Thursday , August 24 2017
Home / News / Economy / Lagarde to Impoverished Greeks: “Pay your Taxes” – “African Children Have My Sympathy”

Lagarde to Impoverished Greeks: “Pay your Taxes” – “African Children Have My Sympathy”

 Head of International Monetary Fund Christine Lagarde gave a “heartbreaking” interview to British daily The Guardian. The compassionate ,  Madame Lagarde assures she keeps “thinking all of the time of the little children in Africa” saying they “need more help than the [impoverished] children of Athens.”

Lagarde Carrying IMF aid to Africa

If Greek children suffer from spending cuts, their “parents have to pay their taxes”. In Lagarde’s mind those impoverished Greeks deprived from public services and serial tax-evaders are to put on the same level.

Mothers unable to get access to midwives? Patients unable to obtain life-saving drugs? She says she thinks “equally” about Greeks deprived of public services and Greek citizens not paying their tax.

The International Monetary Fund has ratcheted up the pressure on crisis-hit Greece after its managing director, Christine Lagarde, said she has more sympathy for children deprived of decent schooling in sub-Saharan Africa than for many of those facing poverty in Athens.

In an uncompromising interview with the Guardian, Lagarde insists it is payback time for Greece and makes it clear that the IMF has no intention of softening the terms of the country’s austerity package.

Using some of the bluntest language of the two-and-a-half-year debt crisis, she says Greek parents have to take responsibility if their children are being affected by spending cuts. “Parents have to pay their tax,” she says.

Greece, which has seen its economy shrink by a fifth since the recession began, has been told to cut wages, pensions and public spending in return for financial help from the IMF, the European Union and the European Central Bank.

Asked whether she is able to block out of her mind the mothers unable to get access to midwives or patients unable to obtain life-saving drugs, Lagarde replies: “I think more of the little kids from a school in a little village in Niger who get teaching two hours a day, sharing one chair for three of them, and who are very keen to get an education. I have them in my mind all the time. Because I think they need even more help than the people in Athens.”

Lagarde, predicting that the debt crisis has yet to run its course, adds: “Do you know what? As far as Athens is concerned, I also think about all those people who are trying to escape tax all the time. All these people in Greece who are trying to escape tax.” She says she thinks “equally” about Greeks deprived of public services and Greek citizens not paying their tax.

“I think they should also help themselves collectively.” Asked how, she replies: “By all paying their tax.”

Asked if she is essentially saying to the Greeks and others in Europe that they have had a nice time and it is now payback time, she responds: “That’s right.”

The intervention by Lagarde comes after the caretaker Greek government met to discuss a sharp fall in tax revenues – down by a third in a year.

In a self-deceiving, sunbed-ridden sociopath illusion that the IMF has the mission to help sub-Saharan African countries, Lagarde blames even the Greek low-incomers and pensioners, the jobless and the neo-poor for the situation of the country.

In her interview Lagarde says Greece is not getting softer treatment than a poor country in the developing world, and that the IMF does not find it harder to impose strong conditions on a rich nation.

“No, it’s not harder. No. Because it’s the mission of the fund, and it’s my job to say the truth, whoever it is across the table. And I tell you something: it’s sometimes harder to tell the government of low-income countries, where people live on $3,000, $4,000 or $5,000 per capita per year, to actually strengthen the budget and reduce the deficit. Because I know what it means in terms of welfare programmes and support for the poor. It has much bigger ramifications.” (Full interview and Guardian article HERE)

After two years of IMF programme in Greece, Christine Lagarde has apparently failed to get the main Greek reality: 

Lagarde Out of Africa

that only those earning least pay their taxes, while the economic elite and the ruling political class whistle indifferently and keep playing their petty games.

PS No sunbathy? Who wants “sympathy”? Greeks want social justice, Ma’am…

Check Also

UPS Schaeuble wants to allow EZ South to tap ESM for investment

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble was always against a common European debt, against Eurobonds and …

67 comments

  1. “When you comprehend this central fact you begin to understand what is currently playing out in Europe.The Euro was introduced for political rather than economic reasons. As explained by Connolly in his aforementioned book the elites in Brussels knew that this hastily executed plan towards monetary union would have catastrophic effects on certain member countries i.e. Greece, Portugal and Ireland. However, despite these reservations, the policy was actively planned and promoted. Thus the current “financial” crisis laying waste to Greece was utterly foreseen by Connolly in 1995 and therefore very preventable.Before our very eyes the needs of the people of Europe are being trampled upon in the lust to bring about soviet style centralization of the European market economy”.

    It’s been done deliberately. Your only hope is to leave the EU or become slaves to the European Project. The Greek people should follow the example of Iceland. Default on all your debts and rebuild your country.

  2. I’d respectfully disagree with your correlation of the 2008 economic crisis in Iceland with the ongoing economic crisis in Greece. There’re significant differences regarding the causes of the crises in Greece and in Iceland. The crisis in Iceland was resolved, 1)Through a government take over of the domestic operations of it’s three largest banks, while their foreign operations went in to receivership. 2) The government of Iceland received loans from the IMF and agreed to implement austerity measures and tax hikes, to downside the domestic banking system and to enact capital controls.

    I’d also respectfully disagree that the solution for Greece is to exit the EU. In my humble opinion such a move would inevitably lead to an uncontrolled default of the Greek economy resulting in calamitous consequences on the living conditions of the Greek people.

