The more cynical might say you bail them out so they will look after you in your old age. Even the Germans aren’t daft enough to think that, are they?


  3. Another news source claims that the photo is him… but is actually an older picture from Siberia… the only thing that gives me pause, is we know he comes here occasionally incognito… and he always comes with the same level of security and secrecy… today he is in London, maybe he cruised down to Greece and jumped that waiting jet to U.K.? I think this is too vague to confirm one way or another…


  4. I think the Germans HAVE helped Greeks with their taxes… and the advice was “Hide it all in Switzerland!!” :) :) :)


  5. One of the biggest problems for governments is how to get their big businesses to pay their taxes. Take for example the USA. Well, of course big businesses don’t pay any taxes in the USA because there aren’t any!

    Makes it easier, dunnit?

    So they just roll their own … money instead.

    As ever the price of rabid capitalism is the working person. It is the same in Greece as it is in Germany – or the USA. Those rich people not paying their dues means that poorer people have to, in one way or another. I haven’t seen any austerity measures applied to private banks. Except in Germany of course, where bonusses are a thing for long memories – mind you, the bankers are still paid handsomely enough even there (but not the eye-popping amounts that London bankers seem to wangle).

    I am increasingly finding two views on Greece. Firstly that those who lent Greece money in the happier days of the eurozone need to take their medicine along with the Greeks – and secondly that the problems that affect countries like Greece (lack of competitiveness being the prime one) would have had to be faced in any case.

    On competitiveness – take a look at the container ships. Those who own a container ship of the 1990-2000 era will find it almost unusable on the major trading routes today. Size counts when it comes to efficiency. Those who couldn’t keep up scrapped their ships. In this day and age, you have to run to keep standing still in competitive terms – unless like China you have unlimited supplies of cheap labour that is. Germany has been running these last ten years faster than anyone else. The peripherals haven’t, paid their workers more and have seen the consequences. The likes of Britain and the US look as if they are keeping pace because they print their own money. If you are in a competitive, commodity market – which at the moment is where most economies are – there is only one metric: bare bones efficiency. Nothing else will do, and that includes rolling your own.


  6. I think there’s already plenty of proof presented (in and out of this blog) that the words “bailout” and ‘love” don’t match. Try to match bailout with “interest”, “geopolitics”, “upcoming elections” etc.


  7. Yeah, this is the official narrative… could be hilarious but it is outright horrific since there are so many sheeple around the world who just believe this kind of oversimplified parable-like description of reality. Then again so many centuries have passed until humanity could curb the christian narrative that supported the holy inquisition… what a species we are…


  8. Ioannis!

    Now, come. How many taverna owners have squirreled their fortunes away in Switzerland?

    Any decent upstanding millionaire will have their savings in the Cayman Islands, Jersey or Switzerland. It all depends on which your favourite airline is and which beach you like sitting on when banking offshore.

    The problems in the Greek administration have been around for a long time. Far longer than the existence of the eurozone, that is for sure.


  9. Agreed… one note, it’s been a long time since any taverna owner has had anything to squirrel away though… you’d be shocked at how many are gone now… the guiltiest parties are the same every where fat cat bureaucrats, and corrupt politicians… in this country, they horde everything and hide it. At the same time they pass new taxes, restrictions, and create problems for a struggling private sector… small and medium sized private business’s have been decimated… it’s all so embarassing.


  10. Is this coincidence? During the great famine of the Ukraine during Stalin’s time there were troika appointed from three sections of the Soviet to ensure the peasants were not cheating. They decided to remove seed grain as in their view the peasants were obviously over hoarding it. Then when the inevitabke happened and peasants started to starve in their millions the official line was they were doing so to spite the state.
    Apart from the many deaths, there is not much that has changed.


  11. throughout history big business have never paid taxes. Taxes are always paid buy the squeezed middle and working poor – wo don’t have the recources to offshore, jump through loop holes, threaten to just up and leave…so the institution of taxes leads to monopoly and increasing corporatisation, as has ever been the socialist model. They sell it to people under “redistribution is necessary” or as JW would say “a dog eat dog world only benifits the fat cats” etc etc, yet it is always the squeezed middle and working poor who are looted to maintain the system.

