Papandreou, the ever agitated globe-trotting traveler with little time for the boring chores of domestic administration, called (again) upon all hands to roll up their sleeves and get to work. This tired, oft-repeated, imbecilic message reverberated eerily in a country that is in her final throes under the combined catastrophes of her own economic collapse and the invasion of the IMF/EU/ECB Sturmabteilung armed with the “memorandum” and specific written instructions to see that Greece’s creditors get their money back (a most unlikely prospect by all indications).
Exterminating the locals in the process is rumored to be a possibility, but we won’t mention uncomfortable details such as this during the august meetings of the ECO-FIN and the “Eurogroup” during which Papandreou’s finance minister waxes poetic on how “there’s light at the end of the tunnel” (solely of course perceived by himself alone).
The real news of the developing Great Greek Famine is though blood-curdling.
In the second quarter, the Greek economy shrunk by 3.7 percent. Consumption is in headlong retreat, sending tens of thousands of small-to-medium enterprises into bankruptcy and swelling the ranks of the unemployed with terrorizing speed. What’s left standing of economic activity is getting a brutal pummeling by the “memorandum” government’s vicious over-taxation and business-killing measures:
-- new home construction, Greece’s former great economic locomotive, is riding dead in water;
-- manufacturing in general has collapsed across the board;
-- the real estate market has all but expired, with just a trickle of transactions desperately snaking its way through the minefields of over-taxation and government goon squads lurking to net and terminate “tax evaders;”
-- tourism, once Greece’s money printing plant, is going belly up, with tourist operators and hoteliers desperately and helplessly watching the wreck and ministers nonchalantly sipping their Greek coffee on the patio;
-- services in general are shrinking rapidly as less and less people have the cash to sustain anything beyond the bare essentials;
-- new car sales, a “luxury” sector much despised by the extermination accountants, have imploded by over 60 percent, leading hundreds of related enterprises to extinction and their workers to unemployment;
-- investment in equipment in all manufacturing sectors has dropped down the Alpine cliff by a whopping 18 percent, while government investment in infrastructure and related fields continues to implode under the “fiscal re-alignment” terms of the Sturmabteilung “memorandum.”
Greece now earns the distinction of being the only country of the “European Union” to see her GDP shrink in the second quarter, against an average 1 percent increase for the rest of her “partners,” and begins to confront the direct result of “memorandum” madness: self-feeding, non-reversible recession.
Against this backdrop, the Sturmabteilung auditors will be in Athens again on September 13 to begin the “re-assessment” (!) of the budget for FY11, which is already untenable, with the obvious intention of “offering” more bone-crushing financial “advice.” It is almost certain that our “partners” will demand the final draining of the economy of any leftover cash and more belt-tightening when the belt has actually run out of holes.
Neither the “memorandum” storm troopers nor their collaborators of the Papandreou regime seem to be bothered by the clearest array of signs that Greece, as a country, an economy, and a society, is, literally, kicking the bucket. Papandreou, who arrived in Thessaloniki on September 10 for the opening of the city’s international trade fair, delivered a prime minister’s speech replete with the pathetic recycled generalities that punctuate his addresses for months: “green development” worth 44 billion euros over four years (where’s the money?); a laptop for every (!) student; a new “development law” (the last one was apparently lost in translation); more deregulation; a “war” on tax evasion; single-shop processes for launching new business; and reduced taxation for business enterprises.
Public reaction to Papandreou’s presence in Greece’s northern capital was appropriately lively: thousands filled the streets chanting against his “memorandum” government as 4,500 helmeted, counter-riot-armored police deployed to shepherd the protesters with stun grenades, shields and batons and protect the prime minister from the wrath of his grateful people -- one of whom succeeded nevertheless in throwing a boot at him, which missed its target. Papandreou though appeared unperturbed by these demonstrations of public sympathy and appreciation to his person, as usual; he even spurted in his halting Greek a catch phrase borrowed from President Obama’s pre-election repertoire: Nai, boroume [‘Yes, we can’].
Greece is already gripped by what is euphemistically described as “controlled bankruptcy.”
With millions watching in desperation the devastation of their family income and the destruction of their means for survival under Sturmabteilung rules; with even Papandreou’s former allies in the “reform” business, leaders of the Greek business community, publicly calling for the reversal of the “memorandum” slaughter; with every hand scurrying to save himself and herself by moving family savings abroad or under the mattress; with a growing flow of mainly younger immigrants hastily packing up and abandoning the Land of the Gods before the roof comes tumbling down upon their heads; with the country not producing anything worth selling for a decent price and thus losing the very last scraps of her tuberculous “competitiveness;” and with the sovereign debt skyrocketing beyond control because the Sturmabteilung “support package” was never meant to rescue the Greek economy but, rather, the foreign banks holding toxic Greek paper, our future appears as dark and as desperate as in Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain.
Our rapidly fading message to all stations as the water comes crashing into the boiler room: “Save Our Souls.”