  3. “Your only hope is to leave the EU or become slaves to the European Project” That,I think, would be a very bad mistake. Greece as a nation and Greeks as a people have a choice. It’s going to hurt either way, but at least, the choice is there. Greece can, as you suggest, leave the Euro and the EU and suffer alone, probably ending up as some protectorate for Germany with a good supply of cheap labour for German employers to exploit and drive down German wages even further (Germany is the only EU country that does not have aminimum wage!), or Greece can opt to stay in the EU and the Euro zone, and fight for social justice from within the system. And that is precisely what the EU,IMf,ECB are so afraid of. They can’t “excommunicate” us, despite all the threats. They can, and will make life difficult, and it will hurt, that we know too. But if we fight from within, we can use our “debt” as a weapon to help us instead of simply being beaten over the head with it time and time again. Because if WE decide to leave, the EU is in for one major shock, and not only financial. If we fight for social justice from within, I would bet my last € that it would not take too long before we have the Spanish, Portuguese, Irish, Italians and quite possibly French fighting with us. Now THAT would cause some panic in Brussels/Berlin alright…

  4. Lagarde’s views may be cynical, but the facts are on her side. Of course, woth the much money that is used to “save” Greeks, much more people could be saved from very real starvation in much poorer African countries. Face it, the average income in Greece is still high, higher than in other EU nations like Slovakia. And still, the financially resposnible Slovakkians are asked to help bail you out. in Greece, “the money is there”, it’s just that the totally screwed up system can’t manage to distribute the wealth in a fair way that ensures a minimum standard of living for everybody, including the children. So, Lagarde is right, the Greeks should do more to “help themselves collectively”. sorry, but shrugging shoulders, and pretending the conditions can’t be changed, won’t make you popular in the rest of the world.

  5. From the NYT article you linked in the Tsoshatzopuolos story, kt:
    “Some supporters have sent him gourmet products from Crete while in detention, news media outlets there reported.”
    Any you folks expect the rest of the world to feed your children? If you want social justice, it’s your job in the first place to fight for it! Thew reality simply is, too many in Greece don’t want the corrupt system to change, they want to live the high life with money from abroad. You poeple can’t expect the rest of the world to show much sympathy for that stance. It’s your country, not ours, and it’s you, the citizens and voters who are responsible for what’s happening there.

  6. Right, Nicholas. The situation in Iceland was quite different from that in Greece and it still is. The idea that the same solution could apply to both countries is simply naive. I’m well aware that Krugman stll prentends there’s a similarity, but that’s kust spin. People should ask him for details instead of mindlessly cheering even the weakest arguments he brings forth. The vikings are benefitting from their high education standard, a comparatively sound economy, natural riches (energy for free!) and last but not least the very small population number of their nation, which enables them to get away with decisions that wouldn’t be tolerated for larger nations (btw, they still may lose in the EU court and face bitter consequences). Also, let’s not forget that Greeks don’t malke any debt payments right now, neither (essentially, the troika pays the creditors) and still can’t manage to get their finances balanced, unlike the Vikings. No, Greece can’t copy Iceland’s way out of the crisis, that’s simply wishful thinking.

  7. “They can’t “excommunicate” us, despite all the threats. They can, and will make life difficult, and it will hurt, that we know too.”
    They can stop the rescue plan payments and force Greece into default. When that last source of Euros has dried up, the nation won’t have enough money to pay for its expenses anymore. Yes, that will make “life difficult”, and experience tells us that when the choice is between even harsher austerity or leaving the euro, Greek politicians, like always, will chose the easy way out – the Drachme and the printing press. And, sorry, Epiphelant, but you can’t use the debt as a weapon since your nations hasn’t paid anything back since the start of the crisis. The troika pays the interest rates right now, not you folks, and most credits have been written off in the books of the European banks. Remember that “haircut”?.
    So, no, you don’t have any political leverage inside the Eurozone. With a lot of understanding for your bad situation, but you people should really invest your energy into repairing your totally screwed up political and economical system instead of fighting windmills.

  8. Sure, except that Iceland has an abundance of natural resources and had a strong economy until it reformed its banks. Greece does not have natural resources and the economy has always been mismanaged. Greece’s only hope of not being relegated to a third world country was its induction into the EU. Now they have screwed that up too. Ah well, some people live very well in some African countries…

  9. keeptalkinggreece

    are you serious?

  10. I guess you are surprised by the outside believe “too many in Greece don’t want the corrupt system to change”.

    You clearly know more. I saw you said it before a lot of Greeks wanted reforms too.

    However the debates are drown by some simple sound bites and one rarely hear serious talks about reform. For example, should Greece simply cut its defense budget by 70%? Pass all the work to NATO.

    It helps if you can posts some debates inside Greece about reform.

  11. Former Greece-dweller

    Yep, that’s the too-difficult to grasp truth for the Greek people. Making the doctors pay their taxes would go a long way to making healthcare funding available for all children.

  12. I am really getting fed up of a German telling the Greek people what they should do, or even worse telling them what naughty children they have been.

    The Germans are not without blame, especially the businesses and government who have used Greece as a cash cow.

    Leave them alone, no-one is perfect, as Germany should now.

  13. “The troika pays the interest rates right now, not you folks, and most credits have been written off in the books of the European banks. Remember that “haircut”?”

    We do indeed. We also know that the pyments “on our behalf” cannot continue without causing serious problems to the Troika. In fact so much so serious problems that at last some of the big shots in the sickeningly corrupt, greedy financial world (which caused all of this in the first place) like Msr. Dallara now openly admit that a Greek default will not only cause the demise of the Euro, but will also cause untold economic problems for Europe and the rest of the world. And Dallara is not the only one of that opinion. The threats and bullying tactics employed by those in power in the EU and aimed at the Greeks are an obvious sing of not just the worry, but the panic that is gripping these people over the possibility that we might not vote “correctly”…

    And, by the way, it is not just “our” economic system that is totally screwed up”. The whole European economic system is screwed up. The only reason you don’t feel it (yet) is because your politicians have managed to get everybody else to pay for a bankdebt caused by, indeed, your banks. One of the clearest articles ever published outlining that fact is mentioned elsewhere on this blog. And one of your very own, government appointed economists (Mr. Sin if memory serves me right) pointed that very fact out to Frau Merkel and Co…

  14. Just like Mme Lagarde, you really do need your moral compass resetting, and fast…

  15. In short, there are 2 well known axioms in place here
    1) “Owe the bank 5,000€ and you have a problem. Owe the bank 500,000€ and they have a problem”
    2) “you can’t squeeze blood from a stone…”

  16. keeptalkinggreece

    I am surprised that even KTG-readers, who I modestly assume that they got a more thorough idea about what’s going on in this country, are victims of media populism. Picking the example of some Tsoch fans creates an idea about a whole country?

