Greece Flails About, Troika Inspectors Paint “Awful Picture,” Merkel Draws A Line, German Industry & Voters Back Her
The new Greek finance minister, Yannis Stournaras, until recently a professor of economics at the University of Athens, hasn’t learned yet the art of extortion that is required to accomplish anything at all during negotiations with the Eurozone. And so, when he went to the meeting of Eurozone finance ministers earlier this week at the Eurogroup—which serves as political control over the common currency—he accomplished absolutely nothing. He wasn’t even able, unlike his predecessors, to get himself into the media with some wild threat about a “disorderly default” or destroying the entire Eurozone if he didn’t get what he wanted.
He had two big jobs to do: one, promote Greece’s efforts to renegotiate (“water down” is the technical term) the structural reforms that the prior government had agreed to in writing by signing the bailout memorandum; and two, push for a two-year delay of these watered-down conditions. At the same time, he’d have to make sure Greece would continue to receive the flow of bailout billions from taxpayers elsewhere.
But roundly ignored at the Eurogroup meeting, he returned empty handed to Greece. A fiasco for him. In a meeting with leaders of the three-party coalition government—the conservative New Democracy, the socialist PASOK, and the small Democratic Left— Evangelos Venizelos, PASOK leader, former finance minister, and extortionist par excellence, was apparently furious with him and hollowed out his power. The infighting begins.