Preston Clive
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Preston Clive in Preston Clive - THE IRRITATED AMERICAN, Wielding The Digital Hatchet,

When You're Broke, Get Creative

Needing to finance a maturing bond issue, a gorilla contemplates suing all humanity. 

(IMG © Liz Stablein Photog)

By Preston Clive


The comments of most Greece articles today are alive with imagined/fictional scenarios of everyone who ever lost a war or were subject to a massacre by an occupying nation, first going broke, and then suddenly and without any warning slapping the occupying nation from decades and decades ago with a reparations bill that will close the budget gap.

Anyone in Europe or Africa broke? Sue Italy for reparations over the Roman Empire. South Africa broke?--sue the old imperial countries of yore. India, Hong Kong, and a host of other countries across the globe .  .  .  should one of you go broke with a tottering emergency hold on solvency, go after England, those old colonizing rogues!

Sounds too outrageous to be true? Then you obviously have not been keyed into the European news cycle as of late: Greece has proclaimed that it has just now decided to enforce a 2000 Greek Supreme Court Decision that awarded war reparations to Greeks as a result of war crimes committed by the occupying Nazis in 1944 in the town of Distomo.

Distomo, is a quite small village in middle of Greece; the reparations case played out in the courts in the year 2000 as a result of a couple of things... one is a forced loan from the Greek banks paid to the Germans, and the occupying German authorities massacring 218 Greeks in Distomo village, in the year 1944. The massive number of executions came as a result of Greek resistance fighters engaging in covert actions against the occupying authorities--including the  assassinations of German officers.

The linked Greek article above goes on to explain:

Justice Minister Nikos Paraskevopoulos has said he is ready to sign an older court ruling that will enable the foreclosure of German assets in Greece in order to compensate the relatives of victims of Nazi crimes during the Second World War.

Greece's Supreme Court ruled in favor of Distomo survivors in 2000, but the decision has not been enforced.

“The law states that in order to implement the ruling of the Supreme Court, the minister of justice has to order it. I believe this permission should be given and I’m ready to give it, notwithstanding any obstacles," Paraskevopoulos told Antenna TV on Wednesday.

“There must probably be some negotiation with Germany,” said Paraskevopoulos, who first announced his intention Tuesday during a Parliament debate on the creation of a committee to seek war reparations, the repayment of a forced loan and the return of antiquities.

During the same debate, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras expressed his government’s firm intention to seek war reparations from Germany, noting that Athens would show sensitivity that it hoped to see reciprocated from Berlin.

Tsipras told MPs that the matter of war reparations was “very technical and sensitive” but one he has a duty to pursue. He also seemed to indirectly connect the matter to talks between Greece and its international creditors on the country’s loan program. “The Greek government will strive to honor its commitments to the full,” he said. “But it will also strive to ensure all unfulfilled obligations toward Greece and the Greek people are fulfilled,” he added. “You cannot pick and choose on ethical issues.

This to me is wild stuff--as wild as it comes. Does it even have a precedent? Alexis Tsipiras, in a speech that is without question orchestrated in a large measure as political theater playing to his home audience, is looking for "more than €160 billion" in reparations from the Germans. 

One can see the Syriza leaders sitting around mutely, trying to find a way to stay solvent. Suddenly one of them, perhaps finance minister Varoufakis goes rigid in his chair, his head tipping to the side as though a dog picking up a distant silent whistle--he raises a finger: "I've got it... not only can we raise billions and billions, but we can irritate the potatoes off the Germans while we do it!" 

He explains his plan and leans back in his seat, satisfied, and folds his arms. Universal agreement around the table. 

Tsipiras during his speech went on to proclaim that Germany has avoided paying its reparation obligations via legal tricks. He went on:

 “After the reunification of Germany in 1990, the legal and political conditions were created for this issue to be solved. But since then, German governments chose silence, legal tricks and delay. And I wonder, because there is a lot of talk at the European level these days about moral issues: is this stance moral? [...] despite the crimes of the Third Reich and Hitler’s hordes, the German debt was written off".

Of course, all of this comes as the Greek government was coincidentally trying to raise cash to finance a TBill rollover, and successfully--despite enormous stress--managed to sell €1.3 billion of three-month Treasury bills, partly by paying a higher percentage to incentivize the sale.

With this precedent being set for last ditch Hail-Mary-Pass-financing via war and occupation reparations, we have no doubt that Britain is quite pleased that sprawling India is doing so very economically well.

Oh, and Germany insists that they paid all the reparations they plan on paying in 1990 upon reunification

Drastic times see drastic action .  .  .  no doubt about it.

Preston Clive