Monday, 6 July 2015

grexit, stage left

Naturally the chorus of international observers and lenders bemoaned the Greek referendum up until the last moment after the polls closed and the ballots counted, crying that such a move to distance itself from the European Union, notably a political experiment and not an economic bloc primarily, did not behove the country and would not give them a better bargaining position. I don’t know that I would place much trust in any of the oligarchs championing one course of action over the other, since they undoubtedly have obscured agendas and some stand to benefit regardless—or in spite—of the outcome at the expense of others.
Sovereign debt was not what brought Greece to wrack and ruin, and after six years of being in arrears with economic contraction and punishing privations and in an even sorrier state—who could blame the people for vocalising one way forward when a decision was forced upon them, steering towards the sea-monster Scylla and knowing there would be sacrifice to avoid sure destruction if they got too near the whirlpool of Charybdis, like Odysseus and his crew—but rather the world-wide recession is to blame. perpetrated by market bubbles that exposed borrowing countries to faults in EU refinancing mechanisms. Obfuscation also on the part of the supranational banking sector, shoring up Greece’s portfolio for an EU who wanted to hear exactly that—not a Europe without Greece or a Greek state that was only on the periphery, like the other Balkan marches. The parallel is imperfect, chiefly due to Greece’s dues-paying membership in the EU, but a sanguine and constructive comparison is to be found in Argentina’s bold decision, facing bankruptcy a decade hence, to unpeg its currency from another sort of hegemony, the US dollar, and face down months and years of chaos and hardship, to emerge the more robust for the dare—though an opportunity arguably squandered by not undertaking more lasting reforms in the good years. If Greece does adopt this tacking manœuvre after all, let’s hope it does ultimately flourish.