    The answer isn’t to tax the rich more, or make them pay their “fair share”. The answer is to stop taxing the poor. 0% VAT, 0% council tax, and 0% income tax


  12. What i find very funny is how a few believe,that paying themselves ever more money is going to insulate them from the Austerity.


  13. …further more, your post contains an awful contradiction – you bemoan big business not paying taxes and also that rapmant capitalism always hits the little guy…

    well there’s nothing at all capitalist about taxation


  14. I agree with all you say, but with just one note of caution. China is not the homogeneous cheap labour market that is implied. It’s just that all the protests don’t get reported for obvious reasons. If you travel around China you often see spontaneous strikes, protests etc.usually about wages and working conditions. They are soon broken up and never reported, but I think we will see more of that in the future.


  15. Pam

    I was using a very broad brush! China’s problems are as intricate as their society, and big business (or small business, or Western business models) doesn’t always fit very well as you rightly say. The issue of wages is a very real problem and needs addressing – with consequences for the West. Opportunities too.

    The issue of non-reporting by the authorities and the general lack of freedom of information is a very real problem in China. The message boards on Chinese websites are testament to that, the language they use is appalling. It gives me the feeling that there is a lot of frustration. The authorities ignore that at their peril.

    As with all authorities, their thinking is to do what they have always done – if only because it worked in the past. This is as big a problem in China as it is in the US or Eurozone.


  16. There is a fascinating book Tom Snyder’s “Bloodland” about, as you say, what happened in Ukraine thanks to heartless foreign Troika overlords…

    Here is where the shock of Snyder’s relatively few pages on cannibalism brought the question of degrees of evil alive once again to me. According to Snyder’s carefully documented account, it was not uncommon during the Stalin-imposed famine in Soviet Ukraine for parents to cook and eat their children.
    The bare statement alone is horrifying even to write.

    The back story: While Lenin was content, for a time anyway, to allow the new Soviet Union to develop a “mixed economy” with state-run industry and peasant-owned private farms, Stalin decided to “collectivize” the grain-producing breadbasket that was the Ukraine. His agents seized all land from the peasants, expelling landowners and placing loyal ideologues with little agricultural experience in charge of the newly collectivized farms, which began to fail miserably. And to fulfill Five-Year Plan goals, he seized all the grain and food that was grown in 1932 and 1933 to feed the rest of Russia and raise foreign capital, and in doing so left the entire Ukrainian people with nothing to eat—except, sometimes, themselves.

    I’ve read things as horrifying, but never more horrifying than the four pages in Snyder’s book devoted to cannibalism. In a way I’d like to warn you not to read it; it is, unfortunately, unforgettable. On the other hand, not to read it is a refusal to be fully aware of what kind of world we live in, what human nature is capable of. The Holocaust taught us much on these questions, but alas, there is more to learn. Maybe it’s better to live in denial. Better to think of human history Pollyanna-like, as an evolution upward, although sometimes I feel Darwin spoke more truly than he knew when he titled his book The Descent of Man. Certainly one’s understanding of both Stalinism and human nature will be woefully incomplete until one does read Snyder’s pages.
    Here is an excerpt:
    In the face of starvation, some families divided, parents turning against children, and children against one another. As the state police, the OGPU, found itself obliged to record, in Soviet Ukraine “Families kill their weakest members, usually children, and use the meat for eating.” Countless parents killed and ate their children and then died of starvation later anyway. One mother cooked her son for herself and her daughter. One 6-year-old girl, saved by other relatives last saw her father when he was sharpening a knife to slaughter her. Other combinations were, of course, possible. One family killed their daughter-in-law, and fed her head to the pigs, and roasted the rest of her body.”
    According to Snyder “at least 2,505 people were sentenced for cannibalism in the years 1932 and 1933 in Ukraine, although the actual number of cases was most certainly greater.”

    One more horror story. About a group of women who sought to protect children from cannibals by gathering them in an “orphanage” in the Kharkov region:
    “One day the children suddenly fell silent, we turned around to see what was happening, and they were eating the smallest child, little Petrus. They were tearing strips from him and eating them. And Petrus was doing the same, he was tearing strips from himself and eating them, he ate as much as he could. The other children put their lips to his wounds and drank his blood. We took the child away from their hungry mouths and we cried.”

