"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Friday, July 10, 2015

Greece, competitiveness, adjustment and excess unemployment

Austerity is an integral part of the Greek tragedy by Simon Wren-Lewis
Under flexible exchange rates this competitiveness adjustment could happen immediately. Things are not quite so simple in a monetary union: competitiveness cannot immediately adjust because of wage and price rigidities. A period of ‘excess unemployment’ will be required to push wages and prices down if the country is uncompetitive in relation to required primary surpluses. However the excess unemployment can be relatively modest. In fact, because of the structure of the standard Phillips curve, it is much more efficient to achieve gains in competitiveness gradually through a measured increase in unemployment than quickly through a rapid rise in unemployment, for reasons I outlined here when talking about Latvia. 
To achieve this efficient outcome may well require the government to reduce its primary deficits gradually, because without this fiscal support while competitiveness adjusts output could fall rapidly. This in turn will require more government borrowing, and if the government cannot do this from the markets, the IMF or other governments should step in to ensure this efficient adjustment can take place and avoid the waste and suffering of unnecessary unemployment. 
This is what failed to happen in the case of Greece.

Needed: Large Greek Devaluation or Large-Scale Transfers to Greece. With Bonus Godwin's Law Violation! by Brad DeLong

Austerity and the Greek Depression by Paul Krugman

Sunday, July 05, 2015

Greece and Mason

More of 

What Greece Could Do by JW Mason

I liked these bits:
"And with respect to the external balance, the evidence, both historical and contemporary, suggests that financial markets do not in fact punish defaulters. (And why should they? — the extinction of unserviceable debt almost by definition makes a government a better credit risk post-default, and capitalists are no more capable of putting principle ahead of profit in this case than in others). The costs of default, rather, are the punishment imposed by the creditors, in this case by the ECB. The actual cost of default is being paid already — in the form of shuttered Greek banks, the result of the refusal of the Bank of Greece to extend them the liquidity they need to honor depositors’ withdrawal requests."
"1. The Greek government takes control of the Bank of Greece. It replaces the BoG’s current leadership — holdovers from the old conservative government, appointed at the 11th hour when Syriza was on the brink of power — with suitably qualified people who support the program of Greece’s elected government. The argument is made that the central bank has abused its mandate, and failed in its fundamental duty to maintain the integrity of the banking system, in order to advance a political agenda. 
Either legislation could be passed explicitly subordinating the BoG to the elected government, or use could be made of existing provisions for removal of central bank officials for cause. The latter may not be feasible and we don’t want to get bogged down in formalities. Central bankers have critical public function and if they won’t do it, they must be replaced with others who will. Whatever the law may say.

2. The new Bank of Greece leadership commit publicly to maintain the integrity of the Greek payments system, to protect deposits in Greek banks and to prevent bank runs — the same commitment the ECB has repeatedly made for banks elsewhere in Europe. The Greek government asserts its rights to license banks and resolve bank failures. Capital controls are imposed. Greek banks reopen.

3. If necessary, the BoG resumes Emergency Liquidity Assistance (ELA) or equivalent loans to Greek banks. While the promise to do this is important, it probably won’t be necessary to actually resume ELA on any significant scale because: 
– removing the previous threats to withdraw support from Greek banks will end the bank run and probably lead to the voluntary return of deposits to Greek banks.
– capital controls and, if necessary, continued limits on cash withdrawals, block any channels for deposits to leave the Greek banking system.
– resumption of Greek payments to public employees, pensioners, etc., to be soon followed by resumed economic growth, will automatically increase the deposit base of Greek banks."