Mar 112012
 
 March 11, 2012  Posted by at 3:04 am Finance

After the Greek swap deal was signed, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared: "The Greek problem is over". Sarkozy knows better, but he's desperate to be re-elected. Which will set him up to be forced out with pitchforks piercing his skin, by the way, but power makes blind. Anyway, the Greek problem hasn't even started for real. Wolf Richter at the Testosterone Pit shows why that is. Let the numbers sink in, I would suggest. And then after that never again have even one single iota of hope that either the Greek problem, or that of Europe as a whole, or the global credit issue, is solvable. All our leaders can do, blinded by their addiction to the power they're trying to hold on to for another day, is devise ways to hide the financial problems from their electorate. Until they no longer can.

A Harder Default To Come

“We owed it to our children and grandchildren to rid them of the burden of this debt,” said Greek Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos about the bond swap that had just whacked private sector investors with a 72% loss. But the drumbeat of Greece’s economic horror show continued in its relentless manner.

In central Athens, a stunning 29.6% of the businesses ceased operations, up from 24.4% in August; in Piraeus 27.3%, a 10-point jump since March. The whole Attica region lost 25.6% of its businesses. “This worsening of the survival index in the commercial sector … shows that resistance is waning,” said Vasilis Korkidis, president of the National Confederation of Hellenic Commerce. And fourth quarter GDP was revised down to -7.5% on an annual basis. The Greek economy has shrunk about 20% since 2008.

Unemployment is veering toward disaster: 21% in December, announced Thursday, was horrid enough. But youth unemployment rose to a shocking 51.1%, double the rate before the crisis. A record 1,033,507 people were unemployed, up 41% over prior year. Only 3,899,319 people had jobs—a mere 36.1% of a total population of 10.8 million!

No economy can service a gargantuan mountain of debt when only 36.1% of its people contribute (by comparison, the US employment population ratio is 58.6%, down from 64.7% in 2000). Hence, another bout of red ink. The “cash deficit” at the end of 2011 hit €24.9 billion, 11.5% of GDP, far above the general budget deficit. Government-owned enterprises, such as the public healthcare sector, couldn’t pay their bills. Total owed their suppliers: €5.73 billion.

Yet, forcing down the deficit is one of the many conditions that the bailout Troika of EU, ECB, and IMF have imposed on Greece. And: "If the Greek people or the Greek political elite do not apply all of these conditions, they exclude themselves from the Eurozone," said Luxembourg’s Finance Minister Luc Frieden. All of these conditions. Then he added the crucial words: "The impact on other countries now will be less important than a year ago." Read…. Firewalls In Place, Markets ready: Greece Can Go To Heck.

Under pressure to cut its healthcare budget, the government reduced the prices that the industry can charge state-owned insurers. So wholesalers are selling their limited supply outside Greece, while out-of-money state-owned insurers delay payments to pharmacies and hospitals, which then can’t pay their wholesalers for the medications they do get. Wholesalers turn off the spigot. And the system locks up.

Even Health Minister Andreas Loverdos conceded that there were shortages, but that they were limited to lower-priced medications. Of the 500 most common drugs, 243 have disappeared from the shelves, including antibiotics. The Panhellenic Association of Women with Breast Cancer, for example, received many complaints from patients who claim they weren't treated due to lack of oncology drugs. And the world’s largest pharmaceutical companies are worried that Greece might not be able to pay them at all.

A bright spot: tourism. In 2011, receipts rose by 9.5% over prior year as the Arab Spring scared tourists away from destinations such as Egypt and Tunisia. In October, receipts jumped 15%. Alas, in December they declined 4.9%. That reversal has now infected 2012. Tourist arrivals so far this year are down 10.7% in Athens and 6.7% for the country. Greece's last growth industry has hit the skids.

With unemployment climbing, production and consumption tanking, businesses shutting down, and tourism nose-diving, there is only one way for tax revenues: down. Budget deficits will be worse than promised. Greece’s debt—now largely to taxpayers of other countries—will continue to balloon. The standard of living of the vast majority of Greeks will get slammed, though the elite that are negotiating these deals will do just fine.

“We still don’t have a solution for Greece, so there will be a harder default to come,” predicted Charles Wyplosz, director of the Geneva-based International Center for Money and Banking Studies.

 

Home Forums Greece is now on its way to a real disaster

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  • #8593

    After the Greek swap deal was signed, French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared: "The Greek problem is over". Sarkozy knows better, but he
    [See the full post at: Greece is now on its way to a real disaster]

    #1541

    The PAHHTY is OVAHH.

