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PA Silicon Valley, CA June 28, 2015
A lot of news commentary strikes me as completely overblown. I really doubt there is "alarm" in Berlin or Brussels - this has been coming for months, if not years. What will kill Europe and the Euro is if the citizens of one country are seen as "democratically" voting themselves benefits that other countries have to subsidize. If the EU caves on this, expect a spending spree everywhere.

To save the Euro and Europe, Greece needs to have its own currency and, given that it is locked out of the debt markets, will have to live within its means, with no one to blame but itself if it does not succeed.

But expecting the rest of Europe to continue to subsidize a nation which has refused to address its rampant tax evasion, patronage-heavy over-compensated bureaucracy and stifling business environment is absurd and unrealistic.

raven55 Washington DC June 28, 2015
Anyone with the slightest foresight in Greece has already been withdrawing savings as quickly as possible for days now. If default, bankruptcy and euro zone expulsion is Imminent, stuffing wads of euros under your mattress is about the only thing you can do to counter massive and immediate devaluation of your assets as they turn back into drachmas.

I feel bad for millions of frightened people facing possible economic calamity. On the other hand, the Greek government was elected on the untenable position that creditors could be permanently put on hold, a massive bureaucracy could continue unchanged, and taxes could continue to be evaded, all the while Greeks could continue to live like Germans. But the banks are closed - literally and metaphorically, and time's up. Greece will have to live on its own now, unbankrolled by others. We are in unknown territory.

David San Francisco, Calif. June 28, 2015
Since fiscal austerity was imposed on Greece, their budget has gone into surplus, but their GDP has fallen 25% and their unemployment is 26%.

They are living through a Great Depression.

Keynes and FDR understood that fiscal stimulus is necessary to fight against a drop in economic demand. They helped ameliorate human misery, fed families and brought the country back to become an economic powerhouse.

In the US, the Federal government collects more than half of all taxes (53%) and Federal dollars are often recirculated to states as necessary.

Some states are perpetually in deficit to the country while other states are perpetually in surplus.

The states in deficit do not owe the states providing the surplus a promise of repayment in the future.

Every state sends soldiers for the common defense, provide natural resources as available, and work together toward a more perfect union.

In the event California, New Jersey or New York needed the country's help in the case of a financial or economic disaster, it would be forthcoming.

The EU is not a nation and they are far from thinking as a union, economic or otherwise.

As long as the people of Europe have an economic union without fiscal integration, without a sense of responsibility for each other, they will continue to move from self-inflicted crisis to crisis without progress.

It is odd to see some countries casting aspersions upon Greece as if they have never had their own problems and issues and culpability.

Rabbi McMoe sonoma, ca. June 28, 2015
The answer is really quite simple. Allow the Greece's the same attitude allotted to the German's after WWII. Revise and restructure the debt by forgiving 50% of it and then extend out the balance for a longer pay off period. Done.....

Bruce Rozenblit Kansas City June 28, 2015
This has to stop. Greece cannot pay back the debt it owes. Its economy is too small. Austerity has crushed what little GDP it has resulting in a 25% GDP decline. The only way Greece can make timely payments to it creditors is by growing its economy to generate tax revenue for the debt payments. The so called medicine imposed upon Greece by its creditors prevents it from recovering and generating the needed revenue.

This is like cutting a major artery and giving the hemorrhaging patient small transfusions that prolong life but cannot prevent the inevitable death. Current policy is not working and cannot work.

The suffering of the Greeks must end. They made terrible mistakes and have much to answer for, but the current path is absolutely ridiculous.

The only workable solution is debt destruction. If this path is not chosen then the Greek people may force it by dropping the Euro. This will also cause great suffering, but that suffering may very well lead to a sustainable solution.

The new currency will have little value and inflation will skyrocket, but that may be what is necessary to clear the books and allow Greece to start over. The world has seen this before and the affected nations did recover.

Lance the boil and let the healing begin. Stop killing Greece by bleeding it a little more each day.

SAK New Jersey June 28, 2015
Germany's orthodoxy on austerity has transformed problem into a crisis. This
has been tried for 5 years and has worsened the problem. More of the same
won't fix it. Economy in recession needs Keynesian solution-
government spending on infrastructure and other projects that would employ
people and create jobs. With unemployment at 25%, where would the demand
come from to stimulate the economy? Greece did lot of things wrong to create
this mess but German and IMF prescription won't fix it.

Thinker Northern California June 28, 2015
When Tsipras and his team were elected, most of us thought: This appears to be sheer insanity, but that seems so obvious that he must have some clever plan in mind. Turns out it WAS sheer insanity. He had no plan in mind at all, just some childish notion that he could hold his breath till he turned blue and the creditors would quiver and fold.

Still, amazing. I'd expected him to come up with something -- even if unworkable, at least something imaginative. But he lacks even imagination, it seems. He just hopped on a horse headed for Hades, and rode it straight into the ground. Amazing.

Jon Davis NM June 28, 2015
Welcome to Post-Historic Europe.
Countries can fail, and people can go hungry.
But banks are too big to fail.
And banks and bankers must be saved no matter what the cost.
As Russia threatens Europe from the east, as immigrants overrun Europe from the south, and as ISIS threatens from the south and east and from within, the only thing Europeans care about is saving the bankers and punishing Greeks.

JL U.S.A. June 28, 2015
I stand with the young and dynamic Greek leadership against a smug and sclerotic EU, controlled completely by Germany and its closest northern Europe vassals. A complete rethink of the EU experiment is now essential- one where the well being of all EU countries is taken to account. If that is not in possible then another arrangement is called for.
As for Greece: Default, Devalue, Develop. To continue along the path of neo liberal orthodoxy is a road to impoverishment for a major portion of your citizenry- and they deserve better.

Navigator Brooklyn June 28, 2015
This is more a political crisis than a financial one. 1.7 billion Euros in the scheme of things is a pittance. Will the IMF or the ECB really risk the future of the Eurozone for 1.7 billion Euros? Will Christine Lagarde want the first sentence of her obituary to read that she was in charge when Europe's currency collapsed? I somehow doubt it. The reports of Greece's death have been greatly exaggerated. They survived the Turks, I think they will survive the Euro bureaucrats.

Nelson Alexander New York June 28, 2015
The longer this "crisis" is strung out, the more the banks and hedge funds can continue to collect from Greek pensions, artworks, and infrastructure and from European taxpayers through so-called "bailouts" transferred to the banks.

Meanwhile, the great parasitic Debt-Extraction Machine will be reassembled on the tax structure of another representative democracy and the "austerity" process accelerated to higher levels.

And the only way out of debt is more debt. After all, one person's money is another person's debt. Now that the One Percent own nearly half the world's wealth, they can only accumulate effectively through state violence, debt, taxation, and "austerity."

So, who's next? American students (those who are not offspring of the rentier class) hold a debt of nearly $1 trillion that the job market obviously cannot pay. Youth, prepare. Sooner or later, you too must go Greek.

Yoandel Boston, Mass. June 28, 2015
Financiers to NYT Commenters: Nations are *not* people. And the debt that Greece owes is not lent by some grandmother in Bavaria or a kid in Holland.

About 97% of Greece's debts are to the ECB and the IMF --what Greece owed to banks and investors foolish enough to lend to it was swapped into central bank and IMF debt some five years ago. At onerous terms, mind you, and increasing Greek debt by nearly 100%, with only 11% of the new debt actually being disbursed to Greece.

