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Germans don't trust Greece to tighten belt

The Local · 10 Feb 2012, 13:30

Published: 10 Feb 2012 12:11 GMT+01:00
Updated: 10 Feb 2012 13:30 GMT+01:00

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Some 27 percent said they believed serious efforts would be made to implement austerity measures hammered out by rival Greek politicians, while 66 percent were sceptical, according to the poll for ZDF public television.

Nearly half of those asked said other eurozone countries should accept that Greece faced bankruptcy without further aid, while 62 percent expect that if that happens, the German economy will suffer as a result, it showed.

Eurozone finance ministers, unconvinced by the austerity package, have given Athens until next Wednesday to meet further conditions in return for €130 billion ($171 billion) in aid.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel also got an overwhelming thumbs-up for her handling of the eurozone's debt crisis, with 69 percent judging her performance as basically good, the poll showed.

An earlier poll released Wednesday by the Forsa polling institute for Stern magazine revealed Merkel's conservative Christian Democrats were at their most popular since winning a second term in 2009.

The survey on Greece was conducted by polling institute "Forschungsgruppe Wahlen" for ZDF between February 7 and 9 among 1,272 people.

German lawmakers will vote at the end of the month on the new multi-billion-euro rescue deal planned for Greece, a leading member of Merkel's party said Friday.

"The Bundestag (lower house of parliament) will vote on Monday, February 27 on how the path now for Greece and the support proceeds," said Volker Kauder, who heads the Christian Democrats' parliamentary group.

"Our goal remains to help Greece but Greece must also keep its promises," Kauder said.

Merkel met the heads of all the parliamentary parties early Friday to report back on efforts to agree a second bailout to save Athens from bankruptcy although a concrete deal has yet to emerge.

Story continues below…

Merkel won two key votes on the eurozone debt crisis in parliament last year.

Frank-Walter Steinmeier, head of the Social Democrats parliamentary group, said: "It's in nobody's interest to refuse what is now necessary in Greece to prevent total collapse."


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:02 February 10, 2012 by Hamburgerin
Because of austerity measures that Greece has already taken, its budget for current expenses is already in balance. The only reason it runs a deficit is that it must make interest payments on bonds previously issued. Simply put, if Greece were to default today, it could live from now on without borrowing a single Euro. Or, to put it another way, the 130 billion Euros that the Eurozone leaders are talking about will go entirely to the debtholders, and not a single Euro will be used to help the people or government of Greece.

One wonders why Greek political leaders would stand for the humiliation that the EZ leaders are heeping on them and on the Greek people for this deal. There is no benefit in it for Greece. So why not just default? There is nothing holy about remaining in the Eurozone.
16:09 February 10, 2012 by derExDeutsche

Well said. Yes, the bailout money goes directly to Greece's creditors. What is at issue though, is credit. And not just Greeks poor credit, but all of European credit would take a hit. A Greek default will lower the credibility of the entire EU. Because if Greek goes Bankrupt, whats to stop any other country form defaulting as well. The reason Greece was able to accumulate so much debt, was because it is part of the EU improved its credit rating.

EU Propaganda is trying to convince the Greek people that a default would be incredibly painful, that the lights will go out, rivers will run backwards, people will go back to drawing pictures of antelope in caves. It just is not true. The threat is NOT to the Greeks, the real threat is to whoever is left in the Union after Greece defaults, those countries must deal with the loss of credibility and credit in the EU.
17:29 February 10, 2012 by derExDeutsche
@Chango Mutney

'It is not propaganda to explain that a default will be extremely painful, it is extremely painful for the people of Greece at this very moment !'

What is going on right now, and what Merkel and the EU have planned for the future of Greece, is very painful, yes. But a default, like the one in Iceland in 2008, is not nearly as painful, nor for any where near as long. What is happening in the EU regarding Greece is NOT for Greeces' best interest. It is in Germany/EU's best interest.
18:52 February 10, 2012 by ProgandaLady
The real cost of socialism cannot be paid for by the current European Tax rates.

