Greek climb down?

Greece decided to repay her debt owed to the IMF, after press speculation that she might not. Greece did not apparently ask Mr Putin for money. Mr Putin for his part is reported as offering to buy privatised assets in Greece, a far from helpful comment to a government elected to stop privatisation. Greece has also managed to borrow another Euro 1.14 billion this week by selling 6 month Treasury Bills. So far, so orthodox.

It is true the Euro area had to grant permission for the Treasury Bill sales. It is also true the European Central Bank keeps lending to the commercial banks if they lose deposits. So far, so orthodox by them as well. Both parties are currently behaving as if they have a normal relationship. The Euro area hopes to wake up one morning soon and find a proper Greek programme to cut the budget and live according to the loan agreements. Greece hopes to wake up one day to a Eurozone which agrees austerity has to end and money has to be given to Greece to allow some growth and some relief from past debts.

The Euro area does not want to force Greece out of the Euro, but does the bare minimum to allow the Greek state to continue to function. Allowing more 6 month Treasury Bills delays the problem until the refinancing, or until next month when Greece will need more cash to carry on. The Euro area is playing it fairly tough, but is acting as the ultimate banker of the Greek state in its current strait jacket.

We normally read that the Greek government has no wish to leave the Euro, as the Greek electors claim to still support Greek membership despite the resulting policies which they hate. More recently there have been some comments to the effect that Greece might like time out from the Euro, to cut her exchange rate and write off some debts, before asking for readmission on better terms with less debt. This may just be others flying kites. However, it is still difficult to see how Greece and the Euro area can come to a long term financing agreement which suits both sides. The fact that so far there has been no sign of a decent draft agreement tells us just how far apart the two sides remain.

The Euro area does want privatisation sale proceeds, a lower spending budget and labour market reforms. Syriza is relaxed about promising higher taxes and less tax avoidance and evasion, but reluctant to do much on spending, asset sales or economic reforms. Debt relief by offering lower interest rates, cancelled or postponed interest charges, and delayed repayments now will have to hit the other member states of the Euro area and the IMF, as the private creditors took their losses last time round. It all makes it much more difficult to agree.

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  1. Mark B
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 5:14 am | Permalink

    Good morning.

    Now that Greece is part of the Eurozone, and does not wish to leave, she is required to make ‘reforms’ ? Surely it would have been better for her to have made these ‘reforms’ before she joined the Euro ?

    Me thinks they, the political class, are using this as a beneficial crisis in order to push through unpalatable measures upon the people, that they would not ordinarily do. A bit like what we are seeing with Socialised Healthcare I argue 😉

  2. Lifelogic
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:01 am | Permalink

    Indeed it is hard to decided what is more absurd the EU/EURO straight jacket for Greece or the absurd policies of the Greek government who still want to remain in the EURO.

    Meanwhile many in the Tory party still want the UK to join and far more did when Major idiotically joined the ERM and caused huge and entirely pointless damage to the economy. Going on to bury the Tory party for 3+ terms so far. Cameron still trying his best to continue the losing run. The polls are still suggesting Labour will even be the largest party despite Balls/Miliband’s best efforts.

    I cannot help thinking the Tories will do better than expected despite Cameron’s uselessness. Many UKIP voters will surely vote Tory rather than let labour in many constituencies.

    But why are Cameron’s Tories so reluctant to create some clear blue water? Not quite as crap as Labour is really non the way to win elections. Some lower taxes/cheap energy/far less government and far less EU vision is needed. Also so serious de-ratting on IHT, tax levels and the EU.

    • Richard1
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:14 am | Permalink

      As the disaster of a virulently leftist Miliband government looms into view – propped up by the Scottish separatists – I think UKIP supporters will have the sense to vote Conservative.

      Mind you, I wonder when the Conservatives are going to take the initiative in this campaign. This morning we heard a silly idea from Mr Pickles to compel all employees in > 250 FTE companies to be given 3 days mandatory paid leave for ‘voluntary’ work (what will count – gardening at home perhaps?) This is horribly resonant with the sort of Big Society waffle which lost the Conservatives the last election. Better would be to focus on tax cuts, promotion of home ownership, reduction in green crap, include private donations in the 0.7% to overseas aid so the govt share can be cut, how we’re going to get a trade-focused relationship with the EU etc.

      perhaps thats for next week…..

