The Greek Perspective
We've been talking about the crisis in terms of the English-language commentary on it, and in terms of the clash between German and contemporary Anglo-Saxon economic philosophy. What we haven't really heard about is what the Greeks think, except insofar as it has been represented by Germans or Frenchmen or English or American thinkers. A Greek whose acquaintance I made in the last few days sent me this graphic to explain how the crisis looks to him.
From his perspective, the Greeks are proposing to pay 3.5B of the 4B Euros being asked. The creditors group is demanding the 4B (officially), but the way it has come up with for Greece to afford it is to violate its basic national security requirements. The Greeks were already proposing defense cuts at half the level the creditors would prefer, but -- at a time when Greece is facing a heavy influx of refugees, and possibly infiltrators, from the crises caused by ISIS and in Africa -- the creditors are demanding cuts to the bone.
Now national security in the face of an immediate threat is one of the few cases in which we often think it is reasonable for a sovereign power to run a deficit. After all, what are your alternatives?
Under this reading, the Greek position suddenly looks a lot more reasonable. They're willing to meet their creditors most of the way, but they aren't willing to commit suicide to close the remaining gap. And, by the way, isn't it really to all of Europe's advantage if Greece is able to maintain sufficient defense forces to deal with the influx of refugees? That seems like a problem it is carrying for the rest of Europe, to a certain degree. Might not the rest of Europe help to carry that burden a bit, or at least not kneecap the Greeks while the Greeks are carrying that burden for them?
Just so you know how it looks from the other side.
By Grim on Tuesday, July 07, 2015