Greece needs Thatcheropoulous

On Thursday, Russia announced that it would consider extending financial aid to Greece if the latter asked.

There is more here, of interest throughout, though not fundamentally surprising.  Greece is seeking to auction its EU veto between the EU and Russia.  And over the weekend Chris Calomiris told us that Tsipras is a longstanding admirer of Fidel Castro, and furthermore he named his youngest son “Ernesto” after [Ernesto] Che Guevara.  He also has voiced his opposition to Nato in the past.

As I’ve said, these are the Not Very Serious People, enough to make you want to have the Very Serious People back.  As Garett Jones has noted, Greece needs its Thatcheropoulous — strong, credible, pro-debt renegotiation, pro-capitalism, anti-corruption, pro-tax fairness, and pro-foreign investment.  People, that is not what we are getting.

The best chance scenario is that this is all an elaborate bluff for a pivot toward sensible reform.  The bluff I can see, the sensible reform sorry no.  Is a Thatcheropoulous possible when one can read headlines such as “Death threats forced me to quit my job, says Greece’s top tax man“?  How many of the cultural preconditions of successful reform are present in Greece right now?

Here is the FT on the evolving game of chicken:

Eurozone officials are increasingly worried that Greece’s €172bn bailout will expire at the end of the month and potentially plunge it into chaos, after a series of meetings with the new Greek government convinced them Athens is unaware of how perilous its financial situation has become.

Fortunately, 70% of the Greek public believes that Tsipras will succeed as Prime Minister.

Comments

first they ignore you, then they laugh at you...

it's good to see the Very Serious right-leaning bloggers have moved on to the mocking phase.

I am offering my services as finance king to the Greek government. Seriously. I would default--after giving notice so the rich can pull out their money--and start from zero. You're welcome.

It looks like it's getting caught in the spam filter, but Simon Wren-Lewis has a much better and less obviously politically motivated and more economics-driven discussion of Syriza on his Mainly Macro blog.

The idea that Wren-Lewis is apolitical is rather amusing..

Stop wasting your time here and prove Cowen wrong by buying Greek assets.

Millian does raise a good point. This would seem like a great time to buy some Greek junk bonds with great interest rates. If you truly believe in your argument, there are $100 bills laying all over the Greek sidewalks.

How many of the cultural preconditions of successful reform are present in Greece right now?

They are Greeks. They will not stop being Greeks any time soon. There will be no reform unless the Army steps in. Or at least the pain will have to get much worse before the Greeks start thinking seriously about why it is they are suffering so much.

The European Union crisis has broken pretty much right down sectarian lines. The Northern Protestants are doing alright. The southern Catholics and the Orthodox are in trouble. The past solution seems the best solution - give Greece to some Bavarian. Not as good as a Dane, but better than a Greek.

How clean is the army?

Sometimes it takes a handful of brave men to reform broken and corrupt institutions, I just don't think Mr. Tsipras & Co. will change Greece for the good... is there any Greek Nelson Mandela?

The idea that what Greece needs is an unrepentant Communist who came to power by using lynch mobs to burn civilians to death is an interesting one. But perhaps not a very good one.

A report has just been released claiming the reformed South African police regularly arrest women in order to rape them. Who would have thought that Cuban-trained torturers would not make good policemen?

The Greek Army is not notably clean. But it is cleaner than most other institutions in Greece. The colonels left Greece much better off financially and economically.

funny how many of you guys turn out to be fascists, isn't it?

James : pro-market fascists :)

We shouldn't question the use of Police or Military force to solve problems that Big Government creates. That's Econ 101, maybe you should take some basic economics at your local college if you want to join the discussion here.

If Fascism protects freedom and makes the average persons life better, and the alternative is communism aka net suffering for the average person and no freedom. I say bring on fascism.

I think Just Another MR Commentor wins this round. If years of no hyperinflation, Reinhart-Rogoff's inability to use a spreadsheet, the relative success of QE-driven U.S. versus austerity-focused EU, and the deflation of late 2014 have taught us anything, it's that the libertarian/an-cap/Austrian/Koch-funded blogger types are intellectually bankrupt, driven by emotion, and wrong.

