Obama finally issues call for Greek debt relief


In his ante-penultimate month as the chief executive of the planet’s greatest power, Barack Obama is finally issuing a call for the Troika [the European Central Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the European Commission] to ease up on the nation hardest hit by the Great Recession.

It’s entirely fitting that Obama pleads a case for Greece, given that it was bankers in the United States and their colleagues in Britain who brought the globe to its knees by the avarice and unbridled greed.

Greece labors under a mountain of debt, and the collectors have ravaged not only the economy, but have forced downsizing of pay and pensions and the gutting of a once-exemplary healthcare system.

From the Guardian:

The US president, Barack Obama, has signalled he will use a critical two-day visit to Athens this week to step up calls for the country to be given “meaningful debt relief”.

Weighing in on the potentially explosive issue of how best to revive the European Union’s most financially strained member state, the outgoing president said debt forgiveness would play a pivotal role in giving people hope. “I am a strong believer that to make reforms sustainable, people need hope,” he told the Greek newspaper Kathimerini before the trip, which will be his final state visit before leaving office. “The International Monetary Fund has said that debt relief is crucial to put Greece’s economy on a sustainable path and set the stage for a return to prosperity.”

Obama, who has blamed the excoriating effects of austerity on Europe’s slowing growth, said while Athens needed to implement reforms, a nominal write-down would help reignite an economy that has lost over 25% of its output since the nation’s financial woes first surfaced seven years ago. At around €330bn (£284bn), or 180% of gross domestic product, Greece’s staggering debt is by far the biggest in the EU.

“That is why I will continue to urge Greece’s creditors to take the steps needed to ensure the country is well placed to return to robust economic growth, including by providing meaningful debt relief,” he said in the interview. “Getting that done would not only fuel the Greek economic recovery, it would show that Europe can make its economy work for everyone.”

More from Kathimerini:

Athens is banking on a concrete statement of support from Obama on the issue of debt relief during his visit, in order to galvanize Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos at the scheduled meeting of eurozone finance ministers on December 5.

Referring to bilateral ties, Obama said, “Americans continue to place enormous importance on our alliance with Greece,” and lauded Athens as a close counterterrorism partner and for its close cooperation at Souda Bay on Crete, as well as its commitment to the NATO alliance.

“Despite facing extraordinary economic hardships, Greece is one of five NATO Allies that spend 2 percent of GDP on defense,” he explained.

He also pledged that the Greek people will always have a friend and partner in the United States “as Greece continues to take the hard steps of reform at home and works to ensure that migrants are treated in an orderly and humane way.”

And the looting continues

Under the austerity doctrine employed by the Troika to enure that all those banksters continue collecting their pounds of flesh, a key program is the mandated selloff of the national recourse held in trust by governments on behalf of the citizenry.

The Troika has enforced round after round of privatizations, sales which also serve to increase the power of the multinational corporations picking up the “assets” at fire sale prices.

And now the Troika is demanding that, after selling most of its ports, public transit systems, roads, and other public goods, Greece must sell still more, including remaining pieces of its public energy system.

From To Vima:

The negotiations between the Greek government and the institutions on the second bailout program resume, with the creditors calling for detailed timetables and a new list of privatizations.

According to a report in Ta Nea, the institutions have called for a new list of privatizations scheduled for 2017, while underlining that these must relate to the energy sectors – meaning the sale of the 17% of DEI and 65% of DEPA — as well as the Athens International Airport. Sources suggest that these tenders are to form the basis of the 2-billion-euro revenue target for 2017.

Meanwhile, the institutions are also expected to pressure the government on launching the new privatization ‘super fund’ by the end of the year, with a source adding that the management board and managing director should be appointed by the Eurogroup scheduled for 5 December.

So Barack Obama’s plea is clearly a case of trying to close the barn door after the horse has fled, and with it, the harnasses, plows, feed stores, and even the mice that nibble on them.

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