OPINION

On the economy, Gaza and urban rejuvenation

Greece, the euro and the drachma

Greece is a great nation and it doesn’t need the euro. Recreate the drachma and control your economy, just as we did with the shekel 26 years ago when we had 400% inflation and there were those that proposed dollarization. We killed the inflation 20 years ago, lopped three zeros off the shekel and today the shekel is one of the world’s strongest currencies. We have had almost zero inflation for years, we control interest rates, money in circulation etc., and we?re not ordered around by some official in Brussels. Yassu Hellas!

Alon Kochavi

Tel Aviv

Athens today

I?ve been coming to Greece since 1972 and now come to Athens three times a year. Never have I seen my beloved Athens look so bad. Setting aside the current economic woes (and I realize that cannot be easily done), where is the pride of Athens’s citizens in their city? I just returned from a five-day stay after three weeks elsewhere in Greece, and I was saddened by the amount of graffiti and the trash everywhere.

A key to Greece’s recovery is a robust tourist trade. Why would anyone want to visit now when Athens is showing such an ugly face? Remember how beautiful the city looked during the Olympics? It could look that way again. Why not start by regulating the sale of spray paint cans to thwart those who defile every building but the churches?

Judy Tinelli

Virginia, USA

Re: The great creative majority

Excellent commentary. Congratulations to the Niarchos Fund!

Let us hope more Greeks come forward to create, build and advance our country.

During the last 10 days all we read and heard about was the demonstrations and the destruction of property and injuries, tax cheaters and dire need for loans.

Not a word about the Special Olympics or the new plans for Faliro, or anything positive.

Please, Kathimerini, make it a point to give us some positive news.

Monica Lane

Florida, USA

Greek shame

How utterly disgraceful that the Papandreou regime has knuckled under Israeli pressure. If I was Greek I would be truly ashamed. But since I am not I will show my disapproval by boycotting Greek products and services.

Kampung Highlander

Greek national debt

Why is it that Greece is persistently being used as the whipping boy over sovereign national debts? I wish to propose that there are few developed countries that are able to pay off their national debts. Greece, unlike many other countries, has called for help and got nothing but hassle and abuse.

At the moment the USA has a national debt of $15 trillion, and is on the verge of defaulting on interest payments, due to disputes between the Democratic government and the Republican Congress.

The UK, which has adopted a strategy of shouting the loudest against all other deficit countries, has an accumulated national debt of GBP 2 trillion (including bailout monies), and has been forced to pursue exactly the same spending cuts as Greece, accompanied by the same levels of social protest.

In future, it will become necessary for all capitalist countries to completely alter their ways of raising funds, and drastically reduce their costs.

We would live in a very different world if all countries worked within their means; spent according to their tax revenues; balanced their budgets; did not borrow at all; and focused on maintaining a subsistent and sustainable economy, a steady state economy.

Kelvyn Richards

Trikala

Cephas Lumina

Cephas Lumina indeed illuminates some basic truths: debts can only be paid out of income. If the citizenry are made to pay the debts of the state, and there are many honest ones amongst them, then it is mass punishment, collective and wrong. It is also collective theft from the honest citizens, for the crimes of others.

I suggest an amnesty for those who have paid taxes for some years in the past, while those that have not, should pay their debts to Greek society. They are too numerous to count, but they can be, and must be.

George Dillon Slater

German foreign minister?s opinions

Those who remember, and those who are interested in the German occupation of Greece in the period 1941-45, with the theft of Greek produce and assets, are now reminded that Germany was allowed to default over reparations due to Greece. The banks got reimbursed of course, in France, Britain and the United States. Thus Germany was able to recover and prosper.

Rosemary Papaeliou

A reason for Greece to remain in Europe

From many miles away the options offered by the government to the people of Greece were not exhaustive or properly researched. Most of the opposition parties made fools of themselves, and the frustrations will not go away by the ?forced vote? approach.

Essentially, as many observers have correctly pointed out, Greece has lost its freedom. For those of Cretan and Ionian birth in particular this cannot be the final statement in this matter. The president was clearly ?not in office? to assist Greece in its of greatest agony.

