Douglas Carswell

15 JUN 2015

Europe's response to the Greek crisis - years of debt and delusion

Soon after the 2010 General Election, European leaders got together to discuss the Greek problem.

A decade of Euro membership had allowed the Athens government to borrow vast amounts of money off the banks. The debt, in Euro denominated bonds, was so vast, Athens could barely service the debt, let alone repay it. What to do?

One idea would have been to write off the debt. When a person or a country gets so into debt that they can't pay off what they owe, the least worst thing is often to make it the lenders problem.

A Greek default would have meant decoupling from the Euro, and re-establishing a Greek currency. All those debts could then be paid back, but in low value Drachmas, rather than Euros.

The consequences would have been painful. Output in Greece would contract. Credit would contract. Unemployment would rise. The banks that lent Greece all that money would have lost it.

But economic resources would have been rapidly reshuffled in the real Greek economy. As Argentina discovered after devaluation, or Britain found out after leaving ERM, growth would resume. Five years on, Greek output and living standards would be on the up.

Yet what did the people that preside over Europe do instead?

Almost unbelievably, they increased the size of the Greek debt through a series of catastrophic blunders they called "bailouts". Contrary to what the term implies, the bailouts did not alleviate the debts. Each one meant lending Greece more money, pushing Greece further into debt.

Secondly, the European governing classes used the bailouts to turn the Greek debts owed to private - often German – banks, into public liabilities. Foolish lenders were rescued from the consequences of their own idiotic fixed income investment strategies – and everyone else was left to pay.

Five years on, Greece is thirty percent more in debt than she was. The Greek economy has shrunk by a quarter. Millions of young Greeks have spent all that time with few prospects.

Yet here's the real tragedy;  For all that, Greece is still going to end up having to default, decouple and devalue all the same. But because the debts are that much bigger and the economy that much weaker, things will be even worse.

Europe's delusional elite, obsessed to the point of madness with their grand Euro projects, have spent five years making things worse.

The irony is that Greece is now looking to non EU Iceland for a solution. Far from passing private liabilities on to the public, Iceland told foolish bankers to take a hike. Some banks went bust. The currency devalued. The reshuffle started. Growth resumed.

Five years on, Iceland is doing pretty well. The next generation in Reykjavik will do better than the one before. How many Eurozone countries can say the same?

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