      • Hope
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:32 am | Permalink

        LL, you seem to forget there is little room to manouvre within the EU parameters of govt. Whoever is in office from the cartel will have to operate under Junker’s rules after giving away so many competencies to the EU.

        JR’s opening point does not say where the IMF gets its funds in the first place to lend to Greece. Remember Cameron was not going to lend directly or indirectly to bail out Eurozone countries. Nor did EU rules allow for bail outs until the EU project realized it was going to fail. Cameron got nothing in exchange for the the fiscal pact changes.

        If people want UK independence and sovereignty there is only one choice on offer- UKIP. You can only get change by voting for it.

        If you want the same type of debt overspend Economy,mass immigration, mad energy policy, EU criminal justice with its human rights, vote for the cartel. Look at the results over the last five years- £90 billion deficit and £1.4 trillion debt, more tax rises than spending cuts, £14 billion borrowed and given away in foreign aid, another £14 billion borrowed and given away to the EU, when it demands more it gets more, immigration higher now than when Labour were in office, energy bills have risen and will continue to do so, not because of the energy companies but because of Govt policy. Perhaps you need to ask: what is the difference the each of the cartel can implement under EU rule? Very little I suggest. So do not expect much.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

          But UKIP simply will not get more than circa 5 MPs, even if the voting system were made proportional and they got say 14% of the total no of MPs they would still be fairly powerless against Lib/Lab/SNP and the half of the conservatives who are Ken Clark/Cameron types.

          • Hope
            Posted April 17, 2015 at 7:48 am | Permalink

            If you want the Clarke, Heseltine types vote for Cameron. He appears to be their protege. I will never vote for him.

      • Bob
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:39 am | Permalink


        ” I think UKIP supporters will have the sense to vote Conservative.”

        “This morning we heard a silly idea from Mr Pickles to compel all employees in > 250 FTE companies to be given 3 days mandatory paid leave for ‘voluntary’ work” ………..

        @Mr Redwood

        “the Greek electors claim to still support Greek membership despite the resulting policies which they hate.”

        Great examples of cognitive disonance!

        • Mondeo Man
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:42 pm | Permalink

          Thinking that UKIP supporters will have the sense to vote Conservative doesn’t cut it in northern areas where UKIP can beat Labour but the Conservatives can’t.


          Tory wets have had nothing but contempt for their core support – except at election time.

          Let’s remember the Tories moved away from their people and not the other way around.

          They haven’t come back.

      • Kenneth
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:40 am | Permalink

        I am beginning to despair.

        UKIP support parental leave and are sounding more socialist every day and the Conservatives are now apparently supporting this new paid leave idea.

        If you read Conservative Home, some of the ideas could have come out of the Soviet Union. They can’t blame that on the coalition.

        They only do this because it gives them an easy ride in the media.

        The first time in years I may switch from UKIP to Conservative but with great foreboding.

        • Richard1
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 5:32 pm | Permalink

          Indeed you should. UKIP are a joke these days. they seem to listen out for the most populist line and follow it. Example: Mr Farage is now alongside the Greens opposing any private sector involvement at all in the NHS. It is inconceivable someone of his past professed views actually believes such a piece of socialist drivel, but that’s now UKIP policy. Gone is the party of small government libertarianism. UKIP is now just the anti-immigration party and cobbles together its other policies based on what seems most popular. Mr Carswell should re-rat.

          • Mondeo Man
            Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:30 pm | Permalink

            Richard 1 – And (some of ed the )’apprenticeships’ aren’t a joke ???

            The NHS/BBC?Labour combo is so effective as to be fatal for any politician who advocates privatisation – including the Tories.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

        Indeed it seems to be a repeat of the losing formula Cameron used last time but this time everyone know they cannot trust a word he says.

        Vote Tory – We are just like Labour, green crap, expensive energy, pro EU, open door immigration, tax borrow and piss down the drain ratters to the very core – but not quite as daft as Miliband/Ball and the SNP.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:51 am | Permalink


      ‘Meanwhile many in the Tory party still want the UK to join and far more did when Major idiotically joined the ERM and caused huge and entirely pointless damage to the economy. Going on to bury the Tory party for 3+ terms so far.’

