Oooh, no, you can’t do that

The row between Germany and Greece over war reparations has intensified after Athens hit back at Berlin’s description of its demand for a staggering €278.7bn (£202bn) in compensation as “stupid”.
….
The German government has repeatedly described the issue as closed, saying the country honoured its obligations, including a 115m deutschemark payment made to Greece in 1960 (worth about £150m today).

No no no no no no no.

The 278 billion is the original sum plus interest and inflation since then. You can’t then compare that to a sum without adding interest and inflation since payment date.

25 thoughts on “Oooh, no, you can’t do that”

  1. Bloke in North Dorset

    Doesn’t the interest rate in any given year include inflation? And if so isn’t it double counting using both interest rats and inflation?

  2. bloke (not) in spain

    Of course, there’s another way of looking at it. Greece did actually get the 115mDm back in 1960, so it depends what they did with it.
    In 1960, BMW were making a licenced version of the Isetta bubble-car as their top-of-the-range model. So what would a German have achieved with 115mDm by 2015? And what did the Greeks do with it?

  3. What’s the cost of a ten year siege and a sacking of a city, interest compounded over 3000 years? If we’re going to be dicks about who owes who what we might as well do it properly.

  4. I find it amusing that the EU is supposed to epitomise the new, cooperative modern Europe and ensure continental wars can never happen again, yet mere months into the first real crisis it has faced accusations and demands for reparations are being flung about in relation to Germany, the Nazis, and WWII.

    It’s almost as if bureaucrats in Brussels and slippery French politicians cannot change how populations view one another by diktat.

  5. BiG: If the Iranians started demanding reparations for Persepolis I’m sure the Greeks would find that Alexander was Macedonian after all.

  6. Greece got its billions in “reparations” via the write off 3 years ago. Guess who paid for a big chunk of that.

    On which note, and to echo Tim Newman, everyone’s being a jerk, but it’s Tsiparas who has locked himself inside the cockpit.

  7. Since the Greek Government of the time accepted the payment as discharge of Germany’s obligations the case is closed. Any further demand, be it for one kopeck or a billion dollars is stupid. End of story.

  8. So Much for Subtlety

    Germany should take a leaf out of the British government’s book. Just charge the Greeks for the costs of their occupation. After all, if the Wehrmacht wasn’t there, the Greeks would have had to pay for their own army. Think how much they saved!

    And for the internal policing provided by the Gestapo.

    Come to think of it, they could bill for the food and lodgings consumed by Salonika’s Jewish community, however briefly.

  9. Amazingly, all of that (except Salonika) was entirely legal under international law at the time. Hague Convention allows occupied territory to be billed for costs of occupation troops.

  10. bloke (not) in spain

    “Since the Greek Government of the time accepted the payment as discharge of Germany’s obligations the case is closed.”

    It’s worth bearing in mind the situation when Greece accepted this offer. Greece was in the aftermath of its civil war. West Germany was a US/UK/French curatorship.. Athens was in bad odour with London over Cyprus. They weren’t exactly in a good bargaining position.

  11. @ b(n) is
    1960, not 1950. The Greek Civil war ended in 1949. Konrad Adenauer led West Germany out of the UK/US/French curatorship, starting, coincidentally in 1949.

  12. bloke (not) in spain

    @john77
    1960 wasn’t 1950 but Greece’s bargaining position on reparations was still far from strong. It’s hardly likely the US/UK would have looked kindly on a sizable claim against the recovering W. German economy. Or on Greece getting a large pile of wedge.whilst Britain was still doing its Empire bit in Cyprus. Greece certainly didn’t get the opportunity its co-invadee & sufferer under Nazi atrocities, Russia, did to strip E Germany of everything portable. Despite being on the allied side from the start, rather than a late convert..

  13. @ b(n)is
    Well, maybe but most of your previous arguments are rubbish. If the UK had been able to dictate to Germany then the argument over Cyprus might have weakened Germany’s negotiating position but your proposal is that it strengthened Germany’s defence? What?!?
    “It’s hardly likely the US/UK would have looked kindly on a sizable claim against the recovering W. German economy.” Why should we have cared? Greek shipping was of major importance but Germany was more of a competitor than a customr.