  17. Let’s put the cat amongst the pigeons here. The following is a quote from an article already flagged elsewhere on this blog. It comes from Bloomberg, a US based comapny specializing in analysis of finances and the financial world. Bloomberg is not exactly know for its leftist symphaties.
    Quote: “Let’s begin with the observation that irresponsible borrowers can’t exist without irresponsible lenders. Germany’s banks were Greece’s enablers. Thanks partly to lax regulation, German banks built up precarious exposures to Europe’s peripheral countries in the years before the crisis. By December 2009, according to the Bank for International Settlements, German banks had amassed claims of $704 billion on Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Spain, much more than the German banks’ aggregate capital. In other words, they lent more than they could afford.”
    further quote: “When the European Union and the European Central Bank stepped in to bail out the struggling countries, they made it possible for German banks to bring their money home. As a result, they bailed out Germany’s banks as well as the taxpayers who might otherwise have had to support those banks if the loans weren’t repaid. Unlike much of the aid provided to Greece, the support to Germany’s banks happened automatically…”

    I could keep on quoting, but if you really do want to know why the German banking system is at least co-responsible for the mess Europe is in, and how it abused its dominant position to pass the mess on to those least able to carry it, please go here http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-05-23/merkel-should-know-her-country-has-been-bailed-out-too.html. It’s quite enlighting, but I would bet not very pleasant reading for people who do not want to hear how their greedy banksters used our greedy banksters to create this mess in the first place. And now that the blame has been handed out, why not give those who want to sort it a chnace instead of insisting that those who caused it are the only ones who can fix it. This smacks very much of an urgent need for more safe-guards needed to try and stop the turning tide, threatening to expose the whole system for what it is, a huge big Ponzi scheme initiated by Germany’s financial hierarchy. It also smacks of a serious fear that some unwanted chickens might soon come home to roost…

  18. “In fact so much so serious problems that at last some of the big shots in the sickeningly corrupt, greedy financial world (which caused all of this in the first place) like Msr. Dallara now openly admit that a Greek default will not only cause the demise of the Euro, but will also cause untold economic problems for Europe and the rest of the world.”

    Better make your mind up. Either distrust corrupt and greedy financial pundits, or listen to their advice. Doing both is unreasonable, don’t you agree? Imho those who pretend a Grexit would be the end of Europe, as if it wouldn’t be cheaper to simply bail out those banks who get into problems, certainly are running some secret speculations behind the scenes and would say anything to ensure the profitable outcome of their bets.

    “it is not just “our” economic system that is totally screwed up”. The whole European economic system is screwed up.”

    Well, it would be more reasonable to ignore the specks in your neighbors’ eyes and focus on the big, painful log in your own one, really.

  19. Yeah, I know we Germans can be annoying. But that doesn’t say we’re necessarily wrong. And the best way to stop criticism is to get the reform work done. The troika won’t complain much if you do that your own way as long as you succeed. Throw corrupt officials into jail, fire the lazy bums, hire young qualified professionals who are willing to work, overhaul the legal system, pass reasonable regulations, eliminate outdated and ambigious rules, implement a reasonable tax system, enforce the law. It’s a lot of work but it ain’t rocket science.

    It only depends on the will to change the country. But where is it? The parties are talking all the time about their stance towards the troika and the Euro, but where are their reform plans? It looks as if nobody really wants to touch the hot irons and gladly leaves that to the troika instead. Three years wasted and still no real progress! Thus, the criticism. It’s well deserved.

  20. Sure, kt. I’m seriously disappointed about the lack of progress in Greece and the high amount of delusions about allegedly being able to blackmail European neighbors into sending more money (some of you Greek folks sound like gangsters, not responsible citizens). Lots of energy spend on fighting windmills, not nearly enough on dealing with the very real problems of the country. Hardly any progress on any front, but lots of excuses and even complaints. Do you think that’s a satisfying state of affairs, or why are you surprised about my bad mood?

    Btw, as a rule of thumb: When I’m joking I show that by using those funny smilies! -> 🙂

  21. That Cohan guy at Bloomberg will write whatever propaganda Wall Street speculants whisper into his ear. Most of it is crap.

  22. You just don’t get it do you? In the land of the blind one-eye is king.
    I have no idea how you come to the conclusion that we would be both trying to listen to the advise of a bunch of corrupt egotistics and not listen to them. I would have thought is was very clear, enough is enough. Their policies are what got us here, their remedies are blatantly obvious not getting us out of the situation. We experinece that on a daily basis here in Greece. So let me repeat loud and clear, 88% of Greek people don’t want to leave either the EuroZone or the EU. Anybody anywhere near reasonable would accept that as a given. That does however not mean that we have to agree to everything imposed on us in order “to save us”. Again, daily experience tells us it is doing exactly the opposite. Instead of a rope to climb out of the hole, we were thrown a rope with a noose at the end of it…. The bottom line is that debts created by German banks are being channelled through European tax payers who end up with the debt, while the banks make the profit. That is fact, and that is also the very cause of the entire mess we all are in, including Germany!

  23. Sir, with all due respect, I firmly believe that sometimes you don’t know what are you talking about. The last three years Greece made significant inroads to reduce it’s budget deficit as a percent of GDP. That is, from 15.6% of GDP in 2009 to 9.1% of GDP in 2011. Furthermore, I don’t appreciate the arrogant, the repugnant, the vindictive, the uncalled for interference in the Greek internal affairs and the punishing behavior exhibited by some members of the German government towards Greece. Yes, there’s an urgent need for Greece to live within its means, but structural changes take time. The financial help Greece received from troika isn’t as it’s portrait by the German government an act of solidarity, but a prudent and profitable investment of the German taxpayers money. Namely, the German taxpayers are profiteers from the dire economic conditions taking place in Greece right now.