    Yeah… well, I hope it doesn’t go there…


  17. I can only agree with you. Not taxing the rich more, but making them pay a reasonable amount.

    The working poor have known nothing else, and the problem as always is that the working poor would love not to work. What else can they do when it is all they have known for generations? Used as commodity labourers at an ever reducing wage for ever more work is not fun. There are ways out, but it takes the kind of thinking that most people – and that includes the rich – simply do not know exists.

    One last thought on the system – it does seem to work for all the privations it causes. The average worker thinks “I will pay those taxes because it means at least I have a job”, or “I will take less pay* because it means at least I have a job” (*this is what has happened in Germany). There are those who wanted more, got more and became less competitive. When the interest rates hit the fan, they lost their jobs. Which would you prefer in their situation?

    If you want to escape the dog-eat-dog world, you have to stop selling yourself as a commodity. Everyone is unique after all, and a commodity by definition is not. IF you want to join the herd and become just a number, fine, but take the consequences. Do something unique, that only you can do and that is another matter altogether. The problem is to get it to pay!


  18. Wow! Civilisation can indeed hang by a thread…..
    Much as many people appear to be loathing the Olympics, I feel a need to go and watch a replay of Bradley to cheer myself up now :(


  19. “The issue of non-reporting by the authorities and the general lack of freedom of information is a very real problem in China. ”

    It’s an even bigger problem when you consider that Chinese economic information has to be approved by the party before publication… and it is usually false, or modified… one of the things that keeps me awake at night… is just how much worse is the situation in places like China, Turkey, and Russia where we have limited if not fabricated financial information really is… that and the Fukushima reactors storage facility containing 800 nuclear bombs eqivalent of cesium 127 in an above ground water tank that is open on top, and exposed to the elements in a hurricane, storm, and earthquake prone area… if that tips over… IF you want to survive whats left of the world you better run to the farthest country south of the equator there is… sorry for going off topic.


  20. Erect stee
    You need to look further: most of the Greek press and blogsites have it. The ‘Putin not in Greece’ stuff was ridiculed in Athens, as was Moscow’s bizarre banker explanation.
    I really don’t know if it’s true anyway. It just struck me as an anodyne thing to deny. Why bother?


  21. The Descent of Man


    I want to add this comment. It is relevant to what is happening today. Systems are prone to break down. There are two reactions to this: the bureaucrat thinks everything is running fine because it has not broken*. The wise person checks to see if their system is running properly, makes checks before the evidence is presented.

    *that it is not working is neither here nor there, the evidence is lacking. They cannot read on paper that it is not working. Therefore it is. That is thinking at its poorest, lowest form.

    Stalinism was the draconian imposition of one man’s intellectual shortcomings. What we see in the eurozone is one group’s intellectual shortcomings being made visible. What we see in the US and UK is a nation’s leader’s intellectual shortcomings being obliterated by mounds of printed money.


  22. Ioannis

    do not start me on nuclear power! Chasing the bottom line has led to the atom-eat-atom not dog-eat-dog, if you will forgive the misuse of metaphor. We have opened up a Pandora’s box of the most terrible kind and are not admitting to the fact.

    China, Turkey, and Russia where we have limited if not fabricated financial information

    Is this not true of other countries too? The US is printing its own so that financial information can seem reasonable. Is that not fabrication? Whilst the Germans are causing problems to all and sundry, is it not the case that they are one of the few who are not fabricating? Yet it is they who are being lambasted because they are not allowing the ECB to fabricate simply to placate markets whose ability to think is extremely limited.


  23. Ioannis

    which is the real problem here. The problems in the periphery should have been addressed in 2000-2003. Yet the markets were happy with the imbecilic thought that because they were in the eurozone they could borrow as much as they chose. Until of course, the markets changed their minds and thought that it was no longer an imbecilic idea.

    I will repeat myself: the euro was an opportunity for countries like Portugal and Spain (if not Greece!) – yet it was squandered because of cheap money. That in itself is a story on its own account, emanating as it did from the shennanigins in the US housing market! (The sub-prime silliness that kept the US economy looking good for another decade).


