What Now, Greece?

06/07/2015

Flag_of_Greece.svgThe Greek population have voted to reject austerity. Not that it really makes any difference to the outcome.

Imagine a scenario that as an individual, you didn’t make enough money to cover your cost of living. Somehow, you persuade a bank to lend you loads of money so that you can eat and do a little more. They keep lending you more money until eventually it’s time to make a payment, but of course you can’t. The bank proposes a change of your lifestyle (which you cannot sustain), but you refuse to comply, and still can’t make repayments.

That’s where Greece are now. Irrespective of if they accepted the ECB’s terms or not, they still owe money and can’t sustain their country, which has really been the case for years. Corrupt tax collectors have simply stopped revenues being collected by successive governments and now life has caught up with the country. No surprise to anyone who has ever visited Greece, I imagine.

The country is bankrupt.

The banks have been closed for a week and are due to open tomorrow. What will happen? The population will attempt to retrieve their savings and cash. Trouble is, there is allegedly only €500M left in the Greek banking system, then the money has run out.

Public service workers need to be paid. Things need to be purchased from other countries, like medicines, food and fuel. Will countries extend more credit to Greece? Probably not.

So, the next step is likely to be a humanitarian crisis. Possibly civil unrest, maybe even war. Chances are if that happens, then European countries may have to intervene militarily as the Greek social system collapses to prevent the population fighting for food.

I wrote a slightly tongue in cheek blog about Europe a couple of years ago, but elements of it are sadly playing true.

Whatever happens, this is not going to end well for the Greek people.


Scotland Out Of The UK

11/09/2014

Union JackThere are some strange ironies about the forthcoming Scottish Independence vote.

Firstly, those who call themselves “Scottish” and live outside Scotland don’t get a vote. Other people such as English who do live in Scotland do get a vote. Presumably, these people won’t have to relocate if Mr. Salmond gets his way, and the English in Scotland will get a new Scottish nationality.

What is more interesting to consider though, is what existing residents of Scotland will do after the result of the referendum is announced.

Presumably, if the result is ‘No’, then not much changes. Life goes on as before as part of the UK. Sure, some will be unhappy at the result, but it’s as it is now.

If the result is ‘Yes’, many residents will start to live in a ‘foreign’ country. We can debate the currency to be used, armed forces and the unlikely membership of the EU. New passports will be required. I would imagine that many ‘No’ supporters will be uncomfortable and will consider leaving an independent Scotland to return to their countries. Many English have retreated to Scotland for the isolation and peace and quiet, but will they be happy being considered ‘foreigners’ in a new state? Can you imagine being English, living in Scotland and living under new taxes, laws and using the new “Salmond” currency? You might as well move to Spain where the weather is kinder.

I’m not sure how many non-resident Scots will flood back to Scotland to live in an independent country, I assume that the outflow will be more than any return.

As others have noted, at least the UK’s average rainfall will be reduced if Scotland chooses to leave.


Europe in 2033, a short history of the 21st Century European War

04/05/2013

Europe_in_1923

Back in 2013, Europe was in turmoil. Financial crises had begun to ravage the union. Countries previously considered “second World” had been admitted to the union, causing stress and disruption amongst those that had been part of the Economic Union since its inception after the Second World War – a union that had been largely responsible for the peace that had existed in Europe for almost seventy years.

But, the financial crisis had put incredible stress on the member countries and had forced the then German Chancellor, Angela Merkel to effectively depose the Italian government as their financial situation became critical in 2012. Merkel was to intervene one year later, in 2013, as the Cyprus banking system collapsed, and Merkel was hell-bent on saving her precious Euro currency, used in seventeen of the European countries at that time. She engineered the system of “Citizen Prop”, a draconian method of saving a country by ravaging the savings of citizens to help balance the books of that country. Simple taxation would not be fast enough, and many European countries had economies that were so grey that most trade was never subject to taxation anyway.

The effect was that countries under threat of collapse saw this and started to pull out their savings and resort to keeping cash in secure locations outside of the banking systems where governments (and Angela Merkel) could not touch it. First to go was Spain at the end of 2013, having previously rescued their own banking system, and again, Merkel walked in, deposed the Government and restructured the banks.

Ireland, one of the early gems of the European system, who benefited from development subsidies in the 1990s, but as a result had a very highly geared economy, dramatically collapsed in 2014. This took the country back nearly 100 years as they became the first country to leave the Euro, infuriating Merkel. The economy in Ireland reverted largely to agriculture – which allowed a bartering system to return, avoiding the New Irish Punt altogether.

As other countries followed Ireland’s stance, France in 2015, Holland and Belgium in 2016 and most other Eurozone countries all leaving by 2018, Merkel’s position as chancellor became untenable, so she moved to change the constitution. A handful of countries remained in the Euro – Germany, Spain, Cyprus and strangely, the Vatican. Merkel had effective political control of Spain and Cyprus anyway after deposing their governments as she had Italy’s years before.

Switzerland, in the middle of all of this, looked on in amazement.

The United Kingdom, considered its leaving the ERM in 1989 a lucky escape, saving it from the Euro, and Scottish Independence, finally ratified in 2018 had made the English resolve even harder. Scotland had created their own currency, the British Prime Minister Mr Nigel Farage of the UK Independence Party coming to power in 2015 and welcoming the Scottish devolvement saying “If they want to leave the UK, good luck to them, we will see how they cope with that half-witted idea”. He was right of course, Scotland’s balance of trade was not in their favour by 10:1, North Sea Oil having all but dried up, and the geography of the country making agriculture and communication difficult. Scotland was in a worse situation than Ireland by 2020.

Merkel made emergency changes to the German constitution in 2022 to give her emergency powers to avoid German financial collapse, and in the process she effectively became a new German Dictator. Her power now was absolute over her government. She was drawing resources from Spain and Cyprus, civil wars in their countries having been suppressed by the German military in previous years.

Merkel had been infuriated by the countries who had left the Euro, and in 2023 started a military offensive to restore the European union that she lusted over. Ironically, she started with Poland – although they were never part of the Euro currency, she was incensed that they never had been. Weeks later, invasions took place across Europe, France falling first, surrendering without a gunshot as the German forces approached the border. All of the other countries offered little resistance, with their economies having collapsed they had no military forces to speak of and only civil resistance existed, easily overcome by the efficient German army. Ireland was the only country to remain, having unified with Northern Ireland and having a useful geographic isolation from the European mainland.

America looked on, with enough of their own troubles so that this time around, they would not intervene in a European war. Only in 2029, when England & Welsh forces decided to liberate France under Farage’s direction did the situation change. A nine-month war ensued, finally resulting in the pushing back of German forces to their borders, America turning up late once again and as America started to amass troops in England, the war ended without an American bullet being fired. Germany agreed that France should remain under Anglo-Welsh control. Merkel, now a  stress-beaten 75 year old woman and struggling to retain control, relented to the smaller United Kingdom. After all, France had little to offer Germany, they considered their wines inferior to the Bavarian varieties and the French car industry had been pointless for decades.

Farage decided that France should not become independent again, and annexed it to the UK, calling it the State of South Kentishire, which somehow sounded an appropriate name for the new France.

So, in the Brave New World of 2033, we look forward to peace once again with Germany, the pound reigns supreme over a larger land than ever before, and the Scottish are learning to speak German, deep fried battered Bratwurst being the new Glaswegian delicacy.

NOTE : If you are reading this in 2033, I apologise for a few factual errors.