    Yes, there’s a need to crush tax evasion, to stop giving illegal pensions and disability benefits, to improve the efficiency and competitiveness of both the Greek public and private sectors, to privatize public companies and organizations, and to live within our means. But, to accomplish these goals there’re two primary ways. The first one advocated so far by the German government is the inhumane, the dogmatic, the intransigent, the across-the-board, the austere implementation of austerity measures. The other one, is the gradual implementation of structural changes, to give a renewed emphasis on programs designed to spur economic growth, the prudent reduction of expenditures, the increases in government revenues to come from those who can afford to contribute more, and the protection of the most vulnerable Greek citizens.

    Sir, it’s easy for you to sit in front of your computer and write about issues you have limited expertise and even less personal knowledge. We appreciate your comments, assuring you that we will give them the proper weight and consideration.

  24. keeptalkinggreece

    may I ask who are ‘we’ in “We appreciate your comments…proper weight and consideration.”??? because certainly ‘we’ are not we (KTG)
    I’ve asked already for which party you try to campaign here…

  25. Sir, please allow me to add few more facts. The loans with interest made by the German government to Greece are directly supporting the jobs, the gross revenues and the profits of German defense companies like Krauss-Maffei, HDW(Howardtswerke-Deutche Werft GmbH), Diehl BGT Defence, Rheinmetall AG, MTU, Renk, Siemens, Thales Defence Deutschland GmbH and hundreds more medium and small size German companies.

    Managers from German companies like Ferrostaal have been convicted for violating German law because they bribed corrupt Greek and Portuguese officials and politicians in order to sell their U-214 AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) type submarines. Ferrostaal was fined € 130 million by a Geman court in Munich. Siemens agreed to pay the Greek government € 270 million Euros in an out of court settlement for committing illegal activities. I won’t be surprised if more managers and other employees of German defense companies are going to be persecuted in the future for the distribution of black money and other illegal activities. Please stay tuned.

  26. keeptalkinggreece

    I asked something….

  27. Please change we to I. I’m neither a volunteer for, nor a candidate for any Greek political party, just a concerned Greek citizen.
    Thanks a bunch.

  28. And do you really expect an answer from so many opinionated people…..?

  29. Honorable Mrs. Lagarde, please don’t discriminate between Greece’s children and Niger’s children. Just look at some of them and you will see, that the same cries for help, the same signs of desperation, the same signs of hunger and the same signs of insecurity are depicted in their innocent faces. Both Greek children and Niger’s children, want and deserve to be educated, seek a better and a safer future, desire to grow up free, and want someday to become productive citizens of the Hellenic Republic and the Republic of Niger respectively. All they ask and need is to give them a fair chance to make their dreams and their aspirations come true.

  30. Strange how suddenly something becomes “crap” when it quite conclusively shows that reality is something quite different from what you would like it to be.

    Instead of declaring what you don’t want to hear as “crap”, without even the slightest effort of trying to back up such a statement, you might want to take of the blinkers and see what there is to see.

    The contention that German banks are not only the cause of Europe’s financial melt down, but will ultimately be it’s victim as well (after taking down a millions of people through “austerity programs”) is not only well documented, it is in fact backed up by more than one internationally known and respected financial expert and figures from institutions like The Bank for Internal Settlement, your very own Bundesbank, the ECB, and many others. Including I might add, Prof Hans-Werner Sinn, appointed by your very own government to do a health check on the German Financial System, only to find a hole of 1€ trillion…
    Here are a few pointers for you

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/analysis-of-hidden-risks-in-central-bank-accounts-a-823872.html

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/the-hundred-billion-euro-bomb-euro-zone-central-bank-system-massively-imbalanced-a-818966.html

  31. “I have no idea how you come to the conclusion that we would be both trying to listen to the advise of a bunch of corrupt egotistics and not listen to them.”

    In the comment before, you wrote this: “Msr. Dallara now openly admit that a Greek default will not only cause the demise of the Euro, but will also cause untold economic problems for Europe and the rest of the world.” Sure looks as if you believe that “corrupt egotist” when it fits your argument.

    “88% of Greek people don’t want to leave either the EuroZone or the EU. Anybody anywhere near reasonable would accept that as a given. That does however not mean that we have to agree to everything imposed on us in order “to save us”.”
    Certainly at least 88% of Greeks also want Greece to have a system where they don’t want to pay any taxes (like Dubai, for instance). That does however not mean that anybody in the rest of Europe has to accept paying the government expenses for the Greeks! That’s the problem here: Greeks want to keep the benefit of staying in the Eurozone without their state fulfilling the necessary requirements to do so. The Eurozone system simply isn’t meant to include regular subsidies from the North to the South, so Greece either has to balance its finances, and very soon, or revert to the Drachme. No matter what the people wish to have, they have to acdept reality.

  32. Shorter: Not all wishes come true. Period.

  33. Of course I could write a lengthy comment about all the omissions, distortions, and logical shortcomings in Cohan’s story (actually, I did, two days ago, but it went to digital Nirvana when I forgot to enter the spam protection number. Grrr.) but that probably would be useless in a disucssion with you, Epi. Whatever I write would be wasted against your obvious “idée fixe” that it’s all the German’s fault.

    Just some points, as food for thought for others:
    – No mention of other countries’ banks, the French and especially the US/UK onen? And what about Greek banks and funds?
    – Fact: Germany held less than half of Greek debt, and even less now.
    – Fact: ECB bailout money for banks are loans, not gifts, don’t magically repair the books.
    – Fact: Other pundits warn that Greek ECB owes Frankfurt huge amounts of money. Now, what is true, do the Germans rob the ECB or is it the other way round?
    Etc etc. I stand by my opinion that Cohan’s story is so fraudulently onesided anti-German that certainly “interested circles” fed it to him.