The central banks of Europe and the Fed actually printed this new money. So no Germans need to find a few billion under the cushions to bail out Greece. This newly printed money could prove inflationary, but it has not been so as there is near deflation in the Eurozone.

Greece is being punished not because it is expensive to do so, but because it is politically expedient to do so in internal German politics, and because the ECB beats to the drum of the powerful economies in the Eurozone, Furthermore a political message against the left-of-center parties in Spain, Portugal, Italy, and Ireland (among many) is being sent.

This is about politics, not about cost.

Paul Long island June 28, 2015
The dire situation now facing the E.U. and Greece illustrates the fundamental, and perhaps fatal, weakness of an economic, but not a political, federation. It does not help that Germany, a country with historic deep resentments in Greece stemming from the atrocities of World War II, dominates the E.U. Greece, the ancient home of democracy and a bulwark to the West, deserves better than more of the failed harsh austerity medicine that has driven it to the brink of economic extinction. Unfortunately, the recriminations of the economic "blame game" underway (and both sides have a lot of it to share) now threatens to destabilize the political situation in the West, especially if Greece is forced to exit the Euro (the so-called "Grexit") and then possibly NATO since its hard to imagine Greece wanting to commit to the defense of a Europe that has just cast it aside. Before Europe once again manages to descend into political and economic chaos, it may be time for a new U.S.-led Marshall Plan for Greece based on the prosperity of growth rather than the austerity of contraction.

What Would Thucydides Say About the Crisis in Greece?

A FOREIGN delegation representing a powerful alliance confronts a small Mediterranean country with an ultimatum. Either join our alliance, pay ruinous dues and cede your national sovereignty, or you will be destroyed. Unwilling to allow the delegation to present its case to their fellow citizens, the country’s political elite tries to buy time. But appeals to reason, pragmatism and common decency fail to budge the visitors. When the elite finally replies that it is not prepared to surrender its nation’s freedom, the delegation withdraws and, true to its threat, crushes the rebellious country.

Sound familiar? Apart from a few details, the situation resembles the present standoff between Greece and the European Union. Yet this particular scene took place 2,500 years ago. Then, too, Greece was the arena, with the powerful city-state of Athens pitted against the small island of Melos. In his magnificent history of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides recreates, or perhaps created, the encounter in 416 B.C. between the commanders of an Athenian fleet and leaders of the small island polis of Melos. There are sobering parallels between then and now that may offer insight into our current predicament.

During their war against Sparta, the Athenians demanded that Melos join the Delian League. Originally a defensive alliance that Greek city-states had created following the second Persian invasion, the league had become a tool of Athenian imperialism. Member states, unable to secede, were subject to Athenian dictate and forced to pay annual tribute. Their complaints were met with Athens’s reply that the alliance, whether or not the members agreed, was for their own good. The democracy Athens practiced at home, in short, did not extend to the governance of its league.

What historians call the Melian Dialogue is Thucydides’s depiction of the endgame to this policy — what Victor Davis Hanson has called Athens’s “reign of terror.” The war between Athens and Sparta was already nearly two decades old, yet no end was in sight. With its citizens weary and restless, Athens adopted a brutal political calculus, declaring that those city-states not with them were, quite simply, against them. They threatened a neutral Melos with physical destruction if it refused to join the Delian League.

Of course, the parallel falls short in many ways. Melos was a neutral state, while modern Greece not only joined the European Union but over the years merrily plundered its treasury. And Melos did not invite an unprecedented sovereign debt crisis or engage in unsustainable social policies as Greece did over the last decade and more.

But what was at stake then and now is, first of all, the issue of national sovereignty versus supranational organizations. “Europe” was born, in part, of the fear of Stalin’s Russia, no less threatening and grim than Xerxes’ Persia. But, like the Delian League after the evaporation of the Persian threat, the original basis for unthinking allegiance to Europe disappeared with the Soviet Union’s disintegration. (The Greek prime minister Alexis Tsipras’s recent fruitless meeting with President Vladimir V. Putin echoes the Melian hope that Sparta would fly to their rescue.)

More recently, though, the prospect of a different kind of autocratic rule has unsettled a growing number of Europeans. Looming behind the euro has been the blunt fact of Germany’s strict monetary and economic policies, the edginess of a European Central Bank preoccupied by the specter of inflation and the eagerness of the European Union’s Council of Ministers to make policy in what is the near-total absence of democratic process.

As a result, twined with the financial debt facing Greece is Europe’s notorious “democratic deficit.” Several years ago the historian Tony Judt observed that there was “a sense that decisions were being taken ‘there’ with unfavorable consequences for us ‘here’ and over which ‘we’ had no say.” That more or less accurate perception has only grown since he wrote those words.

In this respect, Brussels bureaucrats are little different from the Athenian delegation: Both come making offers their friends can’t refuse. When Europe’s leaders insist that Greece belongs to the European “homeland” whether it likes it or not, ignore the growing social unrest and political paralysis in Greece, and refuse to reconsider the austerity package they previously negotiated with Athens’s former governing coalition, we are not that far from the Athenian claim at Melos that “the strong do what they have the power to do and the weak accept what they have to accept.” In this light, the resistance of today’s Greece on behalf of freedom and dignity recapitulates the earlier response of the Melians. The difference, perhaps, is that force then came with phalanxes and triremes, not economic diktats and monetary threats.

When Thucydides declared his work was “a possession for all time,” he meant that its relevance was as fixed and unchanging as was human behavior. Like his friend, the tragedian Sophocles, he would not be surprised that the blindness and hubris that undid ancient Athens remain with us today, and that the noble and humanist aims that once animated the European project have given way to unbending technocratic impulses. The ironist in Thucydides would appreciate that the very monuments in Athens, largely funded by its imperial mastery, might end up as collateral offered to new imperial masters by its battered and bemused descendant.

Robert Zaretsky is a professor of history at the University of Houston and the author, most recently, of “Boswell’s Enlightenment.”

PointerToVoid Zeros & Ones 
"Greece not only joined the European Union but over the years merrily plundered its treasury."

It takes two to tango. Northern European banks were all to happy to bankroll the Greeks.

Josh Hill New London, Conn.
Beautiful analogy. Athens alienated its allies, and partly as a consequence, the Athenian democracy fell, a sad outcome. The European Union too is a wonderful endeavor and it is sad to see the myopic German and EU leadership endangering it over what for this huge bloc is a trivial sum of money.

Georg Amrith Austria
The EU was not "born" as a response to Stalin's Russia, it was born, in the shape of the European Coal and Steel Community and later the European Economic Community, in response to the First and Second World wars. The basic idea was to bind states that were traditionally at odds with each other together economically, that altercations like the preceding wars were completely unthinkable. By and large that worked out pretty well.

The problem at hand is that the Greek governments are to date unable to create a functioning administrative framework, in which the executive functions are reliably carried out, specifically in the financial sector. Taxes are not paid, transactions are not documented, rules and laws are evaded with impunity, if not contempt. The Greek governments had now nigh unto six years time to implement structural changes and pursue reliable polices with respect to consolidation of its wretched financial administrations. Help was offered time and again to that end by other member states, and refused time and again.

