Published on 9 Dec 2014

The Greek endgame begins

The Greek crisis, grinding away at the periphery of Europe, has thrust itself back into the limelight. After EU finance ministers agreed to extend its current bailout for two months, on Monday, the Greek government called a snap presidential election.

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This is a vote in parliament, not at the ballot box – but if there is no president elected the government has to call a general election. And if that happens the opinion polls are saying Syriza, the far left party, will win.

Syriza has been in the City of London and other financial centres outlining its plans: it will demand a 50 per cent write off of the outstanding debt and that the ECB buy all Greek debt for the next 60 years at zero interest rates.

An executive from Capital Group, a major investment firm, produced this leaked summary of one investor briefing with Syriza in which he described their plan as “worse than communism.”

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However, other City analysts realise Syriza will have a strong hand in such negotiations. One investment briefing I’ve seen says there is a chance Angela Merkel will agree to a comprehensive Greek bailout, signalling the first steps to a fiscal union.

But the danger is that in Spain, where Syriza’s ally Podemos also tops the polls, momentum builds there for a general write off of peripheral European debt. Given that even the Financial Times thinks this is the best way out for Europe we might then be at a tipping point.

Read more: is Europe’s economic house of cards about to collapse?

There’s a lot of ifs in this scenario: the presidential election has to fail, Syriza has to win, its leader Alexis Tsipras has to stick to his hard line. But none of it is impossible – which is why the Greek stock market fell 9 per cent on Monday night’s news.

And the social background is stark. 25 per cent unemployment, with riots on the streets as a convicted anarchist armed robber, Nikos Romanos, is on the 30th day of a hunger strike for the right to study while in prison.

Read more: chill wind blows across the world’s economic landscape

Amid hugely symbolic anniversaries – of the British Army’s battle with the communist resistance in December 1944 and the mass uprising of December 2008 – there is acute political tension.

Greece was the country that triggered the Eurocrisis. Strangely, amid the possibility of the first Marxist prime minister in the eurozone, we can begin to see how it might trigger closure.

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12 reader comments

  1. Mark says:

    Writing off debt of billions and limited reforms? Who is next after Greece, Spain, Portugal and more. If you want to retain credibility Mr Mason then tell the truth’ about the EU . A failed experiment and if Germany and others think Fiscal union is the only way forward then it’s entirely in the UK interest to get out of EU.

  2. Philip Edwards says:

    Oo look.

    “…worse than communism.”

    MCarthyism is back with a bang.

    Still, the ECB can always do what was done in Cyprus…….simply steal money from personal bank accounts.

    Now when was it even Edward Heath was moved to call this “The ugly and unacceptable face of capitalism.”

    That’s right……it was just before he was removed in favour of the corner shop loony that was Thatcher.

    And Greece did not “trigger the Eurocrisis.” Capitalist banks did that, as they did every single depression in the history of the continuing thievery that is capitalism.

    Each passing day only goes to show just how right was Karl Marx.

    I hope Syriza tell the bankers to get stuffed. Then they can expose the whole rotten charade for what it is………..a giant ponzi scheme that soon enough will ruin everything it touches.

    It isn’t as though history has failed to provide warning precedents, or there has been a dearth of sensible people warning where this will lead.

    Still, there’s always another Assad or Putin to demonise, another invasion and mass murder to divert attention, another terror to manufacture, more money to steal.

    And the perpetrators can always rely on mainstream media jobsworths to take their shilling and lie. It’s what they do.

    1. Silvia Marastoni says:

      About the “executive from Capital Group”, just have a look at

      Update: Syriza bashing memo was fake
      The scathing “leaked memo” calling Syriza΄s economic programme a “joke” was made up and the Capital fund exec who allegely wrote it was never in the meeting, says Athanasios Vamvakidis with Bank of America Merrill Lynch

      http://www.thepressproject.net/article/69686/Syrizas-programme-a-communist-joke-thinks-fund-executive

      TPP: a very interesting source about Greece…

      1. Christos Manos says:

        A very lefty source about Greece I would say. Nevertheless, it consists one of the most accurate left sources in Greece. However, the whole argument about the fake e-mail, is based on the SYRIZA’s claim that the writer was never attended the SYRIZA’s financial program presentation at the City. In my opinion, that does not necessarily means that it is a fake email.

        According to the WSJ:
        “In a statement released late last month in response to media reports, Capital Group said that Mr. Sponer was one of their employees but that it couldn’t comment on the personal views of any of its analysts.”

        My initial guess was that Mr. Sponer was simply speculating on behalf of Capital Group. That was until the announcement of presidential elections from Mr. Samaras and the immediate abandonment of the Greek market from the Capital Group. It appears that the e-mail was very true and honest…

        Personally, I wouldn’t bet on SYRIZA’s bluffing against the investor’s determination…

  3. Alan says:

    Appears that interested factions wish for as much division as possible, Fascist coup in Ukraine, Marxism in Greece or maybe so much journalistic baiting.

