Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Greece, central banks, and the real life idiocracy

I love the movie Idiocracy it was simply brilliant. If you haven't seen it you really should. One aspect of the movie really marks a parallel to the events happening in Greece now though. *Spoiler Alert*.

In the movie the protagonist ultimately has to complete the mission of getting the plants to grow. The entire world has been suffering from a great dust storm and no plants will grow anywhere no matter what they try. He discovers the problem is that two hundred years or so ago the corporation Brawndo took over the FDA and was basically then able to say anything they liked about the product that they wanted. They proceeded to tell the public that Brawndo is what plants crave and eventually convinced them to "water" their plants with Brawndo because "it's got electrolytes".

The protagonist manages to convince them to try using water instead and assures them if they use water "like from the toilet" and not Brawndo the plants will grow. But something unexpected happened, what was clearly a very needed and necessary action had a very negative effect on the stock market.

It turns out that as Brawndo grew larger and larger it consumed more and more companies and at current employs like half the US. Demand for Brawndo crashes, their stock tanks, and everyone is out of work as the "auto fire thingie" in their company's computer executes.

I think you get the idea, everyone gets mad, etc. What does this have to do with Greece you may be wondering? Well...
ATHENS, Jan 28 (Reuters) - Leftist Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threw down an open challenge to international creditors on Wednesday by halting privatisation plans agreed under the country's bailout deal, prompting a third day of heavy losses on financial markets.
A swift series of announcements signalled the newly installed government would stand by its anti-austerity pledges, setting it on a collision course with European partners, led by Germany, which has said it will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its huge debts.
Tsipras, who was congratulated by U.S. President Barack Obama in a phone call for his decisive election victory on Sunday, told the first meeting of his cabinet members that they could not afford to disappoint voters battered by a plunge in living standards under austerity.
After announcing a halt to the privatisation of the port of Piraeus on Tuesday, for which China's Cosco Group and four others had been short-listed, the government indicated it would put the whole programme on hold.

It said it would stop the sale of stakes in the Public Power Corporation of Greece, Greece's biggest utility, and refiner Hellenic Petroleum, and put other planned asset sales of motorways, airports and the power grid on ice.

The government also plans to reinstate public sector employees judged to have been laid off unfairly, including a group of finance ministry cleaners whose case attracted publicity last year, and announced rises in pensions for retired people on low incomes.

Uncertainty over the new government's relations with the European Union went beyond economic policy. A day before the EU is expected to extend sanctions against Russia for six months, Greece's energy minister said the country was against sanctions. Athens had already dissented over a joint statement from the bloc on Ukraine on Tuesday.

Tsipras, who met Russia's ambassador to Athens on Monday and the Chinese envoy the next day, told ministers that the government would not seek "a mutually destructive clash" with creditors. But he warned that Greece would not back down from demanding a renegotiation of debt.

"We are coming in to radically change the way that policies and administration are conducted in this country," he said.

Financial markets have taken fright. Greek bank stocks plummeted more than 26 percent on Wednesday, taking their cumulative losses since the election to over 40 percent.

The overall Athens stock market fell over 9 percent, while Greek five-year government bond yields hit around 13.5 percent. This marked their highest level since a 2012 restructuring which wrote off a large proportion of Greek debt held by private investors.

Reflecting the concern, Standard and Poor's cut its outlook on Greek sovereign debt to negative from stable.

Deputy Prime Minister Yannis Dragasakis sought to reassure markets, saying private investors would be taken into account when the administration implements actions, but the business world remained sceptical.

"You've got a government that's anti-privatisations, so I think all privatisations will be put on hold," said one industry banker, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "The reality is, if you're a new owner, do you want to have a government who doesn't like you? Best to move on to the next thing."
Greece embodies the modern feudalism I talk about often on here. Every western nation will one day be like Greece as their ponzi-conomies, infinite growth, the demands of the people, the greed of the elite, the limits of the earth, collide in an epic frenzy of revolutionary awesomeness. The media is emphasizing the label of "leftist" despite the fact that SYRZIA formed a coalition government with a right-wing party. I'm neither left or right, but the media's insistence to label this party as "leftist" rather than what they truly are: anti-feudalism, and anti-usury, is telling in the need for division. Usury and feudalism, eternal debt servitude, is what the Greeks were facing and they've had enough and this coalition government for once reflects the wills of the Greek people as a government should. The Greeks are united in their desires so division must be inserted into the situation and kept within the false left/right paradigm of party politics.

This is a great development, but don't be fooled for this is not a victory but merely the start of the war. Greece still exists within the ponzi-conomy of Europe and it's debts still exist. Like the characters in Idiocracy there are likely to be some very unexpected developments as the house of cards their economy depends on comes crashing down. Already their stocks are dropping, and there are serious questions how the country will fund itself. They're being downgraded by credit rating agencies. If the debt that the European Union and the IMF have put upon them can't be paid in Euro's (which they have to borrow from the ECB), and the EU and the bondholders are not willing to swallow the debt in a jubilee, then the Greeks will have no choice but to default, leave the Euro, and return to their own currency.

This is the correct path forward for the Greeks to have any future, just as in Idiocracy the correct path forward was to give the plants water, but an entire system of man-made bullshit was built up upon the lie of Brawndo, or in the Greek's case that they're "lazy", which supported an infinite growth debt ponzi-scheme. As the people worked in their own best interest this ponzi-scheme which may have been vital to the "operation" of day to day life but was ultimately killing them collapsed and the short term pain was shocking. In Idiocracy the people blame the protagonist for causing the destruction unable to comprehend that the destruction of the flawed corrupted system designed to benefit the few at the expense of the many had to collapse before something new could be built to replace it. The hardships were endured, they created new jobs for themselves, and life went on. Facing reality became more important than faking prosperity.

Electrolytes are that fake prosperity in this analogy. 2% inflation targets. An ECB that is engaging in "QE" of it's own to supposedly battle deflation while at the same time demanding Greece essentially deflate it's own economy and sell everything it has that the people paid for and built. The long overused promises of growth and prosperity from asset bubbles.

Absolutely if the new Greek government goes ahead with it's planned reforms with no alternative plan for financing (though it does look like they're eyeing 'team Eurasia' for that) their economy will collapse. But it needs to collapse, they need to default. The government needs to introduce a sound money policy which will help to realize their real wealth and rebuild with reality at the forefront. With little in the way of resources this won't be easy for Greece and they may very likely turn on the government working in their favour as the short term effects cloud the long term vision though with what the Greek people have been through in the last 7 years I feel like they're ready to face it head on, they know the stakes, and they've got nothing left to lose.

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Richard Fantin is a self-taught software developer who has mostly throughout his career focused on financial applications and high frequency trading. He currently works for CenturyLink

Nazayh Zanidean is a Project Coordinator for a mid-sized construction contractor in Calgary, Alberta. He enjoys writing as a hobby on topics that include foreign policy, international human rights, security and systemic media bias.

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