The current Syriza government waves all that away and mutters vague imprecations about a conspiracy against a "left government" and violations of "national pride" in an vile recourse to nationalist sentiments. During the negotiations, agreements reached were suddenly criticised and negated, in transparent shows of bad faith, time and again.

So the comparison in this article is erroneous and irrelevant.

Josh Hill New London, Conn. @ Georg AmrithThere's a lot more to it than that, in particular a punishing economic regime that chokes the Greek economy but cutting spending, making it impossible for the Greek government to get past its debt. It's about as bright as throwing someone in debtor's prison.

Dominick Eustace London 22 hours ago
The Greek people have had the courage to question neoliberalism and thus unsettle the 0.001 percenters who own the world - which is more than the western "liberal" neoconservative and corporate media media has ever done. As the man said "change comes from the margins".

Chevy Holyoke, MA 22 hours ago
Thucydides was the first "scientific historian" because of his adherence to facts and avoidance of explanations involving gods. Evidence gathering and logical analysis were his tools - his masterpiece the result.

Greece has lived beyond its means since it joined the EU, gaming the system and practicing brinksmanship, continually calling the bluff of its more responsible partners. It is not the Greece of ancient times when every citizen shouldered an aspis, but has become the Greece of modern times where every citizen seeks a sinecure.

I lived and worked in Germany for a year. Even guest workers are treated fairly, accrue benefits and earn respect as members of a team, without the great disparity of income and privilege seen in other countries.

The Germans may be the 900-pound gorilla in the EU, but they are trying to make it work for ALL its members, while Greece just sits back and siphons off the cream.

Chevy, South Hadley, AM

kount kookula east hampton, ny 1 day ago
"We are the Borg. Lower your shields and surrender your ships. We will add your biological and technological distinctiveness to our own. Your culture will adapt to service us. Resistance is futile."

Neville Morley Berlin 21 hours ago
Why Thucydides? Of course we can always find resemblances between past and present situations, if we're willing to ignore the inevitable differences. Is the conflict between Athens and Melos really such a close analogy to the present conflict between Greece and the Troika? Not really. If there's anything useful in this analogy, it isn't the comparison of the two situations but rather Thucydides' analysis of the dynamics and pathologies of power - how the superior party can fall into arrogance, how the inferior party tries desperately to argue their way out of their dilemma - and Prof Zaretsky says remarkably little about that. Is it simply that the name of Thucydides carries such an air of authority and insight, especially in the USA, that we don't need to worry so much about what he said and just take comfort from the fact that he said something?

Incidentally, are people here aware that Yanis Varoufakis actually studied the Melian Dialogue as part of his research into game theory..?

MIchael shaw Kansas 1 day ago
This is not a close analogy. Greece volunteered to join the European Union and enjoy its benefits and now does not want to fulfill its obligations. This is fundamentally different from the situation in Melos.

Wallinger Texas 22 hours ago
The Greeks wanted to join the EU and the Eurozone. They were able to borrow money at much lower rates of interest. The banks assumed they had Germany's credit rating. With easy credit the Greeks ran up a massive bill. Now it is time for them to pay up.

Until 1986 the EU was a cosy, prosperous club with nine members. There are now 28 member countries. It is becoming a victim of its own ambition.
Ed Watt 21 hours ago @ Wallinger 54
The banks did not assume that Greece had Germany's credit rating.
The banks assumed that they would be paid whether or not Greece had the money to do so.
It is another instance of the housing bubble. Give loans to people even without the ability to repay and collect a commission now. Manipulate prices to go higher and collect higher commissions.
When things burst - demand that the government (i.e., you and me) pick up the tab because we (the banks) are too big to be allowed to fail.
This is called "banking self regulation" and the "wisdom of the marketplace".
Oh - and declare that "companies are people" & donate heavily to Super PACS in the name of 1st Amendment Rights.

John LeBaron MA 19 hours ago
As Professor Zaretsky writes, "Of course, the parallel falls short in many ways." So many, many ways as to render his overall analysis absurd.

ecco conncecticut 23 hours ago
a curious piece: after setting out the athens/melos parallel to the present greece/EU situation, mr zaretsky, essentially, walks back from it, way past "apart from a few details."

a more apt analogy, (replete with "sobering parallels"), considering melos' lack of debt to or aggression toward athens, is the coercive expansion of the soviet union.

today in greece, as in puerto rico, irresponsible government, (and dreadful oversight, if not outright indulgence by EU and US economic authorities respectively) has led to calamity, also "nearly two decades in the making."

to frame the posture of today's profligate greece as "resistence...on behalf of freedom and dignity" equal to the "earlier response of the melians," to the threat of military invasion and occupation, is just shabby.

melios faced a "prague spring," greece is having its credit cards cancelled.

timoty Finland 1 day ago
Every now and then there's talk about EU and its democracy deficiency. The way this sad story with Greece has unfolded proves the point.

I can live with our EU leaders (J-C Juncker, Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Mario Draghi, Donald Tusk etc), but who has chosen Ms. Merkel and Mr. Schaeuble to call the shots? They are leaders of Germany, not the EU and EZ.

That these two are making the decisions leads easily to "what's good for Germany must be good for the EU."

Sadly it is not so.

MIchael shaw Kansas 21 hours ago
A closer analogy would be the debate over the fate of Mytilene. The European Union would do well to consider the argument of Diodotus that the best interest of the empire, not the question of justice, should have the first priority. They gain nothing from destroying the Greek economy in this case.

Urizen Cortex, California 22 hours ago
History's lessons, papered over with bromides about fiscal responsibility from the people who eagerly lent Greece the money in the first place. Bankers and their politicians do as they please - the rest of us suffer as we must.

Bob Richards Sanford, NC. 17 hours ago
I don't know but I rather suspect that Thucydides was smart enough to realize that Mr. Zarestsky has got it backwards. The EU is not telling Greece to live by its rules or it will crush Greece. It is telling Greece that if it wants more aid that it must live by the EU rules. And it is Greece that is telling the EU to give it more money with no strings attached or it will commit suicide. And since that seems to terrify the EU, it might prove to be an effective bargaining tactic. But the EU seems to recognize that if it caves, other nations will follow suit, and then Germany will have to leave the euro and maybe the EU to save itself from all the beggars and thieves .

Jim David Fort pierce 22 hours ago
I don't agree that the Greeks were any more profligate that England, Spain, Portugal, Italy....should I go on? What is different, is that the austerity imposed by the EU that was supposed to result in recovery during the Great Recession, quite simply didn't. Holding pensioners responsible is ridiculous. But that is what the EU did and continues to demand.

Carolyn Egeli is a trusted commenter Valley Lee, Md 1 day ago
" Like his friend, the tragedian Sophocles, he would not be surprised that the blindness and hubris that undid ancient Athens remain with us today, and that the noble and humanist aims that once animated the European project have given way to unbending technocratic impulses."
The neoliberal policies of globalism is what undid the Greeks. Do what we say and let us extort from you, or you will be punished with more suffering you can not presently imagine…some locals go along with it.

pjc Cleveland 17 hours ago
Much more apt would be a kind of postmodern retelling of the Trojan Horse episode.

For, what has happened is that under cover of the introduction of the Euro and economic union, cheats and speculators have gotten inside the gates -- both of Greece and all other states caught up in the great casino of modern state-backed financial industries.