  24. So,now I know why I spent a frantic period since Easter cleaning redecorating Russian oligarchs’ houses.Mr Kostin may have a yacht but no one seems to be bothered about the number of equally large yachts he has access to.Mr Kostin’s partner has been using a yacht since Monday as a base whilst she shops in Monaco-yet he was on his yacht in Greek waters last weekend and was there until quite recently


  25. Greek shipowners are threatening the dominance of their German peers in the container ship segment of the market, according to German daily Financial Times Deutschland.


  26. Ioannis

    I do not doubt you. However, I wonder how much tax they pay in comparison to a German shipowner?

    Perhaps that is why they are so much more competitive???


  27. @Gemma: “As ever the price of rabid capitalism is the working person.

    Yes, it’s the working people who always pay, but it’s not caused by “rampant capitalism” as you say. It’s actually crony capitalism, aka corporatism, so beloved by socialist governments. It’s always far easier for them to extract bungs, donations and favours from ‘big money’ that it is from private individuals.

    [– One good example of UK corporatism is the relationship between the state regulator Ofcom and its largest client: British Telecom.
    Officially, Ofcom exists to protect the consumer from a privatised monopoly telecoms carrier (BT). How thoughtful of the government. But in reality its actions best serve to protect the unethical – but very profitable – business practices and profits of BT, who are the National Telecoms Flag Carrier.

    For instance, BT introduced 0845/0870 dialling codes a few years ago and all calls to these numbers automatically go thru the BT network which then translates the number called into an STD number and routes it accordingly. (Some of these special dialling codes have revenue-sharing arrangements with the organisation that is using them. Is it any wonder when you call so many of them that you are connected to an automated machine which guarantees you will spend at least 3-5 mins clocking up call charges.)
    Thus, BT are in a monopolistic position to charge outrageous call charges to these numbers – and even if you use a non-BT carrier as I do, you cannot avoid these outrageous BT charges. Increasing numbers of orgs in the private/public sector use these numbers including all banks and the Inland Revenue and most other depts of government. The high cost may discourage customers from calling them. From a customer pov, they offer no benefit whatsoever. To BT they provide a very rich source of easy revenue.

    I have taken to informing organisations that these special BT codes are blocked from my landline and I cannot call them. Some then provide me with their real STD number (which only costs me a peanut to call), others shrug their shoulders and suggest I write to them. ho-ho.
    If Ofcom chose to use its teeth to protect consumers, it would demand that BT cancelled this outrageous rip-off. It does nothing.
    I have little doubt that all the other so-called UK independent (ho-ho) state regulators operate in a similar way regarding the industries they control –]

    None of this amounts to free market capitalism. It is corporatism.


  28. BT

    what you are describing is the essence of the problem. Organizations like British Telecom (nor our BT of course!) could do this, so they did. It made sense to them and for many people it was useful if a little more expensive. Then BT found that it cost a lot more to administer and so applied those charges too. Or somesuch.

    The problem here as ever is of thinking. The people working in the organization cannot think themselves out of a paper bag let alone a box. That goes for many of the guys at the top too. When you are dealing with a commodity – in this case telephony – and handle it as a commodity, you are caught in the dog-eat-dog ever downward circle. Breaking out of this is the tricky bit – not that tricky, only the thinking is tricky.

    Corporatism is simply the same “commodity thinking” but using the advantage of your position to avoid taking hard decisions. That is the US/UK/ECB thinking against Germany’s “take hard decisions” style of thinking. The one is easy, short-termism. The other is not, but lacking any ways out of the problem only makes things worse for those now suffering.


  29. Quite right, BT!

    The duty of government, if it interferes in business or provision at all, should be to open access and demolish barriers to entry, which was the stated aim under Margaret Thatcher and, in general, it worked initially. But as with any governmental or bureaucratic system it all soon became subverted into the opposite of what was intended, creating even higher barriers to entry and closing access to alternatives. It is not just Ofcom, Ofgen and Ofwat that have succumbed, less business orientated quangos like Ofsted have done the same, initially designed in that case to break the power of the education establishment it has been completely taken over and now is the cheerleader for political correctness and is busy empowering the deadening embrace of the education establishment to previously undreamed of hegemony.

