Tuesday, 8 June 2010


I was overjoyed to hear today that our Government spokesman George Petalotis trashed rumours of a Greek default. No doubt some clever clogs in one of G-PAP's endless consultative committees thought that using our PR bitch instead of the actual minister to make this statement would be a true macho statement - slapping the markets around while keeping our pimp hand strong.

For the non-Greek speakers among you, here is what the great man said:

"Lately we are witnessing various rumours of a return to the drachma, of debt restructuring, hybrid funding facilities and other such novel matters [...] It is obvious that such spreading of entirely unfounded rumours can only bring about confusion and disorientation to all of Greek society's efforts to effect a safe exit from this crisis."

"We of course categorically dismiss all of these fanciful scenaria, wherever they come from, whatever their motivation, and whatever the means by which they are spread throughout Greek society."

"There is no question of default, of a return to the drachma, or of any of the things being alleged these days" [and citizens should feel secure based on the Stability Programme being implemented by the Government] "which will set us on a different course henceforth."

[When asked about the origin of these rumours, Mr. Petalotis said that] "we cannot make assumptions or conjectures" [and stressed that it was important to note that] "some people are profiting from the insecurity being spread around society."

[Moreover, Mr. Petalotis said that] "everyone has their opinion and motives when making statements regarding the Greek economy." Wink?

[He also stressed that "this Government is hard at work and has made great efforts in order to put in place the support mechanism] "without which we would not be able to speak with the certainty and security with which we do."

There are many layers of FAIL in this story. First, the reporting itself.

Out of 36 stories on this subject, once Google News' duplicates filter was in place, 33 were removed as precise duplicates; many duplicates came from reputable sources, not the odd blog.
Which left me with this:

Does anyone doubt this ridiculous litany of bravado was disseminated by the Government itself?

Second, the christening of statements by named commentators (of whom I am the lowliest) as "rumours".

Default theorists may be wrong ( I doubt it) but there is no doubt they go by their own names when making predictions. Try Wolfgang Munchau, Edward Harrison, Mohamed El-Erian,  Desmond Lachman, Ben Chu, Paul Krugman, Felix Salmon, Paul Donovan, Jacob Funk Kirkegaard, Matthew Yglesias, and of course myself. I did not pick these people because they are "right" or because their credentials are impeccable. I picked them because they featured in the top 4-5 pages of google results and are named commentators, most with the wherewithal to offer some opinion, even if you and I don't agree with them.

So come on, FinMin, get one of your bitches to tell me I'm wrong. You may convince me yet. But do not dismiss my opinion as "rumours". I'm shouting it from the rooftops and anyone curious to find out who I am need only click through a single link. You can look up where I live and work.

Third, the sense of déjà vu.

First came the emphatic assertions back in 2009, that we were nothing like Dubai.

Then came the assurance by G-PAP himself, that we would not need the EU's nebulous gesture of support back in February.

Then, there was the assurance from ourselves and the Germans, and from the IMF, that we will not need an IMF-financed bailout. We called the suggestion "a joke". A joke? Who the hell is laughing?

Then we told the evil specuLOLtors that they will lose their shirts betting on a Greek default. No one has yet.

Now we tell everyone we will never default. History is just not on our side on this. If FinMin were remotely honest they could just say: "we don't want to default; and we do not believe we have to default; we will stake our political careers on not defaulting. We may still do it, but not while this government has any options left this side of dictatorship." Don't tell the market what it will do. Tell them what you are going to do and cross your fingers.

Good luck FinMin. Save me some of your lovely furniture when you liquidate.

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