Asked about genuine debt relief and restructuring for Greece yesterday evening, Jean-Claude Juncker, the Dumbo elephant in the eurogroupe room, told his questionner that this was not the right time to discuss “that issue”….and then flapped his giant ears to begin the nightly ascent to Cloud Nine, where life is beautiful all the time.
He’s right of course: the time to discuss “that issue” was in late 2010. A stitch in time just might have saved us all from the asinine – or perhaps not: insane beliefs lead to inane thoughts. Whether it’s Schäuble the Wheelchair Werewolf or Jihadists destroying priceless desert artefacts, the golden rule applies – those not quite all there are never going to care.
So it was that Schäuble schüssed through the Greek proposals on Monday and declared, “There is nothing new in here”. I am rapidly reaching the conclusion that the German Finance Minister is unique in being both ventriloquist and dummy at one and the same time. Faced with a dossier proving conclusively that JR Ewing shot JF Kennedy, something in his wheelchair apparatus would pull a string in Wolfgang’s back, and a disturbingly android voice would say “There is nothing new in here” through jagged teeth, as his rictus-smiling head jerked from side to side.
This morning brought a comment from the Dieselboomers so unintentionally hilarious and knowingly hypocritical, even an old cynic like me was caught in the No Man’s Land between LOL and FFS. It seemed that, overnight, the eurogroupe Troikanauts had fallen to wondering whether the Syriza proposals might push Greece back into recession, given their emphasis on tax rises.
Despite my dysfunctional non-violent extremist tendencies, it is obviously important to give that concern due consideration in the context of the last five years. So let me supportively point out that reduced benefits, mass unemployment, lower wages, and tax rises on everything – as handed down to the Greeks by the creditors over that period – have indeed taken the gdp of Greece down by almost a third. But then, you Troikanaughties did say that this would produce eventual recovery: and all five of your forecasts were wrong to a degree surpassed only by Fifi Lagarde’s IMF.
Absent from the room following a Fifi-flounce last week, the IMF is once again open for business…if not to new ideas. La Christine has yet to pronounce on what she thinks, and it is now five days since her helpful intervention advising Athens to “pay up”. It behoves me to note that none of the optimists seem as yet to have factored in the inflexibility of Madame la Guillotine….or the fact that Angela Mirakle won’t sign anything off that lacks the public approval of the IMF’s seal.
Talking of unsere geliebte Geli, she trotted out her “some progress but much work still to do” line today, thus giving a strong hint that Syriza will have to eat yet more shit before anything gets the final sign-off.
And so the four-dimensional game of Checkmate wanders on across several Universes. German lies, Frankfurt spin, Brussels idiocy, Luxembourgeois amorality, Syriza posing and eurogroupe groping sit fidgeting alongside media agendas and endless briefing. At this point, I would argue that only two conclusions merit any examination…and even then, they are set in little more than Rowntrees jelly:
1. The deal as advanced thus far leaves Syriza with a victory of sorts, in that at last some EU directives have been stopped in their tracks – and the eurogroupe has been forced to make one or two concessions.
2. Neither the EU nor the Greeks fully comprehend what the other side is up to. If this truce gets through in some kind of recognisable form, it will be at best the Nazi-Soviet pact of 1939, or at worst the Munich Agreement of 1938. The former held for under two years, the latter for five months. That’s about it in any realistic sense when it comes to the 2015 replay.
It could be that both sides are doomed. We shall see.