      I’ve had this argument many times with Tory MPs and others within the party. The gutless ones think that party loyalty comes first and will back the leadership even when the latter pursues dangerous, unpopular policies that are doomed to failure, whereas I maintain one should be loyal to certain principles first and foremost and support a party that comes closest to them.

      I would always vote Tory because they came closest to what I believe in, but Major was determined to get his way on the EU. He exercised his influence over the party and even tried to silence dissent by removing the whip from some MPs who could see Major’s error. In doing so, he moved the Tories away from my own principles which included the freedom to question, our inalienable right to self-determination, and a wish not to be taken into a pan-European political and monetary union. Major and Co. subsequently alienated a whole swathe of otherwise loyal supporters in the process, and then they wonder why they are no longer trusted and can’t win outright.

      If the Tory party had been full of men like JR these past thirty odd years, I doubt if they, or indeed the country would be in the mess they’re in today.


      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

        Indeed one wonders why Cameron/Clarke/Major types did not join the Libdems or even Labour where they clearly belong. I assume it is because they thought they would have a more profitable a career while subverting the Tories.

  3. alan jutson
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:08 am | Permalink

    Normally when you want to borrow, the Bank wants some sort of surety in return.

    If you run out of money and cannot borrow then you usually have to sell some assets, if you have some to sell.

    Perhaps the Greeks could lease off an Island or two for say 100 years (bit like Hong Kong) to another Country to raise some cash.

    In the long term however they still will have to make the books balance, so plenty of difficult decisions still to come.

    Guess you reap what you sow.

    • Jerry
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:08 am | Permalink

      alan jutson; “Perhaps the Greeks could lease off an Island or two for say 100 years (bit like Hong Kong) to another Country to raise some cash.”

      Oh you mean like some naval based, perhaps Russia, after all they need some more warm water ports since the collapse of the Warsaw pact in the early 1990s, perhaps this is what Tsipras and Putin talked about in Moscow the other day…

      The West doesn’t need enemies these days, it’s to busy stabbing its self in the back!

      • Mitchel
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

        Incidentally,the Russian stock market,in sterling terms,has risen by nearly 20% over the past week.It may be co-incidence but perhaps they have agreed something that Russian insiders believe to be materially beneficial to the economy (EU sanctions veto perhaps?)

        • acorn
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

          The Ruble has been going up like crazy since January. Looks like Russians are selling Dollars and buying back the Rubles they sold last year, when the oil price dropped.

          The Eastern world’s plan to get their own back on the US, appears to be working. Forcing the oil price down, is causing a lot of pain for US Banks that lent large to the oil fracking industry. Added to that, they sold bear market insurance (on the oil price falling), to the same people they lent the money to.

          If Grexit happens, place your bets on which European Bank will go down first. Will the ECB bail it out? Stay tuned for the next exciting episode!!!

      • alan jutson
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink


        I think the Russians may well be doing some sort of trade off anyway, why else would Greece be talking to them.

        At least if the option is on the open market someone else other than Russia may bid.

        Perhaps Germany may like a holiday resort in the sun which they could develop.

      • A different Simon
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        Certainly worth playing the EU off against Putin’s Russia .

        Threaten to offer Russia loads of military and naval bases unless the Eurozone bankers write off their debts .

        Could well be a winning move .

        How delicious it would be .

    • Tad Davison
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:14 am | Permalink


      ‘If you run out of money and cannot borrow then you usually have to sell some assets, if you have some to sell.’

      Max Keiser and Stacy Herbert, together with Professor Steve Keen (RT Keiser Report Episode 742) had something to say on this very issue. Selling things like our stake in Eurotunnel just to make the books look good.

      It’s well worth a look.


      • alan jutson
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 1:12 pm | Permalink


        When in a hole financial or otherwise, first you have to stop digging, then you have to think of the best way out.

        But if water is pouring fast into the hole you are in, then you have act to get out quickly.

        Not suggesting that your assets should be sold off cheaply, or to just balance the books, but in order to survive sometimes short term pain is worth long term gain, so that you can continue to fight another day.

        I am not suggesting Greece do a Gordon Brown with any gold they may still have.