  34. “I don’t appreciate the arrogant, the repugnant, the vindictive, the uncalled for interference in the Greek internal affairs and the punishing behavior exhibited by some members of the German government towards Greece.”
    Nicholas, with honest respect for you as an informed commenter, and much understanding that the current situation of course hurts any ppatriotic Greek a lot, but when your nation lives of other people’s money, you have to accept interference in your internal affairs, too. The bank will become an unwanted interference in your life, too, when you stop paying for your mortgage. It’s simply a fact that Greece isn’t financially independent now, and that comes with consequences, sorry.

    “Yes, there’s an urgent need for Greece to live within its means, but structural changes take time.”
    You had three years by now, with the first two years having seen no real structural changes at all and the recent progress still being underwhelming. In a comparison of the reform efforts of the other struggling nations, Greece certainly comes last. Don’t forget, this isn’t simply about austerity, it’s about structural reforms that enable sustainable growth! Well, when a plan obviously isn’t working, and it’s increasingly doubtful it will ever succeed, it’s only reasonable to call for a Plan B. Like the Grexit.

    “Namely, the German taxpayers are profiteers from the dire economic conditions taking place in Greece right now.”
    WHAT? Where are there ANY profits? It’s just money thrown into a bottomless pit! Much of it has already vanished in the haircut, and the rest is being written off because it increasingly looks as if Greece will never be able to repay any of it. Where’s the alleged profit in this, do tell?

    “The first one advocated so far by the German government is the inhumane, the dogmatic, the intransigent, the across-the-board, the austere implementation of austerity measures. The other one, is the gradual implementation of structural changes, to give a renewed emphasis on programs designed to spur economic growth, the prudent reduction of expenditures, the increases in government revenues to come from those who can afford to contribute more, and the protection of the most vulnerable Greek citizens.”
    It may supperficially look as if the Germans only care about austerity, sure. But we have made countless proposals for structural changes, even othered to send experts, to no avail. Greek politicians and officials refuse all such international interference into their duties, while at the same time still not doing their job. There’s a myriad of problems, not only financial ones, but corruption, inefficiency, a byzantine legal system, misguided regulation, lousy employer/union relationships etc etc, but none of those fields saw any major reform program, created by the Greeks themselves, so far. The troika seems to be the only force for reforms. That’s not only much less than what the other nation do themselves, that’s simply not good enough to convince anyone that Greece can stay in the Eurozone. Sorry, but the rest of the EU supported those gradual cahnges at snake speed for three years now, but patience is running out now. If the next election doesn’t result in the reform drive finally gaining speed, that’s it, for sure. Nobody will subsidize a nation for decades that’s so unwilling to provide its own part in the efforts.

    Btw, Nicholas, call me Gray, please. “Sir” sounds so pretentious! 🙂

  35. Nicholas, please don’t confuse revenue with profits. Since every major deal in Greece requires handing out big fakelakis, the profits are much lower than you think. When a nation is so riddled with corruption, that’s simply the only way to do business. The companies selling their stuff can’t change the conditions, only the Greek voters can.

    Also, don’t forget that if a product isn’t sold to Greece, it can probably sold to another country. Germany is running at very high capacity utillizationn now, the bottleneck isn’t demand, but rather qualified labor. The small share of exports that go to Greece could probably be compensated to a large degree. And lastly, don’t forget that trade is a two way street, you folks export stuff to Germany, too.

    Btw, congratulations that after a looong delay finally one of the leading politicians on the Greek side of the deals faces prosecution. Better late than never.

  36. “I’m neither a volunteer for, nor a candidate for any Greek political party, just a concerned Greek citizen.”
    That’s the problem. 😛
    Why leave the job of reforming the country to those corrupt politicians? That won’t create any change. The Greek democracy desperately needs fresh blood. Join a party!

  37. Where are Greek wealthy, why don’t they help greek hungry?

  38. keeptalkinggreece

    “Certainly at least 88% of Greeks also want Greece to have a system where they don’t want to pay any taxes (like Dubai, for instance)” Who says/claims so, if I may ask? is this based on any data and survey or comes out of a heavily digested yogurt-muesli?

  39. keeptalkinggreece

    because they send aid to poor Nigerians – as everybody knows the IMF is financed by members contributions incl Greece

  40. I don’t have an “idée fixe” about Germany or anybody else. I equally so do not have an “idée fixe” that any counter argument is “crap” and a need to resort to the “I’m right anyway” attitude to dismiss all further discussion…

  41. You don’t by any chance have some French relations going by the name Lagarde?

  42. Well, since IMF contributions are funded with public money, I would suspect that the wealthy Greeks that don’t pay their taxes as they should are also not contributing to bailing out neither Nigerian kids, nor Greek ones (as Greece is a net recipient of IMF funds, and not a net contributor, one could say that some of these IMF funds would normally help Greek children – that is, if anyone here in charge of handling these funds would care about them).

    Indeed, it seems their financial firepower is more targeted at the London real estate market these days if I believe eKathimerini: http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_wsite2_1_27/05/2012_444135

    I love this country, the Greek people I know, I live here, I pay an awful amount of taxes here, and I must say that actually NOTHING has happened in terms of changing the way things are here since the beginning of the crisis. The average Joe is getting poorer and poorer, and rich guys are still partying like there’s no tomorrow (and maybe there isn’t) in Kolonaki. Talk about a dysfunctionnal country.

    And guess what ? If Greece leaves the euro, the super-rich will become the mega-rich, just because they stashed their money away and will profit from devaluation to make a killing on the real estate market with their “re-imported” euros once the new Greek currency gets devalued, Zimbabwe-style.

    And during that time the Greek politicians continue their bragging and fooling around, struggling to get the last drop of milk of the cow that is the Greek state. Business as usual.

    I somehow find it much, much more offensive that whatever Mrs Lagarde could say.

