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"Not since Napoleon will a leader have served a more pointless 100 days," writes the FT's Lex...

"Not since Napoleon will a leader have served a more pointless 100 days," writes the FT's Lex column of Greek PM Papademos. With elections set for Feb. 19, his purpose is to preside over the passage of austerity reforms demanded by the EU/IMF, but then what? Already in depression-like conditions, the economy is set to deteriorate even more, likely overwhelming any attempt at reducing the budget deficit.
Comments (50)
  • Greece is proof positive that no nation can spend more than it takes in for ever. The United States should heed this very basic lesson.
    13 Nov 2011, 09:48 AM Reply Like
  • 7foot, even Keynes would agree with you. The thing is you need to balance in the long run but not necessarily in the short run. In bad times a nation can run budget deficits to offset the decrease in private demand. In good times a nation needs to save to decrease these deficits. It becomes unsustainable when a nation runs its deficits so high in the sky that it gets crushed by servicing the debt. In America even though our government debt as a percentage of GDP is increasing, the cost of servicing the debt is still very low. While Italy, for example, has tax collections that are only 3-4 times the interest payments on their debt, in America our tax collections are 20 times the cost of servicing the debt. As long as only 1 in 20 dollars that we earn is spent on interest, we are fine. You can argue that the American government is actually in better shape than the American households who spend 1 in 10 dollars they earn to pay interest.
    13 Nov 2011, 04:11 PM Reply Like
  • "While Italy, for example, has tax collections that are only 3-4 times the interest payments on their debt"


    I think your numbers are wrong. Italian debt to GDP is 120%, the average borrowing cost is about 4%, therefore about 5% of GDP for debt servicing and tax revenues are around 43% of GDP, so more like 8 or 9 times...
    13 Nov 2011, 05:00 PM Reply Like
  • Last Boomer


    I think we are already in the long run. You think we are in the short run.


    The trajectory of our debt problems, the structural debt, the off balance sheet obligations, potential nightmare scenarios of higher interest rates on debt service, aging population, unskilled work force and weak economic growth seems to say we are not just getting started on this problem but rather we are way far into it.
    13 Nov 2011, 05:27 PM Reply Like
  • TVP well said ! Bingo take the card an go collect ! gb
    13 Nov 2011, 05:30 PM Reply Like
  • 7footMoose


    Unlikely, the United States is still in deep slumber and self-denial.
    13 Nov 2011, 05:45 PM Reply Like
  • And just how long do you predict the interest cost to America will stay this low?
    Do you know that Italy's interest cost spiked from 4 to 7% in WEEKS?
    What happens if Americas goes to just 5%?
    13 Nov 2011, 06:45 PM Reply Like
  • The Fed made the promise an has unlimited funds, if need be the Fed will have the brokers they use buy every bond the Treasury can create ! That is how ! Easy !
    13 Nov 2011, 07:18 PM Reply Like
  • golf


    Yeah it is all free. Now walk us through all the downside of that strategy.
    13 Nov 2011, 08:44 PM Reply Like
  • Boomer, I think the nation is headed down the wrong road. 14 trillion in debt and climbing seems out of line. It may be sustainable, for a while, but I think we need to "start" addressing it now, before we face the wrath of the bond vigilantes.
    14 Nov 2011, 04:52 AM Reply Like
  • TVP, it's all bad ! There are many 1000's who love Ben for it an he is forcing the money into the market. A desperate attempt to create inflated market wealth ! Where else can Americans put there money ?


    The smart ones are going offshore an out of dollars !
    Dem politicos are SAYING all is well an on the right road ! Republicans telling the truth an stop the spending and follow Greeks an Italians ,but,that is not the message Americans want to hear.


    Funny, both new non electd PMs will try an tell there people to do the right thing,but, that won't happen in the US.


    Me, a very little IRA an savings in CDs & Bonds in foreign countries ! And, Yuan an REAL savings accounts. BRICS are rising an EU & US $s will slowly fall. So, I choose China's Yuan and Brazil REAL and not Russia and India is a bit difficult as I live in LA.