      • Mitchel
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

        I agree.Whilst the Keiser Report is a bit anarchic and its guest selection very hit and miss,the interviews with Steve Keen (and a number of other regulars) are always worthwhile.

    • MaxDunbar
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

      I suggested something like this a few months ago on this site Alan, proposing Crete and Cyprus as payment. However, Putin has beaten the Germans to it it would seem and got his towel to the deck chairs sooner. A good move for him as he encircles the EU from the southern flank and takes bite sized chunks.
      As an aside, there is to be a demo at Faslane Naval Base on the Clyde on Monday preceded by a ‘training day’ on Sunday. I wonder what sort of line Police Scotland will take with the demonstrators?

  4. Lifelogic
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    So Cameron is playing father Christmas with employers money by promising people three days of for his “big society” drivel. Clearly he think he knows how to run these businesses better than the owners even though typical socialist thinking from this dreadful lefty. This on top of paternity leave, gender neutral insurance and annuities and the half baked workplace pension nonsense. If this daft socialist “thinker” wants to run businesses why does he not resign and open one up rather than making a mess of other people’s businesses through legislation.

    Then he might actually learn something about how to do it and what a huge inconvenience to productivity and competitiveness daft laws & silly governments like his are.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink

      I meant: Clearly Cameron thinks he knows how to run these businesses better than the current owner/directors do. Even though he has never visited any of them, nor met their staff or nor ever run a business in a competitive environment in his life.

      Doubtless his first move would be to demand they use four times the price greencrap energy, put more women in the board room regardless of ability and other similar absurdities that would soon put it out of business.

      • Jerry
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:21 am | Permalink

        @LL; “Even though [Cameron] has never visited any of them, nor met their staff or nor ever run a business in a competitive environment in his life.”

        Forgive me but didn’t Cameron’s father run a rather successful company, didn’t Osborn’s father, never mind many of the various current Tory PPC’s [1], how many large national businesses have you run LL, how many local businesses, indeed have you actually run any business that employed staff – even very small companies, that is less then 10 employees, often allow their staff time off in the way Cameron wants to encourage – sometimes without even prior warning, I know a couple of comp0anies who have employed people who were also reserved firemen and thus on-call.

        Mrs Thatcher might or might not have actually uttered the phrase ‘There is no such thing as society’, but one thing is for sure, people like you Mr Lifelogic certainly took to the miss-quote with vigour and have done you utmost to live up to it ever since. 🙁

        [1] do you really think that Cameron would have created this policy in a vacuum, not seeking the opinions of others?

        • JoeSoap
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

          Well I have to say as somebody who does own/run a business that I treat these things as quid pro quo, viz if you want an extra 3 days unpaid paternity leave or for whatever reason (and it could be for many reasons, I am not reasonist about these things) then I should have the right to lay you off unpaid for up to 3 days. Sauce for the goose and all that…

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          I employ well over 20 people in the UK currently and have employed rather more in the past. I have no objection to owners of companies giving the staff time off as they wish to.

          I do object to Cameron’s faux Tories forcing them by law to do so. It is just a form of theft from shareholders used to try to bribe voters. It damages the economy and ultimately makes everyone’s wages lower and makes UK business less competitive.

        • libertarian
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 5:31 pm | Permalink


          I do run a few businesses employing quite a lot of people as it happens.

          Myself and my colleagues do have time off to do VOLUNTARY ( theres a clue there) work without pay.

          If you have ever employed people you’d know about the impact of costs, key personnel out of the office and most of all the admin overhead. How will you know your staff are doing voluntary work ( paid by you) Oh and as its paid time for volunteer work is that a charitable donation and tax deductible?

          Yes I really think Cameron didn’t bother to think of the impact of this on 5 million small businesses. Its a gimmick

          • Jerry
            Posted April 10, 2015 at 8:51 pm | Permalink

            @libertarian et al; “Yes I really think Cameron didn’t bother to think of the impact of this on 5 million small businesses.”

            More ultra-capitalist small-town nonsense, without apparently bothering to even read the basic facts on the policy, a 250 |> employee business is not “small”.