  43. I’d concur with you that there’re corrupt Greek public officials and politicians. Please name one nation in the world which is corruption free? But, I respectfully and utterly disagree with you when you use a wide brush, and make general characterizations such as “every major deal in Greece requires handing out big fakelakis”, How do you know that? Furthermore, you say “When a nation is so riddled with corruption, that’s simply the only way to do business.”, What kind of statistical data you possess allowing you to scientifically ascertain “that’s simply the only way to do business”?

    I’d agree with you though, that only a small part of the German exports is shipped to Greece, in 2010 if I’m not mistaken it was roughly 6 billion Euros. What you forgot to mention is that a sizable part of the Greek national debt is owned among others by German banks, German pension funds, German private investors, the German government and the European Central Bank. Germany controls some of the ECB operations.

    Chancellor Merkel is fully aware that what’s at stake is the operating revenues, the profits and some jobs of German companies, since Germany enjoys a sizable trade surplus with Greece. Furthermore, by continuing to lend Greece more money, the German taxpayers will reap even more profits. It’s simply a win-win situation.

    I believe that Mr. A.T is “definitely enjoying the hospitality” of both the Greek state and the Greek justice system.

  44. Oh, come on, Kt! Almost nobody likes to pay taxes. Most of us still do, out of a feeling of responsiblity and/or concern about the consequences of defrauding the tax office. But a system where people wouldn’t have to pay taxes would be hugely popular. Do you seriously want to question that? What else? That icecream is popular, maybe?
    😛

  45. Hmm, who knows? I don’t, but I have to admit, she looks a bit familiar. Same haircut!
    😀
    No, seriously, I don’t even like her. But I understand her outburst. Most folks here are fed up with the Greek drama. Can’t we simply zap to another reality show, pls? Enough is enough.

  46. Yeah, ok, I exaggerated a bit. Should have minced my words more, the reality is already bad enough. Sorry.

    “What you forgot to mention is that a sizable part of the Greek national debt is owned among others by German banks, German pension funds, German private investors, the German government and the European Central Bank.”
    It once was about 40%, if _I remember correctly, but it has been reduced since then. And please don’t forget to mention all the other “investors”, the French, the British, the American speculators and also the Greeks themselves! But what’s the point anyway? It sure looks like Greece will never pay anything of that money back. Please explain to us how there’s any profit in losing money, really. And don’t tell me the German exports make up for that. A large parts of those goods was “paid” for with the very same credits that Greece doesn’t pay back! That’s just the other side of the same coin.

    “Germany controls some of the ECB operations.”
    Controls? Simply not true. The construction of the ECB prevents such a one sided leverage. And the French influence may even be stronger than the German one. Please remember: In the early naughts, Germany literally begged the ECB to lower interest rates, because of our economy lagging behind in job creation. To no avail! The central bank was more concerned about inflation in Spain and didn’t listen to us at all (in hindsight, I have to say, they were right). So, German control? No way. See, you’re exaggerating, too! 😛

  47. I don’t think the structural reforms are a prerequisite for growth as a number of countries that are growing around the world never implemented reforms similar to what is being asked from Greece. Selling the public companies at bottom prices as the Athens stock exchange is seeing numbers below 500 points is not going to help Greece pay off its debts as the revenues from the sales will be minimal. And the Greek taxpayers will lose a great deal of their investments through the firesales. As Krugman said on Der Spiegel, we have no proof that structural changes will bring growth. This is something that is being repeated to the Greeks but there is no evidence. In any case, the Northern countries saw some growth a decade after the reforms were implemented, time that Greece does not have with unemployment rising so fast. Also, the Northern countries conveniently placed the unemployed into the welfare system to avoid resistance to reforms. Another luxury that Greece does not have. The Greek economy does not have a bloated public sector any longer as 160.000 public employees left public service through attrition and elimination of services and the numbers were only replaced at one hired to ten retired. Germany has more public employees per capita at the moment. Also tons of closed professions that no politician would dare open for fear of public discontent.
    What is being asked from Greece is more than most countries would ever accept as politically feasible. Even in Holland, the government fell as a result of announced austerity. Holland, one of the countries that waved the finger at the Greeks don’t like austerity and the electorate is moving to the Left as a result of discontent.
    Fingerpointing at the Greeks is easy from the comfort of one’s home and sitting in front of the computer. But reality is rather more complicated than that!

  48. My compass needle points North, as it should. And imho the last years have shown that guys who use a compass pointing Southeast easily get lost in the wilderness…

  49. keeptalkinggreece

    asking seriously apparently funny and biased findings

  50. keeptalkinggreece

    especially from comfort cough lap top in front of TV…

  51. Gray

    1) When I stated that, it’s deplorable when some German politicians interfere in the internal affairs of Greece, it had nothing to do with money. When Mr.Wolfgang Schäuble implied that Greeks should follow the example of the Italians and give the previous Greek government more time,and not call for elections, that’s an interference. When he called some Greek politicians liars because he thinks that there’s no other or no easy way for Greece to solve it’s financial problems, that’s an interference. Therefore, it’s the Schäuble’s way, or the highway, and any other way is just a lie.

    2 Let me repeat it one more time for you, structural changes do take time. A well designed and well thought change is not implemented tomorrow, but it takes in to account among others, the economic impact, time factors, the human consequences and the availability of the tools needed to make it happen.

    3)a) The first and the second memorandums called for loans to be made to Greece with annual interest rates. Please ask your government to tell you how much money the German taxpayers made so far from the Greek loans.

    b) Your bottomless pit analogy is incorrect. The correct analogy is a styrofoam cup with many different size holes poked in it’s bottom. What Greece has to do is to plug up some of these holes, and for others to just reduce their diameter/circumference. The idea is that the flow rate of water(money)going in to the cup has to be at least equal or higher than the flow rate of the water(money) coming out from the bottom of the cup. When we reach that condition then the Greek economy will be viable.

    4)I’m aware of the systemic and the structural problems the Greek economy is facing right now. It won’t be a piece of cake, or painless to fix them, but we have no other viable alternative so far, and time is running out.