    RE

    #1543

    Golden Oxen
    Participant

    It most certainly appears to be a bleak situation, however there is always hope and the other side of the coin. It is a beautiful country with a rich and enviable history. Perhaps somewhere among that population of unemployed youth something positive will develop for their future. Never forget the eternal optimism of young people and their desire to change the world for the better, especially a well educated, internet savvy group of kids.

    #1544

    coyoteyogi
    Member

    Nobody in power is able or willing to speak the truth. The population gets lies and scapegoating, stories designed to avoid the difficult and relentless choices that face them. We are not so far behind and have the same problem. To wildly mix metaphors, it’s a potemkin village of puppets putting on a shadow play. That’s how far removed from reality the politics has gotten. Somehow the truth will win out. I feel for the people who need medications now, not tomorrow. I feel for the doctors and caregivers who are trapped in a box. While all share some responsibility for the mess, not all were equally at cause for it’s creation. Sad.

    #1548

    scandia
    Participant

    For the people I know Greece is not even on the radar. And how will the young people of Greece recreate without energy? Will a Greece in default have access to the world’s oil supplies? I did note that some of the bailout money was spent on military gear not on paying the outstanding pharmaceutical bills.
    Hope is a tenacious emotion. I confess that I harboured hopium in that the regulators may grow a pair and set the ships of state aright. However on reading the latest at London Banker ” Complexity Costs “,
    https://londonbanker.blogspot.com,
    my hopes are dashed yet again. I just can’t seem to kick the habitual search for sane,intelligent leaders who can ” fix ” the system. Silly of me when ” the fix is in “.

    #1549

    Greenpa
    Participant

    Here, in fact, is an opportunity for the Occupy folks, or their like.

    Time for a new “Piece Corps.” We should be sending kids over there, to Greece, Iceland, and Ireland; for starters.

    Not to teach. What a silly idea. To learn.

    Somehow- the common people are mostly coping. 50% youth unemployment? How do they eat? How do they spend their days? Half the drugs missing? How are they surviving? Manifestly, they mostly are (so far).

    We could use their experiences and skills in our own future, bet on that.

    I’ll state again here- in the recent months I’ve become more convinced that the power of fantasy and mass hallucination seems to be far, far, greater than we’ve usually believed here. We keep insisting that reality must prevail. But I’m less convinced of that, these days. Yes, the jugglers have 50 plates spinning on those sticks; and yes, there’s no way they can keep it up. Except- they are.

    I take the UK as a possibly good explanation. The entire country has no visible means of support; and hasn’t for 100 years. Yet- their standard of living continues to be far higher than average around the world. I’m thinking they’re coasting on the material inputs from centuries of colonial strip mining- moving resources stolen from India, etc, into the UK as fast as they could, for a very long time. Much of it was used to build permanent infrastructure- that still functions, and needs little upkeep.

    So; they coast; while the majority in India are still as poor as ever (or poorer).

    It all seems insanely stable.

    #1550

    Golden Oxen
    Participant

    @greenpa Enjoyed your post and unique insights. Reminded me also of an old saying; “There Will Always Be A London.”

    #1551

    ashvin
    Participant

    Greenpa wrote: It all seems insanely stable

    .

    When similar thoughts pop into my mind, I try to remember all of the crap that has happened around the world over the span of… 4 years. Absolutely unprecedented policy measures, market uncertainty, episodes of systemic fear and sociopolitical conflagrations, to name a few. Centuries of siphoned wealth from colonialism, mercantilism, imperialism, etc. coming under threat from something as innocuous as the sub-prime housing bubble and the global financial crisis, morphed into sovereign debt crises. And that’s leaving aside all energy, environmental or geopolitical issues. None of it is stable, and when it appears to be, it is simply because we are adopting a misleading perspective.

    #1558

    bluebird
    Participant

    @ashvin – And yet, for everyone I know, they think it is all normal. Technology keeps getting better every day. Or so they tell me. If I happen to say something contrary, their eyes roll, or laugh at me outright.
    When this Ponzi blows, it will be epic…because most people truly will not see it coming.

    #1559

    el gallinazo
    Member

    As with all crime scenes you investigate, the first step toward understanding is to ask:

    Cui Bono?

    But that itself depends on whether you regard the scene as a homicide or a pile-up of a bunch of drunken idiots.

    #1563

    jal
    Participant

    We are totally in the dark about greek life..

    We need boots on the ground that can give us day by day reporting of what is happening with their lives.

    Greenpa post=1149 wrote: … The entire country has no visible means of support; and hasn’t for 100 years. Yet- their standard of living continues to be far higher than average around the world. I’m thinking they’re coasting on the material inputs from centuries of colonial strip mining- moving resources stolen from India, etc, into the UK as fast as they could, for a very long time. Much of it was used to build permanent infrastructure- that still functions, and needs little upkeep.