What do you mean, "you people"?

funny how many of you guys turn out to be fascists, isn’t it?

Carlist, actually.

James February 2, 2015 at 6:13 am

funny how many of you guys turn out to be fascists, isn’t it?

So I take it "fascist" now means "An opinion which I don't like, but I can't refute because it is true" on the Hard Left?

There is not a single Fascist involved in this thread. The Colonels were many things but Fascists they were not. Nor were they inclined to drag their opponents into a public square, put a tire soaked in gas around their necks and set them on fire. Probably why they are not heroes to the Left.

"The colonels left Greece much better off financially and economically" - LOL SMFS you are now an expert in Greek politics?! You and my uncle would get along swell, he believes the same thing, though he does not speak a word of English. In fact, the junta, as they are called, did not do much better or worse than anybody else (see the graph in Google "greek gdp by year") but they did fix some rural roads near my uncle's village (that's why he likes them). They emphasized the military, like the Bushes did, but, again like the Bush admins, their nemesis turned out to be a military misadventure (meddling in Cyprus).

Just Another MR Commentor

do you not like being accurately described as a fascist? Is that the problem here? What does your fascism have to do with 'econ 101'?

James, "accurately" SMFS would be described as a utilitarian. It doesn't make you fascist to think that in one instance military rule would be better than a particular democratically elected government. Anyway "fascism" does not mean military dictatorship.

JAMC is a satirist and troll and you have leapt to his bait.

Fascism is just a ridiculous label THE LEFT throws around. My point was that well enforced laws are the fundamental requirement for economic growth. We shouldn't question the methods the Police or other authorities use to enforce those laws. Unlike the rest of the government Police and Military personal are heroes, as described by Adam Smith. Anyone who has educated themselves, and wants to take the discussion here seriously knows that while economy theory predicts that the government as a whole will pursue suboptimal and possibly corrupt policies - any part of the government with the ability to directly apply physical force is except from these predictions and always acts to improve the situation for everyone. This is nothing more than basic economic theory, the kind you learn in Econ 101.

I would highly recommend you read more comments here so that you LEARN rather than shooting off your mouth.

I feel like you need to put more effort into it than JAMRC typically does to be considered a "satirist"

"I feel like you need to put more effort into it than JAMRC typically does to be considered a “satirist”.

Maybe, but even using the straight reading of JAMRC's post has him on the more rational side of the argument. A straight reading has him as a utilitarian. But his opponents should take the obvious logical choice of attacking him on the likely unfortunate consequences of a strictly (short-term) utilitarian argument. Instead they resort to name calling. And not even particularly accurate name calling.

is there any Greek Nelson Mandela?

More apposite would be if the brave men included Greek counterparts to Gen. Pinochet and Hernan Buchi. Tend to doubt it. Look at the performance of the Chilean military government during the years running from 1973 to 1990 against the performance of the Argentine military during the period running from 1976 to 1983. Wagers the calbre of the Greek military is of a piece with the calibre of their elected officials is of a peace with the calibre of their electorate: the pits.

'enough to make you want to have the Very Serious People back'

I'm pretty sure the Greeks remember this group of serious people - 'The colonels preferred to call the coup a "revolution to save the nation" ("Ethnosotirios Epanastasis"). Their official justification was that a "communist conspiracy" had infiltrated Greece's bureaucracy, academia, press, and military, to such an extent that drastic action was needed to protect the country from communist takeover. Thus, the defining characteristic of the Junta was its staunch anti-communism. They used the term anarcho-communist (Greek: αναρχοκομμουνιστές, anarchokommounistes) to describe leftists in general. In a similar vein, the junta attempted to steer Greek public opinion not only by propaganda but also by inventing new words and slogans, such as old-partyism (palaiokommatismos) to discredit parliamentary democracy, or Greece for Christian Greeks (Ellas Ellinon Christianon) to underscore its ideology. The junta's main ideological spokesmen included Georgios Georgalas and journalist Savvas Konstantopoulos, both former Marxists.' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_military_junta_of_1967%E2%80%9374

Maybe Thatcher's son is available to help out? (For that rare uninformed MR commenter, a bit of Thatcher family history - 'Thatcher was arrested at his home in Constantia, Cape Town, South Africa, in August 2004 and was charged with contravening two sections of South Africa's "Foreign Military Assistance Act", which bans South African residents from taking part in any foreign military activity. The charges related to "possible funding and logistical assistance in relation to [an] attempted coup in Equatorial Guinea" organized by Thatcher's friend, Simon Mann.' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_Thatcher )

You are right, now go buy Greek assets to prove everyone wrong. A bet is a tax on bull.