And these cheats and speculators then crawled out, and have made bets everywhere and anyway, and now, alas, Greece may be lost. I'm sure the best cheats and speculators hedged it just fine.

Greece's only comfort is that this postmodern Trojan horse of the introduction of the Euro and economic union, was not controlled by any single state, but hid swindlers enough for all. Like locusts, they'll move on to the next state soon enough, where there will be hands aplenty, within and without, to leverage the next downfall.

I fear the entire modern financial system, is this Trojan horse.

Hayden White Santa Cruz, Ca 21 hours ago
To be pedantic, Thucycides was not a philosopher. He was a retired general who wrote a history of the war between Athens and Sparta.

Blue Not very blue 1 day ago
They made Thucydides unavoidable reading at the university I attended and I was lucky enough to get one of the most revered teachers for it. I consider the class one of the two most valuable of my entire college experience. I will never forget his characterization: not dog eat dog, the world is more cat eat cat. At bottom, most people want to believe they are dogs, but in reality, their lesser sides show them to be indeed cats, nice when they have what they want, sociopaths when they don't. I went out and got a cat as soon as I could to learn and understand it's nature and in so doing, much of the problems facing the world at the same time.

aaarland newport, ri 1 day ago
I suggest that the writer should complete his research into why the EU was formed. He may find that his premise is incorrect. The EU is primarily an economic union.

paultuae UAE 17 hours ago
Things stay the same until they don't.

A great weakness of the modern era is the failure to distinguish between artificial/contingent/human-constructed arrangements which have become customary, and those which are truly natural and not dependent on human infusions of purposive time and energy.

The fact is that, regardless of how much Greece and Greeks have become accustomed to living at a particular consumptive level (money, energy, modern technological goods, services, etc.) that outlay which was their "natural state" in 2007 was not natural at all. It was artificial, and therefore temporary. There was simply insufficient correlation between the kind of living going on and the state of the state into which this all was pouring unimpeded.

Greece is not, nor has it yet been a modern state. It is not particularly productive (beyond tourism), nor has it developed the trappings of a modern society. These would be a highly educated and productive population with skills and innovative ideas/products to offer in the global marketplace, and a transparent system of laws and taxation that are administered consistently and predictably.

Economic growth can be manufactured out of "jiggery pokery" for only so long until bills come due. They are now due.

Oh, and by the way, such artificial, temporary and non-correlative states of consumption and productivity/discipline/clear-eyed pragmatic problem solving are not a problem unique to Greece.

Greece Wanted to Reframe Europe’s Austerity Debate. It Failed.

Zoom out a bit from the gushing river of breaking news about Greece’s fiscal future, and here’s the big picture of what looks to have happened in Athens on Wednesday.

Alexis Tsipras, the Greek prime minister, has spent the last six months, since his left-wing Syriza party came to power, trying to shift the entire political framework of his country’s bailout negotiations. That effort has failed. By indicating that his government could accept much of what Greece’s creditors demanded as conditions for a bailout extension late last week, Mr. Tsipras seems to have finally acknowledged this inability to reset the terms of debate over austerity and democracy in Europe.

For five years, the simple trade-off offered by the richer European countries and the European Central Bank has been this: If Greece accepts massive austerity — like pension cuts and layoffs of government employees — it can remain in the eurozone with the help of bailouts, with central bank credit extended to Greek banks, and so on. Austerity was the price to be paid for keeping the monetary stability created by the euro currency.

Mr. Tsipras believes — and plenty of American and British economists are sympathetic to this view — that this trade-off was driven by bad economics and had disastrous human consequences. Austerity without debt write-downs created a depression, making the debt burden even harder to handle.

So instead of accepting the basic trade-off that creditors have been offering Greece for five years, with those disastrous results, Mr. Tsipras has tried to create an environment in which European leaders would have to rethink their understanding of the proper trade-offs for Greece.

That’s why you have things like this opinion article Mr. Tsipras wrote for The Irish Times in January. Or this article by Mr. Tsipras in the French newspaper Le Monde last month, arguing that “the issue of Greece does not only concern Greece; rather, it is the very epicenter of conflict between two diametrically opposing strategies concerning the future of European unification.”

Why would a Greek politician with countless problems on the domestic front bother writing op-eds for newspapers in Ireland or France? Both articles, and many more public and private efforts by Mr. Tsipras and his allies, have been part of a concerted effort to persuade other countries to join a coalition to reject the German-led focus on austerity above all else.

But the effort has failed. The deal on offer from creditors late last week, before the Greek government walked away from negotiations and called a referendum, fit the same basic framework of trading austerity for bailouts of earlier deals, even if it made some adjustments around the edges to lessen some of the pain.

The Greek government was surely hoping that by walking away and calling a referendum, the creditors would rethink their intransigence, fearful of the economic and geopolitical consequences of letting Greece leave the eurozone. If anything, it pushed Germany and France, as well as Spain and Italy, closer together, full of exasperation with the Greeks’ negotiating style and aggressive demands.
What Key Players Are Saying About the Greek Crisis

International responses to the latest Greek proposal to resolve its financial crisis ranged from cautious to dismissive.

For the clearest example of how deeply this strategy has failed, consider comments published Tuesday by the Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi, who would seem to be a prime target to reshift the framework of Europe’s negotiations along Greek-favored lines.

“The point is that Greece may get different conditions, but it has to abide by the rules,” Mr. Renzi told Il Sole 24 Ore, according to a BBC translation. “It’s not the case that we have taken early retirement pensions away from the people of Italy just to allow the Greeks to have them! We have brought in labor reform, but it is not the case that, with our money, a number of Greek shipowners can continue not to pay taxes. I could go on.”

Mr. Renzi fretted over the precedents if there were a radical rethinking of Greece’s deal: “If there is a mass get-out clause over the rules, what will happen in Spain in October? And in France in a year and a half? It is one thing to ask for flexibility amid abidance by the rules. It is another thing to think that one is the craftiest of them all, in other words to be the one that does not abide by the rules. We want to save Greece. But the people of Greece also have to want that.”

Mr. Tsipras was hoping that the threat of a Greek exit would get Europe to blink. The opposite seemed to happen.

Against that backdrop, his choices were limited. He could either reopen the negotiations within the basic framework the creditors demanded, or face being the prime minister who drove Greece away from Europe, losing his own job, or both.

He chose the former. But with the country already having missed a debt payment to the International Monetary Fund and events unfolding quickly and unpredictably, the question now is whether he was too late

Zola San Diego 19 hours ago
I am surprised and disappointed by many of the comments here, supposedly left by American readers. They echo the talking points that we have all had to endure for years from the Germans and others in Europe who are in thrall to them.

I have simple news for folks: If you practice "austerity" during a time of general recession, you will produce a Depression. Every time. Ask Herbert Hoover, who practiced austerity after the recession of the post-1929 era and thereby engineered a Great Depression of historic proportions. By "austerity" I mean any combination of tax increases and/or public spending cuts.

The central economic problem in the EU is not public debt or budget deficits. It is a lack of demand for goods and services, which has induced a self-reinforcing downward spiral. Households cannot afford to place orders, and businesses therefore lack them. These businesses therefore do not hire more people or invest in their production, but rather lay off people and produce less. Households have ever less money and purchase ever less. And so on and so forth. The only way out is to have a massive infusion of public investment to spur demand and initiate a self-reinforcing cycle in the opposite direction. The best kind of public spending is long-term spending on infrastructure and long-term public works that improve society.

