The European Union and the IMF, years after their initial abduction of Greece, are still holding Greece's leadership hostage and strangling the Greek people. It must end immediately! Greece today, at gunpoint as always, approved yet another round of pension cuts and tax hikes to be borne by its already crushed citizenry. It's a mistake, but a mistake the Greek people do not have to accept any longer! I have better ideas for Greece and I'm here now to help implement them.
The Global X MSCI Greece ETF (NYSE: GREK) may benefit today on the hope implied in reports on a way out, but it's still a misguided and false hope. The National Bank of Greece (OTC: OTCPK:NBGGY), Hellenic Telecommunications Org. S.A. (OTC: OTCPK:HLTOY), Tsakos Energy Navigation Ltd. (NYSE: TNP), Diana Shipping (NYSE: DSX), Genco Shipping (NYSE: GNK), Piraeus Bank S.A. (OTC: OTCPK:BPIRY) and Greek Org. of Football Prognostics S.A. (ATH: OPAP.AT) all bear watching today.
Greece's Parliament today approved a new round of creditor-demanded austerity measures at gunpoint. The measures include even further cuts in pensions. I have had the pleasure of meeting pensioners over the past few months, and they tell me they cannot even afford to give their grandchildren a euro any longer. The view from the outside, in America among Greek-Americans, is that Greeks are continuing to enjoy life and are going out every night as always. Wrong! Greeks, eternal optimists, still enjoy life because life is hard not to enjoy when living in paradise (at least on the islands), but they enjoy it via the simple things like cookouts with family and short drives to the local beach, village or monastery.
Greece's largest cities are now mafia ridden, black market ruled, crime terrorized regions with ever expanding blight. And it does not help Greece that it is asked to bear a frontline burden of a refugee crisis and immigration wave. Though, finally, the EU is helping Greece to turn that negative cost into a positive for its economy; I'll explain this situation in a future report. This effort should expand if the EU really cares about its partner in Greece, and if it intends to continue to accept refugees and/or immigrants.
The second part of the new austerity measures asks lower income earners to pay taxes. Think about asking the poorest people to pay taxes; does that make any sense to you? The tax-burden threshold is being lowered so that Greece can generate more receipts to balance its budget and pay its debts. I have spoken with low income earners, because they are the great majority of Greeks today. It's normal for a college educated Greek to earn 600 euros to 1100 euros (for good job holders or business owners) a month after taxes that nearly match that level of trickle through they need to cover their monthly expenses. Rents have decreased dramatically, but Greeks are hardly left with money to buy the food they would prefer to buy today or for the irregular purchase of an appliance after paying for their utilities and the taxes that are weighed on those as well.
More is needed and expected from Greece's leaders. The solution to taxing the poor more is to provide more soup kitchens for them to eat in. No thanks! That is not the answer. Rival political parties are good at criticizing standing leadership decisions, whichever party is in place, but it is time for real solutions.
Austerity may have seemed like a quick and practical solution for Greece from Frankfurt, but it has always been the wrong idea to restore Greece from deep indebtedness to a fiscally sound state. It has instead crushed the nation, humiliated its leadership and enraged its people. And it has cracked the European Union, something the Germans should realize by now. For outsiders in Germany from a distance, austerity measures seemed to be the most obvious way to fix Greece's fiscal woes. At least it was the option that required the least amount of work, lest eurozone members actually care about the people living in one of their neighboring states.
The problem with the austerity idea was that Greece's immediate need was crisis resolution. You cannot escape a deep indebted state of being by starving the people, and thereby starving that nation's production and economic life. Any good capitalist with a care for the people knows that by strangling them with austerity, you offer only long-term pain. It's the reason Greece almost left the eurozone (which was probably a less bad solution, but still a bad solution), and it's the reason Greeks are so angry today.
I know, because I see it daily here now. People are on edge, but they are also stuck in a sense of hopelessness. I bought a telephone card from a guy last month, and then I read about his suicide a week later on a popular local news site, ChiosPress.gr. He was one of two locals who committed suicide for apparently economic reasons during a two week span. I have been through a lot personally, but have always fought through the most difficult of times, so maybe I am the kind of guy Greece needs now.
The Greek people should not feel hopelessness, because there is another way out of this mess that requires no more pain. The answer is not austerity or eurozone exit, as the in-the-box thinkers who see in black and white see it. In fact, I would immediately freeze taxes and pensions if I were in a position to do so and would hold to a promise not to cut pensions or raise taxes any further on Greeks. By the end of 6 months or sooner, I would begin restoring pensions and cutting taxes, because I see another way for Greece (details will come). I spent years studying economics and finance, and further years studying what works in business for corporations as a stock analyst, where I generated an average annual return of 23% over five years via my decision making and selection of winning business strategies. I can help Greece.
I would force Brussels to the negotiating table, but not from a position of weakness on our knees begging for debt relief. The EU today is leading Greece's leadership with false hope of debt relief. It's the same debt relief I demanded at the start of this crisis, when I said in my reports on Greece in years past that its creditors needed to fashion a repayment plan that would not strangle the Greek people. Longer duration was needed and lower payments to avoid the situation that this ineptness has created, but Germany held steady in its harsh demands back then.
Greece's leadership is stuck in a hole and is thinking inside a box that is shrinking and crushing them. First the box killed PASOK, then it crushed the New Democrats and now it will sink Syriza. In the past, I would have considered myself like the New Democrats, because they are supposed to be capitalists, but I now have a perspective of compassion for the Greek people and especially pensioners and the poor. I developed that in America feeding and befriending the homeless in the lonely darkness.
Maybe I fit best with PASOK (I'm not sure yet), because my goals would be to restore hope to the people and faith in the government with the restoration of pensions and the cutting of taxes. I want to give life back to the Greeks, and I know how to do it an economically feasible manner that does not involve leaving the eurozone. However, it will require a real show of partnership from Greece's EU partners. However, I believe my plans will not upset the apple cart, but provide out-of-the-box solutions that the EU, IMF and Greece will find inspiring. Greeks will benefit because they will get their lives back. Please follow me at Twitter, Facebook and via my column here at Seeking Alpha if you dare.
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