United Kingdom- Income Tax: 50% VAT: 17.5% TOTAL: 67.5%

France- Income Tax: 40% VAT: 19.6% TOTAL: 59.6%

Greece- Income Tax: 40% VAT: 25% TOTAL: 65%

Spain- Income Tax: 45% VAT: 16% TOTAL: 61%

Portugal-Income Tax: 42% VAT: 20% TOTAL: 62%

Sweden- Income Tax: 55%VAT: 25% TOTAL: 80%

Norway- Income Tax: 54.3%VAT: 25% TOTAL: 79.3%

Netherlands- Income Tax: 52%VAT: 19% TOTAL: 71%

Denmark- Income Tax: 58%VAT: 25% TOTAL: 83%

Finland- Income Tax: 53%VAT: 22% TOTAL: 75%

Germany- Income tax: 42-45%Corporate Tax Rate: 33 1/3rd%

Sales Tax/VAT 19% Trade Tax, plus Transaction Tax, Capital Gains Tax, Real Estate Tax etc....
20:26 February 10, 2012 by wood artist
I'm not surprised that "Germans" don't trust the Greeks. I suspect most other nations, or at least the citizens thereof, don't trust either. The problem is that the Greek people don't seem to think they should bear the weight of the decisions they've made for years.

Yes, I understand they're upset, and that's just human nature. However, being told to act like adults and accept the responsibility for running up their debt while knowing it was un-sustainable, is not something they can ignore.

To those who say..."go ahead and default" the answer should be obvious. If they default, and leave the Euro, they have solved nothing. In fact, they've made it worse. The Drachma would be a currency with questionable value...and likely would plummet as soon as it was introduced. The debt is valued in Euros, and they would have to pay it in Euros...or at a terrible exchange rate for Drachma, which would be even worse. In no time, the entire Greek economy would collapse.

If the Greeks feel the EU is "heaping scorn" upon them, that's tough. They are only being held accountable for what they've done. The child may not like the discipline, but somebody's got to be the adult in this situation. Childish tantrums aren't going to win the Greeks any friends.

22:41 February 10, 2012 by melbournite
childish tantrums? So what are we going to do if they dont "grow up"? Send in some tanks and kill a few thousand?

This isnt about defaults or interest rates or the economy anymore. This is about whether people are going to take matters into their own hands or not. Why do you think ministers are resigning today left, right and center? They know what is coming if they dont back of.

The EU think they have problems at the moment. That is nothing to what the situation will be if there is a revolution in Greece and several other countries are on the brink
23:00 February 10, 2012 by Runnerguy45
Germans are smart not to trust the Greeks. When one borrows money from someone or something you are beholden to them. The Greeks want to retire at fifty,not pay taxes and have a huge military. Sorry not possible.

The Germans need to be careful because we are already hearing Ireland and Portugal will want similar deals if this is paased. This may sound rough but Germany should make an example out of Greece by letting them fail and use the money to pay back its banks and not help Greece again.
23:46 February 10, 2012 by derExDeutsche
@wood artist

'The Drachma would be a currency with questionable value...and likely would plummet as soon as it was introduced. The debt is valued in Euros, and they would have to pay it in Euros...or at a terrible exchange rate for Drachma, which would be even worse. In no time, the entire Greek economy would collapse.'

You do understand that if Greece defaults, its debt is written off? No exchange rates on old debt etc.. the Possibility of failure is the nature of the world. Risk vs. reward, or in this case, no reward. Once the Drachma is introduced, it will be valued by the market. Just as many many more should be. No more Government artificially 'Proping up' of things that have less value than is convenient. No more bubbles. Its time we are honest with ourselves, and our REAL value.
07:07 February 11, 2012 by melbournite

Greeks work 48% more hours than Germns do:


Greeks retire on average at 61.9 years old, about the same as Germans:


Greeks pay substantially more tax per GDP than Germans do:


maybe its time to lay off the lazy racism
09:34 February 11, 2012 by Englishted

Which country has a socialist government in your list?

The U.K. has only had one in 1948 and they introduced the National Health Service ,which is still something the Brits are proud of.
11:10 February 11, 2012 by chatzopoulo
The problem in Greece is a big inefficient public sector. The politicians in Greece are using feudal methods to exploit their own people. To a lesser extent this problem can also be found in other areas of the E.U.. In my opinion, this is the problem, that in the long run, has to be corrected.

Greece has 10 mil. European citizens and the vast majority of them have nothing to do with causing this crisis. They are hard working, quite efficient and have a lot of value to add to the Union. Their currency is the Euro.

Nobody should take their European citizenship or their currency away from them (Greek politicians are the most likely culprits, who would very much like to do that, so they can continue exploiting). European leadership must not allow that to happen!

This inefficient Public sector finances itself with money of European citizens inside and outside of Greece.

Everybody should stop financing this public sector a.s.a.p.. This includes northern Europeans as well as Greek Europeans who have to pay a very high price for the ridiculous quality of services they receive from this government.

