In many ways no country has suffered more than Greece from abuse by the financial services industry. But for Goldman Sachs they would never have got into the Eurozone in the first place,

Politicians lie, cheat and deceive to achieve a political goal and it’s the fault of Goldman sodding Sachs?

50 thoughts on “Blimey”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Looks like GS have become the new Thatcher. There’s no ill for which they can’t be found guilty of causing.

  2. But I thought Ritchie thought that the Eurozone and being in it were unquestioned goods? Or am I mistaken?

    So is Ritchie now praising GS for having got Greece into the thing?

    I’m confused.

  3. Abacab

    As the Eurozone became mired in the shit Ritchie.and his fellow.travellers.- the would-be leaders of Airstrip 1 – remembered that the Euro is and has always been a neoliberal project. The Tories -and Ukip- would take us into the Euro tomorrow if they could. And that general election the Tories fought -“24 hours to save the pound” – it never happened. And Ukip’s original existence, just a neoliberal lie.

    I would challenge Ritchie to say exactly when he first blogged any opposition to the Euro. The Courageous State, however, never accepts a challenge. Fraud.

  4. I’m sure there is no connection between the latest subject of the Two Minutes Hate, Goldman Sachs, and the Left’s anti-Semitism.

  5. I actually don’t think the left are anti Semite. Jewish people are historically pretty bright and good with money, so wealthy. It’s the wealth they hate, not the Jewishness.

  6. I’m sure it was once neo-Liberal to oppose the Eurozone. Now it is a neo-Liberal project.

    Does anyone fancy donning the Hazmat suit and wading through his blog to find out when this flip occurred?

  7. No: the left are anti-Semitic. In fact their ranks contain a considerable number of anti-Semitic Jews. As for wealth–their are lots of wealthy leftists. These days–in the West at least–most leftists are middle class and above. The remains of the white working class “my Dad voted Labour” are not really supporters of the left as it now is . They have little time for the current clients of said left or the guardianista desire for pre-industrial poverty for all non guardianistas.

  8. Goldman Sachs did help Greece use some Enron type book-keeping to lie and cheat it’s way into the EZ in the first place. Hence that famous advertising jingle used by GS:

    “We can do for you what we did to Greece”.

  9. I think Goldmans basically deserve all the ire that they get. They’re not just a business; they are political players who position alumni around the system for their own benefit. Modern baking is not a free market enterprise, but a state corporatist system, and few are more involved in it in that manner than Goldman Sachs.

    The basic reality is that the cost of keeping the fiat bubble inflated (what neoliberals like to call “a modern efficient financial services sector) has been extraordinarily high, and generally paid by poor people with absolutely no influence at all. We have known the dire costs of this sort of banking since at least Ludwig von Mises’s analysis, and by rule of thumb since before that; hence Andrew Jackson’s famous crusade to destroy the first American central bank.

    One day, people will look back on a system in which the population paid a man to ensure continual raging inflation with dumbfounded disbelief that we could have been so mad. And note how many of those men came from Goldman Sachs.

  10. IanB:”Modern baking is not a free market enterprise”

    Those bastards at Greggs. Today the ham baguette–tomorrow the world.

  11. Bloke in Costa Rica

    With any luck Greece is about to provide an exemplar of Mencken’s dictum that democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

  12. @Ian B

    Goldman sachs is a machine for making money. Understand that and you understand Goldman. They do not generally make policy, but they are smart enough to figure out how to make money out of policy. Greece and the EU is an example. They found a loophole, sold it to the greeks and made some money.

  13. So Much for Subtlety

    Politicians lie, cheat and deceive to achieve a political goal and it’s the fault of Goldman sodding Sachs?

    Well partly. We have a lot of accountants around here. Maybe some lawyers too. If your client is a blatant crook and he tells you he has a blatantly crooked scheme, it is not your job to tell him how to fix the books to make it work. It is your ethical obligation to say that you won’t be part of a criminal scheme.

    Someone from Goldman Sachs ought to go to jail. And of course the entire Greek ruling class too.

  14. SMFS,

    “Someone from Goldman Sachs ought to go to jail.”

    For what crime, precisely?

    Everyone wants to blame “The banks” for what happened, but it wasn’t the banks that were pissing money away in the mid-2000s, or the banks that gave the banks a bailout. It was the politicians who were scared shitless of house prices falling.