          • Lifelogic
            Posted April 11, 2015 at 3:48 am | Permalink

            Indeed fortunately only for companies with over 250 employees (so far) and of course the feather bedded 50% over paid state sector which we all have to carry.

            Just a theft from company shareholders in an attempt to buy votes. It is damaging to companies, shareholders, jobs, productivity, wages, customers and competitivity in general.

          • Jerry
            Posted April 11, 2015 at 8:35 am | Permalink

            @LL; “Just a theft from company shareholders”

            Right-wing nonsense, in the same way as is the left wing calling tax cuts for high earners is theft from the tax payer.

            The fact is many of these employees will have paid for those three days over and over again -especially those paid a salary- from doing unpaid overtime etc.

  5. Richard1
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:29 am | Permalink

    There is very little difference between the demands set out by Germany et al for Greece and the effective demands made by the capital markets to any country with its own currency wanting to borrow in the international markets. The eurozone governments are simply acting as a proxy for the market. Just electing a neo-Marxist left wing govt doesn’t do anything if in the opinion of international markets – or the proxy for them in the form of the eurozone – a country is pursuing tax / borrow / spend statist policies.

    Potential Labour voters in the UK should take note.

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:44 am | Permalink

      Tax/borrow/spend/statist policies are in the DNA of all three legacy parties now…its a question of degree and of how quickly the markets lose patience not if.

  6. Narrow Shoulders
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Mr Redwood

    Completely off topic but I am incensed.

    Eric Pickles has announced that he will mandate employers to give staff 3 days off to volunteer. Is there no area that your left leaning party will not legislate within? What happened to small government.

    This equates to giving nurses (underemployed hospital managers) and others in the workforce 10% more annual leave. This equates potentially to an additional 1% staff cost to the NHS (and others) plus VAT if agencies are involved.

    The coalition has stated there is no more money for NHS pay increases. How does this policy square with the funding statement? ,

    • alan jutson
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      N S

      YEP, Government knows best, as usual.

      Problem is in most cases they don’t.

      If people want to volunteer, they can do this in their own time.
      At least those organisations who use such volunteers know they actually want to do something to help.

      How sad that we have come to the situation where people actually need to be bribed with wages to volunteer, by its very nature of payment that is not a volunteer. !

      The Companies customers will pay in the end, be it the taxpayer or the end user.

      Daft idea.

      • Hope
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:35 am | Permalink

        And military reserves will need to be given time off. A properly funded army might be better especially if the govt keeps waging unnecessary wars!

      • A different Simon
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:02 am | Permalink

        There are merits in the principle but employers should not have to pay .

        For instance , those bankers who received bonuses out of illusory profits , even when the banks were insolvent , are completely out of touch with the consequences their actions have had on ordinary people .

        I’d compel them to go and live for a couple of weeks in the communities which suffer from their asset stripping , predatory lending , lobbying for cheap labour from abroad and see the effect it has on peoples children .

        If the London Set had some exposure to ordinary people , outside the M25 , it might help them to exercise restraint and behave with integrity .

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

          There are no merits in it at all.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

        Narrow Shoulders, Alan Jutson oh my goodness this is the first I’d heard of this, and they wonder why people don’t want to grow over 50 employees never mind 250! Its just getting to be who is running your company now. Employing someone is akin to getting married, the costs to let go and the risks of claims for a whole host of discrimination claims means you keep on employees that aren’t productive, can’t take on new skills, are incapable of taking on new technology, refuse to get passports to take on European work and you’re saddled with an ageing sickly workforce. Now you have to pay people to volunteer? What about all the people on housing benefit who have no jobs like the young lad on the news last night in Middlesborough who can’t get work, get him sponsored, give the big company an opportunity to pay into a volunteer scheme so they don’t lose their qualified, efficient, productive staff. I can’t believe this is a conservative proposal, enforced compulsory volunteering at the cost of the business.

        • alan jutson
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 1:27 pm | Permalink


          Just seen Eric Pickles on TV trying to explain it all to Andrew Neil

          He looked an absolute fool.

          Perhaps he should be told, when you are a volunteer, you do not get paid, and you do not expect to be paid, end of story, because thats what volunteer means.

          No wonder the Conservatives cannot get above 34%.