    Best Regards

  52. Most folks aren’t forced to live the Greek drama, and for once I agree with you, enough is indeed enough. As says the rest of Greece…

  53. 1) I agree that it was rather undiplomatic and counterproductive for Schäuble to voice his opinions about Greek elections.
    2) Three years are a good deal of time to get things done. Other nations in similar conditions showed significant improvements. Greece didn’t (cutting back the percentage of the deficit while shrinking the GDP ain’t no accomplishment!). Where do you find reason for optimism that this will become better?
    3a) Since Greece doesn’t pay any interest rates right now, only the troika does, Germany essentially pays itself. There’s no profit whatever in that.
    3b) Greece tried a lot of ideas, including the oinnovative one of using the power co as tax collectors. Because of the totally screwed up administration and the widespread resistance, nothing really worked. Why should that become better? How?
    4) “we have no other viable alternative so far” But we have! Exeunt Greece, stage left. Next up, “the brandnew Drachme”, a traditional comedy freshly interpreted.

  54. To many points you make are just not true or half truths.
    Holland is a bad example because there are other things at play. A lot of the measures of that government were totally one-sided and often downright mean-spirited against everything not perceived as being ‘Real Dutch’. All to appease Geert Wilders. And the voters are not moving only to the left. They are equally moving to the far right party of Geert Wilders.
    When that mess broke, 5 parties (from left to right) came together and hammered out an austerity plan in 2 days and it took 3 weeks to finalize that into detail. TWELVE BILLION Euro in structural changes… Greece nomenklatura had THREE YEARS and still does not have one single feasible plan out of this mess. And why? Because the nomenklatura here is fighting tooth and nail to keep the status quo.
    Why did the Troika insist on selling of Public Companies? Because the boys and girls who work there had gold leaved working contracts. And like civil servants a watertight (Constitution) shield against any change. But like the civil service there is one way to break that golden chain around the neck of us who paid their salaries through taxes. That is through selling the companies off. Greece never had to do that if the Papandreou government and the whole political class and the nomenklatura would have agreed to reform that part of the society. Those salaries that where bloated by extra’s to 4 to 7 times what a person in the private sector earned was one of the straws that broke the camels back.
    And saying that Greece did have not the luxury to “conveniently placed the unemployed into the welfare system to avoid resistance to reforms” is a chutzpah if ever there was one. Did you totally forget about the Olympic sell-off. With those huge bonuses the people who were willing to leave the civil service status behind got? To name just one example of so many?
    The whole past 30 years was one big avoidance of resistance to reforms by buying it off. Through early pensions, bonuses, 13, 14, 15, 16 and sometimes even 17th months pay-checks, often untaxed. And jobs for live where you did not need to show up. Those early pensions alone were a huge reservoir of people who just lived off us all.
    And last, for your information, I am not “finger pointing at the Greeks … from the comfort of one’s home and sitting in front of the computer. But reality is rather more complicated than that!” because I am living that reality here in Greece and am paying for that dearly every day.

  55. Antonis, you ll be happy to work for the Germans when the public companies will be sold off for next to nothing to them just like OTE. You will be happy for Greece to become an extension of the German market just like Polland and East Germany. Deutsche Telekom will buy up the left over shares and transfer profits to Germany. The same with the lignite quarries and utility companies. Kathimerini has written already about the interest shown.

    This is a standard recipe and not a bright, new idea that Germans had. Look at the acquisitions by large corporations in US and elsewhere.

    Now the big pensions, high salaries and perks will be given to German supervisors while Greeks will be working for less to 400 euros minimum wage.

    And you will be paying the Germans to give you power and phone service.

  56. Privatisations have tried for years in US, UK and a number of other countries and have not shown any net benefits for the public. What usually happens is the state ends up subsidizing the private companies or renationalizing them because of lack of efficiency and corruption.
    Here is some myths debunked:

    http://www.inthepublicinterest.org/node/457

    Is Greece ready for the spike in unemployment that is going to come after the privatizations?

    Just like Spain experienced in the 90s?

  57. Gray

    2) Let me put it in better understood terms. The Greek budget deficit(primary deficit+ loan interests) in 2009 was more than 36 billion euros (15.6% of GDP), in 2011 it was reduced to 19.5 billion euros(9.1% of GDP). Anyway you cut it or slice it, the budget deficit reduction of 16.5 billion euros is an achievement.

    3a) If for the sake of argument Greece owned Germany lets say 50 billion euros, an imaginary number, having to pay an annual interest rate of 3%. Then Greece has to make annual interest payments to Germany of 1.5 billion euros. Then Germany decides to lend Greece another 20 billion euros at an annual interest rate of 3.5%. The loan principal has increased to 70 billion euros, and Greece’s total annual interest payment to Germany has also increased to 2.2 billion. Here is the key, when Greece achieves a primary budget surplus (with tax increases and reduction in expenditures) then there is going to be less of a need to borrow money from Germany and from other EU countries to make its interest payments. The ultimate goal is one day, not in the distant future, for Greece to reduce its loan principal(national debt).

    3b) Even if you have late penalties and charge an interest rate on the taxes Greek citizens owned their government it will be nearly impossible to collect all the taxes at once. When Greece has an unemployment rate of nearly 22%, its GDP in 2011 shrunk 7% , there’s still limited market liquidity, and hundreds of small, medium and large businesses are out of business, how do you expect some of the Greek citizens to pay their taxes? For the affluent things are different. Rich Greeks have smart tax lawyers and accountants and through offshore companies, tax loopholes, tax shelters/heavens, by having secretive Swiss accounts, by bribing tax collectors, by the use of preferential tax cuts/incentives, and by other means have avoided paying their fair share of the taxes. The problem with the rampant tax evasion is very difficult, very time-consuming and requires among others, adequate, experienced and very well trained human resources, and computer programs cross checking tax data in order to catch the tax cheats.

