Greece: Deadline fatigue is in danger of boring us all to death

I went for a long lie down in a cool room this afternoon after a morning full of chores, followed by a lunchtime laying gravel, and then bordering it with rocks the size of Earth-threatening asteroids.

All of this, I’m here to tell you, was less tiring than Deadline Fatigue – a new board-game for all the family invented by the Eurogroupe-Varoufakis-IMF Toy Company.

I’m up and about again now, preparing dinner while lighting the fire-pit outside because the weather’s gone a little grey and chilly here. Things also seem to have gone a little chilly in the ‘tough’ negotiations between sound economics on the one hand, and Jeroboam Drivelclown on the other. Tough or not, this ridiculous paint-drying championship could have been predicted from Day One.

I shrink, as always, from the limelight; but as it happens, The Slog did piss off just about everyone at the outset by suggesting there were no grounds at all for optimism on the subject of compromise.

I posted this gentle mickey-take on the chances of building bridges between Frankfurt and Athens last January 28th. What followed was obduracy after obduracy: the Draghi/Schauble ambush of Yanis Varoufakis in late February, and the rise and rise of their Dutch bumboy Dieselbang…with Pristine Lowgrade joining the ‘non’ tendency despite a Varoufakis attempt to charm the charmless.

The timeline, as one looks back now, really is almost funny: Greece must default on February 26th, then March 11th, then March24th, then April 14th. Reuters might just as well have had a daily column called ‘Another day, another deadline’.

All this week we’ve been fed with spin about ‘rapid progress being made’, but today’s free-for-all presser was nothing more than a statement of the obvious: the two sides are no nearer a compromise today than they were almost three months ago to the day.

The following realities need to be borne in mind in this poker marathon:

1. The weak card in the Syriza hand is without doubt that they have a mandate to tell Brussels to piss off, but not to take Greece out of the euro.

2. Over 50% of all Greeks believe they could be kicked out of the euro, although legally this is an impossibility.

3. The weak card in the Troika2 hand is that – despite what the markets might suggest now – the reality of a Greek default within the eurozone is that discontent contagion will swiftly follow….and whether or not that’s reflected immediately in bond yield spikes is neither here nor there. The markets would have to be deficient in all the primary senses not to spot that rebellion on such a scale spelt the end of the euro.

4. If Troika2 really was comfortable with the idea of Greek default, they would’ve engineered it by now: you are a boxer and you have the other guy on the ropes….do you just tickle him under the armpits and spin things out until the bell goes for the end of the round? I think not. Bear in mind that twice now, Draghi has continued to drip feed ELA funds to Greek banks. It is a very odd general indeed who plays to keep his enemies in the game.

5. Far away to the West, we are a little over 12 days away from the UK General Election. Nigel Farage is very excited because a new poll in the constituency he’s fighting – Thanet – puts him nine points clear…when just two weeks ago he looked in danger of losing. This is Nigel looking very excited:

nigelexcited24415Nigel gets excited by almost anything…a media crew, a flood, a camel hair coat, a pint of Old Scrotum and so on. But if there really is a Ukip surge about to take off, while it is highly unlikely to deliver more than four seats in total, this will nevertheless represent a third front opening against beleaguered Brussels-am-Berlin: not only an austerity rebellion in Greece and euro rebellions in Italy and Spain, but suddenly an EU rebellion in Britain. Marine Le Pen in France may very well intensify in the nightmare in two years time.

I do think now that the time is long past when anyone can credibly raise an argument to say that Master Tactician Yanis Varoufakis knows exactly what he’s up to, and every step is carefully planned: as I have written before, Yanis overestimated the leverage available to produce a compromise, and Troika2 drastically underestimated the unwillingness of the Greek electorate to buy into any more “serves you right” bollocks.

I still believe that in late February Varoufakis should have revealed the Eurogroupe perfidy and walked away from the ambush. But all this is now water under the bridge. The reality is that if a deal were to be reached now, it would have zero credibility in the markets, and a Syriza having done that deal would have zero electoral credibility at home.

Yanis thought it necessary to prove beyond any reasonable doubt that Syriza was holding an olive branch, whereas the Troikanauts were wielding baseball bats. I suspect this was the truth: but it’s not the way the Western MSM have portrayed it.

The only honourable path ahead for Tsipras and Varoufakis now is to say, “Right – do your worst: we are not going to accept your neoliberal crap thinly disguised as “reform”. We will default inside the eurozone: let’s see how you like them apples”.