    And, hopefully my IRA will be used to build my B&B on my beach lot an that is how I am walking through! And, as my greatest fear for all on SA an the USA is the "reserve" going away. I am sure it's 2-3 years and not 20 as Sec Geitner promises. All we need is the BRICS all to follow China an trade dollar less with OPEC an the IMF's hand will be forced to use the SDR basket with 8 currencies not 4 And, poof it will be done ! BRICS are demanding it for 6 months LOUDLY an not China;s Yuan as reserve! CHINA does not want that an how SA ers are saying that is bazar! IMHO. lol, gb
    14 Nov 2011, 07:45 AM Reply Like
  • Agree with falling dollar and higher inflation and the center of gravity and control of the world economy moving from the US and the dollar to Asia.
    14 Nov 2011, 09:42 AM Reply Like
  • "Not since Napoleon will a leader have served a more pointless 100 days"


    Not true. How about PapaDimos, also known as President Dimitri Medvedev of Russia?:) 4 pointless years.
    13 Nov 2011, 10:01 AM Reply Like
  • Lets hope Obama only gets 1461 days. Hope and change is that he doesn't get reelected.
    By then we just might be like Greece.
    13 Nov 2011, 10:02 AM Reply Like
  • What's your alternative Wyo? The idiots that are running in the republican primaries? The front runner, Romney, is Obama. Huntsman has no chance and Herman Cain is way over his head.


    Plus, what would you or anyone done differently? Keep up the same crap that got us into this mess? A continuation of voodoo, reaganomics which Obama has done by not letting the Bush tax cuts expire.


    You're a deluded fool Wyo. Obama is as good a republican as anyone the republicans have. Embrace him and enjoy further spend and borrow reaganomics buddy.
    13 Nov 2011, 10:58 AM Reply Like
  • Thanks for the compliment lefty.
    You are all the same; when too stupid to write any thing intelligent, call the other person names.
    Go back to your OWS demo.
    13 Nov 2011, 11:07 AM Reply Like
  • I agree that childish name calling demeans the debate. Still, you haven't answered the substantial question: "what would you or anyone done differently? Keep up the same crap that got us into this mess?"


    The answer 7footMoose gives in the post below:


    "as to doing different, he spent the first two years of his term with his party having a majority in both Houses of Congress and the good will of a newly elected Presidency. During that time he spent much of the good will and cost his party one of those Houses of Congress passing a worthless 2300 page healthcare bill. "


    is not an answer.


    Can some conservative please explain what they would have done differently? I really want to know. I know what a real liberal would have done - nationalize all the insolvent TBTFs until they could be sold off in smaller pieces.


    By the way, I really like the irony in:


    "when too stupid to write any thing intelligent, call the other person names."
    13 Nov 2011, 01:20 PM Reply Like
  • We need a shake-up in Congress. I was led to think we would have this moment of truth starting in 2008, but I was mis-informed and the "promises" never took place. I see much the same with another four years of Obama, including deficit spending and increased debt and inflation and FED meddling with interest rates. On the other side, I see Romney who's biggest campaign contributors are GS and MS, and Perry who reminds me too much of GWB II, and Cain- well has a few good ideas but I don't envision him shedding his baggage, and same goes for Newt. All these guys, except Cain, are bought and paid for by the corporation. Same as Obama. More business as usual. That would be the problem- the business as usual is steering USA in wrong direction and has been for last 20-30 years.


    We need to put our own short-term interests aside and do what's best for our kids and grandkids. Those of you in your 50's and 60's and 70's, I ask; what truly is your legacy? 15 trillion in debt, huge unfunded public programs, huge unfunded pension plans, 1.4 trillion annual deficit, 600 billion annual trade gap, complete reliance and dependency on foreign oil for which we pay over 1 billion daily for the 19 million barrels we use every day (and to think few actually support mandating higher MPG vehicles and taxing gross polluters like the Hummers/big useless trucks), the de-industrialization of America that YOU sat by and watched unfold, doing nothing for the last 20 years as the corporations sent millions of jobs to Asia and South America. Well, you may have bought that Mercedes, at the cost of slowly destroying this great country. Was it worth it?


    It may make things worse before better, but eventually we will feel the pain one way or another. So far, for the first time I'm taking Ron Paul much more seriously and listening to his specific plans in more detail.