    Modern government cannot bear, or more correctly, will not, to accept the true role of government, that of regulatory and legislative facilitator. Instead they are determined to be the provider and enforcer desperate to control everything within sight. And the mass of the population throughout the Western world has been hoodwinked into acquiescence with that determination. I am reminded of a question rather plaintively put in another forum; “why doesn’t Pres. Obama do something about unemployment?” Every day on the Today program there is yet another idiot or vested interest squealing that the government must do something about this or regulate that or ban the other. The only thing government should ever do in answer to such questions is to make it easier or cheaper for people, especially private individuals, to fill the gaps, provide acceptable answers or work things out for themselves. Anything else just feeds the various gravy trains and wastes tax revenues and at best provides a temporary sticking plaster, it never provides long term solutions or answers.

    If only people were not so wilfully blind, why can they not see government is not our friend? It does not work for us, our interests are at best irrelevant, it doesn’t take exceptional intelligence to see, just open your eyes and look.


  30. Currently enjoying Draghi pi**ing on the market’s chips. His credibility is utterly shot now.

    No bazooka, no monetary WMDs, just talk that says

    It’s basically him showing a photocopy of a picture of a balsa-wood bazooka.

    Weidmann says “nein f***ing way!!” More power to him.


  31. Gemma… I am having trouble with my connection… I just wanted to add that, of course you were right about Greek shipping not paying taxes… but as far as Germany giving accurate financial info…

    “Moreover, that €328 billion has already been spent via various EU props. Indeed, when we account for all the backdoor schemes Germany has engaged in to prop up the EU, Germany’s REAL Debt to GDP is closer to 300%.”

    from zerohedge today…


  32. There is a complete absence of self-realization in greece and i personaly believe that is the best place for all of us the greeks to start if we want some sort of hope to come into sight.


  33. Ioannis

    if anyone in Germany gets to hear of this … there will be some fireworks!

    I wonder how much back-handed dealing there is from the US? They seem to meddle in anyone’s affairs, all in the name of freedom and democracy, you understand? The long-forgotten Viking Jack produced some interesting articles that stated that the US government has full control of the German media (or at least in Berlin … where the capital now is).


  34. Yana
    any truly Greek solution must come from Greeks. The problem for Greece is that too many of your positive thinkers and doers live in Chicago and Melbourne.


  35. @gemma. I’m thoroughly enjoying his masterful and regular humiliations of that troll Draghi. He looks more and more powerless every time.

    Downside is it means every market and asset class gets its butt kicked for the next 24hrs. But at some stage reality will finally take over.

    For educated men they sure take a long time to figure it out. They can’t save what is already lost. Let it break, then we can move on.


  36. f you want to escape the dog-eat-dog world, you have to stop selling yourself as a commodity. Everyone is unique after all, and a commodity by definition is not. IF you want to join the herd and become just a number, fine, but take the consequences. Do something unique, that only you can do and that is another matter altogether. The problem is to get it to pay!

    I love this. have you managed to do this and any tips of how one might uncover what is unique to them.


  37. @Peter C: Thanks, that was beautifully put.
    I am reminded of a month or two back watching a woman on Sky News from one of the anti-Internet pressure groups explaining why government must take action to block porn websites. A sort-of ‘save our kids’ campaign.
    I wondered why nobody had explained to this woman that if parents used OpenDNS (completely free) instead of their own ISP DNS servers – not only is it fast – it provides an easy tickbox menu of blocking access to a wide range of website categories, including sex/porn sites and even social chat sites like Twitter/Facebook if required. OpenDNS servers have never gone down in six years. Doing this would solve the problem she describes and wouldn’t require any action from government at all. Instead of that, we’ll get more laws and more apparatchiks to manage the whole nonsense.

    [ BTW: anybody who wants to open a free account and switch to using OpenDNS can do it here:
    All you need to do is change the DNS servers on your router/computer to IP addresses: and/or ]
    … … …
    @Gemma: I think you are being too kind to British Telecom. I am quite sure they introduced the 0845/0870 racket precisely because they are an extremely unethical company (more so than when they were state owned) and saw £profits£ in ripping off customers. I think @Peter C’s description of how corporatism works is excellent.