    Greece’s problem, and it’s a problem around the world is how many people don’t look at government like a bank account. They think they can just keep on spending money from nowhere, like there’s a magic money pot. They don’t like to acknowledge that subsidising kabuki theatre and building gleaming hospitals was something they wanted, but didn’t want to pay for. And Greece is worst than most.

    The Greeks have proven they still don’t get it by voting for the honestly-not-communists of Syriza who are going to increase the state even more, as if spending more money solves the problem. OK, some infrastructure spending is a real investment, but nowadays most of it isn’t.

    Hopefully, the experience will make them realise that no, spending even more doesn’t work. Or maybe they’ll put their faith in the honestly-not-nazis of Golden Dawn.

  15. The EU could hardly refuse Greece, after having allowed applications from all the others (except Luxembourg). Neither did they want to.

    Blaming GS and/or the Greek ruling class seems misplaced to me: the circumstances of the Euro’s birth are much more serious than that. The entire structure is illegal.

  16. In this specific case, GS are guilty as charged.

    They were the ones who helped the Greeks fiddle the figures to qualify for Euro-membership in the first place (for which GS earned several billion).

    GS knew full well that it would all go tits up, and so ten years later they swanned back in and charged them another few billion for sorting it out.

    Clearly, the Greek government of the day is co-conspirator and also guilty as charged, but let’s take that as a given.

  17. Mark Wadsworth,
    Are you saying that the EU didn’t know that the GS had helped the Greeks fiddle the books, or that they didn’t know that Greece hadn’t met the entry criteria?

    Why the Greeks would pay them billions for the work is anyone’s guess. If it was bribes, etc, then certainly that needs investigation, but my cat could have told you that the figures were dodgy.

  18. So Much for Subtlety

    The Stigler – “For what crime, precisely?”

    For fraud. And conspiracy to defraud.

    “Everyone wants to blame “The banks” for what happened, but it wasn’t the banks that were pissing money away in the mid-2000s, or the banks that gave the banks a bailout. It was the politicians who were scared shitless of house prices falling.”

    Well the banks did lobby for a bailout and they did tell the government that disaster would fall on them like housing prices if they didn’t get it. But that is not the issue. That is a separate cock up.

    “Greece’s problem, and it’s a problem around the world is how many people don’t look at government like a bank account.”

    I am afraid they probably do – just someone else’s bank account. The Greeks are not White Protestants. They are on the wrong side of the Hajnal line. Fiscal prudence is not in their blood and it never will be.

    “The Greeks have proven they still don’t get it by voting for the honestly-not-communists of Syriza who are going to increase the state even more, as if spending more money solves the problem. OK, some infrastructure spending is a real investment, but nowadays most of it isn’t.”

    I doubt Greece needs more infrastructure.

    “Hopefully, the experience will make them realise that no, spending even more doesn’t work. Or maybe they’ll put their faith in the honestly-not-nazis of Golden Dawn.”

    Why would it do that? Spending more has worked for them. They have been bailed out by the Europeans – who are going to guarantee their future debts too. Remember that Greek loans will not be in drachmas. They got to spend other people’s money and then not pay back the debt. What they are doing is entirely rational for them.

    But that is not Goldman Sach’s fault. Conspiring with the Greek government to make it look like Greece met the EU’s requirements was a crime and they should go to jail.

    Jack C – “The EU could hardly refuse Greece, after having allowed applications from all the others (except Luxembourg). Neither did they want to.”

    So what? That does not excuse what Goldman Sachs did. Suppose Company A wants to take over Company B and they know the auditors will look the deal over. Even if both companies want the merger to go ahead, calling in Goldman Sachs to fake the books is still wrong. Because the people being defrauded are the shareholders. Or the taxpayers in this case.

    Jack C – “Are you saying that the EU didn’t know that the GS had helped the Greeks fiddle the books, or that they didn’t know that Greece hadn’t met the entry criteria?”

    Doesn’t matter. Either way. And probably a bit of both. The EU elites knew that something was wrong and they probably had a pretty good idea Greece did not meet the criteria, but they had a piece of paper saying otherwise and they weren’t going to question it openly.

    I would love to see their e-mails.

  19. Anyone who agreed to be in a currency union with Greece had clearly never visited the country and watched its men sitting in the sun all day drinking, smoking and swinging their worry beads.

    Madness.

