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Greece: Ready To Do Anything It Takes- Except This,That, This and . . . "

Varoufakis struts proudly to the bailout talks (IMAGE: iranian.com)

Greece is still the word folks, if for no other reason than owing to their simple, mind-bending audacity during bailout negotiations. 

First they are willing, then they are not willing. Then they proclaim that that are willing to do whatever it takes to reach an agreement .  .  . then--nothing. The stars and tweety birds which I wrote were circling the heads of the Brussels conference participants last week looks now like an adorably endearing novelty compared to the abomination confronting the conferees at present. 

Tempers--not to mention tensions--are running quite high. The Greek PM Tsipiras is using increasingly incendiary language, leveling conspiratorial accusations, and pouring salt in EU wounds with his attitude. The situation is an interesting character study, actually, and I swear by all that's holy that when this whole affair wraps up the entire thing could be turned into an excellent literary-style play .  .  . Pinteresque, perhaps with a lone musical number--for comedic self-reflexivity-- by Sondheim at his best ("Greece, Greece, crazy Greece, stay loose Greece... Breeze it, buzz it, squeeze and fuzz it, just shoot y'er foot boyyyyy.")

German finance minister Wolfgang Schaeuble, bucking the properly mannered demeanor of his counterparts in these negotiations, has allow the lid flip above his eyebrows become visible. He flat out told the world that it is time for the Greeks to "make up their mind."

"None of my colleagues so far understands what Greece wants..." he elaborated. "Whether Greece itself knows is not clear either."

The German finance minister is of course referencing the fact that Greece's Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis rejected an extension of the current bailout plan to keep Greece afloat and functioning as a country. He announced his (and--one presumes-the whole Greek cabinet's) opinion that the plan was flat out "absurd" and "unacceptable." 

This is junior league negotiation at its finest, folks. Suck it up while you see it--rarely will you witness a national representative of a country so down and out, so devoid of ammunition, so weak and prostrate, behave with such highfalutin amateurishness. 

What these gents from Greece simply do not understand it this: there is political climate, limited political reality which does not extend beyond the borders of one's nation . .  . and then there is just flat out simple Reality with a capital R.

When Yanis Varoufakis walks out from beyond the confines of his Greek nation and out into the rest of the world, the political reality of his nation-state dissolves, and Reality reality takes over. As a gesture of kindness, the counterpart ministers that he must negotiate with might make a little bit of room for that political reality in Greece .  .  .  if (and this is a big If) they are feeling amicable and decently stroked and sucked up to by a humble Yanis Varoufakis who achingly explains that he has a tough political reality back at home that he must give appearance of defending. They might all agree on some nugget or morsel component of the financial plan that gives Yanis Varoufakis the ability to come home with the appearance of having won a concession from their European creditors. Perhaps there will be some concession that Varoufakis himself might give in return to the EU reps in private that satisfies them and makes the deal an even framework of give and take behind closed doors, but in public the Greeks can come home with the appearance of having "won."

That is diplomacy. That is negotiation. That is diplomacy and negotiation even when both sides have very large sets of muscles and can threaten one another equally. In a situation such as we have here, what the Greeks have been doing is a historical lesson on how not to win concessions. You don't make like your political cronies are the only observers in the world that matter at all, and ridicule the folks who are able to insure your survival as a functioning nation state member of the civilized world. You don't ridicule them as "absurd."

In the midst of all this Amateur Hour performance by the Greeks the BBC has just reported that deposits are flowing out of Greek banks at the rate of Two Billion Euros A Week. JP Morgan, who assembled these numbers, reported that if this remained the case, and this level of cash hemorrhaging kept up apace, the Greeks would run out of money to use as collateral against new loans in a matter of 14 weeks. The report in the BBC (quoting JP Morgan) goes on:

 JP Morgan's estimate is based on a calculation that a maximum of €108bn of deposits is left in Greek banks.

The most up-to-date figures from the Greek central bank show deposits dropped 2.4% month-on-month in December to €160.3bn from €164.3bn, marking the third monthly fall in a row.

It would be an understatement for the ages to remark that time is running out here for Greece. What Varoufakis is treating like a cavalier and interesting experiment in theoretical disaster would in fact cause massive financial disaster across the EU's monetary systems that constitute their economic infrastructure. But if the Greeks are waiting for the EU to blink, they probably will be waiting long past the dropping of the second shoe. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem remarked that it is "up to Greece" to renew the bailout program. Once renewed, they might consider modifications:

"I hope they [Greece] will ask for an extension to the programme, and once they do that, we can allow flexibility, they can put in their political priorities. Of course, we will see whether their programme remains on track. But that is the way forward. It's really up to the Greeks. We cannot make them or ask them. It really it really is up to them. We stand ready to work with them, also [over] the next couple of days."

The response from Varoufakis to the above statement?

He dismissed the Dijsselbloem promise of flexibility "nebulous" and "lacking in detail."

This is amateur hour folks. Where a junior leaguer thinks he can turn facts right on their head, and struts across the earth's crust like a haughty emperor .  .   .  unaware that he's walking on his hands.

The clock is ticking. Time is short.

Preston Clive

2/17/2015***