    As for pointless days in office. Well, name a recent success created as a result of any politician in USA. Yea, I think they are neck and neck with Greece.
    13 Nov 2011, 01:34 PM Reply Like
  • orangutan
    Re your last, that wasn't name calling it was stating fact.
    As for doing things different, lets see------
    1.Not start off the Obama presidency with speech after speech demonizing the very people who are supposed to hire and creating class warfare to further the liberal agenda.
    2.Not pass the ruinous health package.
    3.Not put ideologues in power positions to attack business, such as at the EPA and NLRB to name two.
    4.Not spend an overwhelming percent of the stimulous bill on creating favor with the unions;not lying about the shovel ready projects that were to be funded; not give billions to companies like Solyndra; and, just yesterday it came to light another half billion to one of his big donors in a no bid contract for a small pox vaccine that is not needed.
    5.Not sue the very states you took an oath to support because you don't like a state passed law.
    That's just for starters. I think you get the point.
    13 Nov 2011, 01:36 PM Reply Like
  • "Can some conservative please explain what they would have done differently? I really want to know. I know what a real liberal would have done - nationalize all the insolvent TBTFs until they could be sold off in smaller pieces."
    Once the decision was made to socialize the debt, the banks should have been nationalized, but the politicians are corrupt and beholden to them. I would have let them fail. A true conservative would have demanded liquidation. Similarly, politicians are corrupted by the defense and oil industries. It would take enlightened despotism to tackle these problems. Entitlements are also out of control for the same reason. Politicians exchanging favors for votes. I am not hopeful and believe we are headed down the drain.
    13 Nov 2011, 01:42 PM Reply Like
  • Actually, I don't get the point. You have listed 5 things that you would NOT have done, but indicated no positive course of action. If your ideal candidate had won the election instead of Obama, what positive actions would they have done? Or do you advocate that things should have been left to unfold without government action?
    13 Nov 2011, 02:31 PM Reply Like
  • Thank you.
    13 Nov 2011, 02:32 PM Reply Like
  • A federalist would have stopped the centralization of our health care systems and kicked it down to the states to fund and manage. The decisions and funding need to be made closer to the point of doctor patient interaction.


    And it is killing our country to keep centralizing every issue in WDC. Why bother with the 50 state concept.


    Any money spent on stimulus should have been a rebate check to tax payers and let them spend it. Let the states fund their own highways if they think they are worth driving on.


    TARP money was all paid back with interest so why bother rehashing that chapter. Except for GM and AIG which were not TBTF banks in case you could not tell the difference. And a lot of small banks received TARP so size was not the final qualification.
    13 Nov 2011, 05:32 PM Reply Like
  • If only more people could pull their heads out of their.... I'm currently in Greece for a year, and it's upsetting to see how in-tune the people are with what is actually happening in their country (young and old) compared to how little many American's know or care to know about the real state of affairs in the US.
    13 Nov 2011, 11:02 PM Reply Like
  • O J


    Please elaborate. Some first hand, on site reporting would be very welcome (at least by me).
    13 Nov 2011, 11:57 PM Reply Like
  • You and your troll buddies are the ones who offer nothing of substance. You infest message boards with your " Get rid of Obama" nonsense thinking that makes you the next Glen Beck.


    My real question is how much are you being paid to repeat the same silliness under different screen names Wyo dude.
    13 Nov 2011, 11:13 AM Reply Like
  • You are a very angry human JK. No one knew Obama when he was elected so he was "hope and change." His Administration so far has been "no hope and no change" so why not try another horse? BTW, as to doing different, he spent the first two years of his term with his party having a majority in both Houses of Congress and the good will of a newly elected Presidency. During that time he spent much of the good will and cost his party one of those Houses of Congress passing a worthless 2300 page healthcare bill.
    13 Nov 2011, 12:46 PM Reply Like
  • jk
    No different screen names are used by me.
    As to why, because Obama is the worst president this country has ever had. He took a bad economy and has run into the ground.
    BTW, it isn't silliness. The future of this country is dependent on it.
    So, just go back to your KooL Aid and enjoy the OWS wherever you are.
    13 Nov 2011, 12:51 PM Reply Like
  • Obama inherited the worst economic crisis since the Depression. And to top it off republicans have done all they could to obstruct everything he has tried to do.