    But Goldman Sachs should be broken up and its partners imprisoned as the worst example of unfree market capitalism at work.

  20. Ironman

    ‘But its true I am intolerant of right wing trolling
    Although I see that as a strength not a weakness’

    That has to be the most hilarious quote yet – what an utter moron. I still say he may be even more stupid than Andrew Dickie…….

  21. Van

    OK, on the Andrew Dickie front. In my deleted post I referred to Comrade Dickie’s endless droning on about Proportional Representation. I noted that Syriza have acheived a smaller share of the popular vote than any party elected to power in Britain since WWII. What would he deem to be a truly representative government in Greece?

    As I say, my comment was deleted, ‘trolling’ apparently. I do not expect any genuine crunchy-hard thinking from Dickie or Ritchie any time soon.

  22. @ironman – You can be damn sure that if a right wing party had been elected in on a minority of the vote the left would be squawking like mad on the injustice of it all.

    They’re still squawking on about unfair it all is that the current coalition are in power, conveniently forgetting that the Tories in 2010 got a million more votes than labour in 2005, such are the vagaries of our electoral system.

  23. Ironman

    I admire your perseverance both on here against some of the more quixotic on certain threads and on persisting on commenting on TRUK.(Hope I’m not coming across like a Worstallian version of Dickie/Horrocks with the compliments!) To me it seems pointless to try and educate him or provide any form of historical context on the issues in Greece.

    Whenever I have done so (on, for example, contemporary parallels with the Japanese ‘lost decades’ and his solutions for Europe or on Anglo – Portugese relations when he postulates ‘all rights for English people in Portugal stem from the EU’) he either uses the term ‘troll’ or flatly ignores you.

    I do think he suffers from acute ADD, amongst his other flaws – I haven’t seen anything for a while on the ‘Fair Tax Mark’ – perhaps he has abandoned it?

  24. @Van_Patten – More likely those in the ‘Fair Tax Mark’ will have abondoned him. He hasn’t much of a track record of being able to work with other people.

    on the Fair Tax mark itslef, I’ve asked Ritchie how much penetration they have in the market, with over 3 million active companies, have they got 10% signed up? 1%? 0.001%? But he won’t answer, despite it being an obvious thing to trumpet from the roof-tops if things are going well.

    My guess is it dies a death within the next 12 months and Ritchie blames, bankers, Tories, the other people working at FTM (or possibly squirrels) for its demise.

  25. Andrew_C

    That seems reasonable – again he will find some other hobby horse to ride on no doubt, and continue to promote his own expertise on issues where he actually has next to no knowledge.

    Those pesky squirrels do seem to get everywhere…

  26. SMFS (and others):

    “Jack C – “Are you saying that the EU didn’t know that the GS had helped the Greeks fiddle the books, or that they didn’t know that Greece hadn’t met the entry criteria?”

    Doesn’t matter. Either way. And probably a bit of both. The EU elites knew that something was wrong and they probably had a pretty good idea Greece did not meet the criteria, but they had a piece of paper saying otherwise and they weren’t going to question it openly”

    My point is not that GS are somehow innocent, just that the rot doesn’t stop with GS and the Greek government. Eurozone entry was managed in an illegal manner by the EU, and we’re all paying for it. Yes, people should be in jail as a result, but this goes all the way to Brussels. It wasn’t just Greece that failed the entry criteria, and it wasn’t just Greece that fiddled the books (hello France and Germany for example).

    You could argue that the Greek accounts were the only reliable ones presented (in that they were bound to be incorrect).

  27. I think there’s a couple of words missing in the original article.

    What it should say is “…but for ex-Goldman Sachs employees they would never have got into the Eurozone in the first place,

  28. Here’s the Murphmeister complaining about the Greek attitude to tax

    “No state can survive under these conditions: this is trying to operate a government with the active resistance of for too many of those being governed.”

    In his world, resistence of the people to the state is not tolerated.

  29. Andrew C

    Indeed the whole of that post neatly summarizes the problem with the whole Murphy thesis. He appears to believe that a culture where nepotism is endemic and where low level graft and corruption are a way of life for many (no doubt some of whom backed Syriza) can be reformed merely by unilateral action and upgrading the tax inspectorate (which will no doubt be staffed by the same products of endemic nepotism and institutionalized hypertrophied bureaucratic graft) – do this and the problems will be solved. To call this naive is being generous.