  4. Kia Mistilis says:

    Paul,

    The leaked memo has been revealed to be fake. It actually reeked of “SYRIZA bashing” in the first place, which you should realise has been non stop in Greece’s political sphere since the party’s ascendancy in the 2012 elections. I am not cheering for SYRIZA, I am pointing out that you need to be more on the ball with political reporting than this, even when you’re writing a blog.

    There is SO much going on here right now. Perhaps you could try and dig a little deeper and consider spending more time on the ground? It would give your reporting a lot more credibility
    because this blog is really shallow, to be frank.

    From an independent journalist and BBC contributor in Athens, Greece.

    http://www.thepressproject.net/article/69686/Syrizas-programme-a-communist-joke-thinks-fund-executive

  5. Philip says:

    This is the inevitable result of “austerity”, especially when imposed from outside. Not least because the crisis was caused by greedy bankers & the politicians who weren’t prepared to control them, when they weren’t just sucking money from them. The debts should be written off & effective, tight control over the financial sector should be imposed Europe-wide.
    And UKIP spoutings are irrelevant in this. Their spokesman appears to believe that the UK should get rid of its government debt even faster than the Tories suggest – but then as every UKIP policy – other than leaving the EU – is made up on the hoof, that’s probably changed twice today, while Farage was sitting in his car behind a convoy of
    12 Polish plumbers
    11 Latvian litter-pickers
    10 Czech chicken-sandwich makers
    9 Bulgarian barstaff
    8 Estonian egg-collectors
    7 Slovak street-cleaners
    6 Slovene salesmen
    5 French financiers (like his grandparents)
    4 Finnish French polishers
    3 Turkish tablemakers
    2 Hungarian hoteliers
    and a Lithuanian in a very slow fork-lift truck

  6. John Latham says:
  7. gerald harris says:

    That’s it! With this level of market uncertainty, I’m definitely coming out of cowpats and buying dead dogs. Remember, you heard it here first.

  8. Yiannis says:

    First of all SYRIZA is not far left. It’s left. Far left is KKE (Greek Communist Party). KKE is so left that they say SYRIZA is too right. So by saying “…Syriza, the far left party, will win” you scare people that the reds are coming to take away all our possessions and re-distribute them.

    You, the media, are directing the masses by publishing “leaked” information from bankers and economists who don’t want the Euro to fail because they have invested in it even the plot of land that they will be buried in.

    SYRIZA *claim* that they will look after the interests of the country first and foremost. I am not saying that they will do it, but at the moment they are the only party with a sizeable support from the Greek people who are against what the ND-PASOK coalition did (i.e. get the country into this situation). If they get voted and they don’t follow their promises they will, rightly, be voted off to make room for the next politician who claims that they can save Greece.

    But, to argue that the current situation is best is ridiculous. You know nothing about it and you follow the “advice” of some bankers. Have you already forgotten what the bankers and the economists do the UK economy just a few years ago?

  9. george says:

    The war is on!!
    The investors and their lackies are out in force to convince =everyone elections are a bad thing and we in Greece should stick with the IMF troika plan .
    Dont hear the official channels,the people in Greece are fed up with this conservative junta,that took over the Greek state and dismantled it on behalf of the vultures ,banks investors funds etc.
    And for the next month they will do all in their power to stop the elections from happening.
    Terorism,market failure,default without defaulting ,threats for the future if we dare ..vote for syriza.
    I ve been saying for a long time that the only way the ND PASOK fascists would allow elections is if they are certain they will not lose the power.Their bosses,those who pay them ,want results!!:)
    And they failed to deliver!
    Now they have to go ahead with the process.
    They started talking today about constitutional review!!!
    maybe they will try to change it before the elections so that SYRIZA doesnt get majority
    Who knows what to expect from the traitors ,those who sold their own fellow citizns in exchange for money and power.

    Elections asap.!!!!And with syriza in power we will talk with the investors from a different point of view.we dont pay shit if you do not help us start producing.simple really…..we have enough to make ends meet without loans.
    of this is communism then ok lets have communism.i call it common sense.
    f@ck markets and all parasites who want to live without producing.
    lets go back to primary production and see what happens.
    after all we ve got enough electronics in the country already.mostly not used.paid by our taxes.lets use them first then buy new.
    ..
    Cuba.
    yes but with better options for the citizens,without forced anything.
    This is the future we dream .
    not the USSR .enough with the Idiotic argument.

    1. Agogi T Politi says:

      george you are slandering. You are accusing the current government of being fascists when they were democratically elected. if you are looking for fascistic behavior i suggest you look at Syriza (whose initials stand for Coalition of the Radical Left) who is abusing a clause in the constitution to elect the figure-head president with a wide majority, into a forced mechanism to cause premature elections. i would suggest you look at the neo nazi Golden Dawn whose votes Syriza needs and will get to force early elections. or the KKE marxist communists. in other words a coalition of constitution abusing syriza coupled with marxists and nazis will overthrow the democratically elected greek government. who is the fascist?

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