Monday, 23 February 2015

Time to ease up on the kicking

So today is the day the Greek government submits its package of reforms to international creditors who are meant to go "That's all right then, here, have another four months to start getting yourself back on your feet".

Or will they? Who knows? Certainly not me. As I write this what does seem clear is that as far as the government here is concerned bending over backwards is only ever going to be half the battle. In fact, as far as certain other European governments are concerned bending over backwards will be regarded as being rather limp-wristed. Disappearing up your own backside would be their preferred option.

Now, please note, I haven't specified any government as being particularly disposed towards making Greece jump through ever more fiery hoops. However, can I just say at this point that I am currently reading a history of the hyper-inflation which afflicted Germany in the 1920s.

Have you got anything smaller?: A 1923 5 million
mark note from Germany.

It is chilling reading. In the wake of the First World War, Germany's economy tanked and to exacerbate the situation increasing demands were made of Germany for reparations. Every time the Germans looked as if they might just have a moment to catch their breath, fresh demands were made for them to cough up money or other benefits to another European nation. Let's not mince words, generally it was the French who made these demands.

I'm only part way through the book so I don't know how it ends. Oh, all right, I do know how it ends. It ends with things becoming intolerable in Germany, the rise of the Nazi party and the start of the Second World War. Happy now?

Let's be frank here. I'm not sure we can say there are direct parallels between Germany in the 1920s and Greece now. Their particular situations arose in different ways, but if you kick someone when they are down and you keep on kicking them and then for good measure give them another kicking, it is entirely likely they won't be able to get up again. And that can't be good.

Funnily enough, I couldn't find any music about hyper-inflation, so I've settled for the Flying Lizards' version of Money. Many of you will be familiar with Barrett Strong's original version and also one by the Beatles, but maybe the dispassionate tone of the demands for money in the Flying Lizards' version fits in with the posting. See what you think.

* Banknote picture by Boeing720 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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