  38. @Gemma…

    ” I will repeat myself: the euro was an opportunity for countries like Portugal and Spain (if not Greece!) – yet it was squandered because of cheap money. That in itself is a story on its own account, emanating as it did from the shennanigins in the US housing market! (The sub-prime silliness that kept the US economy looking good for another decade).”

    Agreed… Europe, US… filled with silly minded lenders. I wonder who would so irresponsible to back the loans of these obviously not developed economy’s… :)


  39. Gemma… I know,… I was posting zerohedge’s old figures which was 160% a loooong time ago… and this is his update… it’s horrible for a Greek to watch because… we’ve been through it… German politicians are lying to the people, and the world about how much they owe… eventually the truth WILL come out, and then their economy… maybe the worlds, will crash. It is exactly what our politicians did to us… for me it’s sad because the same people running Germany into the ground now, publicly backed Samaras and the other crooks that did this to US in the first place… through two elections… Merkel is risking the fate of 2 country’s with her act. Also, I certainly wouldn’t put it past the Americans to somehow control or heavily influence German press… all the Germans I know here are very well informed about the real situation, and are cool, and reasonable people… very different from the punitive perception of Germany you see from the media sometimes.


  40. Ioannis

    no doubt it was German private banks seeking a good deal? After all, everyone was up to it, nobody was against it, and the EU was pushing them.


  41. Ioannis

    thankyou. I do believe that there is someone intelligent out there!

    My only question is: why? Why risk all that Germany has achieved in the last 50 years for this? I can see why the Americans would – but not the Germans!


  42. @BT 1:59pm

    “…. I wondered why nobody had explained to this woman that …” There are several roots for this, I think. Firstly the notion that government is our parent and we should do as they say and pass any and all decisions for them to sort out for us, then there is the lack of education, since the 70s education has been about skimming the surface, imparting knowledge parrot fashion with about the same level of understanding as such a bird calling out, ‘Pretty Polly’, if that, then there is the general reluctance to actually make the effort to learn or understand anything beyond the minimum to make the thing work, add in the reluctance, even fear, to take responsibility for themselves and once you add in the government desire to stifle personal independence, self-determination, responsibility and initiative you are well on the way to understanding.

    It horrifies me to see the sad, effete, dependent people barely able to cope with life we have become, it truly does. I would judge that had there been a global disaster that threw us back to pre-industrial levels in the 1950s 60% or 70% of urban dwellers and probably 95% of rural folk would have been able to survive a return to the land. If it happened now I doubt 10% of the population as a whole could, the basic life skills and more importantly the flexibility or resilience to cope just isn’t there any more.


  43. My theory is simple… they were hiding debt form before 2008/9… In the beginning the people in power were just trying to save their own asses, that is why the incremental, small efforts to quell speculation in different country’s starting with Greece… if they really had the money they were claiming they could fired out a lot less than they have in one shot and stopped anyone from thinking the Euro had any flaws, but they’re banks were in crisis and so they were being conservative in order to buy time and shore up their banks… unfortunately in early 2009, Merkel told the world that all European debt would be the individual responsibility of every sovereign nation… that, and a seeming reluctance to spend the money and do all that’s required to shut down rumors of Euro weakness pretty gave the markets the signal that something was suspicious and the speculation began… since then with contagion spreading everywhere… they don’t dare say anything because now Germans are simply trying to save Europe, possibly the world, and themselves… at this point… they are past the point of return, they couldn’t tell anyone, and here we are. Just a theory.


  44. It doesn’t really matter exactly why… it is such glaring incompetence, really no matter why. Remember this is the same 3-4 people (Merkel, Schauble, etc) that have so successfully run crisis fighting efforts… haven’t seen improvement there… not to mention the management of the Greek crisis (of which they have complete control… as evidenced by their crooked Greek politician partners having just passed the 11.5 Billion in savings that will finish off our economy)… we are all Greeks… screwed by our politicians, looted by our banks.


  45. Ioannis

    all of which makes me think it is the Americans pulling strings in Berlin. After all, the debts have been hedged off to the Landesbank or whatever, and on-the-books debt is (I hope) not that much.