"A bet is a tax on bull."

Alex Tarrabouk's best argument ever.

Yes. So does Tsipras and his inner circle, many of whom are survivors of the junta's purges or their children.

That's why Tsipras will deal. The alternative is too awful for most Greeks to contemplate. Tsipras et al., in particular, might not long survive it---and not just politically.

many of whom are survivors of the junta’s purges or their children

Tsirpas was born in 1974, so he would have to be under the heading of 'or their [grand] children'. An official of sufficient consequence to merit 'purging' in 1967 would now be north of about 75 years old now. Amazing if there were that many working pols in that age range.

Fortunately, 70% of the Greek public believes that Tsipras will succeed as Prime Minister.

Ha!

How will that Greek public, individually and collectively, determine if Tsipras is indeed successful?

By the amount of "free" stuff they get if history is any guide.

The Russian announcement just undermined Greece's bargaining position.

Anyway the Russian seems to have other game plan in mind. Since the EU torpedoed the Russian South Stream pipeline thru Bulgaria, their plan B is thru Turkey/Greece with Greece as the gas hub which branch to Italy and another branch is thru Hungary etc to southern Germany. The South Stream is intended to totally replace the Ukraine route. Russian's position seems to be that if the European does not want the gas they can sell it to the Asians.

Imagine Greece's hand on controlling about 50% of Russian gas to Europe. This could be very serious indeed.

So Greece would control 50% of Russian gas to Europe but Turkey would control 100% of Russia's gas to Greece. This could be very serious indeed.

Turkey will have bulk transit, cannot switch off without upsetting the whole Europe. Pipeline branch off from Greece, has finer grain control.

Greece might not in a hurry while their position is firming up and other people are doing the front running for them.

The FM of Hungary turned up in Turkey in mid Jan to talk about the Russia/Turkey/Greece pipeline. Is that which might have prompted Merkel to suddenly turn up in Hungary and did she read the riot act to the Hungarian?
https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/26181779/merkel-presses-orbans-hungary-over-ngos-media/

Interesting. "Then, just before winter, Orban switched off reverse gas flows to Ukraine for three months, claiming he needed to top up domestic reserves."

Oh yah, Puttin will turn up in Hungary 2 weeks later.

...the tax service also stepped up campaigns targeting big companies and wealthy individuals, armed with a law under which anyone suspected of dodging more than €10,000 in taxes can be put in jail pending charges.

So the tax man can jail people on "suspicion"? And those naughty, naughty individuals don't like the idea!

Most those those individuals probably really are tax cheats. But as the article shows, expanding the discretionary powers of an official didn't help because that official could be pressured to leave the bad guys alone.

"expanding the discretionary powers of an official"

Was probably a great boost to that officials under the table bribe income.

Note that under Thatcher "Public spending in real terms...rose in every year apart from two...it was cut by 1.1 per cent in 1985-86 and by 2.3 per cent in 1988-89." (Thatcher took power in 1979)

http://www.conservativehome.com/thetorydiary/2012/10/the-public-finances-under-margaret-thatcher-and-under-the-coalition-compared.html

So is the point that this Thatcheropoulous will moderately increase public spending rather than dramatically reduce it as the Troika has been demanding?

Thatcher's significant reforms were she clamped down on inflation, and reduced financial regulation , allowing the "Big Bang" in the City and making credit card borrowing much easier. Maybe those are the keys to Greek success?

Well TC does say Thatcheropoulous should be "...pro-debt renegotiation..." which sounds compatible with a moderate increase in public spending. Or at least a moderate increase in deficits.

Presumably the idea is that a leader with the other Thatcherite qualities can make a more realistic case that the debt relief will be put to good use, and Greece will not be back causing more trouble in 5 years time. Arguably the Irish polity (as a whole, not just leaders) has done just that since 2008.