Only afterwards can you address public debt and deficits - that is, only after the public spending has led to a sustained, self-reinforcing recovery.

Paul Long island 19 hours ago
Why blame Greece as the cause of the "failure'? From my perspective and that of most economists, Greece has played by the austerity rules for five years and their economy has shrunk by 25 percent to Great Depression levels with over 60 percent of young people unemployed. That is what brought Syriza and Mr. Tsipras to power. Despite repeated attempts to negotiate the debt, the Europeans led by Germany have not made any significant concessions or even been willing to face the failure of the austerity policy. Now, it seems clear that the German-dominated E.U. has decided to squeeze Greece hard this week with the hopes that it will lead to a "yes" vote to stay with the harsh austerity program and simultaneously force Mr. Tsipras and his party out of power. It's just the latest disgusting example of the willingness of the rich and powerful to destroy any challenge to their hegemony by the poor and helpless in a world awash in income inequality and victim-blame spin to support its callousness. My heart goes out to the people of Greece with the hopes that they can muster their ancient strength and bravery to defeat this modern threat to their existence.

Fred NY, NY 20 hours ago
So far, the 18 Eurozone countries have given Greece over $270 billion during the past five years. And yet, here we are, and once again Greece has no money and is broke.

There is now very little sympathy left for the Greeks in Europe. There are about a half a dozen countries in the Eurozone that have a lower standard of living and a higher retirement age than Greece. In addition, Ireland, Lithuania, Spain and Portugal are particularly wary of a debt deal because their citizens have already weathered years of reform and restructuring, and are making significant progress in becoming economically more competitive.

Just because the Greek government decides to have a snap referendum on Sunday, and tells its citizens to reject the bailout terms, doesn't mean that the rest of Europe will, ipso facto, suddenly agree to their demands. And, just as in Greece, the parliaments of a number of Eurozone countries will also first have to give their consent to any new debt deal.

As the president of Lithuania said the other day, the Greeks want to party and expect the Europeans to pay the bill. The question is, when will the party stop? When will the Greeks accept responsibility and finally begin the difficult task of reforming and restructuring their economy, and, hopefully, stop blaming others for their many selfinflicted wounds?

AgentG Austin,TX 21 hours ago
What is particularly tragic about Greece is that the common Greek person appears entirely oblvious, to this day, about the poor performance of the Greek government over the last decades. The same people who must carry the burden of the Greek default do not understand why it is happening. That shows that we have a very serious deficit of education and information about the basic facts of what governments to and about the actual internal state of Greek finances. There is no other conclusion than the Greeks have been lying to themselves and failing to openly inform the public about the government and the consequences of the poor financial management of Greece.

Michael Collins Oakland 20 hours ago
The Germans have posited, "why commit suicide because you are afraid of death". That's their terribly self centered point of view. For the Greeks, it's "Why take medicine that you are certain is going to kill you? Better to stop the medicine, perhaps you will recover without it.".

The Greeks have straightened out their financial house. Without debt service payments, their books are now balanced. They could make good on their debts if they had a plan to raise their employment numbers and provide enough hope to their young working classes to remain in Greece and keep up the worker to to retiree ratio. However, that would take dialog with their creditors.

It's hard to know what the Greeks will do at the polls. But several Nobel winning economists have written an open letter telling the Greeks that they have a brighter future outside the Euro.

And what will Germany and the rest of Europe do if the Greeks exit and end up in better shape 1 - 2 years from now? People predicted doom for Iceland .... but that turned out to be all wrong.

Germany and EU have maximum leverage now to get the best deal to recover as much money for Greece's creditors as possible. If Greece takes an exit and ends up in a better place, what will Germany and the EU do about Spain and Portugal and couple of other countries with unusually high sovereign debt? If the Greeks recover on their own, then Germany and EU will have far less leverage over Spain, Portugal and others.

uae Stanford, CA 13 hours ago
I know at this point that the NY Times is completely lost on the topic of Greece, but just for the record I'll try anyways.
THIS is NOT what happened: "Austerity was the price to be paid for keeping the monetary stability created by the euro currency."
Rather, what happened was that the EU tried to use the crisis to force Greece to reform its corrupt and inefficient ways, things like people retiring at 55, tax evasion as a national sport, 400 cleaning ladies for the finance ministry alone, the largest military per capita in all of NATO, an absurdly inefficient bureaucracy, and all of it financed by misdirected EU infrastructure funding and fraudulently obtained loans, billions and billions. The idea was that only under intense pressure could those ways be changed, even if some of the reforms would manifest as something looking like austerity.
Of course Greece did what it does best, faking most of the reforms, carrying out only the easy ones that would hurt only the little people, while taking the additional money, again billions and billions.
Nevertheless the Greek economy actually was improving -- until January, when Syriza came to power, which is clearly led by a bunch of complete sociopaths and habitual liars.
Keynes' method only works if a country actually has a working economy and administration. And devaluation of currency can indeed boost a country's trade -- but only if you actually have something to trade. Not the case for Greece on both counts.

William Benjamin Vancouver, BC 13 hours ago
Tsipras failed for three reasons. First was the belligerent style of Greece's negotiators, which all too frequently descended to ad hominem attacks, and provoked responses in kind. Second was the Greek government's entrapment in marxist ideology, which made reform, in their eyes, a matter of socking it to the rich, when Greece's problems are those of excessive entitlements and a failure by the citizenry as a whole to live up to its collective responsibilities. The third reason for failure is a combination of the first two. Greece's nemesis, Germany, is not a neo-liberal ogre. It is a welfare state that cares for the needs of workers, the old, families, and immigrants. But its people understand their responsibilities, and pull together to solve major socio-economic problems. The Germans would never have allowed themselves to get into the sort of mess that the Greeks have created, and justifiably view the Greeks as addicted to the free ride that EU membership has given them.

Left-wingers, among economists and the general public, confuse Greek malfeasance and Germany's hard-line with the easy-money-versus-austerity debate that has been going on in many countries for the past eight years. But Greece's is a case of being an errant child: not playing by basic rules or behaving civilly in its dealings with family. Tsipras needs to put his pride aside, make the reforms the EU requires, and ask in return for a good measure of debt forgiveness.

Steve CA 20 hours ago
Though Greece certainly bears blame for this situation, the problem was not just a matter of the country's profligate borrowing and spending. As in the US financial crisis, it was also a matter of big banks (many of them German) making irresponsible loans without paying attention to the risks involved. The banks have been bailed out by European public institutions even more than Greece has. This is one of the reasons why Stiglitz, Krugman and other leading economists have pointed out that the severe austerity imposed on Greece unjustly and counterproductively dooms the country to ongoing depression. And it raises the specter of resulting instability in Greece, which ironically could end up backfiring for Europe.

Again, I'm not absolving Greece or the way Tsipras has handled this mess. But the roots of the mess hinge as much on bailing out irresponsible banks as it does punishing the profligate.