The real options were:

1. Follow the EU/IMF path — and be ?economic slaves.?

2. Stall the approach — do real rather than forced reform — and risk default.

3. Declare state insolvency.

4. Declare a state of emergency — cut the size of the Cabinet and focus solely on a turnaround strategy — debt collection, royalty reprieves (from the IOC, the United Kingdom, Germany etc.) and sue all parties to the agreements leading to the crisis — especially the bank and EC advisers.

5. Disestablish the Constitution of the Republic of Greece into a federation of Greek prefectures — allowing only foreign affairs and defense to be national competencies. (A proper election for State President could help.)

6. Review the need to belong to the EU by plebiscite.

Clearly these discussion do not happen in Greece — although points 5 and 6 may be hot topics on the islands this summer.

That all begs the question of why is Greece risking all to remain in Europe — the answer can only relate to the future promise of wealth from Aegean oil fields and the very real risk that Greece outside of EU and NATO structure runs the risk of the islands being annexed by Turkey.

Pantelis Nicholas Tselentis

Selective default?

What about bond holders who are not party to the voluntary agreement which is supposed to be reached between the EU and banks, insurance companies, etc.?

Imagine a Family Office which holds a 1-million-euro Greek bond maturing in 2012. Imagine also that this Family Office had other things to worry about than this 1-million-euro bond and had ignored the news reports about the ?voluntary agreement.? Finally, imagine that this Family Office has excellent legal advice.

Come 2012 and the maturity date of the bond, the Family Office will expect 1 million euros to arrive in its bank account; in cash and not in new bonds! If not, it will sue for payment under the law stipulated in the bond issue. Unless the EU abolishes the State of Law by then, the Family Office will win (or rather: an official Event of Default will be declared affecting all other Greek bonds).

As a result, the presently discussed ?French Plan? can only work if it allows unequal treatment of bond holders. The bond holders who are party to the agreement will have to live by its terms; the other bond holders will receive cash as though nothing had happened.

One of the pillars in any debt restructuring, voluntary or not, is the equal treatment of all creditors (?consortium approval?). Why in the Greek case the parties to the agreements would accept that other creditors remain outside the agreement and receive preferential treatment has not yet been explained. One can reasonably question that it can be explained credibly.

While EU elites discuss intellectual proposals in their ivory towers, Greece could use the time to develop its own practical alternatives. If Greece now gets the next instalment and a second bailout plan, the government will be ?financed? for the next year or even more. So whatever the government does with regard to debt between now and then can take place in a completely relaxed environment; no pressure whatsoever; totally ?voluntary.?

Greece should use this window of opportunity to work out — behind closed doors and with the best experts available — a foreign debt rescheduling proposal which moves loan maturities and interest payments as far into the future as possible (but no haircut!). And, at the same time, Greece should work out — again behind closed doors and with the best experts available — an economic development plan which has a chance of working.

And then, one day in the near future, Greece surprises the EU elites, central banks and creditors that she has developed plans and a proposal which is ?so good than it cannot be refused.? Greece should emphasize that this proposal is the only chance for the country to regain a realistic perspective for the future and that she expects the EU to help realize that chance. And if the EU does not ?play ball,? then Greece should start thinking about leaving the EU/euro and finding new friends in Asia.

Klaus Kastner

Austria

This is proof

The ?humanitarian groups? aren?t interested in ?humanitarian aid,? for one. There is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, there is only a Hamas regime that treats its citizens like rubbish. Secondly, Israel and beloved Greece have both offered to move the goods into Gaza themselves after security screening and essentially through proper channels.

Since Gaza is a terrorist stronghold run by Hamas it is obvious why the sane people of the world don?t want there to be a hundred Iranian ships entering with weapons daily — there is enough of that entering through Egypt.

This ?freedom flotilla? is just interested in media coverage and making the western governments look like ?the bad guy,? but frankly, they don?t want you to know that the true bad guy is the crazy Muslim with the gun.

Marcus Adrian