Category Archives: Macroeconomic policy

Do Greece, the Troika, and the Eurogroup Actually Have a Deal?

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard has a new article on Greece’s scramble to find the funds to meet it March IMF payments, which are €1.5b in total, with €300 due on Friday. Note that IMF payment dates aren’t as hard and fast as credit card due dates; the agency allows borrowers some leeway if they have a clear intent to pay.

Nevertheless, Evans-Pritchard’s most important observation may be the one at the close of his article:

Whatever piece of paper they signed in Brussels 10 days ago, the two sides are still talking past each other.

In other words, the two sides disagree profoundly as to what the memo means. And that may mean that in reality, there is no deal at all.

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Mathew D. Rose: Greece – Dead Man Walking

Rose focuses on an issue that reader Swedish Lex and other have pointed out: the heavy-handed actions of Germany in the tempestuous negotiations between the Eurozone and Greece have wound up being a major own goal.

But the bigger issue that Rose raises is that last week’s ugly negotiations, in combination with the fiasco in Ukraine, is exposing Germany as a lousy hegemon, which he argues is producing a political crisis in Germany and fracture lines in Europe.

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Greece, Its International Creditors and the Euro

his is an excellent background piece on how Greece got where it is and how its various bailouts were structured. It also helps explain the past and current roles the various members of the Troika play and discusses the prospects for Greece achieving its aims.

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Robert Parenteau: Get a TAN, Yanis: A Timely Alternative Financing Instrument for Greece

TAN, or tax anticipation notes, would way be a for Greece to give itself more fiscal spending wriggle room without violating Eurozone rules. That will likely be necessary if Monday’s meeting in Brussels results in no extension of the current Eurozone bailout.

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The Rich and the Great Recession

Much research about the Great Recession in the US has focused on the boom-bust in housing wealth and spending of the middle class. This column argues that a large role was actually played by the rich. The savings rate of the rich went through a similar cycle as that of the middle class with rising wealth first stimulating their consumption and falling wealth restraining it. Most importantly, the wealth of the rich has become so large and volatile that wealth effects on their consumption could impact the whole economy.

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ECB to Greece: Drop Dead

Even by the standards of bank thuggishness, the move by the ECB against Greece last night was a stunner. Americans have become used to banks taking houses under dubious pretexts when both the investors and borrowers would do better with a writedown. But to see the ECB try take a country is another matter entirely. As one seasoned pro said, “If anyone had tried something like this against a country with a decent sized military, the tanks would be rolling.”

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Will the Cavalry Ride Over the Hill in Time for Greece?

We’ve cautioned readers that Greece is in a very weak bargaining position relative to its financial overlords in the Troika. As much as Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis is making sound, logical arguments and presenting proposals that if anything are too accommodating, despite initial cool reactions, many of Greece’s soi disant partners are diehard neoliberals and/or are politically constrained. Varoufakis is approaching them as if they can deal in good faith, when their idea of “good faith” comes from a punitive parallel universe.

Three important meetings today will provide a better sense of whether Greece is gaining any political ground in its uphill battle to roll back austerity.

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Mathew D. Rose: Hope for Greece, and Perhaps for Europe Too

Monday morning I encountered a word in a number of newspapers that I have not read regarding the European Union for years: Hope. The occasion was the election in Greece. I suddenly became aware of how long much of this continent has been living in what appears to be a never ending-crisis.

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Clyde Prestowitz on the Destructive Effects of TPP on American Workers

By Lambert Strether of Corrente. In last week’s State of the Union speech, Obama (again) pressed Congress to give him “fast track” negotiating authority (Trade Promotion Authority): I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but […]

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How Much Success is Syriza Likely to Have in Ending Austerity?

While the election results in Greece have sent shockwaves through European technocratic elites and have rattled investors, it is not clear how successful Syriza will be in getting big enough changes implemented in Eurozone policies and its own bailout terms to end the humanitarian crisis, rather than just create the sort of bounce off the bottom growth that analysts like to depict as progress. Indeed, once you walk though the likely bargaining positions of the various parties, there is little reason to be optimistic on Syriza’s behalf.

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The ECB’s QE Decision

The European Central Bank has just launched full-fledged quantitative easing. This column argues that the ECB’s watershed decision highlights both the strengths and the persistent vulnerabilities of the Eurozone. The limited-risk-sharing provision flags the need for greater fiscal union; and governments should use the respite that QE provides to launch much-needed structural reforms.

That’s their story and they’re sticking to it.

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