27 Sep 2011

The public may yet scupper super bailout

Munich Airport, 1500

In Germany the big news is not sadly this massive multi-trillion eurozone bailout that currently does not exist. No, it is the Bayern Munich star player in jail for apparently burning his house down.

An apt metaphor some might say for other goings-on in Germany.

I repeat my earlier scepticism about the myriad of euro bailout stories emerging from Washington DC and the UK and probably Brussels.

There are any number of sources for journalists to claim exclusive news about when it comes to the eurozone. A good guide is to look for the news from the countries with skin in the game. The US won’t be funding the euro bailout, nor will the UK. The German press had not a pipsqueak about this.

Now it is feasible that Germany does not want to rock the boat before Thursday’s big vote on the ratification on of the European Financial Stability Facility. Angela Merkel is already in danger of having to rely on the opposition to get this through. The idea that this is not 440bn euros but actually 2tr euros that Germany is signing up for has caused problems politically and constitutionally.

So watch this very carefully. And watch Greece too. I travelled here from Athens, where I genuinely believe that the imposition of a property tax on every household electricity bill represents a structural change in the anti-austerity movement. Watch my film from Greece yesterday. You will see tax inspectors who can’t pay the tax.

This tax was levied to appease the Troika which had left, and get in 2tr euro revenue quick to meet missed targets.

As one leading Greek figure told me: “It is a scandal that they are imposing this unconstitutional tax when 20bn euros of VAT lies uncollected from Greece’s companies”.

He also said that whether or not today’s vote in the Greek parliament passes, and it could be by just three MPs, there are numerous problem votes stacked up for the Greek government that could see the fall of the government and snap elections.

Massive June-style protests are expected for 5 and 6 October. It could be an Argentina pots and pans moment.

An economy that is being crushed by a 7.3 per cent annualised rate in the last quarter, where 810,000 unemployed are going for 47,000 jobs, where pay is being cut, prices rising, joblessness is up and then, regardless if you are a pensioner or even recently unemployed, hundreds of euros will be added to your electricity bill on pain of a cut-off.

I wonder what Georges Papandreou will tell Angela Merkel tonight in Berlin, from where I report tonight on Germany’s attitude to the same problem.

Follow Faisal Islam on Twitter @FaisalIslam