Category Archives: Greek crisis

Cradle of democratic corruption

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Popular dishonesty, writes Dalrymple, is ‘an inherent problem wherever the universal franchise is unaccompanied by widespread virtues such as honesty, self-control, providence, prudence, and self-respect’.

Wir haben auch Familie

But do our Greek debtors?

But do our Greek debtors?

In return, writes Dalrymple,

for yet another pretence that its debt is performing and does not have to be written off,

Greece’s creditors are demanding that the country’s shops open for Sunday trading. Dalrymple points out that such trading is forbidden in Germany, and comments:

I have not noticed that the prohibition has had too devastating an effect on Germany’s prosperity.

Anything that Greek shops sell will moreover be subject to 23% value-added tax —

hardly an incentive to buyers.

Besides,

the problem for Greeks is not that they do not have enough opportunities to buy, it is that they do not have the money with which to buy.

Faiblesses de l’architecture européenne

The European construction

The European construction

Dalrymple was having a good day until he picked up the Paris newspaper the Figaro and came across the following sentence:

This [No vote in the Greek referendum] opens a new period in the history of the European construction, in so far as, for the first time, the exit of a country from the eurozone appears as a possible, some would say desirable, outcome.

Dalrymple fumes:

I don’t know how many times I have seen the words European construction used without it being said what exactly, or even approximately, was being constructed: indeed, I have never seen them used in so frank a manner. You can, perhaps, go on a journey without knowing your destination (just about), but you cannot construct anything without knowing what it is that you are constructing.

Under construction: the Berlaymont in happier days. It was completed in 1967

Under construction: the Berlaymont, Brussels, in happier days. It was completed in 1967

It is obvious, says Dalrymple,

what those who use the words European construction in a positive sense mean: a European superstate that will, on account of its size and economic weight, be a superpower. How otherwise could a former prime minister of Luxembourg take his place in the sun of power?

How best to characterise the European construction?

Megalomania? Fascism without the boots (so far)?

The European construction euphemism should, says Dalrymple, be banned.

The sage of CMC Markets

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Michael Hewson: han är respekterad för sina öppna och direkta åsikter om vad som händer på marknaden

Dalrymple realises how foolishly he has frittered away so much of his time when he reads the following statement by Michael Hewson of CMC Markets:

Having had a couple of days to absorb the details of the new Greece debt deal, equity markets have continued to remain upbeat, despite the fact that the proposal is economically illiterate and probably doomed to fail.

Dalrymple comments:

Economically illiterate and only probably doomed to fail? In other words, the link between economic literacy on the one hand and success or failure on the other is uncertain at best. Economically illiterate but possibly will succeed? Economically literate but possibly will fail? Mr Hewson of CMC Markets clearly doesn’t want to put all his eggs in one predictive basket. Therefore I say, throw economics to the dogs.

Is the crisis faced by the Greeks their own fault?

Feeble-minded: Martin Wolf Wolf: feeble-minded

NO, says Martin Wolf. Stupid lenders lose money

This greatly overvalued (and very conceited) journalist writes about high finance. He can be read in the Financial Times, the Irish Times and other prints. He argues:

Nobody was forced to lend to Greece. Initially, private lenders were happy to lend to the Greek government on much the same terms as to the German government. Yet the nature of Greek politics, tellingly described in The 13th Labour of Hercules: Inside the Greek Crisis by Yannis Palaiologos, was no secret. Then, in 2010, it became clear the money would not be repaid. Rather than agree to the write-off that was needed, governments (and the International Monetary Fund) decided to bail out the private creditors by refinancing Greece. Thus began the game of ‘extend and pretend’. Stupid lenders lose money. That has always been the case. It is still the case today.

Dalrymple: incisive and gutsy Dalrymple: incisive

YES, says Theodore Dalrymple. Stupid borrowers lose assets

This greatly undervalued (and very self-effacing) essayist writes about the human condition. He can be read in City Journal, the Salisbury Review and other prints. He argues:

The lenders were foolish, or worse than foolish, relying as they did on Greece’s fraudulent membership of the common currency to forestall any possibility of default. But the Greeks, or rather the Greek government, can hardly be absolved of all blame for the situation. The latter borrowed huge sums of money to fund current consumption, having previously falsified its public accounts in order to meet the criteria to join the common currency. If nobody had to lend to Greece, Greece did not have to borrow, at least not like it did and for the purposes that it did. And if it is true that stupid lenders lose money, stupid borrowers lose their assets. If this is a tale of stupidity, it is of stupidity – or dishonesty – all round.