I have a solution to propose: the Greek public sector prints its own money (say, the new Drachma: ND) and use it to pay for its own obligations while the rest of Europe (and that especially includes the rest of Greece) continues to freely use the Euro. In the mean time both currencies will be used. Obviously the ND will be mostly used in Greece (but not necessarily exclusively). In Greece, the private sector will continue to use the Euro but can also collect NDs. The Super Markets (and every other store) will accept both currencies but obviously prices in ND will be more often adjusted upwards. Taxes will be collected by the Greek public sector in both Euros and NDs.

The Greek public sector will pay the bulk of its obligations with NDs (salaries, etc) but will also have Euros to use for payments towards the exterior of the Greek area. The value of the ND will continue diminishing until the Greek government stops producing deficits. When this happens (if it ever), the Greek government will stop using the ND and switch back to Euros.

Further, I propose that in the mean time a number of European wide changes be made:

Why not allow European citizens all around Europe, choose who they pay taxes to.

Imagine, for example, that a central European government starts receiving income tax payments from Europeans all over Europe in exchange for border patrol, fire protection, policing, public education, highway maintenance(*) and (why not) even defense services offered throughout the Union.

Why doesn't Brussels introduce a European-wide VAT rate and issue "no-country-mentioned European passports" with "no-country-mentioned European tax ID numbers".

(*) Isn't it ridiculous to have to pay so many "Vignettes" when you drive a few hundred km in the heart of Europe? Shouldn't that end at some point?
14:11 February 11, 2012 by melbournite

"Everybody should stop financing this public sector a.s.a.p."

Really? Do I need to remind you that the private sector utterly destroyed the world economy a few years ago. The ONLY thing that kept capitalism going was that the public sector bailed out the banks. Yep thats right - a massive dose of socialism for the rich. It didnt work of course because the banks just held onto it instead of investing it in stimulating the economy.

So the public saved the banks and now the banks and their political slaves are repaying us by driving the public towards third world conditions
17:13 February 11, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ ProgandaLady

Why do you add the Income Tax and VAT percentages? Do they apply to the same amounts? Why don't you bring in the public debt as well (and maybe its increase in the last years). That is where the public services are funded from.

@ melbournite

Why do you say that Greeks pay substantially more tax per GDP than Germans do? The graphic you cite says the opposite (22.6% for Germans, only 19.4% for Greeks). The situation might be caused by the massive tax evasion the Greek populace practice (estimated 15 billion euro lost taxes per year is a lot for an economy of a bit more than 300 billion euro).
17:32 February 11, 2012 by brnskin2010
I think the germans are right not to trust Greece....they are protesting that the EU should not deny them bailouts and to cover their debts....the Greece created the problem by not being conservative in their spending and hopping on the greed is good wagon....LET THEM DEAL WITH WHATEVER AUSTERITY MEASURES THE GERMAN IMPOSE...the germans are right to look after their own interest....wouldn't you?.....why should the germans/EU suffer .....they had to bite the bullet and buckle down in order to get their economy thriving again....WHY shouldn;t Greece do the same....they should be allowed to fail and experience what Germany did a decade ago.....hard lesson learned...but worth it.....just sayn
20:14 February 11, 2012 by melbournite
@ChrisRea yes you are right. I confused myself with VAT which Greeks pay more of: http://www.spiegel.de/fotostrecke/fotostrecke-68269-3.html
15:30 February 13, 2012 by jpl82
1. It's borrowed money not given.

2. They could default and stay in the euro.

3. These cuts will cost real "lives", people die when healthcare is cut rather then reformed even if it's hard to determine how many.

4. The Greeks people aren't responsible their government is, how much in-depth scrutiny do you personally make of the German states accounting procedures/books? Most leave it to the experts and believe the media reports. If the German government is lying now how culpable are you? About as culpable as the Greeks are for the situation.

5. If this is a union we should help each other, not kick them when their down.

6. There are a number of solutions that could solve the Greek problem tomorrow, but most would result in devaluation of the euro which has up and downsides. There's a big moral decision to make, and I personally don't like the way it's being handled.
20:34 February 13, 2012 by ChrisRea
@ jpl82

'The Greeks people aren't responsible their government is' - Really? Who put them in the office? When the crooked politicians were exposed, did they have to face consequences? Did the Greek populace riot against them? Not really. Was it only the politicians that practiced tax evasion? Not really again. In Germany the public forced zu Gutenberg to pay his dues even if his plagiarism cannot be compared with what the Greek politicians did.

The solution is to move on with the austerity measures. If we look at the example of Romania, much harsher measures were implemented without any repercussions on the currency. From -7%, the GDP jumped the following year to +6.5%. Why cannot Greeks do the same?
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