          You must be tearing your hair out JR, with all of the important things that could be talked about we have the Big idea of the Big Society in the headlines again.

          There are hundreds of thousands of people in this Country who do voluntary work, myself included, we do it because we want to, not because we are mandated to do it, and we do not need payment, lectures, platitudes or jumping on the bandwagon from any political party whatever their colour.

          • Mondeo Man
            Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

            Alan – Are we entitled to back pay for years of voluntary work, long before the Big Society was even thought of ?

    • libertarian
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:41 am | Permalink



      At every level, local, regional and central the Conservatives in government are the most anti small business party I’ve ever seen in this country.

      You’d have thought they’ed be grateful that the SME community saved their economic necks by creating 2 million new jobs in the face of all that anti business legislation, but no lets get them with another one.

      So far this year alone

      VAT MOSS, auto enrollment, paternity leave and now the oxymoron of paid voluntary work.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:25 pm | Permalink

        Plus endless attacks on landlords and the moronic gender neutral insurance/annuity drivel, realtime PAYE filings, countless late filing and other penalties.

        How can anyone employ Vince Cable as a minister “for” business or Ed Davey as an energy minister they are both absurd choices.

      • a-tracy
        Posted April 11, 2015 at 11:43 am | Permalink

        Libertarian, don’t forget the changes to holiday pay from July requiring complete contract rewrites as holiday pay is to be calculated based on the previous three months earning, new payroll software upgrades too for everyone to pay for. If employers pay enhanced overtime because previously there wasn’t an holiday pay element to it this will all need rethinking as costs will rise considerably to include holiday pay on weekend overtime.

        Auto enrolment is a nightmare in extra payroll software costs, administration burden, some insurance companies want to charge us £1000s for annual charges, all of this could have simply been added to national insurance (which is all nest is under a different name) and the money ring fenced for pensions as it should have been all this time anyway!

        The biggest changes to age discrimination are coming home to bite when for one example a man 69 years of age goes off on long term sick for 28 weeks and you can’t replace the position incase he wants to return. Even though we were told he didn’t want to do a training scheme because he was planning on retiring this year we can’t ask him to retire, he’s worked for six years. The cost to the business is so much more than the SSP and Sick leave holiday pay it’s being hamstrung.

  7. Denis Cooper
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I don’t usually quibble about things like this, JR, but it’s a “strait” jacket.

    • Lifelogic
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:33 am | Permalink

      Well as you clearly knew what he meant anyway does this really matter?

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 11:35 am | Permalink

        “Correct spelling” (as some people see it) just slows people down and wastes lots of people’s time with little benefit to anyone.

        • stred
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

          My bird is always putting my jacket straight, before I can do it myself. It makes me look a rite idiot.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted April 11, 2015 at 11:52 am | Permalink

        So why are you wasting your time quibbling about my quibble?

  8. Ian wragg
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 7:21 am | Permalink

    Lending Greece money to repay debt to the IMF and pay salaries just keeps racking up the debt. Greece cannot on any measure repay it’s creditors so the sooner they leave the EZ the better.
    The Greeks deserve better and the stupid EU is setting up for civil unrest or a military coup

    • MaxDunbar
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Why should the Greeks deserve better? They have already had serious civil unrest. There have been a number of political assassinations on both sides but which, in the case of right-wing victims, have not been highlighted much by the press. Nor have any arrests of communist assassins been made as far as I am aware. Strange isn’t it?

      The Greeks were busy killing one another on a large scale from 1944 on. They immediately engaged in civil war (communist provoked) after the German Army withdrew and the British Army then moved in and had to act as mediator and peacekeeper. So not much change there.
      As far as historic reparations go maybe we should be claiming the Greeks for losses in personnel and financial costs going back to that period.

      • stred
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 5:59 pm | Permalink

        My Dad was sent to Greece, after fighting in N.Africa with Monty. It was a bad experience and he always said ‘you could trust Greeks as far as you could spit them’. He admired the Germans, as good fighters, and thought the Italians were useless. I used to thinks it was a good thing, for my existence, that the Germans were not that good and the Italians had the sense not to try too hard. In general, I have found the Greeks rather more honest than the British in dealings on holiday,

  9. Mike Stallard
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 7:24 am | Permalink

    Short term answer to an impossible situation.
    Luckily Scotland is not the next Greece – at the moment. If it does go independent this year, please make sure that Nicola Sturgeon keeps her two banks!