Greece today might well be in worse shape than Britain in the 1970's. In which case, Thatcher's policies might not be enough to right a modern day Greek economy.

Thatcher's significant reform was that she crushed the trade unions. That would be good training for a Thatcheropoulos who will have to take on the vested interests that have a stranglehold on the Greek economy.

What's the use of democracy if people like that can be elected?

Precisely that.

Systems were only some people can get to power are called in many ways (Oligarchy, Autocracy, ...) but not democracy.

We are already living in an oligarchy (EU and US), not really a democracy...

True, to a given point. The fact that Syriza (and before then, Heider and possibly soon Podemos and Le Pen) can actually win elections proves that there is still some vestige of democracy around.

If they do something really idiotic they can be removed from office without people getting killed. That's what.

Greece may need its Thatcher, but the deflation engineered by the Germans tends to bring the crazies to power.

As usual, pro-capitalists shoot themselves in the foot with their idiotic insistence on tight money.

Tight money is necessary for any kind of economic growth. That's Econ 101 - time to go back to college for you. Greece needs more immigrants to allow for some sort of internal devaluation to take place, so in the end its the Left and their Anti-immigrant, anti-open borders stance that is ruining everything.

loool... is this dude for real ??? :D

if he is, his real is just about the opposite of what is to be found in the world.

"loool… is this dude for real ??? "

No, JAMRC is a troll. But he's a pretty good one. Most of his posts are reasonably humorous when you know to smile going in.

I think there's a clue in his name if you look closely.

Weird. It's almost as if the Greeks are not the English.

Greece has a higher life expectancy than United Kingdom and Denmark, just below Germany. Infant mortality is higher than Western Europe but below the UK and the US. Famine is not an issue. Unemployment is high but you unemployment is not recognized as a cause of death. Everything is OK, why worry?

There are a couple red flags in the news that come from Greece: pride and dignity. I'd vote for the politician that promises better education, even if he's lying at least he makes an effort. The politician that goes straight into pride discourses might forget that people eat.

"Everything is OK, why worry? "

Greece is last in the OECD in Life Satisfaction. So, apparently Greeks aren't happy with the current situation.

http://www.oecdbetterlifeindex.org/topics/life-satisfaction/

Life expectancy can be explained by superiority of Greek diet.

Yes, it's simply contingent on their geographical location, and not attributable to them being particularly sensible.

But isn't it sensible to pick such a location?

Are we really trusting the health statistics of a country who actually lied about their finances to get in the EU? Does anyone here truly believe an infant is better off in Greece than in the UK or US?

Unfortunately if Syriza fails this is the road for Greece http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n23/alexander-clapp/diary
And I am sad to see that Germany cannot learn from their own history and what WWI reparations meant for Hitler's rise to power.

LOL, no one should have to pay back their debts because Hitler

So you ignore the examples of countries with excessive debt burdens in the past? Germany is hardly the only example.

No.
But in the current situation for Greece to get down to the GDP/Debt ratio like the one in Germany (76 %) Greece would have to have a budget surplus of 6 % for 50 years. Eichengreena and Panizze (2014) have shown that in period of 1974-2013 only 3 countries were able to hold the surplus of 5 % for ten years. So what they are asking of Greece has never been done.

Of course it should pay its debts but they should extend the period of payment so the whole thing is possible. Or we can risk having a fascistoid government in Greece and a whole lot of angry people. And Greece has a lot of weapons and not so good relations with its neighbours.

>to get down to the GDP/Debt ratio like the one in Germany (76 %) Greece would have to have a budget surplus of 6 % for 50 years.

Or they could just increase growth. At pre-crisis-high GDP, their Debt/GDP ratio would be a manageable 123%. Keep in mind their interest payments are just 2.6% of GDP today.

And Greece has tons of low hanging fruit it can harvest for growth.

Can you show your work? Real gdp growth in Greece since 1980 has averaged 1.73% per annum, if I'm not mistaken. Were the real value of the outstanding debt unchanged, the ratio of debt/gdp would fall by 57% over a 50 year period. Were Greece to take to a policy of balancing their budget over the course of a business cycle, their nominal debt would remain unchanged and the debt/gdp ratio would fall even farther. Are you excluding debt service from your calculations of budge balance?