    So; they coast; while the majority in India are still as poor as ever (or poorer).

    It all seems insanely stable.

    What !!!!

    You are saying that China has stolen and improved an idea from the UK!!!!

    Move resources from everywhere in the world to China.

    Add value to those resources by building empty cities with those resources.

    Expect that in the future, (post reset), that those resources will be scarce and therefore, can be recycled cheaper that trying to get them from other countries.

    #1565

    Greenpa
    Participant

    “You are saying that China has stolen and improved an idea from the UK!!!!”

    Well. Or, the UK stole it from Rome, they stole it from Persia, who stole it from.. China, probably…. 🙂

    #1567

    MR166
    Member

    We are witnessing the “Fall of Rome” all over again. The problem is not just a Greek one. The whole Western world has lost it’s moral compass. Our political leaders have joined forces with our business leaders to form a corrupt enterprise that has no sense of values and cares nothing about a future that extends farther than the next election cycle. It is not about country any longer it is about what is best for the party.

    Our educational systems feed mindless politcal drivel to the students which says the the “Rich” are to blame and the the solution to the problem is to just hand more power to the politicians. The voting masses have been purposely indoctrinated by the media and educational system so as to perpetuate the system. Without a functioning moral system you only have the law to protect you. We can all see how well that is working.

    #1569

    Marcus
    Member

    EVERYTHING is insanely stable…until the moment a large enough destablizing force hits the system dealing a mortal blow to a crtical node in the network. Only then will all the built up insanity be unleashed.

    How long can they continue to hold it all together? Right now the system is as fragile as my 98 year old grandmother and it’s becoming even more fragile faster than she is. There are so many exposed critical nodes crucial to maintaing the current structure, that a mortal destabilizing blow to just one tiny node(Greece) now requires the attention and resources of almost the entire system for over a year just to maintain some semblance that our financial system isn’t completely broke.

    The size of an outside shock required to flip the system grows ever smaller, meanwhile the system makes itself ever more frail and weak trying to keep all the plates spinning. How much longer can it keep going? Like Grandma a lot longer than you think, but certainly not forever.

    #1571

    So I can’t help but wonder which country after Greece will be the next one to go into default? Spain? Italy?

    #1572

    daisychain
    Participant

    Of course there is a lot of suffering in Greece now, but there are bright spots. It has a beautiful, underpopulated countryside. During the Euro years most migrated to city jobs, but the norm was to keep one’s family land, worth little unless in a tourist area. So now many are returning to these places, growing grapes, making cheap wines, cooking meals for others in an informal way. There is this opportunity to be Greek again, that is, more interested sharing food with friends under an olive tree than working in an office cubicle. Generations are sometimes being forced to trade places –adult children supporting parents whose careers disappeared. People are bartering. Once the dust settles, Greeks may be poorer but happier.

    #1573

    MR166
    Member

    There is much to be said for returning to the not so distant past. I am not so sure that I would be willing to go back to the pre-electric days or back to the animal drawn plow. But the idea of multiple generations living in the same ( paid for ) household and caring for each other is something that feels correct. Modern society has turned each person into an island. Also, these “islands” are very expensive to support and wasteful by nature. “Government” needs to be brought under control, since it is a “luxury” that we can no longer afford, and family units need to learn how to provide for themselves.

    #1574

    jal
    Participant

    Soooo many nations have been living off their credit cards
    Soooo many nations have been living beyond their means.

    If it wasn’t for the printing of funny money, the system would have reset itself long before now.

    Who cares???? Not the beneficiaries of this overspending.

    Who would refuse a chance to get out of an old dilapidated apt. and get into a nice house with good schools for less than the cost of that shitty apt.

    The bankers are afraid to cut up the credit cards and the greeks are taking advantage of it.

    The bankers are going to have to print more funny money to prevent their own system from falling apart.

    #1589

    TheTrivium4TW
    Participant

    jal post=1174 wrote: The bankers are afraid to cut up the credit cards and the greeks are taking advantage of it.

    The bankers are going to have to print more funny money to prevent their own system from falling apart.

    I disagree on two points.

    1. The banksters are planning to cut off the credit cards after they’ve maximised their current looting operation. That is how they transfer their current paper wealth into actual real Earth wealth. It is all part of the plan they devised about 100 years ago.

    2. The system will fall apart with 100% certainty. The system engineers know that the collapse is coming and there are only two outcomes… bust everyone and the banksters suck up all the real wealth protected by the police state they are engineering or hyperinflate (requires a change in the Debt Dollar Tyranny system) and bail out the debtors (fat chance when you understand WHO runs Debt Dollar Tyranny).

