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Survival Guide
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On Venizelos, small bondholders, violence, tax collection, Reichsmark banknotes

PASOK chief addresses Parliament

Mr Venizelos can talk all he wants but I doubt he will convince anyone other than the true believers and beneficiaries of the PASOK rule.
Like I wrote a few days ago, PASOK has ruled for 28 years since 1974 and ND for 10.
One can make a pancake as flat as one wants it to be, however it always has two sides.
Mr Venizelos as a Finance Minister always proved to be very good at the blah blah but never accurate with the numbers.
If we mete out the responsibility to both parties in proportion to their years in power, PASOK bears three-fourths of the blame and the rest goes to ND, although both proved to have had less than stellar performances while in charge.
To start blaming each other now for the state we find ourselves in is nothing less than ridiculous.
I am sure they cannot see this since the race is on for who is going to go back and take the seats they believe they are entitled to.
The latest decision to reach for more funding from a bankrupt country with empty coffers is one more piece of evidence that they are divorced from reality.
They need the money to hire someone to make slogans since none of them (this applies to everyone who sat in that Parliament for the last 36 years) can run on their record.
More waste, more expenses, more debts and more loans for another run to the seats of power.
What else is new? Nothing ever seems to change.

Monica Lane

Fourteen-million Reichsmark banknotes

The Slog writes:
“There's a sort of oddly ironic piece in the Greek paper Kathimerini this morning, reporting that the Bank of Greece has discoved 14 million Nazi Reichsmark banknotes from the last occupation of Greece in the period 1941-44. These must be the first notes the BoG didn’t print itself in some time. The piece notes, 'Sources say that the Bank of Greece had informed the ministry of the German money about a year ago, but given that it is only of historic value, the ministry had then decided against taking any action. However, as a result of the war reparations debate that is currently raging, Finance Minister Filippos Sachinidis has now decided to see what can be done with it.’
“What occurs to me, however, is that these notes are worth a lot more than 1-year Greek bonds and perhaps all Greek bonds. As collectors items, for example, 14 million 5-Reichsmark notes if marketed online would be worth around 150 million euros. Given Wolfgang Schauble spent three weeks during February holding up the debt swap on the basis of almost exactly that sum, it's bound to come in useful for something. Paying off English Law and Vulture Fund non-swappers of pre-March bonds, for example.
“But a better and infinitely bigger bazooka presents itself in the shape of offering them to Jens Weidmann's Bundesbank as loan collateral. For now that She Who Must be Obeyed in Berlin has decreed that Jens never said anything at all about banning ClubMed bonds as collateral, not ever oh no, in theory Athens could twist his arm to take any old sh*t from the Bank of Greece.
“To use a related technical term here, these marks are actually worth a sh*tload of money. From some initial digging undertaken by The Slog in the wee hours this morning [Tuesday] I can't find any trace of them being declared as illegal tender. What's more, the mark/dollar exchange rate in 1941 (just before the unpleasantness at Pearl Harbor suspended operations) was 2.5 to 1.
“So the Bank of Greece's Nazi notes are worth circa six million 1941 bucks.
“As a form of economic power (there are seven ways to calculate dollar inflation over the years) these $6M from 70 odd years ago are now worth 4.3 billion dollars.
“The average EU bank is currently leveraged at the 35 to 1 level. So as collateral, in theory Adolf's fading currency haul is worth around $150 billion.”

John Drake
New York

Step 2: Enforce the law quickly

I could not agree more. This is the primary reason that foreign capital is not attracted to Greece. Mr Samaras may bring taxes down to 0%, but it will not solve this problem.
I would like to add to Mr Papachelas the following:
Step 2: Enforce the law quickly. No delays. No postponements. It is pathetic that it took almost 7 years for the Thanou/Kenderis matter (a high visibility case) to come to trial!
Not applying the law, or applying it selectively, or applying it after years in court, is precisely what creates lawlessness.

Nicos Katsoulis
Englewood Cliffs, USA

Small bond holders march against Greek debt swap loss

Well I must admit that the sign they were holding made me proud of those protesters and I wish some of the movers and shakers in the government took a good look at them.
At the same time we have to realise when something looks too good to be true, it always is. If the banks are giving 1% interest and these bonds were giving multiple times that, it was because there was a high risk involved.
As much as we cannot eat all we want, move as little as possible and lose weight by just popping a couple of pills every day, we cannot always try to beat the system and win.
It was a known fact that Greece would never be able to pay the bills we amassed. All those overtures we made to the foreign banks were reciprocated by them because of their need to contain our untimely default.
We have been through the rise and fall of the Athens stock exchange, when people thought they could become instant millionaires investing (in reality throwing their money away) in companies most knew nothing about. Some 200 billion euros evaporated in that scheme and many lost their life savings and nest eggs.
Now the same show repeats itself with the bonds. My heart goes out to those who have no time for recouping their investment but at the same time, once in a blue moon we need to realise it is not always the fault of others. We need to take a good look in the mirror and blame the ones who willingly tried to play a game they should know they could never win.

Monica Lane

Census completed of civil servants

Are things really that disorganized in Greece that it actually makes headlines when the government finally knows how many people it employs? It took me all of five minutes to look up equivalent numbers for Canada (where I live) where (apparently) such statistics are simply de rigueur.

Nick Kanellos

Violence eats away at society

It’s unfortunate that the Greeks over the last 15 years had been made a middle class in a country which produces almost nothing of its own. This has been done from loans acquired by consecutive governments internally and externally.
Now that the party is over and the money had dried up, the big bubble of middle class has burst and the Greeks are back to normal -- no middle class and the number of poor surging as a result. This has led to violent outbursts but not to the extent of endangering democracy in the country. Much as I would like to believe that Greece would be destabilized if violence surges, this is not the reality that I sense on the street every day. The Greeks have proven to be resilient and flexible and are handling their case quite rationally, although some instances of violence occur here and there at intermittent intervals. Greece is still sound as a country. Yes, we will at some point exit the Euro and declare another PSI in a few years because we will not be able to pay our debts. And yes, we will be kicked out of the EU because we squandered one opportunity after another to service our greed. I am one of those who believe that we would be better off outside the Euro and the EU. Like this we will go back to our normal size. And yes, we are a Balkan country with a Balkan attitude. We don’t have a European mentality. We have a Turkish mentality, although the Turks have exceeded us financially and are positioning themselves quite nicely as the 17th richest country in the world. If ever could we learn from those who gave us the mentality of cheating, stealing and corruption.

John Elkaas

Tax mechanism unable to collect

In the article it is written that the tax mechanism is unable to collect revenues because of reductions and the absence of electronic applications.
It is not the absence of electronic applications but the refusal of employees to use them.
The usual answer is: “I'm too old to learn computers;” “I'm getting my pension in 5 or 10 years time;” “I don't need to learn.”
In any case, people that have debts should pay them before they accuse everybody else of being thieves and demonstrate on the streets.

Dina Hatzipavlu , Wednesday April 11, 2012 (18:36)  
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