    One senator can stop a piece of legislation in committee. it takes 60 to pass just about anything now. Considering the lame republicans and the democrats that vote with them like Nelson, Obama has done a fabulous job.


    That being said, I do wish he had the kahunas and conviction of Bush. That's where Obama fails.
    13 Nov 2011, 02:45 PM Reply Like
  • Napoleon useless lol


    I would love to see that columnists achieve anything close to what Napoleon did.
    13 Nov 2011, 01:09 PM Reply Like
  • Maybe the Greeks will vote for a new Communist or Nationalist party. That would be interesting.
    13 Nov 2011, 01:13 PM Reply Like
  • Let’s get back on this tread to the Greek situation for a minute.


    Arguably the new interim government in Greece is anything but a pointless exercise. As the following commentaries by Greeks illustrate, it is a chance to establish reconciliation between Greece and her EU partners and restore greater cohesion within Greek society for the times ahead. Obviously savage domestic austerity will alone be largely counterproductive and cause great suffering but with an enhanced sense that Greeks are doing their bit a broader based program, supported by Greeks and Europeans alike, to rebuild the Greek economy as well as steadily reduce the national debt by economic growth, partial but controlled default and IMF/EU/ECB participation will begin to seriously address the problems.


    The following give some sense of what is hoped for:




    13 Nov 2011, 01:18 PM Reply Like
  • The biggest problem for Greece is that the kleptocrats have moved most of their wealth out of the country. They really could fix the problem with an asset tax on the huge sums that have been syphoned out, but because it is in Switzerland, London, Cyprus etc, they have no alternative but to squeeze the little guy.
    13 Nov 2011, 05:03 PM Reply Like
  • The biggest problem for Greece are the facts and nobody seems to hear the leaders right. The whole economic world is talking about the 50% "voluntary " haircut. However, Merkal was 100% clear as are the IMF an ECB. The real haircut is 20% for Greeks as the IMF an ECB will not forgive the money Greece owes them ! Only the banks will ( or have too)


    So, all the talk by Merkal about the managed default an the installing of a mechanism to remove countries was for a reason an Greece is just the first to use that reason. This is a scam to buy time an Greece will still exit the EURO early next year ! gb
    13 Nov 2011, 05:11 PM Reply Like
  • Good articles and links. Just don't see any good solutions for Greece. Maybe they will have to retry Nixon's wage and price control gambit. Greece needs virtually 100% debt write downs to have almost any hope going forward.
    13 Nov 2011, 06:05 PM Reply Like
  • On paper everything you're saying sounds reasonable, but believe me, Greece is no ordinary EU country. Culturally, it's very different than western or central European countries. Their mentality towards work is much more relaxed, and the level of corruption within the government is (based soley on what I've seen for myself/my own opinion) quite high. Reform and economic stability will not come easily for Greece.
    14 Nov 2011, 10:15 PM Reply Like
  • I'm sure you could realize the impact that would have if Greece left the euro? The EU doesn't want countries getting the idea that they would be better off by leaving the euro and returning to the previous currencies (even though most countries probably would be better off abandoning the monetary union). The possible domino effect could devastate the euro, at least for a short while. Though I would not be surprised if you're right and Greece does leave the euro.. the signs are all pointing in the same direction. If you ask me, I don't believe any Balkan countries should be using the euro.. the cultural differences are too great. A new trade bloc should be formed (reminiscent of a recent socialist bloc), but only once Greece gets it's economy back on track. You're right about the haircut.. and the banks seem to be on board (whether or not they have much of a choice).
    14 Nov 2011, 10:47 PM Reply Like
  • When faced with a problem, politicians will always do what has to be done, after trying out everything else.
    The trying out of everything else can take a while.
    In the meantime, Republican Perry wants a cruisade against Iran. However the question is not if this is desirable, the question is who will pay for it.
    13 Nov 2011, 02:26 PM Reply Like
  • Not 1 person is reading the fine print here and the reporters are surly not. This 50% haircut forgets the comments of Merkal and the IMF an ECB... Only the Private bond holders will take the haircut. The other two WILL NOT ! All seem to be overlooking this an that means the true haircut is closer to 20%.......