    4) The solution for Greece to return back to Drachma is not a viable one. It will have calamitous long lasting consequences on the living conditions of most Greek citizens. Greece will likely enter in to a protracted time period marred by clashes between demonstrators and the police, riots, destruction of property and political turmoil with no end in sight.

  58. Your website is not very friendly to posters. Good to know as I tried it today and I am not going to visit it again.

  59. keeptalkinggreece

    interesting. thanks.

  60. keeptalkinggreece

    …and KTG stuck at pc, reporting about them if he has money for internet supply.
    BTW: I wonder how true is the scenario about the much predicted clashes in case GR returns to drachma. I mean, these claims are based on …what kind of risk theories?
    I think in theory the EU was a successful concept, the Euro as well 🙂

  61. Rum, we already pay the Germans for the phone service. As OTE is Deutsche Telecom. But who cares? I buy Philips lightbulbs, NoyNoy coffee creamer, have some Bosch powertools, drive in an Opel, travel in Athens in trains from Siemens, fly everything but Olympic (because they don’t fly anymore to where I have to). I gladly go to Lidl, because at AB-Vasilopolos I pay double the price for crap from Belgium. You don’t use Japanese electronics? In China made US-smartphones?
    And yes I would love to have reliable power for the price we pay now. Crappy service for high prices. What’s there to loose? Some national pride that you don’t have internet half of the time. Either through power-cuts or through another brilliant Greek engineer, desk-clerk or oversee-er at a telecom company that screws up time and again?
    Oh, and yes, it would be rotten to work for less then 400 euro minimum wage while German bosse will get high salaries and perks. What’s new about that? We don’t need Germans for that? Greeks can do that perfectly fine now, thank you. Because the nomenklatura here or some foreign entity… it is no difference to be taken in a dark spot for years on end by either of them. Or would you be more proud if a countryman would do that to you? Sorry, I won’t.

  62. Mme Lagarde tells impoverished Greeks to pay their taxes. Greek children suffer becaseu their parents don’t pay their taxes, etc, etc.
    well…
    Mme Lagarde earns $467,940 + a bonus of $83,760 or a whopping total of $551,700 per annum. And guess what? Mme Lagarde DOESN’T PAY TAXES!!!
    As a member of an international organisation, her earnings are totally, 100% TAX FREE.
    Isn’t she the right one to talk?
    If you feel like telling her she should atart paying her own taxes before blaming others, you can do it here: http://www.facebook.com/christinelagarde

  63. I hope and pray that my fears of a tumultuous period following an unwanted exit of Greece from the Euro zone will never, ever materialize. But, if one considers the events which took place in Greece before the cast vote in favor of the second memorandum in the Greek Parliament, then what I’ve described might be realistic. Furthermore, if one takes in to account what happened during the Argentine financial crisis of 1999-2002, makes a post-Euro, Greek politic-economic scenario both chaotic and plausible.

    An uncontrolled default of the Greek economy is advocated by vulturous foreign and domestic investment banks currently betting on it, by theoretical economists and by naïve and desperate Greek citizens. I won’t be surprised if Greece is forced to abandon the Euro and return to Drachma, to have violent demonstrations marred with clashes between Greek citizens and the police and extensive destruction of property. Furthermore, it will be likely to have Greek army units guarding both the banks and the borders. That’s because citizens will undoubtedly besiege the banks demanding to withdraw their Euros. In addition, it’s plausible Greek citizens who had stashed their Euros in hidden places at home and in other secure places, or proactively withdrew their cash from the banks, to attempt to smuggle their valuable currency abroad. Even if the Greek government achieves to convert Euros in to Drachmas in record time, the unavoidable devaluation of the Drachma will hit most Greek citizens in their wallets hard. Their hard earned money will likely lose 60-70% of their pre-Drachma value. Furthermore, foreign investment and the credit ratings of the Greek economy will unquestionably plummet. These facts alone will make purchases of fuels, machinery, spare parts and raw materials for the Greek industry only possible in hard currencies, such as in Euros and in dollars.

    The post-Euro period will undoubtedly be culminated by political instability, by short-lived weak governments, by political infighting and finger pointing. Finally, I wish that my country will never, ever have to face such dramatic, devastating and demoralizing events. The proud and presently hard tried Greek people deserve to live in a peaceful country, which is politically stable, and its economic future looks both promising and prosperous.

  64. keeptalkinggreece

    hahaha nice Lagarde campaign here

  65. indeed, but wouldn’t it just make you sick to the back teeth though? And you know, this rule on “representatives of an international organization” not paying taxes goes across the board. Ditto for UN personel etc. I think they should at least have the decency to pay taxes in the country they reside in, at the rates prevelent in that country. But then the permanent IMF representatives in Greece would have to pay tax and be subjected to austerity, wouldn’t they?
    I wonder does this tax free lark go for NATO personel as well? Plenty of them in Greece, could bring in a good few much needed € that then don’t have to be taken of those who can’t afford to pay.

  66. I gave a reaction somewhere else about the UN-personnel tax-free status. And by the way, IMF is part of the UN, so it is right that their rules are the same.
    As for your point about the NATO personnel: I know from my childhood that my father, who was stationed in Germany did not have to pay any taxes. It was one of the perks of being stationed there. Together with tax-free alcohol and cigarettes and gasoline for 13 pfennig/liter at BP and beer for 25 cent a glass. Guess that’s still the same.
    But you also made the perfect example why this strange rule exists by stating “But then the permanent IMF representatives in Greece would have to pay tax and be subjected to austerity”. This rule is there to avoid local politicians to get a hold on the UN-civil servants and undermine their supposed independence and neutrality.
    And from close by I can tell you that in a lot of countries those civil servants loose an awful lot of deductions and benefits (even pension rights) in their home country because of this tax-free regime. And they have to pay themselves to compensate for that. No problem for fat cat salaries like that of Mrs. Lagarde. But still.
    By the way, does anybody know how much tax a Greek MP has to pay for his salary of… what was it? more than 100.000 or so? And is the free car and the staff taxed? I really do not know.