People exchanging food for tickets in 1923 Germany. ‘Many, including Keynes, argued that [reparations imposed on Germany following the Versailles treaty] led to the rise of the Nazis and the second world war.’ Photograph: Keystone/Corbis
Nick Dearden’s excellent article (**) on the contrast between the Greeks’ generous treatment of Germany after the Second World War and the vicious treatment of Greece today to save Germany’s Euro did not mention other recent German sabotage of the Greek finances. In early 2102 Wolfgang Schaeuble repeatedly threw last minute spokes in the wheel just as a solution to the Greek finances drew close while the German company which operates Greece’s international airport in Athens repeatedly, over a period of 10 years, refused to pay over 500 million euros in Value Added Tax owed to the Greek State.
Yours etc, Rodney Atkinson , Alderley, Meadowfield Road, Stocksfield
Nick Dearden‘s related article on The Guardian : Greece and Spain helped postwar Germany recover. Spot the difference
Sixty years ago today, an agreement was reached in London to cancel half of postwar Germany’s debt. That cancellation, and the way it was done, was vital to the reconstruction of Europe from war. It stands in marked contrast to the suffering being inflicted on European people today in the name of debt.
Germany emerged from the second world war still owing debt that originated with the first world war: the reparations imposed on the country following the Versailles peace conference in 1919. Many, including John Maynard Keynes, argued that these unpayable debts and the economic policies they entailed led to the rise of the Nazis and the second world war.
By 1953, Germany also had debts based on reconstruction loans made immediately after the end of the second world war. Germany’s creditors included Greece and Spain, Pakistan and Egypt, as well as the US, UK and France.
German debts were well below the levels seen in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain today, making up around a quarter of national income. But even at this level, there was serious concern that debt payments would use up precious foreign currency earnings and endanger reconstruction.
Needing a strong West Germany as a bulwark against communism, the country’s creditors came together in London and showed that they understood how you help a country that you want to recover from devastation. It showed they also understood that debt can never be seen as the responsibility of the debtor alone. Countries such as Greece willingly took part in a deal to help create a stable and prosperous western Europe, despite the war crimes that German occupiers had inflicted just a few years before.
The debt cancellation for Germany was swift, taking place in advance of an actual crisis. Germany was given large cancellation of 50% of its debt. The deal covered all debts, including those owed by the private sector and even individuals. It also covered all creditors. No one was allowed to “hold out” and extract greater profits than anyone else. Any problems would be dealt with by negotiations between equals rather than through sanctions or the imposition of undemocratic policies.
Perhaps the most innovative feature of the London agreement was a clause that said West Germany should only pay for debts out of its trade surplus, and any repayments were limited to 3% of exports earnings every year. This meant those countries that were owed debt had to buy West German exports in order to be paid. It meant West Germany would only pay from genuine earnings, without recourse to new loans. And it meant Germany’s creditors had an interest in the country growing and its economy thriving.
Following the London deal, West Germany experienced an “economic miracle”, with the debt problem resolved and years of economic growth. The medicine doled out to heavily indebted countries over the last 30 years could not be more different. Instead, the practice since the early 1980s has been to bail out reckless lenders through giving new loans, while forcing governments to implement austerity and free-market liberalisation to become “more competitive”.
As a result of this, from Latin America and Africa in the 80s and 90s to Greece, Ireland and Spain today, poverty has increased and inequality soared. In Africa in the 80s and 90s, the number of people living in extreme poverty increased by 125 million, while economies shrank. In Greece today, the economy has shrunk by more than 20%, while one in two young people are unemployed. In both cases, debt ballooned.
The priority of an indebted government today is to repay its debts, whatever the amount of the budget these repayments consume. In contrast to the 3% limit on German debt payments, today the IMF and World Bank regard debt payments of up to 15-25% of export revenues as being “sustainable” for impoverished countries. The Greek government’s foreign debt payments are around 30% of exports.
When debts have been “restructured”, they are only a portion of the total debts owed, with only willing creditors participating. In 2012, only Greece’s private creditors had debt reduced. Creditors that held British or Swiss law debt were also able to “hold out” against the restructuring, and will doubtless pursue Greece for many years to come.
The “strategy” in Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Spain today is to put the burden of adjustment solely on the debtor country to make its economy more competitive through mass unemployment and wage cuts. But without creditors like Germany willing to buy more of their exports, this will not happen, bringing pain without end.
The German debt deal was a key element of recovering from the devastation of the second world war. In Europe today, debt is tearing up the social fabric. Outside Europe, heavily indebted countries are still treated to a package of austerity and “restructuring” measures. Pakistan, the Philippines, El Salvador and Jamaica are all spending between 10 and 20% of export revenues on government foreign debt payments, and this doesn’t include debt payments by the private sector.
If we had no evidence of how to solve a debt crisis equitably, we could perhaps regard the policies of Europe’s leaders as misguided. But we have the positive example of Germany 60 years ago, and the devastating example of the Latin American debt crisis 30 years ago. The actions of Europe’s leaders are nothing short of criminal.
About Rodney Atkinson: He is one of Britain’s most successful political economists, an expert on the constitutional effects of British membership of the European Union and a former occasional advisor to ministers. He has a track record of successful prediction of economic and political crisis. He was formerly a lecturer at the University of Mainz, Germany and a merchant banker in the City of London.