    The average person has no ideas that bad guys even exist, they are prey for these predators and the predator methods used to hurt the prey.

    #1593

    bluebird
    Participant

    TheTrivium4TW said “The banksters are planning to cut off the credit cards after they’ve maximised their current looting operation.”

    If that occurs, then without plastic cards, wouldn’t that indicate the end of the online banking system? Assuming a person still had a paycheck automatically deposited, how could a person buy anything without a plastic card? Would people write checks? Could people withdraw cash?
    edit – I lumped credit and debit cards together because some people use the debit card as a credit card.

    TheTrivium4TW also said “The average person has no ideas that bad guys even exist”

    True that, many people are self-absorbed with texting, and busy with hobbies, watching mindless TV, family and vacations.

    #1603

    el gallinazo
    Member

    I think what Trivium4TW really means is that they are going to cut off access to any credit. I&S maintain that this will occur whether the top Banksters plan it or not as a strategy.

    #1607

    jal
    Participant

    Greece is now on its way to a real disaster

    What disaster??? … END OF GROWTH!!!

    BUT …

    It is the end of growth for everyone.

    We are on the edge of starting a new system.

    The big question is “Why do people want to continue with the status quo?”

    “Why do people fear change and avoid it until the last moment?”

    Is it because we only accept change IF we can foresee benefits?

    BUT

    Doesn’t those “benefits” mean “better” mean “growth”?

    Fear of losing and getting a worst life freezes change from happening.

    Its basic psychology … understanding motivators.

    A new world order … steady state … no growth … zero sum

    #1610

    el gallinazo
    Member

    Jal

    Because almost all the resources were put into useless malinvestments and populations expanded on the fossil fuel bubble, credit, and optimism. Even if the Banksters were not still extracting their pound and a half of flesh, and they certainly are, Greece for one would have a hard time making it without most people living in real poverty.

    #1613

    jal
    Participant

    Greece for one would have a hard time making it without most people living in real poverty.

    A small difference … The whole world is going to have a hard time …

    with … A new world order … steady state … no growth … zero sum

    and living without a credit card and living within your means.

    Its acoming for everyone.

    #1618

    el gallinazo
    Member

    jal post=1213 wrote:

    Greece for one would have a hard time making it without most people living in real poverty.

    A small difference …

    I beg to differ. One area where Kunstler really shines.

    #1621

    Poverty is a relative concept. The Greeks are just the first amongst the “Western” nations that has to redefine their parameters for existence and what “poverty” means.

    The fact is though that mostly Greeks will not redefine, they will evacuate. Greece will Depopulate as Ireland did in the Potato Famine. Where will they all GO? Mostly to the same place the Okies who pased on thru the CA Pea Fields went to in the Great Depression. See John Steinbeck, reference “The Grapes of Wrath”.

    RE
    https://www.doomsteaddiner.org

    #1633

    daisychain
    Participant

    Greece may be fortunate for being the first nation to have to face facts, and adapt, before conditions in the rest of the world have deteriorated a lot more. They are also lucky to have a fairly recent cultural heritage of village-based subsistence living. Yes, a new regime of no-growth, or negative growth in the case of Greece recently, is frightening; but I disagree that it is zero sum. More can be done with less. Happily, humans have an infinite capacity to learn, grow, and create culturally. This can mean less not more demands on material flows. It can also mean restoration not degradation of ecological wealth. This is infinite sum thinking.
    There may be a surge of tourism in Greece, if things go well there, rather than emigration.
    The Okie victims of the Dust Bowl disaster were uneducated, marginalized poor folk. Greeks have an educated population with spectacular natural resources, and their own polity. There was a reason those Irish were dependent on a monocrop of potatoes, again having to do with ignorance and marginalization. Greece may be being marginalized by Europe as a whole, but that could lead to good things.

    #1636

    daisychain post=1233 wrote: Happily, humans have an infinite capacity to learn, grow, and create culturally.

    That is an entirely Faith Based assumption with no real evidence to support it. The size of the brain is finite, and so are the number of neural connections in there. Nothing Infinite there. Even the number of possible permutations of connections is a finite number.

    In any event, even if you postulate infinite capacity for Homo Sapiens, the Planet we live on is not infinite in resources. The resources Greece actually has are not sufficient to feed the people of Greece, and they are as dependent on the Energy systems that have been put in place over the last Century as most Euro nations are. They can’t Reverse Engineer to an agrarian lifestyle overnight, and what education they do have mostly does not apply to their predicament either. They are no better off than the poor “uneducated” Okies were.

    Greece will depopulate.

    RE

    #1637

    el gallinazo
    Member

    Okies were more educated. They knew how to butcher a hog and coldcock a Pinkerton.

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