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A political Drachma drama and a Union in pause
by Thanos Kalamidas
2011-06-03 09:18:37
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Yesterday the news agency Reuters “accidentally” posted to all the media – including Ovi magazine – and subscribers a picture that shown European exchange including US Dollar, Japanese YEN and Greek Drachma leaving all of us surprised and somehow shocked with the not surprising but definitely unexpected news. Then it worked like a domino effect with money exchange offices reorganizing their announcement boards and all of us questioning every possible resource to find out what have really happened. Soon Reuters announced that it was all a technical fault that led to the inadvertent appearance of the drachma is being investigated but that brought another climax to the Greek economic drama and further more a lot of questions to all of us who are watching the whole case.

A year after we are all aware that the Greek economic drama is not only European and it has expanded much further than the European boarders influencing global economic moves. There are many reasons for that, from the geological interests, to greedy investors. Another issue that the Greek economic drama has raised is the reality that from its beginning and far before last year in the foundations of the Euro a lot had to do with political decisions often contradicting financial reality especially the European financial reality.

And the political decision – it was purely political – to expand Euro fast to as more European countries as possible joined with the equally political decision to expand the Union to another ten countries had its cost but the political decision was based on theoretical economics and taking the risk that the international stock market would support the new currency investing in the power of nearly half a billion consumers. Huge risk based on theoretical economics, ignoring the reality of a constantly moving market and in the end punished for it. Again the elements that make this market constantly moving vary from politics, geopolitical interests to greedy bankers and investors. Perhaps in a perfect capitalist world – like the one Ronald Reagan lived in the last years of his life – this would work. Today – and without Reagan’s dementia - it is impossible.

Greece was not chosen to play the role of the Trojan horse, Greece was found in the wrong place the wrong moment; timing is always important in those cases. It could have been Portugal, Spain even Italy; it was coincidence – perhaps with a bit of help from the Greek politicians – that Greece found herself in the middle of this storm. And suddenly the Greek economy has found her the battlefield for too many battles. The unfortunate side-effect is what’s going on with the Greek people and the mystery is what the Greek politicians are going to do to bring the country out of this trap.

The bitter truth is that the solutions demand political decisions and since the European Union has failed to take any form of political decisions that would help its members it is up to the members from now on to take the right political decisions to protect their countries and that not applies only for Greece but it applies for Portugal, for Ireland, for Spain even for Italy. If that political decision demands from Greece a return to the Drachma and it is for the best of the Greek people then the Greek government should take the decisions ignoring all the theoretical calls for a domino effect. The priority of the Greek government – and in extent for the Portuguese or the Irish government – should be the prosperity of their citizens and all the instructions and measures starting from the IMF and the EU have proved till now that they care more about the bankers than the European citizens.

Unfortunately the clock is ticking and the “mistake” from Reuters doesn’t show that a computer programmer did a mistake but that the international currency exchange market is preparing for the return of the drachma and that they are expecting it to happen soon. What remains is for the Greek government to take a political decision. I keep emphasizing this because from the beginning of this case what I have seen is a Greek government waiting for the Union’s leadership to take a political decision regarding the Greek economy in vain postponing any serious move in defence of the Greek people. If that demands the return to the drachma that’s fine as long as they take the political decision and the responsibility for it and if the European Union is not able to defend its currency and its citizens then Greece can force them understand the cost of that. Obviously the time for the Union to take a political stand is over and it is about time for the members to act.

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Emanuel Paparella2011-06-03 12:34:03
When England and other countries decided not to join the EU monetary union perhaps there was a subtle message there and the message has two sides. Perhaps those countries were saying that the union should be primarily and essentially a cultural union based on a common heritage and common ideals, and lacking that kind of foundation the mere economy would not do the trick, neither would soccer games; or perhaps they were saying that forming a political union without a commitment to an economic union that aims at the common good beyond nationalism is like building a great castle on sand which will not long endure. Whichever it is, it would appear that their caution has been amply justified by subsequent events . In fact all the others who may now have to return to their original currencies were given a salutary warning way back on October 11, 1988 when in a speech delivered at the EU Parliament the late Pope John Paul II uttered these prophetic words: “If the religious and Christian substratum of this continent is marginalized in its role as inspiration of ethical and social efficacy, we would be negating not only the past heritage of Europe but a future worthy of European Man—and by that I mean every European Man, be he a believer or a non believer.” Food for thought!

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