My Big, Fat Greek Disaster

The old saying, “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts,” might now be changed to, “Beware of Greeks bearing debt.” Indeed, after yesterday’s murderous riots, people also need to beware of Greeks bearing Molotov Cocktails, as Greek government employees, after living high on financial bubbles, do not believe they should have to face financial reality.

In a blog post, Paul Krugman acknowledges that the “Greek end game” is going to be disastrous no matter what, as no one there is willing to face the truth: Greece was living in a bubble economy, and when the bubble bursts, there is nowhere to hide. Unfortunately, as a true Keynesian, Krugman believes that the Very Worst Thing that can happen Greece is deflation.

But even Krugman admits that the Greeks need to get their economy into some kind of balance, and that is amazing, given that Keynesians believe that all factors of production, for purpose of economic analysis, are homogeneous, and the way to get costs of factors (especially labor) and prices of goods into “balance” is through inflation. Yet, even that bit of wisdom is tempered with Keynesian foolishness. He writes:

The only thing that could reduce that need for austerity would be something that helped the economy expand, or at least not contract as much. This would reduce the economic pain; it would also increase revenues, reducing the needed amount of fiscal austerity.

But the only route to economic expansion is higher exports — which can only be achieved if Greek costs and prices fall sharply relative to the rest of Europe.

He admits, however, that Greece is not a cohesive society, so the most likely scenario is for Greece to “leave the Euro” and go to printing Drachmas again. That, Krugman admits, will be disastrous, triggering bank runs and worse.

Yet, Krugman does not realize that the problem of leaving the Euro would create even more problems for Greece than bank runs. Should Greece leave the Euro and go back to the Drachma, the currency markets will treat the Drachma as “soft money” and give it the same status as money from Zimbabwe, which does not trade on any currency markets.

To put it another way, Greece will become essentially a Third World country. How did this happen? It happened because central banks around the world engaged in Keynesian “expansion” by creating Dollars, Euros, you name it. Keynesians believe that such action can go on forever without creating any consequences. As you can see, that simply is not true.

Greece is living the consequences. They either can get their house in order and suffer the short-term consequences, or they can go on living in the inflationist fantasy that is Keynesian “economics.”

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About William L. Anderson 48 Articles

Affiliation: Frostburg State University

William L. Anderson is an author and an associate professor of economics at Frostburg State University in Maryland. He is also an adjunct scholar with the Mackinac Center for Public Policy as well as for the Ludwig von Mises Institute in Alabama.

Anderson was formerly a professor of economics at North Greenville College in Tigerville, South Carolina.

Visit: William Anderson's Blog

2 Comments on My Big, Fat Greek Disaster

  1. If Greece leaves the EU, several other nations will follow in short order. The threat that a new Greek currency will be treated as “soft money” doesn’t hold true because soon, a new Portuguese, Spanish, and Italian currency will also be treated as “soft money”. Also, it is offensive to state that Greek society is not cohesive – it seems to me that they got rather organised rather quickly…unlike, say, Americans

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