    • majorfrustration
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:10 am | Permalink

      Leave them the banks but we take Trident to Barrow and leave Scotland to sort out the unemployment

      • MaxDunbar
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

        I’m sure that a move to Barrow or, for that matter, a berth on the south bank of the River Tweed at Berwick would satisfy the SNP because their only concern is posturing to the world that Scotland will have no nuclear weapons on her soil. Any practical considerations from such a mad move would be of no consequence to them.

        • Lifelogic
          Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:26 pm | Permalink

          Indeed it is just insane politics not reason.

  10. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 8:28 am | Permalink

    The EU ‘project’ cannot be allowed to fail.
    You know that. Just in case you have forgotten what your boss Mrs Merkel said “The euro is the guarantor of a unified Europe. If the euro collapses, Europe collapses.”
    If your party leader has his way he will confirm our final surrender of sovereignty and we shall be joining the euro. As I have said before I am told that people are working on plans for its introduction here in 2018 the year after the referendum.
    One of the main problems with politicians isn’t what they tell us it’s what they hide from us.

    Reply Completely untrue. Conservatives are against joining the Euro and disbanded the Treasury group working on joining.

    • Jerry
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:34 am | Permalink

      @Brian Tomkinson; “As I have said before I am told that people are working on plans for its introduction here in 2018 the year after the referendum.”

      Brian you are so very wrong, I’ve told you before, in 2018 the UK will apply to become the 51st state of the USA by 2020, my civil service ‘contact’ has been working on the details so I know it’s true, but obviously I can’t cite anything or name any names of course as it would get my contact the sack. We can all write good old conspiracy theory you know…

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      Reply to reply,
      All Conservatives are not against joining the euro. In any case I look forward to reading a pledge in your manifesto ruling out joining the euro whatever the outcome of the referendum.
      The problem is that I wouldn’t believe it.

      Reply I will never vote to join the Euro, and the Conservative party also rules out joining it.

      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

        Reply to reply,
        Can you honestly tell us that, if the referendum result were for the UK to stay in the EU, there would be no pressure to join the euro both from the EU and your own ministers, claiming that to exert real influence we need to be part of the eurozone? It follows, as night follows day.

      • Lifelogic
        Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        We know you JR would not but over half of the tory party – the Clark/Cameron/Major wing would for sure.

  11. oldtimer
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 8:42 am | Permalink

    I read that the Finnish Finance Ministry has drawn up a report on the difficult political decisions faced by the EZ re Greek sovereign debta. The suggestion is that Greece will be unable to finance its next debt repayment due on 12 May, as it will fail to come up with an acceptable reform programme. The implied consequence is that Greece will be ejected from the EZ. We shall see. I will believe it when it actually happens.

  12. Jerry
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    “The Euro area does not want to force Greece out of the Euro, but does the bare minimum to allow the Greek state to continue to function.”

    Not according to a report in CityAM this morning, who seems top have picked on on a report in the Times (whom in turn picked up on a report from Finland);

    By tacit approval of the other Eurozone countries a process is started that in effect results in Greece being expelled from the euro.

    All this amongst fears that Greece will miss their €763m to payment due on 12 May.

    The EU, the IMF and the West generally are doing very well, first they cause the east of the Ukraine to chose between the West and Russia, now they seem to be driving Greece ever closer to some sort of relationship with Russia…

    • Mitchel
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:49 am | Permalink

      …and its terrible twin,China,which is also interested in Greek assets and was a participant in the recent Greek government short-dated bond offering.

  13. Bert Young
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:11 am | Permalink

    The Greeks are no better off now than they were a few days ago . The fact that they were able to pay off the IMF does not improve their economic position one bit . They have not won any concessions from Germany or from the EZ , there is no more money in their pot and their dilemma is the same . Greece – like other countries in Southern Europe , is not able to measure up to the disciplines required of them . The EZ as it is now is a shambles and ought to be disbanded ; other parts of the world need the support of the IMF much more ; were it not for the “political” bias , this would happen .

  14. Kenneth
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    The pro-European case is now gathering momentum. The pro-Europeans want their respective states to leave the eu.

