Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Wall Street Screws Greece

I want to introduce my best friend, partner and co-author, Peter Brawley. We have written several books together, on database/application development in Clipper and MySQL. Our web site is If you're interested in MySQL, please visit. There are free downloads there, as well as paid subscriptions.

Until I figure out how we can share this blog as co-authors, I'll follow this format: Peter will send me his contributions and I will post them, with a note that the posts are actually from him. Here is the first.

Wall Street screws Greece

Greeks work the second highest number of hours per week in the OECD, 42, right after South Korea. Germans work 6 fewer hours per week. Yet Greeks make an average of $1,000 a month, way less than the EU average. Even before its current economic disaster, average wages had sunk to 1984 levels. Greeks retire later than the European average. The average pension, $990, is less than you get in Ireland, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands. 30% of Greek workers have no Social Security, compared to 5-10% in the rest of the EU.

So much for the myth of the lazy, profligate Greeks. But thanks to a cascade of problems from World War II through the Greek Junta to the EU deal and corrupt government finance, Greece hasn't enough money to pay off loans coming due in the next year. The EU and IMF propose to pay those debuts off in exchange for Greece savagely cutting government spending---jobs, incomes, healthcare, pensions and education---and for bond holders accepting new, lower-interest bonds in exchange for the old bonds. 

So hedge funds are buying up the old bonds at steep discounts, refusing the EU new bond offers, hoping to force a financial collapse. How can they afford to do that, if Greece can't pay? They've insured the full values of the old bonds so they can collect a massive windfall by inducing a default.

Peter Brawley

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