    Once more, he is way out of his depth, and his lack of economic, geopolitical and historical understanding combine with a fundamentally flawed understanding of human nature to produce the worst outcome possible. Greece has many problems not amenable to simple solutions but if the Greeks want the fast road to hell, they could adopt both the Green New Deal and the prescriptions of the Courageous state. The spectres of Harare and Pyongyang loom ever closer in the wake of this result…

  30. @Van_Patten – indeed, his lack of understanding of human nature (and therefore of the real world) is astonishing.

    His claim that “No state can survive under these conditions” when referring to the Greeks attitude to tax evasion misses the point that Greece has had that attitude for centuries. He misses the point that all countries have a black economy to some degree (even Germany’s is reckoned to be 13% of GDP) and he doesn’t understand that tax avoided or evaded isn’t ‘lost to the state’ since much of that money is spent in the state – and by those that made it in the first place and not a wasteful inefficient government.

    As you say, naive and out of his depth in the real world.

  31. Bloke in Costa Rica

    “Lost to the State” is Murphy code for “I and my mates don’t get our sticky fingers on it en route between the parties at either end of the transaction.” Tutto nello portafoglio di Richard Murphy, niente al di fuori dello portafoglio di Richard Murphy, nullo contro lo portafoglio di Richard Murphy.

  32. SMFS: “The Greeks are not White Protestants. They are on the wrong side of the Hajnal line. Fiscal prudence is not in their blood and it never will be.”

    An interesting theory from SMFS. It’s all about racial identity… Fiscal prudence is not in their blood…

    Funnily enough, there’s a country called Finland which falls outside the Hajnal line and has a similarly sized population to Greece. Finland is a member of the Eurozone and whilst it has economic problems relating to the Euro, it is in much less of a pickle. A notable difference is that Finns are (capital W, copying SMFS) White Protestants.

    If we follow SMFS’ argument further, being on the “wrong” side of the Hajnal line in Finland must be countered by being White Protestants. Religion is largely a personal choice, so fiscal prudence must, adopting SMFS’ parameters, accord with Whiteness.

    Being a generous type, I’ll give SMFS benefit of the doubt for unfortunate words. To be vicious is not in my blood…

    Note: the Hajnal line was drawn to define historical marriage and family patterns in Europe. It’s a rule of thumb which does not reflect modern migration or patterns of behaviour.

  33. So Much for Subtlety

    Charlieman – “An interesting theory from SMFS. It’s all about racial identity… Fiscal prudence is not in their blood…”

    It is not about a racial identity, although it is highly correlated with race. It was a figure of speech.

    “Religion is largely a personal choice, so fiscal prudence must, adopting SMFS’ parameters, accord with Whiteness.”

    Is religion largely a personal choice? I doubt it. And yes, fiscal prudence seems to go with Whiteness and being northern European. Why that should be I don’t know. But Jamaica is a non-White Protestant country. It is not fiscally prudent.

    “Being a generous type, I’ll give SMFS benefit of the doubt for unfortunate words. To be vicious is not in my blood…”

    Thank you Charlie. That is very sweet of you.

    “Note: the Hajnal line was drawn to define historical marriage and family patterns in Europe. It’s a rule of thumb which does not reflect modern migration or patterns of behaviour.”

    No sh!t. Notice that modern migration has brought people from the wrong side of the Hajnal line to the right side of the Hajnal line. But even though the institutions are the same, the culture is largely shared, the laws are the same – and the financial incentives are the same, the behaviour is not. People from the wrong side of the line continue to be utterly dysfunctional. Especially if they are not White.

    Why that should be is a fascinating question and not one sensibly dealt with by screaming racism all the time.

  34. SMFS: “It is not about a racial identity, although it is highly correlated with race. It was a figure of speech.”

    So it isn’t but it is, and SMFS didn’t mean it.

    SMFS: “Is religion largely a personal choice? I doubt it. And yes, fiscal prudence seems to go with Whiteness and being northern European. Why that should be I don’t know. But Jamaica is a non-White Protestant country. It is not fiscally prudent.”

    Haven’t you considered that the prudent entrepreneurs (who may also be risk takers) of Hong Kong et al are not White? Prudence is about wisdom, not about being tight with your wallet or following a particular religion.

    SMFS: “Notice that modern migration has brought people from the wrong side of the Hajnal line to the right side of the Hajnal line.”