    The Americans are the ones who are terrified of being rumbled. It is they who are pulling the wool over people’s eyes all the time – toxic assets, shady deals here and there … you know the story. To my mind Berlin is being used to no good purpose.

    That is one big reason for warning you Greeks that the Americans are not going to be very nice when they turn up at Athens airport one sunny morning.


  46. BT

    I don’t buy all this corporatism lark. Sure it exists, but not to the extent that it does in your imagination. What is more, you aren’t the sort of person who understands how this sort of malfeasance is perpetrated. The language you use, the explanations you have are all too shallow. You see things too head-on, which leaves you at their mercy if I am totally frank with you. Oh, and yes, I do know how they do these things, and when you have climbed out of your thinking-box, you will understand the things I say.

    That BT got away with what they did was because of poor government regulation – a typically British answer to any governmental problem. The German answer is usually to tidy up the regulations, which takes time and effort. The British government prefer having their weekend on weekdays between eight and five it seems.


  47. @Chris

    my question is this: who is pulling his strings and why.

    My guess is the Americans – they have a history of it after all. They also have their economy and banks to defend as well …


  48. Pat

    yes, and I teach it. Take a peek at my blog. I do update it from time to time.

    One tip: take a look at your (email) address book. Ask each person who knows you really well to answer two questions. Ask them kindly to be as honest as they can be.

    Question 1: What is my greatest strength? (= what do you most like about me?)

    Question 2: What is my greatest weakness? (= what do you most not like about me?)

    Just that. If you can get six to ten responses to both questions (preferably more) you will be able to see a pattern. Which is what this is all about, after all. There will be certain things that stand out, both good and bad. Both are very important because the good ones will tell you where you have succeeded in your life, and the bad ones will tell you where your life’s challenges lie.

    With that knowledge you can begin to take a few steps in the direction of being the unique creature you are.

    Another tip: what have you always wanted to do in your life? My own is gardening (!) and making compost. Sure, it doesn’t pay, but it does give me inspiration for other things that do, and are quite as enjoyable like copywriting. Copywriting I would not put as something I really want to do, but it is better than interior design. It also pays rather better!

    That is just for starters.


  49. Ultimately American bankers are responsible if not simply because they started the crash with their double dealing greed, but it would never had the effect on Europe it has if the same shenanigans for the same reasons weren’t going on there… as I have contended from the beginning… everyone in Europe was lying about their economy from the beginning and that is why no one, even Germany could stop this… whether or not it is an American plot… no one will ever know, but at the end of the day… in Greece, Germany, US, and everywhere else.., there was a horrific lack of ethical leadership combined with a mafiosi ideology of theft, with complicity from ratings agency’s, LIBOR manipulations, etc., etc, . etc, aaaand… everyone is responsible for their own mess.


  50. @Gemma: I can spot corporatism a mile off. You might buy the “corporatism lark” explanation a tad more if you took some time to understand what it is. As people will explain, simplistically it is essentially the merging of government with industry so they operate together as one to achieve mutual objectives, almost always against the consumers’ interest and contrary to the principles of free market capitalism. What I described with Ofcom & British Telecom is certainly a British form of corporatism. If it wasn’t, Ofcom would come down on BT like a ton of bricks. And see the banking industry – there’s nothing more corporatist than that. Banks have always been in bed with government. Very widely known.

    Ask the ghost of Mussolini, he invented the term :-)
    Exactly how it operates in practice and how deeply it runs will vary depending on circumstances and the players involved.

    That BT [British Telecom] got away with what they did was because of poor government regulation – a typically British answer to any governmental problem.

    If you were right, the question then becomes was the “poor regulation” you speak of accidental or deliberate? If accidental as you claim, it would have been corrected by now (Ofcom’s existed since BT was privatised). It has not been. You can be sure that Ofcom operates exactly as government intends it to, save a few cock-ups. The consumer is the loser.

    (I will add that it’s even worse here in Brazil. Brazilian big money hands the political elites brown envelopes and much more to maintain high import tarrifs (protectionism) which then allows Brazilian companies to rip off customers with higher prices (lack of competition) and inferior products with lack of choice (lack of incentive to invest)).