22 thoughts on “Greece: Deadline fatigue is in danger of boring us all to death

  1. You keep saying this about Greece defaulting inside the Eurozone John, but never explain how.

    If the ECB stop supplying Greek banks with Euros, what are the Greeks going to pay their bills with? Cheques? :)


  2. this article seems just about spot on to me…the elected greeks holding a light up to the unelected troikerites.. and they are horrible..the unelected and unaudited ones that presume to boss around elected governments with their endless slush fund..


  3. Best value is on a Conservative majority (8-1) , stranger things have happened, or Conservative minority(4-!). Does anybody seriously think that Dave will not convince the Palace that he can form a government and put forward a Queen’s Speech? Sturgeon’s outright refusal to replace Trident is a tactical blunder.


  4. You miss a few:

    The German government needs Greece not to default so they do not have to explain the loss of €1,000 per person to their tax payers – very very long term loans are not a loss. Ditto other EZ Governments. Not to mention Target 2;

    Junker and EC, as opposed to ECB, needs Greece to remain to keep the concept of “ever closer union” alive;

    US does not want Greece to come under Putin’s influence.

    As you correctly state – “If Troika2 really was comfortable with the idea of Greek default, they would’ve engineered it by now”


    p.s. – things are getting hotter in Austria –


  5. It doesn’t work like that, James. The ONLY place Greece can default in is the ezone, because there’s no way to leave it. If and when Greece defaults, all debts are by definition cancelled and they can ignore all Brussels ‘orders’. There is in my view no way anyone wants a default except Draghi….because his masters are across the Atlantic.


  6. “…lighting the fire-pit outside because the weather’s gone a little grey and chilly here.”
    Ah! So it’s you that’s behind all this ‘global warming’? :-)


  7. “It’s a very odd general who plays to keep his enemy ” alive is a very salient statement , but there are several generals and more than one enemy. Muddy Waters , sorry muddy waters.


  8. Pingback: John Ward – Greece: Deadline Fatigue Is In Danger Of Boring Us All To Death – 25 April 2015 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  9. It’s the same old story, isn’t it?

    Carinthian officials have said the province cannot honour nearly 11 billion euros of backing for Hypo debt that creditors facing a “haircut” could demand.

    (from the Zerohedge post linked to)

    Investors made a bad judgement yet now expect to be paid by a government that has better things to do with the taxpayers’ money. Well, it’s either that, or you print the stuff as they do over there, so avoiding difficult decisions like “where do we get that kind of cash?”


  10. who really knows….?
    Operation default troika would be a brave option, but quite do-able.
    Technically, one can default the IMF due dates for three months before it becomes public knowledge, giving one extended credit under the table.
    Maybe this is an option. I don’t know or even care.
    If Milliband becomes PM in the UK we will all have far bigger worries than what happened to Greece. Trust me, this guy is a total asshole.


  11. JW, your last paragraph is the central issue, the question remains that given what Tsipras and Varoufakis MUST know and understand about the people they are negotiating with, why they didn’t just pull the plug weeks ago?

    The Troika/EU etc cannot EVER loosen their grip, otherwise their debt slavery paradigm dies there and then so surely it is the job of Tsipras to explain to the Greek people that things are going to be tough for a year or three but they will emerge stronger and with their national pride restored.


  12. Pingback: Greek Deadline Fatigue | Doomstead Diner

  13. Pardon me, but why are you leaving the pound out of the picture? Surely a euro collapse will benefit the not-so-powerful-anymore ex-colonial power, Great Britain. Your careful analysis may tell you that Greece will not leave the Eurozone; maybe the euro, yes, probably in May. However contingencies have been secured in the past 5 years so effect will be minimal for the Great Powers, including Britain, Germany, Netherlands, France, USA. Apart from all this couch-potato political analysis, the truth is that hundreds of thousands of Greeks suffer, because of the games that were played on the Greek nation’s shoulders, for more than a century. And those same people will suffer even more under the drachma. THIS is the reality, the game is played elsewhere. And if you are fatigued, what about a cheap-as holiday at a Greek island? You will be able to write about the deadline drama while absorbing the view, and given the currency exchange between pound and drachma, it will be cheap indeed!


  14. Professor Metwetwe Jr. Interesting, your view of Mr.Milliband. I consider him, potentially, to be the best PM since WIlson. The space between those two is entirely filled with ‘total assholes’


  15. Ancient
    Greece cannot leave a euro that does not allow anyone to leave. That would require Treaty change.

    I truly cannot understand why I have to repeat and repeat and repeat this fact ad infinitum.


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