Παρασκευή, 9 Νοεμβρίου 2012

Greece Drinks the Hemlock



ΠΗΓΗ: New York Times
EDITORIAL

Greece’s Parliament did what it had to do on Thursday. Despite some defections from the ruling centrist coalition, lawmakers narrowly approved a $23 billion package of new austerity measures, including further spending cuts to social services, pensions and public salaries, as well as tax increases demanded by Greece’s European lenders.

In return, the troika of official creditors — the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund — promise to consider, but not guarantee, reducing the punitive interest rates they charge Greece for bailout loans and unlocking a $40 billion aid payment Athens needs to avoid a default on its debts.

No responsible Greek lawmaker could have ignored the terrible consequences of voting no. But no one can dismiss the threat to social stability from these cuts. Even Prime Minister Antonis Samaras, who fought hard to push the package through Parliament, characterized the cuts it imposed as “unfair.”

The fact is, just about everything in this austerity package has been tried before and failed disastrously. These unpalatable steps will do nothing to make Greece’s debts more payable, bring its budgets closer to balance or help make the structural reforms Greece needs to revive its economy. Instead they will almost certainly further shrink an economy that has already shrunk by an astounding 25 percent over the past few years, making fiscal improvement nearly impossible.

Greece's austerity: democracy tested to destruction


Editorial
The Guardian, Thursday 8 November 2012 

In the heart of Europe, a democracy now teeters on the edge

In spring 2010, as Athens wrangled with the IMF and the rest of Europe for what would turn out to be a €110bn emergency loan, a revealing, chilling phrase slipped out. When Greece's then-premier, George Papandreou, begged for easier borrowing terms, he was told by Angela Merkel that the deal had to hurt. According to a well-sourced report in the Wall Street Journal, the German chancellor said: "We want to make sure nobody else will want this."

She certainly made good on her side of the deal: Greece has spent the past two years on a financial life-support that has kept its government ticking over, but which has destroyed its economy and pushed its entire democracy to the brink of collapse. This week, Athens re-enacted what has become a traditional ritual. Under duress from its troika of creditors (the IMF, the European commission and the European Central Bank), the government identified more areas for cuts and deregulation: another 8,000 civil servants to be sacked by next Christmas, yet more slashing of pensions and wages and of the minimum wage. Meanwhile, the country went on a general strike and petrol bombs were lobbed at the Vouli, the parliament, even as MPs voted through the package. If the government also passes its 2013 budget this Sunday, it will get another chunk of cash to keep paying salaries and other bills.