    That is Merkal's comment as clear as day said she/they would manage Greece's default an there putting in the mechanisms to remove countries from the EURO. Like I said months back an continue to say ! This is a time buying scam an the Greeks will print early next year when they find out they not only will have the austerity cuts ,but, will need to work for 20% of there old pay an out they will go ! gb
    13 Nov 2011, 02:48 PM Reply Like
  • I wonder how many of its beautiful little islands Greece would have to sell to pay off its debt? If they were turned into Club Meds, it might also create a long-term boost to their economy.
    13 Nov 2011, 03:05 PM Reply Like
  • I believe that foreigners can't buy property in Greece, only lease it for around 90 years. Their islands aren't going anywhere.. as nice as Club Med Isle sounds.
    13 Nov 2011, 11:05 PM Reply Like
  • The entire set of these problems result from the large amounts of debt that have been accrued by governments these past 30 years. The debt service payments now and in the future prevent growth. The world is indeed in stall phase. To get out of stall phase, the debt and debt payments have to be eliminated. But this is a very difficult goal. Governments have not yet been politically able to raise taxes enough to effectively deal with their obligations of debt service. Clearly, they will continue to try to raise taxes. In addition, austerity measures, including clamping down on entitlement programs and decreasing government services will be used to decrease spending to prevent acquisition of further debt. Most likely these attempts at increasing taxes and decreasing entitlements will serve to increase the class conflict that has been
    more than noticeable the entire 21rst century. Lastly, currency devaluation will occur as government tries to make interest payments in lessered valued currency. This increase in class conflict will catalyzed the creation of new forms of government not previously imagined after a period of about 15 more years.
    13 Nov 2011, 04:35 PM Reply Like
  • Obama is the worst president in the history of the US. He is responsible for the economic crisis. The marxists democrats are incapable of accepting this because they don't have a brain. It has been proven that democrats want the US to be a slave of China.


    US would continue to collapse as long as the marxists and radicals remain in power. We need to learn about the Greece mistakes, and layoff at minimum 3M state government jobs.
    13 Nov 2011, 04:43 PM Reply Like
  • Gosh. I do my best to take posts wildly off-topic with ignorant and nonsensical ramblings that have no basis in fact. I really do.


    But sometimes somebody just beats me to it, and it makes me sad.
    13 Nov 2011, 06:05 PM Reply Like
  • Does the RNC pay you a dollar per ridiculous comment Joe Morgan? $1,479 for you so far. Better money than most of us are making on our investments. Write a book about it dude.
    13 Nov 2011, 09:07 PM Reply Like
  • > Obama is responsible for the economic crisis.


    Wow. The level of ignorance of that statement is just...indescribable.


    At least be more general and say "the Democrats" are responsible for the crisis, as that has some (limited) basis in fact.


    How could Obama cause a crisis whose seeds were sown well before he held any national office?


    Some people's fixation with Obama has become quite unhealthy. It's literally distorting reality for them.
    13 Nov 2011, 10:18 PM Reply Like
  • "Obama is the worst president in the history of the US. He is responsible for the economic crisis."


    Bold statement. No other variables contributed to the cause of the economic crisis? Some Republicans are excellent at speaking controversially, and without much thought.
    13 Nov 2011, 11:30 PM Reply Like
  • A 100 days is surely too short even for performing a Miracle. Even the Chinese in circa 1900 AD went through an abortive 100-Day Reform led by the Emperor Kiangxi. The ensuing purge was extremely devastating and brutal.


    Best luck to the Greeks!
    13 Nov 2011, 05:43 PM Reply Like
  • Recovery starts with a sense of optimism that we will get through this and make it better. Bottoms in markets come when we know we are in distress, but feel the future has promise.
    13 Nov 2011, 06:33 PM Reply Like
  • Too much money goes into the pockets of Greek officials (and you can take that to the National Bank!). Of course austerity measures will help if they are followed accordingly.. which is another weak point of Greek government. At least a change in the government means there's HOPE that new officials will bring with them a willingness to help their citizens, rather than themselves.
    13 Nov 2011, 11:31 PM Reply Like
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