  14. @bnis,

    Surely Greece was a fully-sovereign country punching its weight on the global stage. Like they are now, with the leftist regime led by suicide pilot Tsiparas getting into bed with the highly solvent, peaceful, trustworthy, and economically sound Russians who wouldn’t invade anywhere ever.

    Giving the voters what they voted for. Good and hard.

  15. bloke (not) in spain

    BiG
    As I’ve said before, I don’t regard Greece’s problems – nor Spain & a couple of other countries – as the Greek people’s problems. The ordinary working Greek didn’t run up a mountain of debt. The Greek political classes & the Greek middle classes did. And the northern political & middle classes helped them do it. Mostly to the benefit of the political & middle classes at both ends.. Now they expect the working Greek to take the pain of paying it back without sharing any of it.
    Fuck the lot of you. Fuck your debt. Your problem.

  16. So Much for Subtlety

    Tim Worstall – “Amazingly, all of that (except Salonika) was entirely legal under international law at the time. Hague Convention allows occupied territory to be billed for costs of occupation troops.”

    Governments do not want limits on their power and so they are unlikely to accept limits on their power. Sad but true.

    But what I mean is that Germany should send them a bill *now* for all the costs incurred by the Germans back then. Protecting the Greeks and all.

    (Although it is likely that the Germans did charge at the time. They did have an interesting and mildly complex way of making the locals pay for their own occupation)

  17. So Much for Subtlety

    bloke (not) in spain – “As I’ve said before, I don’t regard Greece’s problems – nor Spain & a couple of other countries – as the Greek people’s problems. The ordinary working Greek didn’t run up a mountain of debt. The Greek political classes & the Greek middle classes did.”

    Sorry but there is no way that you can single out the middle classes and say they looted the state. Everyone did. Take the Athens underground for instance. The drivers on that are as working class as you like. As were the workers who built it. All of them profited. This is not like the Philippines where a very small elite looted the state.

    It does not matter what you think, it matters if we can now single out the sheep from the goats. The Greeks stole a lot of money. If we could find the guilty and make them pay that would be great. But we can’t.

    “And the northern political & middle classes helped them do it.”

    They should have been wary. They trusted. So what?

    “Mostly to the benefit of the political & middle classes at both ends.. Now they expect the working Greek to take the pain of paying it back without sharing any of it.
    Fuck the lot of you. Fuck your debt. Your problem.”

    Actually no. We are not sure where most of the benefit went. That would be hard to work out. But it is reasonable to assume it was widely distributed. Welfare does not go to the middle class alone. Now the Greeks as a whole are not being asked to pay back anything but a token amount – and more importantly to restructure their economy. It does not follow that the working class is going to pay back that money. After all, Greece has a progressive income tax system. The middle class creates more value and pays more tax than the working class. Even assuming Greece still has a working class. The middle classes will pay back most of the debt. The restructuring will hit workers harder because it is attacking their protectionism.

    It is not our problem. We have dealt with that. Largely by forgiving the debt. Greece won’t pay back much. The Greeks still have a problem because the government is spending too much on people who want to continue to have a holiday on Germany’s credit card. Well, that ain’t going to happen. The Greeks will have to work for a living like the rest of us. How to get from here to there? Well, the Greeks still can’t pay for imports on their own. So they still need the Germans to lend them money. Their problem. They should get f**ked. But they won’t. Not hard enough.

  18. Bloke in Costa RIca

    Why do the Greeks feel they have a unique claim on the Germans for WW2 beastliness? What distinguishes them from, say, The Netherlands or Norway?

  19. So Much for Subtlety

    Bloke in Costa RIca – “Why do the Greeks feel they have a unique claim on the Germans for WW2 beastliness? What distinguishes them from, say, The Netherlands or Norway?”

    I imagine that the Greeks would be happy if they put in a bill too. A lot of this is just feckless Greeks being feckless. When every day transactions over tomatoes start out with the customer insulting the seller’s mother, you should not take it too seriously. Although I suspect that the Germans take this sort of thing a lot more seriously than the Greeks would even dream they should.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *