The only 4 things that can be done about the Greeks, in plain English

by Rashmee

Posted on July 5, 2015



greece debt defaultThe only sensible suggestions on what’s desirable and what’s possible in the Greece crisis have come from Austan Goolsbee, formerly President Obama’s top economist.

Mr Goolsbee, who’s now at the University of Chicago, speaks plain English, which is handy if you’re not an economist (which must of us are not).

Here’s a summary of what Mr Goolsbee told The Washington Post.

There are only four things that anyone can do about Greece:

labour mobility

permanent subsidies

for Germany to run high inflation levels of 4 or 5 per cent

for Greece to grind down its wages and find some way to get its productivity growth rate to be faster than Germany’s

Consider this carefully.

The Greeks are not as productive as the Germans.

Nor are Louisiana or Mississippi compared to California, if you want a good example of another currency union (the US dollar) across a region that’s made up of disparate parts. Louisiana and Mississippi get big subsidies – the fiscal (and political) union of US states allows for that.

As Mr Goolsbee says: “That’s why nobody ever asked after Hurricane Katrina, is Louisiana or Mississippi going to drop out of the dollar? And that’s because, there’s mobility and there’s a fiscal union where they get a big subsidy.”

This brings us to an important question: Who places what value on which thing?

Does Germany value the euro project more than anything else? If so, they’re going to have to subsidise Greek membership for a long time.

Or else, just let Greece go.

“By using stale metaphors,  similes and idioms, you save  much mental effort, at the  cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”           - George Orwell
“By using stale metaphors, similes and idioms, you save much mental effort, at the cost of leaving your meaning vague, not only for your reader but for yourself.”
– George Orwell

Rashmee has lived and worked in several countries in the past decade, including Afghanistan, India, Haiti, Tunisia, the UAE, US and UK

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