But since 1980. Greece has also increased its debt from 22 % to 105% in 2007. How much of that growth had been fed with government spending. Interest payments number varies... some say 4.2 some 2.6 % but okay.

I agree Greece has tons of low hanging fruit it can harvest but we cannot just look at the numbers. Psychology of people there is something we must take into account. If people from Golden dawn get more support there will be no more fruit, but there will be blood.

How much of that growth had been fed with government spending.

Debt financed public spending will moderate a business cycle. It's not going to improve the trajectory of technological adaptation or process improvements. If current consumption is financed with foreign borrowing, households will have an inflated idea of their affluence.

"Pay up or we shoot (ourselves)!"

Tax evaders in Greece are objects of enmity, tax evaders in America are objects of sympathy. It's lawlessness if I require you to enforce the law, it's lawlessness if I enforce the law. Cowen wrote an essay for The Upshot (NYT) recently in which he made the point that trust is the key to economic growth. I will make the point that the rule of law is the key to trust. In America as in Greece, all too often there are two laws, one for the powerful and one for the powerless. This past week I watched on C-SPAN as a Republican Senator lectured Obama's nominee for Attorney General that it would violate her Constitutional duties as Attorney General to let politics dictate her actions as the nation's top law enforcement officer. The nominee agreed with the Senator and, ever polite, did not ask the Senator what he thought of the actions of Alberto Gonzales, or John Mitchell.

Sorry this is ridiculous, laws are there to impose order. We can't allow laws to get in the way of economic growth by stealing money from producers in the form of taxes or burdening the successful with meaningless little regulations. If we follow basic free market principles this leads us to the proper society where the law is meant to keep the unproductive from stealing from the successful.

loool, this guy (troll) is fun (it is almost like a caricature of most of MR commentator's opinions)

In other words you believe that state force should be used exclusively to satisfy the demands of the ruling class and everyone else should just shut up and obey, or else get a beating.

By supporting the elite (ie the actual people in society with HIGH IQs and productive capabilities) we can make society richer and better. This is basic Econ 101, check our some videos are MR University even to get some background knowledge before you start making logical fallacies in your posts here.

In other words you believe that state force should be used exclusively to satisfy the demands of the ruling class and everyone else should just shut up and obey, or else get a beating.

Yes this is in accordance with basic economic science

It is true rayward, giant corporations evading taxes is good, but greek small business owner / or struggling worker evading taxes is evil, just ask Just Another MR commentor

I think you equate evasion with avoidance and ignore the important difference between the two.

"I think you equate evasion with avoidance and ignore the important difference between the two. "

It's a common practice on the Left (I'm not sure if this describes rayward) to conflate the two concepts. Look at all the nasty articles about Romney's tax rate, even though he achieved a low tax rate by giving away millions of dollars to charity.

tax evaders in America are objects of sympathy.

Seriously? Where are you getting that from?

Last time I looked, the US scored highest in the developed world on tax morality while Greece is most people's #1 choice for most corrupt country in Europe.

"Tax evaders in Greece are objects of enmity", really?

True, I suppose, if you mean that when others do it, it is reprehensible, but when my cronies and family do it, it is "just plain' the game"…

A couple of good reads re Greece:

http://www.macropolis.gr/?i=portal.en.the-agora.1974
http://brontecapital.blogspot.gr/2015/02/dear-eurozone-officials-mr-putin-is.html

Well the Very Serious People at the IMF forecast that their police would cause a mild recession and then return to growth. In reality the Greek economy shrunk by a quarter. These facts seem to be side-issues to Cowen, the facts that the Very Serious People were seriously wrong and that the Greek people are suffering horrible. Not surprising given his rightwing politics. And so the Greek people democratically voted to try something different. The anti-democratic Cowen lines up with anti-democrats like Castro and Putin in his desire to overrule the democratic wishes of the Greek people to halt the pain. We'll soon see of the Eurocrats follow suit.

Well the Very Serious People at OMB predicted austerity in the U.S. would cause a double-dip recession, instead it doubled the growth rate.

