OPINION

On Tsipras, Euro bonds, drachma, Greek economy

Re: A glimpse of how it could be

Question: Why is it that so many competent Greeks have left the country to succeed in business and other activities, sport for example, abroad? Who have, to my knowledge, as well as supporting their close families also remitted millions of dollars to families left in Greece?

Answer: Because in Greece they would have been paying the under-the-table fakelaki constantly, as well as being frustrated and insulted by the inept, often rude and obstructive public service.

Coming from abroad with suggestions from their vast experience of other systems, they are often met with comments along the lines of «Mind your own business; we in Greece are doing things our way.”

Rosemary Papaeliou

Euro and drachma

It’s just been reported that in certain parts of Ireland the Irish punt and euro are both in circulation. The punt is used for local transactions and the euro for international transactions. Could the same model be appliced in Greece? Workers would be paid in drachmas and local trade transactions would also be carried out in drachmas while inter-European and global transactions would be carried out in euros. This model would certainly make life more affordable in Greece and would protect Greeks from global crises. Greece would also remain in the eurozone and subject to euro discipline but the Greek government would retain control of its own currency with the option to devalue whenever necessary. It’s time to think out of the box and bring the political parties into alignment with national rather then party political values.

Dr David Green

Election opinion poll

Golden Dawn could gain more votes than the opinion polls suggest because of the stigma attached. Nationalist parties voters tend not to state their true preference when polled. This was the case with the Front National in French opinion polls.

Grant Christodoulou

Drachmas will not bring competiveness back to Greece

My name is Pedro Men?©ndez, Msc Finance from London Business School, economist and portfolio manager. Somehow the idea of returning to the drachma has built up around the idea that a return to it would help the Greek economy become competitive again as Greek salaries would then be lowered through devaluation against other EU and foreign countries. This is true only for countries that have a population that is unable to migrate freely to other countries and thus, they have to accept the lowered real salaries. But as Greece will stay in the EU even if it?s out of the eurozone, that clearly will not happen. Hence, Greeks will either flee the country to search for higher salaries or they will ask for euro salaries (printed outside Greece). What I mean is that under a free labour, migration, movement etc. possibility, there is no way that the Greek labour costs will be «drachmatized». If this cannot happen then the benefit of «drachmatization» is extremely diluted and only the costs will be incurred (i.e the destruction of savings and the bankrupcy of banks). The only way that drachmas can bring back competitiveness to Greece is that «drachmatization» is done along with quitting as well from migration and job rights from the EU (which means actually quitting from everything).

Pedro Men?©ndez

Has Greece reached the point of no return?

A point of no return is defined as the point beyond which there is no longer a possibility to return. Has Greece reached this point? I am afraid to say, yes, Greece probably has.

Processes have been set in motion on the political as well as the financial side which are unlikely to be reversed. The government of Mr. Papademos may have been a stable and solid one, albeit without full democratic legitimacy, but now that the course of new elections has been chosen, there is no alternative but to live with the consequences of this election (and of further elections). The likelihood of Greece’s having a stable government backed by a majority of the voters is slim.

Mr. Tsipras seems to have set off the spark for a new movement. He seems to be a skillful populist. He seems to be putting into words what many Greeks, particularly the ones suffering hard from austerity measures, feel strongly. The likelihood of that movement getting larger is greater than the possibility of it’s getting smaller.

On the financial side, an unstoppable sequence is unfolding: no new disbursements before implementation of new measures; no implementation of new measures without a functioning government; no functioning government without the necessary majorities. That is a wonderful scenario for everyone to claim afterwards that «it wasn’t my fault».

How does one feel about this when one has argued from the beginning that the Greek movie could end well if only if everybody involved acted like leaders? Not good; not good at all! I note a curious evolution of my views.

I was not in Greece from March-August 2011. During this time, the basis for my opinions was my observation of the incompetence of EU elites. I became literally a champion of the «Greek cause”: if Europe’s core only provided «real help» for Greece in the sense of steering private sector investments there (instead of sending money there to bail out banks), Greece would jump on that offer and immediately embark on prudent new policies. Instead of making the borrower weak one would have made him strong.

I returned to Greece in September and stayed until December 2011. I expected to find an attitude of determination to fix one’s problems with the help of others. Unfortunately, and to this date, I have not seen any proposal by any Greek of political, public, financial or academic life for an economic plan which would present a positive future perspective for Greece. The best economic minds of Greece seem to focus on what’s wrong with the Eurozone instead of coming up with proposals how to correct what’s wrong with Greece.

I have now been back in Greece since early April. I witnessed an election campaign where I could not figure out what any party would do if elected. I witnessed how Greek parliamentarians tried to pull a fast one on their Prime Minister by attempting to pass over 90 amendments almost in undercover fashion. I witnessed how parties not only approved new financing for themselves but also disowned banks which had a senior collateral claim against the proceeds of such financing. Laws were approved with retroactive effectiveness and a collective action clause was triggered without necessity. Small private investors in Greece were more or less disowned while, at the same time, certain foreign speculators were paid in full for fear that they might cause trouble (which they would have).

All in all, to me the principal issue is no longer whether or not Greece stays in the Eurozone (even though I would still vehemently argue that Greece should stay). The principal issue is now how Greece can get through the enormous chaos which it will face in the next months, with or without the Euro. The country which invented democracy may find out what France discovered in 1959: in the face of a threat of total chaos, democracy is ill equipped to deal with the situation.

France had a Charles de Gaulle. Where is the Charles de Gaulle of Greece?

Klaus Kastner

Austria

Nicosia airport

Ever since the invasion in 1974, Nicosia airport is not in use anymore. Since then flights between Greece and Cyprus use the Larnaca and Paphos airports. These are the only authorised entry points of the Republic by air.

Manolis Dardoufas

Alexis Tsipras

I do hope Mr Tsipras doesn’t win and take Greece out of the Euro on June 17. I think he is misguided if he believes Greece can renegotiate its bailout package. If he wins, Greece will be out of the Euro and there will be more pain for the Greek population to endure. A vote for Tsipras would be like «Turkeys voting for Christmas,» as we say in the UK.

Good luck though, the Greek people have been served very badly by their leaders over the last decade to get them into such a mess.

Phil Williams

Greek retailers suffering

Why would a Greek politician even care?! They’ve never worked, opened a business of their own etc. They’ve just lived like the parasites they and their families are, off the backs of all of us who risk our own capital to try and make a living in the mess of a country they have created. Greek politicians: what jokes, karagiozides and charlatans. They bring disrepute to the EU ideal.

Lionel Luthor

Euro bonds

OK, who is going to join a collective car insurance when your car is new and in good shape, and because your damage history is zero you pay a low premium, while the others have old cars, some without TUV and with chauffeurs with no driving license or a well-known reputation of drinking before driving? What do you do?

Hans van der Schaaf