    So it really is about racial purity. Ban Slavs, according to SMFS, or Dagos or olive skinned cousins? “Wrong side” of a hypothetical line used to describe marriage practice hundreds of years ago?

    SMFS: “But even though the institutions are the same, the culture is largely shared, the laws are the same – and the financial incentives are the same, the behaviour is not. People from the wrong side of the line continue to be utterly dysfunctional. Especially if they are not White.”

    This paragraph is incoherent unless the reader is expected to succumb to irrationality. Greeks, Cypriots, Spaniards (from the south), Italians (from the south) are presumed to be “utterly dysfunctional”.

    SMFS: “Why that should be is a fascinating question and not one sensibly dealt with by screaming racism all the time.”

    Nobody mentioned racism. You made it up, as you so often do.

    I did mention “racial purity” several times.

  35. About Finns and the Euro: I left a bunch of holes in my argument, but I didn’t try to patch them up until SMFS had a chance to walk past them in ignorance.

    The Finnish economy is very different from southern Europe. Finns are rich.

    Historians question whether the Hajnal line was drawn appropriately; perhaps the line should have been fuzzy.

  36. So Much for Subtlety

    Charlieman – “So it isn’t but it is, and SMFS didn’t mean it.”

    No, I said what I said and no more. Not whatever you like to imagine I said.

    “Haven’t you considered that the prudent entrepreneurs (who may also be risk takers) of Hong Kong et al are not White? Prudence is about wisdom, not about being tight with your wallet or following a particular religion.”

    You would think wouldn’t you? And yet it is not. The people of Greece are not stupid. They simply have a very different set of values and priorities. Are the people of Hong Kong fiscally prudent? I think it is too early to say. They are certainly reverting to a more Chinese way of doing things. As you would expect.

    “So it really is about racial purity. Ban Slavs, according to SMFS, or Dagos or olive skinned cousins? “Wrong side” of a hypothetical line used to describe marriage practice hundreds of years ago?”

    I would ban Slavs and southern Europeans too. Those differences might relate to marriage patterns 100 years ago, and yet the influence is lasting. The present fiscal crisis breaks down along sectarian lines – and pretty much along the Hajnal line too. The Spanish might be marrying differently – although not like Northern Europeans – but they are still Spanish.

    “This paragraph is incoherent unless the reader is expected to succumb to irrationality. Greeks, Cypriots, Spaniards (from the south), Italians (from the south) are presumed to be “utterly dysfunctional”.”

    No, that paragraph were perfectly clear, but you cannot face the truth. We have plenty of people here who live among the southern Europeans who are perfectly happy to point out how dysfunctional they are. Read Tim Newman talk about working for the French.

    “Nobody mentioned racism. You made it up, as you so often do.”

    Your choice Charlie – you can be honest about what you said and why or you can write tripe like that.

    “I did mention “racial purity” several times.”

    No sh!t. So your entire argument is that you think smearing me as a Nazi will work. Great.

    Charlieman – “About Finns and the Euro: I left a bunch of holes in my argument, but I didn’t try to patch them up until SMFS had a chance to walk past them in ignorance.”

    So you what? Want an argument about the things you want to talk about and not what I talked about? You know you wrote something stupid? What?

  37. Your arguments are all baffle, waffle and wind, innit, SMFS. Except for when you make things up.

    SMFS: “People from the wrong side of the line continue to be utterly dysfunctional. Especially if they are not White.”

    In which parallel universe is that not a racist and illogical statement?

  38. So Much for Subtlety

    Charlieman – “Your arguments are all baffle, waffle and wind, innit, SMFS. Except for when you make things up.”

    And yet you cannot deal with them, much less refute them. And certainly you can’t show anything made up.

    “In which parallel universe is that not a racist and illogical statement?”

    You are asking the wrong question. I don’t care if it is racist or not. Nor should you. That is not what is important. The only question that matters is whether it is true or not.

    And it is.

  39. SMFS: “And it is.”

    Whatever “IT” is, spot of the contradiction.

    SMFS, “not a racist”: “People from the wrong side of the line continue to be utterly dysfunctional. Especially if they are not White.”

  40. Much of the So Much For Subtlety technique is about yacking for five minutes, until readers forget the substantive argument.

    Just bore the tits off the reader and invent a new story.

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