The Very Clever Leftists can't point to a single real-world country that followed their advice and prospered, but instead of intellectual curiosity as to why they were so irrelevant, they resorted to name-calling and mutual back-patting.

I agree, but to be fair, the data is so muddled neither side can make a solid claim to being correct.

You ignore the fact that the Greek governments completely ignored the reforms the troika asked for. If they had followed their advice and fixed their economy, things would have turned out very differently.

After World War I, Cowen's much admired Very Serious People shoved the Treat of Versailles down Germany's throat. As the Great Depression hit, Germany was having having a tough time making its war reparation payments, much like Greece is suffering in order to meet its Troika obligations. Britain and France said they would ease up on Germany if the Americans agreed to ease up on their payment terms for the war debt they owed to the U.S. The U.S. said no and so the dismal, deteriorating economic conditions of Germany brought the Vey Serious Nazis to power. (Just as across Europe today, the failed policies of austerity are leading to the rise of far-right groups in France, the U.K., etc. A few years later, smokestacks over Auschwitz and mushroom clouds over Japan. A good days work by the Very Serious People who could now go on ad nauseum about the Greatest Generation.

Very Clever Leftists are so certain of the lunacy and non-self-interest of creditors, Americans and other Freudian stand-ins, that they assume reducing debts would have stopped Hitler, which indicates their lack of historical knowledge, as well as their eagerness to name-call their opponents instead of addressing the former deficit.

Seeing as how Hitler was brought to power by the very economic phenomenon today's VSPs are cheering for (deflation, that is), I'd say both sides of the "debate" (I'm being generous here) are full of sh*t

Thatcherakis, not Thatcheropoulos. You couldn't trust a Peloponnesian Thatcher.

Any lessons learned from Cyprus..?

When VSP get policy wrong for years on end, the appearance of VNSP cannot be a surprise. It looks like Greece is headed for the exit, not to become a happy family but to become an unhappy family in its own tiresomely left-wing way.

"Fortunately, 70% of the Greek public believes that Tsipras will succeed as Prime Minister."

NGDP expectations should be through the roof! No 'concrete steppes' of bailouts needed!

Shouldn't these be considered the Very Not Serious People, rather than just Not Very Serious? Otherwise I like the tag.

"Greece needs Thatcheropoulous"

So Greece needs to sell off its country to foreign capital and let even more foreigners flood the country? Because that's essentially what Thatcherism amounted to, under the guise of being "conservative" to deceive the proles.

Why don't you have some integrity and balls and call for the invasion of Greece outright? You don't because you're a deceptive coward.

It's not exactly a controversial notion.

Varoufakis has been arguing for a long time that Greeks should pretty much lose their sovereignty because there is no way they can fix their country on their own. Instead he wants the Germans and the EIB in charge. Selling off to foreign capital did great work on Germany after WW2, no?

http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2013/02/22/europe-needs-a-hegemonic-germany/

http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/euro-crisis/modest-proposal/4-the-modest-proposal-four-crises-four-policies/policy-3-investment-led-recovery-and-convergence-programme-ircp/

Varoufakis has integrity. The OP doesn't. The OP is a deceptive coward.

Ah, how the dreams of Utopians come tumbling down. It is interesting how everyone puts their priors on Greece. Maybe there isn't a solution, and the desperate search for one creates disaster after disaster.

Essentially there is nothing left to lose. Greece sees it's future leaving, no one in their right mind would put their life into building a productive enterprise to see it bled to death by a mixture of the local corrupt government and the far away lenders. So you have left is a mixture of those who live off what others produce, and the well established moneyed who have survived for generations on their ability to play the system. This election was the first winning against the second. A true zero sum game.

The very serious people aren't worried about Greece, they are worried that Spain and Portugal will do the same thing. The power center of the EU and euro authorities will inexorably shrink. Something that can't work eventually doesn't.

great interview with Varoufakis and BBC.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jMMHKoj66cs

Here is lots of opinions whether the Greeks should be held responsible for paying their debt or not. There are 2 important points not discussed:

1. Have we learned something? I.e. never lend money without hard assets as security.

2. How about the poor northern Europeans, like me, did we ever deserve the inflation that made Spain and Greece so much less of a bargain than it used to be?

