SPOTLIGHT: GREECE REDUX
It's that time of year again: Greek anger and economic strife are making headlines: general strikes, bailout reviews, anti-austerity reforms. But a recent study looking to the recent past, published in Handelsblatt, a business newspaper from Germany (of all places), shows the Greeks have every right to be angry. Berlin-based economists found out what many had been saying long ago — namely that the successive bailouts to "rescue" a collapsing economy were in fact aimed at rescuing not the people of Greece but its banks and private creditors. To put it in crude numbers, less than 5% of the staggering 215.9 billion euros agreed upon in the first two (out of three) bailouts actually ended up in the coffers of the Greek state. How such a reality affects future decisions remains to be seen, as the stakes once again are rising:
- A general strike that paralyzed large parts of the country entered its third and last day yesterday. The leftist government of Alexis Tsipras, which was first elected for its hardline anti-austerity stance, won a parliamentary vote to bring about what The Guardian says are the "toughest austerity measures yet."
- Here is today's front page of Athens-based Ta Nea daily.
- Outside the Parliament in Athens yesterday, protesters were throwing firebombs at police officers, who replied with tear gas, in the first signs of what could be another long, hot summer in Greece.
- The controversial reform package narrowly approved by the Parliament, with 153 votes out of 300, plans to cut up to 40% of pensions and another increase in income, fuel and VAT taxes. This is part of a 5.4 billion-euro package of austerity measures demanded by Greece's creditors.
- The vote was held ahead of an emergency meeting of eurozone finance ministers and IMF officials today in Brussels. Athens' creditors will complete the first review of Greece's third bailout of 86 billion euros, agreed to last summer. But the IMF is threatening to pull out of the rescue if the other lenders don't agree to cut part of Greece's debt.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR TODAY
- Mercury transits the Sun. Next time will be on November 11, 2019.
- Foreign ministers of France, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Saudi Arabia meet in Paris to discuss Syrian peace talks.
- Lost Sock Memorial Day
Voters in the Philippines are choosing their next president, and the winner could well be a more extreme version of Donald Trump. Rodrigo Duterte vowed, among other things to "forget the laws on human rights" and"butcher" criminals, something right groups say has been part of his anti-crime policy during his decades as mayor of Davao, allegedly leading tothe deaths of 1,000 suspected criminals. But for the editorial board of newspaper The Inquirer, Duterte "might prove to be the shock to the system the Philippines needs" to end rampant crime and corruption. The voting process was marked by several attacks on polling stations killing at least 10 people.