Colorado Bob Boulder, CO 21 hours ago
If reports that the Greek negotiators are experts in game theory are true, then they must realize they badly miscalculated the resolve of their opponents. It appears that the Game of Chicken is over, and the Greek car has been totaled. The relatively short financial blip on Monday gives the Greeks no choice but the equivalent of unconditional surrender as lines of pensioners and other frightened voters grow outside of banks.

I feel very sorry for the Greek people who are going to suffer and had no culpability in this mess. When do the first humanitarian shipments of food and medicine arrive?

Deontae Fla 20 hours ago @ Colorado Bob
The Greek people have plenty of responsibility. Over the years they have voted in governments which have given them a large government of well paid functionaries, early retirement, easy evasion of taxes etc. Then after the crisis, just as the economy had started to recover and GDP had finally turned positive in 2014 , they doubled down in the face of the austerity and voted for the Syriza party who have driven their economy into total ruin.

Westside Guy L.A. 18 hours ago
Just to put this into very basic terms. Greece cannot repay their loans. Any talk of restructuring is just fancy. The only way out is for the E.U. ( read Germany ) to write the loans off.

However, a large portion of this debt is owned by State Banks and some of them may fail if they have to write them off. Greece is in an impossible situation but one of their own making. You cannot expect Germans who pay their taxes and live responsibly to pay for the years of Greek malfeasance.

Yes there will be a terrible price to paid by he Greek people but they voted in the politicians who did this, and it's been 20 years in the making. Everyone knew 10-15 years ago that their pension numbers didn't pencil out, but so corrupt is the Greek political system that they kicked the can down the road to here. Everyone knew that the well off didn't pay income taxes. That was for suckers.
Well suckers, here you are. You cannot expect the E.U. to just write these debts off, regardless of how "rich" Germany is.

It is a disaster to be sure. But it is a home made disaster and the Greek people are going to have to tear their world apart to cope with it. My heart goes out to them.

AB Eugene 19 hours ago
Tsipras has led his country to an impossible position. The human cost will be --is-- terrible, with pensioners having limited access to their pensions, hospitals running out of medicines and so on.
The blame rests, more than on anything, on the Greek government. Six months ago there was a broad understanding from Renzi, Hollande and others that the EU needed to adopt more flexible rules and that austerity needed to be counterbalanced with procyclical measures. Tsipras had the unique opportunity to join that coalition and move towards a redirection of the EU economic agenda away from from austerity. But his government chose open warfare instead, making requests that amounted to "we Greeks win, rest of EU lose" that were frankly not acceptable to Germany, or Italy and France. That forced Renzi and Hollande to close ranks with Merkel, and so here we are.
The Greek economy was on the mend 6 months ago and now on in the beginning of absolute disaster. Thank you Tsipras, and thanks to the senseless arrogance of his hapless and disastrous government.

Matthew Auckland 18 hours ago
Greece used just about all the additional monies provided to it over the last few years to continue to pay down it's existing debt - back to the guys who lent it to them. Only ~10% was used in it's own economy, principally to pay pensions. The 'huge sums' it's received haven't been squandered recently by the Greeks at all - quite the opposite in fact.

Also, don't be so sure that Tsipras' last 2 engagements with lenders were an illustration of him blinking first... others might argue that he's simply positioning himself as 'the guy who's willing to compromise' prior to the referendum, thereby bringing swing voters over into his camp vs the inflexible Masters of the Universe. Several commentators have called out his reputation for 'sang froid' in moments of pressure.

Still a heap of twists & turns in this one.

Lee Harrison Albany 18 hours ago
The fundamental problem Greece has is simple: clientelism and the rich don't pay taxes. Those two go together.

Excessive pensions have been cut back, and probably could be cut back more if that were the only issue; but it's not.

Neither the old government nor Syriza has the power to end the clientelism and collect taxes. The rich got most of their fungible wealth out of Greece -- what remains is mostly real estate.

The total property value of Greek real-estate in private hands is about 1 Trillion Euros -- about 3 times the Greek debt. So in theory the Greeks could pay their debt, though heavy taxes on real-estate (which would force much of it to be sold). That would hit the rich hardest, but do very serious widespread harm -- no government has ever actually done such a thing.

But would it be worse than the default? I don't think so. And it would not directly hurt the poor.

But the rich will have nothing of it ... the reality is that they like default better.

PeterE Oakland,Ca 20 hours ago
You write, "For five years, the simple trade-off offered by the richer European countries and the European Central Bank has been this: If Greece accepts massive austerity — like pension cuts and layoffs of government employees — it can remain in the eurozone with the help of bailouts, with central bank credit extended to Greek banks, and so on."

Why do you think the austerity demanded are "massive"? I've looked at the recent proposals. The Europeans seem to demand austerity, but nothing massive. The requirements may even be indulgent compared to demands made on other European countries.

NY Prof Emeritus New York City 15 hours ago
Please - let's at least put to rest the canard that there is any imposition of "austerity" in the Greece economy.

The Greek national government is spending 59 cents over every dollar of GDP.


Matt Sage Portland, OR 19 hours ago
Nearly all of that $270 billion (if that's the right number) has been used to bail out the Financial institutions that made foolish loans to a corrupt government and oligarchy. It has not gone to ordinary Greeks. And now, why are the taxpayers of other European countries holding that debt? They are not the ones who made those failed loans. The Loans were made by supposedly sophisticated players who did so to make a profit. Let's hope that they did not keep sending good money after bad because they knew that: Heads, they make a lot of money; Tails, they don't make so much money but their friends in politics make sure the taxpayers bail them out and therefore, they really can't lose.

Independent Scarsdale, NY 21 hours ago
Tsipras called for a populist referendum on himself and now realizes he has a good chance of losing and will be forced to resign. If I were a Greek citizen, I would frame the referendum as follows: "Do I want this guy negotiating for me?". In my view, the answer to that question is: "OXI". He has done incalculable damage to his country and appears to now be scrambling to remain in power.

Baron95 Westport, CT 10 hours ago
The Troika's bailout included some austerity and many, many reforms.

Greece has refused for five years to implement any meaningful reforms.

What happened to the requirement to privatize many state owned enterprises? Went nowhere.

What happened to raising the retirement age (including eliminating early retirement) to say the German standard? Went nowhere. Greece is still debating if the pension reforms should start in 2017 or 2020!!!

Where would debt/GDP be with lots of privatizations and a sure elimination of early retirement all the way back in 2010?

If Greece does not want austerity and it does not want reform that is totally fine - it is their right. But it is also the right of the other 18 Eurozone nations to stop pouring money down that rat hole.

AchillesMJB NYC, NY 17 hours ago
I wonder how Germany would've fared after WWII without massive reconstruction loans from the U.S. that were ultimately forgiven? A war that Germany started. It seems to me that the debts cannot be repaid without destroying the economy even more. I agree with the NYTimes; rip up the I.O.U's. I am disappointed that Tsipras didn't push to separate Greece from the Euro much earlier. The sooner the Greeks get control of their own currency the sooner they will be able to begin their recovery even if it means more hardship in the short run. If Greece accedes to the creditor demands it will mean much more hardship in the short and the long run.