    About time.

  15. Tad Davison
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    This from Open Europe this morning…..

    Finnish daily Helsingin Sanomat reports that, according to a secret memo from the Finnish Finance Ministry, Greece may leave the Eurozone and the Finnish government has been preparing for such an event. The memo notes that if Greece decided to stop meeting its obligations, “tacit approval” of this by the Eurozone could trigger a chain of events which “results in Greece being expelled from the euro”. reports that plans are in the works for an extra meeting of Eurozone finance ministers on 29 April if a deal cannot be found at the scheduled meeting on the 24 April.

    Meanwhile, Kathimerini reports that Eurozone officials have given Greece six working days to finalise a reform package to be presented at the finance ministers meeting. In an interview with Bloomberg TV Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis said, “We are prepared to make all sorts of compromises, we are not prepared to be compromised.” He added that Greece needed a “rationalisation” of its debt but that it is not seeking a “haircut,” suggesting that repayments be linked to nominal GDP growth.

  16. Atlas
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:10 am | Permalink


    This new Greek Government appears to be all puff and bluster, but no backbone …

  17. DaveM
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:15 am | Permalink

    Friday brainteaser:

    I am the UK and I work in an office. There is an adjoining open plan office where the EU/Euro works (supposedly together, although they all speak different languages), and the door is always open. I pop through now and again – for my own benefit, I admit – and they keep coming into my office and asking for more money so I can pop through and do business. My business is doing OK for the most part, although there are some people who want to change the firm.

    The noise from next door is getting ridiculous though; everyone’s arguing, they keep annoying the neighbours, some people aren’t pulling their weight, and some people seem to be getting richer while some of the others are getting much poorer at a rate of knots.

    Do I:

    a) close the door but keep it unlocked so I can still do business whilst phoning some other firms that I haven’t worked with freely for a while? (After all, the people next door need my business too.)

    b) withdraw all the money from the company accounts, move my desk into the open plan office, give them the keys to my office, and, deciding that the way they are working is better, give them all my funds?

  18. Qubus
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 10:35 am | Permalink

    Sorry this is off-topic, but I thought that it rated a mention.

    I don’t know about the EU, but what about a referendum on the future of the NHS?
    There is a very good article in today’s Daily Telegraph by James Bartholemew. Envy of the world? I think not.

  19. ferdinand
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

    It is exactly the same in business. companies try to hang on with every ploy in the book -stripping assets borrowing to the limits till the day arrives when there is nothing left. The trouble is if the business had been closed earlier the losses would have been less and new opportunities would have arisen for the parties involved. Such is Greece.

  20. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

    I looked up the latest figures on the Internet. Greek debt is 177% of GDP and the yield on Greek 10 year bonds is 11% (at market rates).

    Greece appears to be on a bankers’ ramp, with default or partial debt forgiveness the only two ways out.

    60% of the German electorate want a Grexit from the Euro. It would seem the least bad alternative to combine a Grexit with partial debt forgiveness. Why is the UK not seeking this outcome?

  21. Iain Gill
    Posted April 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think a country like ours with 1.56 trillion national debt, rising by about 2 billion a week, with a government in power claiming to be “balancing the books” ha ha, and have a “plan which is working”, is in any position to preach.

    Wake up one morning and the Chinese and friends decide to stop feeding us the 2 billion quid a week we need as extra borrowing and there will be one big shock in the chattering classes here.

    We are continually delaying the inevitable in just the same way as Greece, maybe a little further down the track but rushing headlong towards us just the same.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted April 10, 2015 at 7:46 pm | Permalink

      How right you are.
      The problem is that Cameron is so deluded that today he said he will amend the Working Times regulations so for three days people can volunteer or serve as a school governor, and get paid in addition to their 28 days of paid holiday. Another magic money tree hugger. I can’t believe our host would condone such action but his party loyalty trumps all else.
      This on the day the Telegraph, reporting on the deterioration in trade figures and a gilts strke by foreign investors, stated: “The current account deficit reached 5.5pc of GDP last year and may soon be flirting with 6pc, the worst in Britain’s peacetime history.”
      The £ dropped against the dollar to a five year low.

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    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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