By John Ward
Dutch Finance Minister offers blunt warning against Athens trickery.
Desperate eurocrats still hoping for Chinese, G20 involvement.
Greek media sources last night revealed that a get-out clause – in one article of Greece’s legislation concerning the passage of Parliamentary Bills – is being exploited by both the leading Greek Parties in the run-up to Elections at the end of this month.
Thanks to the clause, some 35 amendments to the bailout legislation have been quietly passed without any reference to the Prime Minister’s office. Effectively, they water down some of the commitments that were made in order to get hold of the ECB’s extraordinary non-cash paper which Mario Draghi has presented to the world as ‘bailout cash’.
Greek newspaper Proto Thema this morning confirmed the story.
“With Greek politicians, there is always a back door,” said The Slog’s main informant, “and you can bet that when it was originally drawn up, this was the purpose of the clause. Their other classic trick is to get a quorum in Parliament at around 3 am, and then rush through bills granting all kinds of immunities, or contradicting reform legislation trumpeted to the electorate.”
Lucas Papademos has been aware of what’s happening for some time. In a thinly veiled reference to the practice last night, the Prime Minister ignored the technical legality of the trick in order to tell legislators in writing that ‘The premier must be have total knowledge of the content of a proposed amendment’ in all cases. This rejection of a legal clause, however sneaky, in turn reflects a special dispensation given to all unelected Prime Ministers who used to work for Goldman Sachs. Signor Draghi uses the same Natural Law to subordinate bondholders, and call worthless paper drawn up by the ECB ‘cash from the EFSF bailout fund’.
I understand that Papademos is now hastily getting all the amendments removed, but this won’t play well among Troika members. Perhaps Dutch Finance Minister Jan Kees de Jager has also been tipped off about the scam: early today he made a blunt public statement about what would happen if Greece doesn’t live up to its bailout commitments.
“If the IMF decided that Greece is reneging on any part of the agreement,” he told reporters, “then we will not take part in any further bailouts of the country. But I am convinced Greece can solve its problems.”
Those last sentences are always added by europhiles in order to cover the backside. But de Jager knows perfectly well there isn’t going to be any further bailout of Greece. Mario Draghi has deftly kept a tight hold on the real 130 billion euros of cash. It is sitting in the eurozone’s shiny new bazooka in order to hide rather poorer levels of commitment therein than have been suggested to a gullible media set.
The other reason for the commitment, of course, is to get other global players (especially Beijing) to contribute to the Fund to be one day known as the ESM. But as the Chinese can both count and tell sh*t from putty, one suspects the eurocrats will have a better time (with much better food) trying to persuade the G20 summit to cough up.
Already, however, there is a growing faction in Germany that doesn’t want the fund to be boosted by anyone. This remark from last Friday by Wolfgang Schauble perhaps reveals the truth about where his head is really at these days:
“My irritation over a lot of stupid talk over the last few days has to do with the fact that it’s as if only the firewall is important,” Schaeuble told reporters in Copenhagen, “You could have put in 10 trillion, but if you don’t solve the problem, it’s worth nothing.”
So, um, why put any in at all Wolfie, hmm?
None of this is getting any better.
‘There is still a widespread belief here in Athens that Greece will go bust and declare insolvency over the Easter period,’ another Greek source wrote to me yesterday. We shall see. Stay tuned.