Bobby G. Chicago 16 hours ago @AchillesMJB
Actually, the money sent to Europe as part of the Marshall Plan, about $13 billion [or about $240 billion in today's money] was a loan, not a gift or a grant. And it eventually was all paid back, with moderate interest. The U.S. demanded, as part of the Plan, that the money be used as part of a Europe-wide plan to restart the European economies after the war, instead of on a country-by-country basis. This was radical, and it worked, and became the seed from which the Common Market and then the E.U. grew. The lesson then for all of Europe, and for Greece now, is that small countries are not economically viable in the modern, globalized world, and that only huge internal markets [e.g., the U.S., the E.U., China] can sustain a modern economy. Britain, post-empire, would be smart to heed the lesson. It is certainly true that fanatic austerity, as Paul Krugman has often noted, is sometimes worse than the condition it is supposed to address, and results in a lot of personal hardship. However, countries, like people, cannot go on borrowing forever and pushing their debts onto other countries or future generations. When the Greeks start paying their taxes in full, and stop retiring on full pension at 55, then maybe the whole bailout/austerity/retrenchment process can work.

van schayk santa fe, nm 17 hours ago
The most damming deficit is one of trust. From the beginning the Greeks promised to reform their governance of the economy. Nothing was changed. The same cronyism, corruption and judicial dysfunction. Germans and others felt that they had to "hold their feet to the fire" to get results. No doubt mistakes were made by all, but the fundamental impediment is Greece's unwillingness to change the way it does business.

Richard Huber New York 17 hours ago
It seems to me that the word “austerity” is badly used. What the serious members of the EU are asking of Greece is a series of reforms, which almost all of them have already put into place, to make their economy more efficient, to attract investment & create jobs. Is that austerity?

Oh yes, and as Italian PM Renzi says, it also includes actually collecting taxes! It includes reforms of the grossly inflated public sector & adjusting pension benefits to be more in line with those employed by the solvent countries of the EU.

24b4Jeff Expat 5 hours ago
To paraphrase Mark Twain, the rumors of the European Union's demise are exaggerated. Alarmists tend to discount Greece's stature in the EU's overall economy. Fer instance: In 2008 the Geek GDP was 181 billion Euros, while Spain's was 904 billion, Italy's was 1,417 billion, France's was 1,710 billion, and Germany's was 2,247 billion. Greece's economy is thus seen as comprising less than 3% of that of the four largest Eurozone countries, and less than 2% of the Eurozone as a whole. Does anyone honestly think that a catastrophe would result from a Grexit?

One of the great mistakes made in this crisis was letting Greece into the Euro Zone in the first place. It was due to a combination of factors, including the hiring of Goldman Sachs by the existing Greek government to help them cook their books and the irrational desire of other European leaders to expand the Euro Zone, even to the extent of failing to do due diligence in assessing the Greek economy. But unlike the American banksters, the other EU countries will pay for their mistake via the unpaid loans to Greece.

paddy19 Ireland 5 hours ago
What a mess the 3 naked emperors (IMF/EU/ECB) have made of this problem.

They have put the whole EU project a risk for a country of 11 Million people with 1.3% of the EU GDP.


Because they wanted to protect the wealthy from higher takes and impose a high sales tax (VAT) on the poor.

This was not an economic argument it was battle to impose the same old neo liberal market baloney.

PQuincy is a trusted commenter California 3 hours ago
Greece _is_ bankrupt. The corruptocracy in Athens colluded with German finance minsters, Goldman Sachs, and other criminals to borrow vast sums from German banks to buy German goods financed by German banks for export to Greece. When the financial crisis in 2008 ended that merry profit circle, the EU and IMP "loaned" vast additional sums to Greece (with, in fairness, some write downs and interest reductions) to pay off the German banks, which loaded up the Greek government with even more debt.

The Greek economy can't possibly generate enough funds to pay off this burden. In fact, the Greek government is currently running a surplus (except for debt repayment), squeezed out of a Greek economy that has shrunk 25% because of 'austerity'. More 'austerity' means more shrinkage, as long as the Greeks are stuck with using overvalued Euros. The issues of tax collection and pensions, etc., are a sideshow being promoted by politicians: the cuts the "Europeans" are demanding would make a negligible difference in Greece's ability to pay its debt -- bankrupt is bankrupt, already, and the debt is beyond payment. Of course, admitting that would mean the ECB and IMF admitting they made bad loans (to rescue bad German banks), so Greeks must suffer to save the ECB/IMF's face.

Tapokata Sacramento, CA 5 hours ago
None of the loan packages made to date were interest-free. The fees and interest is part of the risk and reward in lending. But the lenders are adamant that Greece guarantee and thus socialize their risk, while their rewards are all privatized. Nice work if you can get it.

Richard Heckmann Bellingham MA 02019 5 hours ago
Greece is definitely a disaster. The expectations of the population are way beyond their means. However, remember that it was the financial markets that allowed them to operate with two sets of books. They deserve be highlighted in BOLD PRINT when discussing this entire fiasco.
I truly feel sorry for the average Greek who has been hoodwinked by politicians and financiers.

Charlie B USA 4 hours ago
I can remember when we were told that it was the Greeks who know the secret of the good life, singing, dancing, and sipping ouzo while the rest of us foolishly pursued money and success.

It was always an exaggerated stereotype, and yet it turns out they really weren't working much, and didn't bother paying taxes, and now they're looking to be rescued once again by their less laid back European cousins. My sympathy for their plight is limited.

Yang Dallas 6 hours ago
Without reform measures, whether exiting EU or not, Greece will not grow again. If anyone looks back to the time before EU was formed, Greece was in a much worse situation than today. It is delusional to think that Greece or Greek politics will change just because it decided to not pay its debt.

Thos Gryphon Seattle 4 hours ago
I love the Greek people and I certainly wish the best for them. However, when I was there a few years ago, I was shocked by the amount of tax cheating. If I paid for gas in cash and didn't ask for a receipt, the owner would pocket the gas tax money instead of paying the government. It's been said that if Greece collected all the tax revenue that should be levied, they could go a long way to paying off these loans. So I understand the frustrations of other EU citizens who pay their taxes subsidizing a culture that seems to honor tax evasion.

muezzin Vernal, UT 5 hours ago
The most remarkable issue here is the cognitive dissonance: Greeks and their creditors do not even appear to speak the same language. Europeans want milestones, guarantees, efficacy and credibility. Once bitten, twice shy.

Greeks are all emotion - lamenting the hardship, pain and bleakness of their predicament but apparently utterly resistant to major structural reorganization. Two make a deal, they must first find a common language.

David San Francisco, Calif. 4 hours ago
Since fiscal austerity was imposed on Greece, their fiscal budget has gone into surplus but their economy has declined by 25% from 2007 and unemployment remains nearly 26%.

They are living through a Depression as Great as we experienced in the 1920s and 30s.

What does an economic union mean if members don't help other members in times of need?

FDR and Keynes realized that the proper response to an economic depression is fiscal stimulus to offset the drop in demand. This limits economic destruction, loss of human capital and human misery.

After World War I, the victorious Allied forces imposed reparations on Germany that were impossible for the devestated economy to meet during the time scale given.

The economic devastation wrought by such impossible reparations caused much human misery and led directly to the rise of Hitler.

After World War II the Allied forces provided economic assistance to help the Germans and the rest of Europe recover, rather than demands for reparations.

As a result, Germany was able to repay the reparations many decades later from the strength of the economy.

Those who do not learn from their history are doomed to repeat it.