  51. @Peter C: Agree with you entirely. I wonder if a solution might be that every kid is required to write a PhD thesis before he leaves school? A sort of crowning glory to his childhood education. Imagine that! It might drive the educational establishment to actually teach these things instead of peddling rubbish.

    Doing that would be a solid test of ability to think/act independently, how to research facts/information, where to research, how to evaluate information and how to make informed value judgements. And of course how to actually write coherent sentences! ha-ha.


  52. BT

    spotting corporatism is not hard. Dealing with it, putting it right is.

    My question to you is this: what are you doing about it, apart from commenting on a few blogs here and there and achieving very little thereby?


  53. Ioannis

    I am pretty certain that one of the few who can deal with this mess is Germany. The doubts I hold are the problems exacerbated by the banks wanting their payments with interest. Something has to give. Whatever else, the Germans have an industrial and economic base – something that the British have let slip through their fingers without noticing (see JW’s next piece!).


  54. @Gemma:
    I do as much as I can about it. Which is a lot more than most people!

    On BT…I am in contact with Ofcom about their business practices and I’ve threatened Ofcom with writing to the Minister (Jeremy Hunt) about their protective stance towards BT over the specific issue of false call charging. BT has a fundamental flaw in the design or programming of its call billing system which neither party has the guts to admit because it’s potentially an explosive matter.

    In recent months I have complained to at least three major banks about their shoddy or dishonest business practices and have put the Inland Revenue back in its cage. I’m probably black-balled ;-)
    The list goes on …sometimes it has an effect, other times not.


  55. Pingback: In Greece, the truth is dead. Only graft and the greater scheme of things remain./ Στην Ελλάδα, η αλήθεια είναι νεκρή.Τα μόνα που παραμένουν είναι το μεγαλύτερο σχέδιο των πραγμ

  56. Pingback: In Greece, the truth is dead. Only graft and the greater scheme of things remain./ Στην Ελλάδα, η αλήθεια είναι νεκρή.Τα μόνα που παραμένουν είναι το μεγαλύτερο σχέδιο των πραγμ

  57. Its not perfect but its a start and yes it has its deficiancies a key one being medicine but the more this happens and the lessons learnt maybe something new will come to parse.


  58. Pingback: In Greece, the truth is dead. Only graft and the greater scheme of things remain./ Στην Ελλάδα, η αλήθεια είναι νεκρή.Τα μόνα που παραμένουν είναι το μεγαλύτερο σχέδιο των πραγμ

  59. Our grandparents weren’t like this… it was common knowledge not to trust banks, government, or foreigners claiming their support (Asia Minor 1915, theft of Cypress, the worlds supporting of Junta military dictators, and more)… there are so many instances of sabotage, and betrayal by foreigners “trying to help” that our elders knew… that everything was really up to them, and no one else. I think the younger generations got rose eyed glasses towards the outside world and started thinking that other people were like them… this is a painful lesson for young Greeks to have to learn… no one really cares about Greece, especially not Greek politicians. We are, and really always have been, alone.


  60. Gemma, agreed the only ones that can do something are the Germans, I thought that from day ONE… I would even tell other Greeks that I favored letting them run the country for a while to fix the economy… but… my fear is that the same people that have dragged Germany into this position are the ones that created the problem… German people are smart, serious, and capable… unfortunately their govt. is filled with idiots. I thoroughly believe that if anyone can change this situation it IS the German PEOPLE, not govt. that could do it… problem is, I think they too are burned out.


  61. Bravo Nick, I’m with you. I’m also with the hotel, taverna & souvlatzitika owners scraping back whatever they can in the black since there is hardly any tourism to speak of this year (and most of them, touchingly, foreigners and greek diaspora who want to HELP OUT – the cheap holiday brigade is terrified they’ll be stranded here unable to withdraw cash from ATMs Aug 20). Whatever these ‘tax dodging criminals’ earn this summer has got to see them / families through the winter, and the payment of double taxes on property, health emergencies, not to mention food.
    Our problem is the private sector – government, bureaucracy, unions: predators on the back of a withered, half-dead public sector whose sole duty is to continue to support them while we pay back the money they’ve embezzled and are still busy embezzling.


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