Austerity becomes, finally, all Greek to the Greeks. Only Troika can do this, because it depresses the hearts other tears cannot reach.
A firm based in Tiptree UK – which manufactures and supplies body armour for military personnel and police forces across the world – has secured a deal worth more than £1.2million to supply the Greek police with bullet-proof vests. VestGuard UK’s commercial director Oliver Lincoln said the company was “absolutely thrilled” to have completed the order with the Greek police, at a time when the equipment “will really make a difference to the country”.
Not (on the surface of it) the most tactful of things to say there Ollie, but I think you were referring to our country, not Greece. I wish Oliver Lincoln all luck in his quest to find credit insurance for the deal: he’s going to need it. In the meantime, I see no signs of any difference in Greece, beyond further slide down a Helter-Troika into the cesspool of globalist madness.
The cradle of democracy itself has, sadly, been converted into a crèche, and occupied by a small number of mad political babies. The new ‘more fair’ taxation system about to be introduced will, once it has been passed by the Greek Parliament, call upon all employees, pensioners and self-employed to pay more tax in advance. The self-employed are being asked to stump up a ball-crunching 80%. Nothing like freeing up some working capital to get the economy moving, that’s what I say.
But if those Troika demands seem both harsh and deranged, at least its economic forecasts about Greece’s prospects are as consistent as ever: Athens-based think tank IOBE reckons that the Greek economy will undergo a much deeper contraction than that predicted by the Troikanauts. It says Greek GDP will shrink by around 5% this year, rather more than the IMF and EC forecasts of 4.2%. This is also worse than the Greek central bank’s prediction of a 4.6% collapse. But just to cheer up the overall picture of rose-garden perfection offered us by Antonis Samaras last week, Greek public sector workers took to the streets to protest looming job cuts.
I think all this adds up to more evidence that The Slog’s mantra remains a truism: ‘watch not what they say, but rather what they do’. So things are calming down and the economy’s going to grow in 2014….and in recognition of that, we want four-fifths of your tax upfront, and £1.2m worth of bulletproof vests please, Ithangyooo.
I think the Italian business paper Il Sole 24 Ore had the best take on the Greek situation, when it referred to Greece being like the canary in the coal mine: whenever Athens seems about to utter a high-pitched treble yell and fall off its perch, there is rampant fear that the cause is a leak of poisonous gas that will surely wipe out the entire eurozone. Whereas the truth really is, had Samaras any instincts in his beaky nose – or Venizelos any room in his 105% fat-content body to accommodate a spine – the Greek government would’ve told its lenders to engage in narcissistic anal sex years ago. But as Antonis is keen on sparkly new trains, and Evangelos on gravy, that simply isn’t going to happen.
So instead, we must watch the new Troika deal
unravel unfold. It seems that, under the diktat, Athens is required to bring an omnibus bill before parliament to put into law the commitments it has made to the troika – in particular the civil service mobility scheme . The Greek CSMS is rather like the open bank reconciliation project: when the OBR says ‘open’ it means ‘prise open your bank account and nick the cash’. When the CSMS says ‘mobility’, it means the mobility involved in civil servants being thrown from windows, and loudly commanded, “Fly!”. This may well be an omnibus bill that turns out to be ominous for everyone. Especially passers-by.
But in the most unintentionally hilarious moment this year to date in the eurozone Death by a Thousand Troiks Cuts saga, last night the Eurogroup FinMins declared with satisfaction that the Greek rescue programme “is broadly on track”. What the rest of us would like to know is where the track is headed – Nirvana or Auschwitz – because the numbers don’t tumble in the sort of way I associate with the ‘on track’ thing: on the whole in fact, they look more like evidence suggesting wheels and trains parting company.
Some of these numbers should quickly illustrate my point. Every Greek citizen owes the international lenders €27,370. The amount – despite billions in bailouts – is going up. Every last one of these was hailed as The Solution. Maybe we should start calling them Hailouts. Maybe the Bailins to come should be called Loveins. It really doesn’t matter, because it’s all bollocks anyway.
Now read this and weep: since the austerity screws started being drilled into every Greek forehead and shop door in early 2010, average Hellenic salaries have slumped by very nearly a quarter. Even worse, the rate of impoverishment is accelerating: from Q1 2012 to Q1 2013, they fell just over 10%. I need someone – a monetarist Friedmanite, or an MEP maybe – to explain to me here why, in a world where rigged and flatlining markets are too busy eating themselves to “decide”, there is a snowball in hell’s chance of half the Greek population avoiding starvation – let alone ‘resuming growth’ in 2014. Who is going to provide the seed capital, given Draghi has emptied Europe of it? Who’s going to do the consuming? Where are the export markets, given that even the Germans are now feeling the pinch? Are the Chinese about to develop a craving for Tahini-free hummus and dipping olive oil? The scenario is nightmare-meets-fantasy through the medium of an early Dali painting.
What I need is some help from Dan Hannan. He knows everything is going to be alright in neocon, debt-guzzling, “booming” America, and I can only assume he’s more optimistic about Greece now, because virtuous and sound Friedmanomics are being applied to those who have been foolishly obeying the siren calls of Reaganomics. And even though Reagan and Friedman were supposed to be on the same side while practising diametrically opposed policies, young Daniel always has the neat quote and the bon mot to save the day. So come on, Danny Boy: stop drivelling about UK Primaries, and lend a hand re this one.
Think of this as an open invitation to guest-blog here…from he who bites your ankles daily, that demmed elusive Iannis Slogolopoulus.