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11/07/2011      share:derubg
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Greek bailout will cause much bigger problems in the future

German chancellor Angela Merkel said that "it must be prevented that others come seeking a haircut". The good news is that Merkel seems to have understood moral hazard. The bad news is that there is no more a good way out of the crisis left because in the European Union, crime does pay - if on a large enough scale.

_There is no satisfying answer to the question: When even Greece, which it's 2.6% share of the EU's BNP is "too big to fail", what happens when Italy or even France need help? Surely after helping Greece, which irresponsibly got into debt, manipulated records and lied to its EU-partners, it is morally wrong to deny aid to others, who also irresponsibly got into debt, but did not manipuate records or lie to its EU-partners. When Greece gets help what heineous crimes must a government commit to not receive aid?

When you throw all morals overboard, you breed a lot of immoral behaviour. Jailing "tax cheats" in the net payer countries for not paying their income tax while the Greeks are rewarded for the lies and frauds of their governments is immoral. In the whole debate about Greece, almost nobody said: "The Greeks have lied to us and betrayed us. We can no longer trust a country that elects leaders who systematically hide billions of debts from their creditors."

By striking, even though of course the strikes are nominally "against" their government, a large fraction, maybe a majority has aligned themselves with their corrupt government. The strikes prove that not just the Greek government, but the Greek people regard any money that was "loaned" to them as their lawful property and refuse to pay back anything. The government that makes Bernie Madoff look like a shoplifter was also elected by these people.

In contrast the Germanic and Baltic countries elected politicians that now tell their people that "not to help Greece would be more expensive than helping them" which seems to be the height of naivety bordering on stupidity. French banks have lent Greece much too much money, which proves that you can combine Teutonic naivity with Mediterran corruption, but in what way could sending billions of Euro to Greece be cheaper for Germany and other net-payers than keeping them? (Greece is unable to receive any loans in the free market, which means that Merkel and her colleages are alone in the whole world in believing that the bailout package is a worthwhile investment.) Do these politicians even believe in what they say?

The self-proclaimed "convinced Europeans" who are now saying that "Europe will be saved" by bailing Greece are not realizing that bailing Greece is doing much more damage to European morals than what the whole balance sheet of all French banks is worth. Bailing Greece is a step toward abolishing the few remains of morals and discipline which may still be left in Europe. The Greek government has lied and committed fraud, actions which get a normal person like Bernie Madoff into jail. But for Greece the victims of the fraud not only let Greece get away with it, they are rewarding Greece.

It is just natural that now the other debtor nations like Portugal, Ireland, Italy and Spain would also like to benefit from a haircut. The Greek situation has proven that crime does pay and in this Europe striking and cheating may be more profitable than honest work.

One year ago, there was a clean solution to the problems in Greece: Refuse any further loans, sue the Greek government in an international court and maybe even threaten economic sanctions if Greeks don't start to pay back at least a part of the money. (Promises don't count, especially for Greece. And "pay back" means that for some time more money has to leave Greece than is sent to Greece. ) This would have caused a partial bankruptcy in Greece and would have made big losses in France visible. But a haircut is nothing else than a partial bankruptcy anyway. But it would have sent a clear message to others (and also to the Greeks themselves for the future) that only honest work can lead to prosperity and crime will lead to ruin. After a short recession, the economy would have been able to recover because the debts would have been wiped out and therefore a clean and stable foundation for economic growth been laid.

Now, such an option does no longer exist. Strikes pay off and they have already spread to countries like Germany and Austria where strikes were very rare in the past and have intensified in Italy and Spain. How can this be good for the European economy? Also, the problems in Greece are not solved in any way. The people obviously want a continous and never ending stream of money from abroad and just plainly refuse to pay for themselves or even pay something back. Some years ago, they cheated to get the money, now they receive it officially which will only embolden their belief that they are entitled to it.

Of course, deep down everybody knows that this cannot go on forever. While the crisis may be pushed into the future, it also becomes bigger and bigger that way - just like the Euro bailout packages are growing. But while the crisis may be pushed into the future, it also looms ahead of all of Europe: Nobody knows who will get bailout money and who will not. Nobody knows when politicians will finally confront reality and refuse further bailouts to avoid or end inflation. This situation is adding a lot of uncertainty and risk to the European economy.

Now, after the Greek situation has been handled that way, a big crisis for the European economy is no longer avoidable. Every bailout package may push this crisis a little bit into the future, but will at the same time make it bigger. The pro-EU parties (which means almost all established parties in Europe) may not realize it, but just like a gambler bets his house to regain past losses, every new bailout package just ups the stakes, creates more debt, heightens the risk and this may actually cause the crisis to be so devastating that indeed the existence of the EU may be threatened by it.

Merkel: Must prevent others from seeking hair cutsReuters10/28/2011
These follow-up articles used this article as a reference:
Euro-bailout fund buys its own debt11/16/2011
Ireland Is Seeking Haircut03/05/2012
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