Don’t Let the Door Hit You on Your Way Out
Ah, the Greeks. The cradle of modern civilization has finally hit rock bottom. In a country where tax evasion is as popular as the Olympics, the time has come to pay the piper. In a perfect world, the Euro-Zone would tell the Greeks to exit the Union and go back to using the Drachma. Unfortunately this would create shockwaves through the global markets in the short term. So, Greece will likely continue to plod along as part of this dysfunctional dis-union, catching a free ride while the economy and populous suffers.
A Dollar and a Dream
“A dollar and a dream”… This was the famous ad slogan for the NY l.o.t.t.e.r.y. several years back. Your chances of winning are virtually zero. But hey… It’s only a buck!
Well what if you could get hundreds, thousands, or even a million people to give you one lousy dollar just like the l.o.t.t.e.r.y.? That’s what’s happening here!
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Letting Greece collapse would be the right thing to do. After-all, they entered the Union under false pretenses, pretending they were a fiscally sound country. Unfortunately, a massive Greek default would send a message that the other troubled Euro-Zone countries could also default.
If this has undertones that sound familiar, maybe it’s the parallels to the US economy circa 2008. Had we allowed the bad banks to collapse, we would have fulfilled the true meaning of a free market economy where the weak fail and the strong survive. Of course, we would have likely entered into a major Depression in the process and that was unpalatable then and still unpalatable today. Better that we kick the can down the road and continue the practice of bailing out the failing companies and industries. That’s exactly what is happening Europe today. It’s a massive bailout that has our fingerprints all over them. And, it’s only just beginning over there. That is why the Greeks hold so much leverage.
Sure, their economy is in tatters, unemployment is sky high, the Unions are getting smashed and government workers will only get a month of vacation this year and the retirement age will increase by a couple of years. They’re getting off easy.
Fifteen years ago, if Greece was in the same situation (actually it was, they just lied about it) and not part of the Union, they would have run begging to the IMF for aid. They would have defaulted on their debt, just as many third and second world countries did in the nineties. Fast forward to today, and they would be in much better shape, having tackled the issues at a cost of a few billion dollars and not the hundreds of billions they owe today. More importantly, they would not have the power to destroy an entire economic union.
Greece is a great example of what can happen when you let a relatively small problem go unchecked for a decade. It becomes a huge problem. Now, let’s magnify the issue and see what can happen down the road.
Greece has a GDP of about US$304 billion. The country’s debt is about 120% of GDP. Now, just for comparison, let’s look at the United States. Our GDP is almost $15 trillion (yes, with a “t”) and our debt to GDP just passed 100%. We are not far behind Greece in this measure. The US will not default on its debt. As the global reserve currency, we can print ourselves into oblivion if we have to, decimating the currency and the economic livelihood of millions, if not billions of people. Instead of tackling this obvious problem, and shrinking government, eliminating bailouts and reducing handouts, we have decided that we will follow the same course as Greece and kick the can down the road. Ten years from now, if this continues unabated, the consequences that we are seeing from Greece will be nothing more than a footnote in History compared to the real Greek tragedy unfolding now, on our own shores, in front of our very eyes.
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