Ernesto New York City 3 hours ago
Indeed, there is no happy ending to this tragedy. I agree that this crisis – together with those in Spain, Italy, and Portugal – shows the soft (fragile) underbelly of the European compact, which is based on an extremely wordy constitution that is hardly helpful in circumstances like this.

In a true federal system, the government cannot let a state fail, nor can it stop a specific state’s citizens from withdrawing their money from the banks. Germany and its partners are acting like de-facto feds with a gripe, more eager to teach the Greeks a lesson than to heal an already fragile union. Would Berlin let Bavaria or Saxony fail and fall prey to chaos? So why put the banks' interests ahead of the common good and let Greece collapse? What kind of union is that? Clearly not the type of ‘in sickness and in health.’

European leaders should ask themselves if they can afford let another European nation fail? They have, even in the recent past, when they stood by and let the Balkans go down the toilet while we witnessed yet another genocide take place. It may be a lesson too costly to learn--and unnecessary.

Peter Zimmermann St. Louis, MO 3 hours ago
As long as the Greek government allowed and still allows a huge shadow economy that does not pay taxes, allows capital to flee the country and expects the more disciplined Eurozone governments to bail them out repeatedly they shouldn't complain when their creditors pull the plug.

spindizzy San Jose 4 hours ago
"It’s fine to play the blame game over how public debt got out of control in the country, but by the time 2010 came around what was done was done, and the human consequences of austerity have been grave."

But it's not fine to ignore the fact that the Greeks lied their way into the ECM, and then, after getting not one but two bailouts, have done very little to fix their broken practices.

They haven't collected taxes, or slimmed down their bloated bureaucracy, have they?

CL Paris 5 hours ago
Depressed wages, impoverishment of the elderly and increased VAT will make young entrepreneurs return to Greece?

Mercantilist economic policies and the purchase by the Eurozone of Deutsche Bank and Société Genérale bad investments in Greece are the cause of this latest crisis, not some imagined south European laziness. If the EU falls apart, will it be the fault of the Greeks?

Margaret New York 4 hours ago
Mr. Irwin writes: "The Greek government apparently agrees that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again."

The correct conclusion is that giving money to the Greeks over and over again is insanity and Europe finally realized it.

The Greeks have refused to make the basic changes that are necessary to transform themselves into a modern First World country. Tax evasion is the national pastime, their bloated government bureaucracies are sclerotic, etc. etc. The Greek people thought they could merrily roll on, charging the costs of their failed economy to the European Union's credit card without doing anything to fix the rot at the core of their government. And when they were told they could no longer do so, they behaved like spoiled brats, calling the other European countries names, making threats, and refusing to acknowledge any responsibility for the mess they were in.

The European Union will be stronger, not weaker, after Greece leaves. As a country, they are an embarrassment.

CC Europe June 29, 2015
Goldman Sachs actively worked to conceal the magnitude of Greece's debt, cooking their books, to get them into the Euro. They deceived regulators and investors. Why isn't Goldman at least partially responsible for this crisis? Why can't Goldman contribute some of their billions to rectify damage they have caused? Why should elderly Greek pensioners dig through trash cans for food while the bankers at Goldman live like kings? This is simply outrageous.

Yoandel Boston, Mass. June 28, 2015
The momentous decision came for Merkel and the ECB, and apparently they failed. An European *Union* demands that poorer areas be supported by the wealthier areas no matter how distasteful --for political reasons. And for economic reasons because the poorer European states, even if not as wealthy, are Germany's best consumers of goods.

If Merkel wants an European *Union* she needs to bite the bullet and wipe about 80% of Greece's debt by accepting that these new amounts of Euros, printed by the ECB, will not be repaid --and let Greece have a chance at recovery. That is how all great countries work. The US coasts subsidized the Midwest, and the industrial areas of China do the same. So does Russia. And India, Mexico, and Brazil, and even in Germany's provinces. It is a dictum that in a real union, the wealthier areas subsidize and spur growth in the underdeveloped areas. It makes sense politically as this creates a more perfect union, and it makes sense economically as a growing satellite economy is the best customer non pareil.

RoughAcres New York June 28, 2015
A few financial institutions nearly brought the entire world to its knees...
yet they still go unpunished, and unchastened, and even emboldened.

The Greeks listened to a few of them, placed their bets without knowing the house had already rigged the wheel... and lost big. As did millions of other people in dozens of other countries.

Now the Powers That Be have decided... what? To teach the world's people a lesson? That one cannot ever expect fairness, and these companies will now bring an entire country to its knees, and beggar its people?

The Greeks are right to VOTE for their position on this. And it's a wise ruler who will allow his people to stand UP, speak OUT, and REPRESENT as citizens of ancient Athens would have done.

Remember... we don't "need" them; they desperately need us. We buy their things, we pay their fees, we pay their salaries, we buy their penthouses, we pay for their lobster lunches and their private jets. Without us... they have nothing.

Neighbor can always borrow from neighbor; business can always barter with business and customers; we do not need these thugs at the top who insist it's "their way or the highway" - and it's time for a new global paradigm all around: financial, use of resources; healthcare; and a voice in our future. The People of Earth.

Like the Greeks, who will be VOTING, thanks to their leader's faith in democracy.


  1. Sper ca cititorii vor observa dialogul si calitatea argumentelor. 
  2. Nu stiu daca aceasta cacofonie, reflectata de comentariile de mai sus, s-ar transpune numaidecat intr-un vot al carui rezultat pe ansamblu sa fie mai ...grozav decat decizia unui grup de experti/meritocrati.   So much for the wisdom of the crowds!  Mai cu seama can e vorba de teme relativ curente, intens mediatizate si incadrate in termeni emotionali/morali etc.  Pana cand se desteapta multumile, elita schimba paradigma de extractie.
  3. Grecia e un experiment de laborator, ordinea mondiala postbelica e pusa la incercare de focuri incrucisate care vin in principal din geo/politic si abia apoi din economic.  De fapt, economicul aplicat la Grecia este praf in ochi, acolo nu exista si nu pare ca ar fi existat vreodata un caz economic.  Cei care aplica principii morale sunt niste vai mama lor!
  4. Relevanta cazului grec pentru Romania, am mai scris-o, este ca grecii nu vor sa devina ca romanii, vanduti pe vecie pentru dorinta liderilor lor de a fi in aceeasi cabala cu elitele vestice.  Imaginea lui Ceausescu in caleasca regala britanica ar trebui sa fi fost o lectie demult invatata.  Doar ca romanii, rapizi din fire, cred de fiecare data ca istoria incepe cu ei.
  5. Nu cred ca grecii vor reusi mare scofala, dar vor testa si arata cu siguranta parametrii timpurilor noi.  Tarisoarele astea prin Balcani au fost creatia marilor puteri prin care acestea din urma bagau bete prin gard.  Asa au si ramas, soarta unui Nagy/Ceausescu/Milosovic arata limitele suveranitatii etc.
  6. Ungurii de acum, ca si cei din 1956, testeaza si ei limitele sistemului.  Romanii de acum, ca si cei din anii 1950, isi dau in cap unul altuia pentru a castiga concursul celei mai proaste slugi hoate.  
  7. Cei la putere in Grecia de acum fac ce trebuia sa faca Ceausescu la inceputul anilor 1980.  Ceausescu s-a mai dat de-a presedintele 10 ani, timp care n-a folosit cuiva.

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