Posts Tagged ‘Greece’

I used to say Greek Americans had more pride in Greece than Greeks.

That changed a few years ago… when Greece hosted an amazing Olympic Games… and even won a giant international basketball tournament… finally, a whole bunch of sorely-needed civic pride!

Given the turmoil in Greece today, I have no idea where civic pride stands.

But I do know Greece had a huge soccer match against Germany a few weeks back… actually, on the eve of their big political elections.

In a bizarre and unexpected “sports imitating life” scenario, the Germans were greatly favored… just like in real life.

To win, the Greeks were going to need a glorious upset… just like in real life.

And, go figure, the Greeks won!

As a second generation Greek American, I should feel ebullient.

But, strangely, almost sadly, I don’t.

I know the soccer match wasn’t a referendum on Greek vs. German fiscal philosophy… but it certainly felt like it.  I felt myself rooting for the team that comes from a much more responsible place…

… said another way, I can’t cheer for the currently irresponsible way of life in Greece to win.

I can’t find the article… but a few weeks back, when Greece was in the headlines preparing for their big elections, I read an amazing article about Latvia.

Latvia (not to be mistaken with Latveria, the country Dr. Doom rules) is a small country in Northern Europe.  They were a giant mess, just like Greece.

But unlike Greece, they did not wallow in the feeling that they were somehow being punished (i.e., the dreaded “austerity” word)…

… and instead of just rolling over and dying, they moved forward by being more responsible.

The results?

They did what everyone said was impossible.

From Business Insider:

     Latvia enacted fiscal cuts worth a massive 18% of its GDP over 3 years and cut public sector wages by up to 40%. Latvia’s GDP dropped 25% in 2009, which was Europe’s worst recession. Despite all of that, they managed to grow 5.5% in 2011.

Greece… and all of Europe… heck, even the U.S… could learn a valuable lesson here.

Three cheers for Latvia, my new favorite country in the world!

Update:  Responsibility (vs. “austerity”) seems to be working in Ireland, too!

Update #2:  Looks like Ireland is the first bailed out Euro country to come back to the credit market as well.

I wrote some time ago how hard it will be for the European Union to coordinate… if for no other reason they all speak a different language!

The truth is, that barely scratches the surface… not only can these people not communicate freely with each other…

… but they operate in a totally different way… that is, live, work, eat, play, pray, etc.

Here’s a great example:

Retirement age is a deeply cultural thing.  And yet, it seems like all the countries in the European Union have different retirement ages!

How’s that going to feel… you working well into your golden years… to help pay off debts for others that retired well before you?

Not so hot.

This may be overly simplistic… but it feels like the EU needs some kind of reset.  Create Version 2.0.  They should create minimum requirements, like retirement age.  If a country doesn’t want the benefits associated with the union, they can choose to opt out.

Else… well, what Obama said the other day will be the least of their worries:

     “Imagine dealing with 17 Congresses instead of just one. That makes things more challenging.”

 

Update #1:  Wow… now they’re extorting each other… how’s this for “team play” from Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minster of Spain?

     “We are powerful, and if they don’t give in, the whole thing will go down. It will cost Europe 500 billion if Spain goes bust, and then another 700 billion if Italy goes bust.”

 

Update #2:  Wow… this from Alexis Tsipras, front-runner in the Greek elections this weekend:

     “If they don’t give us the next loan installment, the euro zone will collapse the day after.”

 

All of this passion and consternation simply to get people to pay their own bills.  Scary.