He was Referendum Party candidate in North West Durham in the 1997 General Election (5.2%) and the lead UK Independence Party candidate for the North East Region in the 1999 European Elections (8.8%).
He is the author of some 80 articles and policy papers and six internationally praised books: Government against the People (1986) The Emancipated Society (1988) The Failure of the State (1989) and on the European Union: Treason at Maastricht (with Norris McWhirter, fourth edition 2000), Europe’s Full Circle (third edition 1998, also published in Yugoslavia and Poland) and Fascist Europe Rising (2002 now published in Poland and Serbia).
He has been a contributor to radio and television programmes on both sides of the Atlantic. He founded The Campaign for United Kingdom Conservatism in 1994 and co-founded with Mrs. Lynn Riley, the cross party South Molton Declaration in 1999 (re-launched as the British Declaration of Independence for the 2005 election). He founded the Freenations website.
In recent years Rodney Atkinson has given public speeches in Prague, Tbilisi, Vienna, Warsaw, Lublin, Belgrade and Sofia and has been interviewed on television or radio in the USA, Poland, Australia, Germany and Yugoslavia.
He is the eldest brother of comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson.
OUR COMMENT :
Yes, Germany’s treatment is at least unfair, but the question is what are the Greek government doing for this ! Are we paying it to work for us and to protect our interests ? Yes we do. Are the Greek government working for us and for our country ??
A) In contrast to the 3% limit on German debt payments, today the Greek government pay for its debt more than 30% of export revenues.
B) Germany have forcibly take funds from the Greek state during the Occupation. These are the so-called Occupation Loans, which have no relationship or connection with other requirements of the country coming from humanities or physical disasters, war reparations and war compensations, but the Greek government have not recover the unpaid loans of occupation from Germany, wich far exceeding the external public debt of Greece. See Occupation Loan: 510 bn the German debt to Greece
C) On 2010, the Greek government completely unlawful and abusive, asked from the IMF, EC and ECB (Troika), for a first loan of €110Bn in exchange for the country’s immunity and assets, present and future, and a little bit later, a second loan of €130Bn, in exchange for the country’s administration by its creditors and the repayment of loans in priority over salaries, pensions and other social expenses.”It is as if they were borrowing from a Mafia loan shark to repay an advance from their grandmother”, The Financial Times said after the first €110Bn agreement. This giant loan of € 240Bn, Greece neither needed, nor has received and neither is it certain that it will receive. But, it is due to these loan agreements that Greece has found itself bound and gagged as it were, has lost its immunity and national sovereignty and now risks losing all its public property and wealth. ( Greece received only a part of the first loan and it was used exclusively for re payment of government debt)
Please also note that:
The Greek government have asked for the first (high-interest) loan, without even looking into other options, without even going out to the markets, and ignoring low-interest loans that China and Russia offered. And guess what: Only for this Loan Facility Agreement the Greek government paid 1.3 billion Euros! These were its expenses.
In less than a year, the Greek government asked for €240Bn, the biggest loan in world history, which also means more money than Greece had borrowed in 35 years!
At the time, most countries were plagued by the economic crisis and more or less, Greece was experiencing the same problems as they were. But for Greece, taking into consideration its unique advantages, it would have been a piece of cake to exit the crisis, if had there been any such intention….
To support this statement, I remind to everyone only a few of the unique advantages that Greece had then :
- low overall external debt, geostrategic position and a priceless cultural heritage
- important areas in the economy such as high quality agricultural products, tourism and shipping, where there is no real fear of labour competition from developing countries (China, India, Russia etc) as happens with german and other industries
- it was one of the very few western countries, maybe even the only one, which owned significant public property, rich unexploited subsoil, and very profitable state-owned utilities.
Some corroborative information, indicative of the above :
- over the last decades Greece is the number one global shipping power (but shipping companies are abroad)
- in 2009, total Greek external debt compared to GDP was 167% and, globally as well as in Europe, Greece was lagged far behind countries such as Ireland which came first with 1000%, Holland with approximately 470%, Britain with 416% and Portugal with 223%
- the country’s unexploited assets, reserves and resources were no secret to anyone, as it was well known since 1981 that Greece joined the then EEC(of nine members) with three advantages : its commercial shipping, its mineral resources and the Greeks’ sharp business acumen.(Gaston Thorn, EEC President ,1981)
D) Germany is a part of these agreements and TROIKA’S unreported chief. And here are only a part of Germany’s profit (from the first agreement) :
As you see, the Greece’ s biggest debtor is now she’s creditor and take a lot of profit in any possible way.
So, may I kindly ask you now: WHOM ARE THE GREEK GOVERNMENT WORKING FOR ?? Who can answer me ??
A) To Germany
18-4-1964 KATA ΤΗΝ ΚΑΤΟΧΗΝ 400.000.000 ΔΟΛΛΑΡΙΩΝ ΕΔΑΝΕΙΣΕΝ Η ΕΛΛΑΣ ΕΙΣ ΓΕΡΜΑΝΙΑΝ ΚΑΙ ΤΗΝ ΙΤΑΛΙΑΝ ( Η Ιταλία εξόφλησε τα δικά της χρέη προς την Ελλάδα)
B) To Greece & Greek government
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