I remember a whole water melon on the island of Thasos costing around USD 0.15 in 1980. At the same time, you could get 2-3 mandarin oranges in Norway for the same price.

Greeks are all too far from God, and all too close to their self-deceptions, hence this mess.

I apologize if another version or two of this shows up. I wrote one on a computer that has a history of not being recognized by the MR system, which I sent twice and has not shown up. So, here is one from a better respected computer, a Very Serious Computer, in contrast with that other one, :-).

So, it looks to me that of the 7 items Tyler identifies as evidence of why the non-VSP Greek governmnet is Churchillianly worse than even the worst VSP government, much less some Greek Maggie Thatcherwhatever one, I would say that the current Greek governmnent looks pretty OK on 4 out of the 7, with the complaint holding clearly on 1 of the others,, leaving 2 in a somewhat more debatable position, although arguably those may split in their current likely tilts. So, they are clearly strong, much to the annoyance of many dealing with them, and they are also pro-debt renegotiation also much to the annoyance of many (not sure why Tyler even lists this as a virtue, thought that sticking with all those past agreements is what a proper VSP would do). Furthermore, they are certainly talking loudly about going after corruption and cleaning up the tax code. Ironicallly Tyler points to the resignation of the top tax man there as evidence of some sort of malfeasance or incompetence of the new government when the story says it is rich people, most likely corrupt ones, who are threatening his life because he has been trying to actually collect taxes from them. Yes, there seems to have been a falloff in tax collections, but that does not seem to be tied to these death threats.

The one where I shall grant him is that they do seem to be anti-capitallist, and certainly many in the government have pasts of being even more so, although it should be kept in mind that former Communists in Southern Europe include the widely respected just-stepped-down President of Italy, Napolitano, as well as first author of the most widely used econ grad micro text, Mas-Colell. In any case, halting the ongoing privatizations demanded by the creditors certainly is not pro-ca;pitalist, especially on the hard-core definition of that system versus socialism as depending on private vresus public ownership of the means off production. Nevertheless, this is a matter of halthing privatizations of long-publicly owned sectors, not some new drive to nationalize previously private ones, much less to do so in some violent way as with Stalin killing Urkainian kulaks to grab their land and their cattle. It is pretty mild socialism for all the whooping and hollering and breast beating going on.

Regarding the other two, well, that 70% of the Greek population thinks the government will succeed (and the Greek financial markets rose today, if only modestly so) suggests that at least for now they have some credibility, although that could go away if they fail and doom arrives. On the matter of foreign direct investment, they have not obviously opposed this, although arguably ending the privatizations has effectively been anti-fdi to the extent that some fdi was going to happen to buy up those activities getting privatized. Ironically among those whining about this are the communist Chinese, who have been investing in things in the Piraeus harbor area, now affected by the halting of the privatizations.

Regarding this proposal by Russia, well, over the weekend the Greek government seems to have moved to supporting at leasts some EU sanctions against Russia, although they are clearly going to be among the most pro-Russian governments in the EU. But, it has already been discussed here how the previouss government was already like that for historical and cutlural reasons. The Russians are apparently kidding themselves about their financial situation as I hear from my sources that they are telling their own people that oil prices will go back up in March, something I would not bet on, and I suspect that Varoufakis et al are not either. I also suspect that they are fully aware of their financial situation, despite this story in the FT, which looks more like chest thumping in advance of the real negotiations, which may get going when Varoufakis shows up in Germany soon ater a round of visits to other places, some generating some public support for them, most notably in the second largest economy in both the EU and the Eurozone, France.

Anyway, the evidence that the current non-VSPs running the show in Greece are such obvious disasters that even boring and out of it VSPs would be better looks some distance from being clearly established.

Shorter posts are better posts.

Simple sentence structure is also a plus.

Posts with clearer referents are also better posts.

These are all constructive criticisms

No, the Greeks need their own currency. The great experiment has failed, all that's left is arguing over whether it was destined to fail or not. My take is that given the current state of governments and economics it was destined to fail.

Hard inference based on baby-names. How cute.

Prof. Cowen embarks on another keyboard crusade. A few months ago it was holy war against Piketty. Now it's Greece.

The new Greek government is all male, but they are behaving like they are all on one massive period.

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