A Grexit is the best option as the government hides behind a new referendum

It seems to me that modern democracies – and especially those with coalitions produced by proportional representation – produce “followers” rather than leaders. And when “followers” pretend to lead they end up taking the easy, CYA, path through referenda. The Scottish referendum and the upcoming UK referendum on EU membership are illustrations of where supposed “leaders” pass the buck onto a diffuse and unaccountable electorate. The “wrong” choice can always be justified as being “the will of the majority”. All across Europe, countries have “followers” in leadership positions, who inevitably fail to lead. I take vision and the ability to carry people towards that vision as being the hallmarks of leadership. Rather than vision, it is the next election which governs. “Leaders” merely follow the current whims of the crowd and don’t even make the attempt to “carry” the crowd an any difficult path.

But I think the current Greek government’s call for a referendum to vote on the lenders’ conditions for further loans to Greece, while carrying out negotiations with those lenders is an abject abdication of leadership. Suppose, as is most likely, the conditions are rejected. The government may well return to the negotiating table in the hope that this may have strengthened its hand. Though exactly how is difficult to see. It is really only an attempt to mobilise a “sympathy” factor. It is equivalent to sitting in front of the bank manager, without any collateral and without any plans to stop spending on unnecessary things while pointing at a crying child and begging for a sympathy loan.

If the government recommends a rejection and this is confirmed by the referendum,  it would be the start of a Grexit. The government may carry forward a “begging” from the lenders but it will only be postponing the inevitable. If the people accept the lenders’ terms, the government ought to resign but will not since they can always point to the referendum for their abandonment of their “principles”. But it will also make it impossible for anyone to negotiate with the Greek government, since no “decision” by them will carry any credibility without being backed up by a referendum.

I expect we will see a run on the banks on Monday – if the banks are open. I also expect that the government will scrape up the relatively modest €1.6 billion needed for the repayment due on Tuesday. Then the result of the referendum  on Sunday the 5th will be the card in the hole to continue negotiations.

But I hope a default takes place and that the Greeks reject the lenders’ conditions and a Grexit does occur. Then a debt restructuring can take place. Writing off debt without first going bankrupt is not healthy. In the long run it will be better for Greece to return to the drachma. It will also be better for both the EU and the Eurozone. Both need to shrink. In corporate terms I would say that EU Inc. has expanded too far, much too fast. Some divestment is desperately needed. It would be better for the EU to focus on the common market and free labour movement provisions and to allow political union to happen whenever, and only when, it is ripe – or maybe not to happen at all. Trying to force the political union is counter-productive. The European parliament can be dismantled completely without losing anything. The Brussels bureaucracy could, and should, be drastically trimmed to be an accounting agency and nothing else. The common currency is of little value with the disparity in economic disciplines across the Eurozone. Dealing with multiple currencies but where each currency is representative of its underlying economy is not as difficult as having the fundamental mis-match we now have between the “average” value of the Euro and the strength of each of the underlying economies.

Greece needs to get out of the Euro strait-jacket it is in while remaining within the European trade zone.


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