22 February, 2015

Greece again

There has been a lot of talk about winning and losing, and very little about what is best for the people of Greece.

It seems Mr. Tsipras has given a fair bit more than Mrs Merkel but he went into the game with a very weak hand. The idea had been to unite the austerity-condemning governments of France, Spain and Italy into persuading the Germans to give way. Each of these has said publicly that austerity was not the solution but by the time it came to the crunch not one of them backed him. Tsipras must feel let down.

In the end, all Merkel had to do was make sure there was nothing Spain's extreme left party could seize on to upset the elections there later this year.

In fact the Greek people are not best served either by the German austerity plan or by the extreme left policies of Varufakis. Greece can never be competitive using the same money as the Germans.

Most people in Greece want to stay in the euro because they think it is stable money. What it means though is that instead of devaluing the currency when their inefficiencies catch up with them, they have to devalue internally - reducing wage rates to subsistence level.

Mr Tsipras will now have four months to hold an honest discussion with the Greek people. Do they want decades more of this, or would they like a drachma they can devalue, making tourism more attractive, exports cheaper?

It may be we haven't heard the end of this.

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