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Forbes Magazine on Harsh "British Empire"-Style Terms, and Why Greeks Should Tell Their Creditors to Take a Hike

Tim Worstall from Forbes magazine explains why Greece  shouldn’t agree to British Empire style terms imposed by the IMF and the EU and why Greeks should tell their creditors to take a hike. 
The Greek debt negotiations are getting into a very interesting phase indeed. Interesting as in, if you’re not scared about what might happen then you’ve not been paying attention. OK, so we all know that Greece has to cut its debt burden. There’s going to be a haircut for some groups that hold the bonds. The information for public consumption is that it will only be the private sector holders who have to take the loss. The inside word is that this isn’t enough, some of the public sector holders are going to need to take one too otherwise Greek total debt won’t fall enough to be sustainable.
Terms for Bailout Worse Than Those Imposed By The British Empire
Worstall refers to the “absolutely astonishing demand” the FT says is being made of Greece:
Absolute priority to debt service. Greece has to legally commit itself to giving absolute priority to future debt service. This commitment has to be legally enshrined by the Greek Parliament. State revenues are to be used first and foremost for debt service, only any remaining revenue may be used to finance primary expenditure. This will reassure public and private creditors that the Hellenic Republic will honour its comittments after PSI and will positively influence market access.
De facto elimination of the possibility of a default would make the threat of a non-disbursement of a GRC II tranche much more credible. If a future tranche is not disbursed, Greece can not threaten its lenders with a default, but will instead have to accept further cuts in primary expenditures as the only possible consequence of any non-disbursement.
These according to Worstall are harsher terms than the British Empire ever imposed, even backed up by gunboats and the Royal Navy. Imposed on anyone at all that is, not just whatever tussles were had with Greece.
If There Is an Outbreak of Plague, Greece Will Have to Repay the Debts Before Offering Health Care To Its Citizens 
An “all good efforts” commitment to debt repayment is usually enough but an absolute one is simply unheard of. It does, quite literally, say that if there’s an outbreak of plague that sweeps through the country (or any other disaster you might like to think of) then Greece has to repay the debts before offering health care to its own citizens at a time of national disaster.
There really isn’t any way that a democratic government is going to sign up to that: or that any demos would allow their government to do so. Not as and when they understand it that is. This is reducing Greece to less power than a Lander in Germany, to less than a county or city government in the US system. This won’t be agreed to as long as Greece has any alternative at all, that’s my supposition.
Greece Should Tell The IMF and The EU To Take a Hike 
According to Worstall, Greece has an alternative and should stop acting as the “yes man” to the IMF and the EU.
Stephanie Flanders at the BBC says that Greece is now running a primary surplus. If you’re in primary deficit then you’ve got to do pretty much what you’re told. However, if you’re in primary surplus you have the option (yes, an explosive one, a difficult one, but it is an option) to tell everyone to go take a hike.
In fact, if you’re running a primary surplus and also have huge debts (Greece’s position) then you’re probably better off telling everyone to go take that long walk off a short pier.
And that of course is where all the danger lies. Greece now has choices, something they really rather didn’t 6 and 8 months ago. And at this time when Greece has choices it’s being asked to sign up to something entirely unacceptable. So it might well be forced into making the choice that most would really rather it didn’t: a hard default.
After all, to misquote Stalin, how many divisions does the EU have to stop them?
(Source: Forbes)

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