Sink or swim

What a madhouse Greece is. Everyone wants to become prime minister but no one has any idea of what they would do should it actually happen.

What they seem to forget is that whoever ends up in the Maximos Mansion will still have to deal with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the International Monetary Fund. They may put on a tough act or even pretend to be threatening, but they will still have to sit down at the table with the same people that the government is dealing with today.

They will also have to deal with the same perception of Greece that Merkel and most Northern Europeans have: intense skepticism and the conviction that they should not be throwing any more money into what they see as a black hole. Like it or not, this is the prevailing opinion among the political elite and regular folk in Germany, Finland and so on.

Now imagine someone trying to negotiate with these people by threatening that they will not pay back part of the Greek debt. Even if the Americans, the Chinese and our other allies supported claims here in Greece for a different recipe to help the country survive, it is unlikely that this would lead to something like a Marshall Plan or a sizable debt haircut.

Anyone attempting such a thing should brace themselves for a real Plan B. And what might that be? Anything from having to seize all deposits above a certain amount to printing IOUs for the state’s debts. In practical terms, Plan B means that the country would have to adopt two currencies for a transitional period of time and then return to the drachma or some other currency.

That said, even this unlikely and dangerous scenario would have to be spearheaded by one very strong and dedicated leader with a government that knew exactly what to do in a situation of chaos and collapse. Do you see anyone in the Greek political arena right now capable of handling such a suicide mission?

Before we go to Plan B, however, why don’t we give Plan A a better chance? No one is saying it is the easy option. Anything but. It seems, however, that there are certain people in the government who are in a rush to present a tough facade vis-a-vis the troika and Germany. They are led to this by their political instinct, by the fact that they sense our partners will throw Greece under the bus and the coalition partners will sink. They may be right.

But what we do know from lessons past is that the person who will definitely sink is the person who balks mid-river and starts flailing around, losing sight of the other bank.

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