World Press View: It Ain’t Over Even When It’s Over

With apologies to Yogi Berra, whether Greece gets its debt reform deal or not, the future is grim for most of its people for years to come.

With apologies to Yogi Berra, whether Greece gets its debt reform deal or not, the future is grim for most of its people for years to come, world press reports say.

Some excerpts:

Greece’s Economy Faces Difficult Aftermath, Deal or Not

The New York Times – Liz Alderman

As Greece hurtles toward a Sunday deadline for either reaching a bailout deal or risking a hasty exit from the Eurozone, the one certainty is that its economy is already on the brink of collapse.

Businesses and humanitarian organizations are warning that the social and commercial damage now evident could become deeper and longer lasting if Greece and its international creditors cannot finally come to terms on a new bailout package.

“Greece already has a humanitarian crisis, and we’ll have to prepare for a harder aftermath if a deal collapses,” Nikitas Kanakis, the president of the board of directors of the Athens chapter of Doctors of the World, a health care charity, said on Wednesday. “I’m not sure how proud we should feel about letting social destruction return within

“We can’t do anything to prepare for a situation like this,” said Nikos Manisoitis, who runs Nikos Manisoitis & Son, a family-owned importer of spices and dried goods like pasta and pet food, which was founded in Piraeus 95 years ago by his grandfather. “We feel like hostages,” he said. “We can’t move our money from the banks, and we fear that we are about to lose everything.” …

“We’re living like we did 60 years ago,” Mr. Manisoitis said, referring to the bleak period that followed World War II, which devastated Greece and its economy.

Even though Greece represents just 2 percent of the eurozone economy, the implications of a brick’s falling out of the euro currency union could be unpredictable, especially if it occurs at the same time as the steep decline in the Chinese stock market.

Five years of economic crisis have already taken their toll on Greece, hollowing out the solid middle class and causing tens of thousands of small and midsize businesses to close their doors.

Greece’s Doomsday Deadline Might Actually Count

Bloomberg Business – Ian Wishart

European leaders trudging wearily back to Brussels for another crunch summit on Greece this weekend can take solace in the fact it might just possibly be the last. Maybe.

Since the Jan. 25 election that propelled Alexis Tsipras’s anti-austerity Syriza coalition to power, the stalemate over Greek aid has occupied euro-area government leaders or their finance chiefs on at least 27 occasions, picking up frequency in June with the result that the past six weeks have seemed to merge into one long meeting.

They’ve often been late-night affairs, stretching into the small hours of the following morning. And they’ve run the emotional gamut: stormy, depressed, complimentary, baffled and, most recently, frustrated, as ministers were hauled back from family vacations only to find there was no decision to be taken.

Records have been set, with a run of five sessions of finance chiefs in 10 days, wrapped around a gathering of European Union leaders.

This time, the leaders’ summit called for Sunday is being billed by all concerned as the definitive moment that will determine Greece’s future in the euro. It’s “really and truly the final wake-up call for Greece, but also for us — our last chance,” EU President Donald Tusk said on Wednesday, the day after the most recent emergency session.

Europe Will Pay The Price For Greece

The Financial Times – Philip Stevens

The organising fact of modern policy making is that the urgent tends to obscure the important. The urgent in this case is the cliffhanger over whether Greece stays in the euro.

The important is the uncertain future of the single currency and a threatened unravelling of the postwar project of European integration.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been carrying Europe on her shoulders. For all his efforts to save Greece from itself, François Hollande, French president, has been diminished by his country’s weak economy.

David Cameron, planning a vote on Britain’s EU membership, is not on the field. The prime minister instead warns holidaymakers to take lots of euros when setting off for Greek islands.

Without a cohesive Europe, Germany is lost. Former chancellor Helmut Kohl understood this when the Berlin Wall came down. The euro was the Franco-German bargain that would make a united Germany safe for Europe. Mr Kohl, though, foresaw a European Germany, not a German Europe.

As Ms Merkel treks between Berlin and Brussels, the strain is beginning to show. Her trick when the euro crisis broke was to persuade voters at home that it was worth paying to save the euro while cajoling weak eurozone states into austerity and reform programmes.

Solidarity was traded for responsibility. Governments in Ireland, Spain and Portugal would say it has worked. With Greece, Ms Merkel has fallen off the wire …

The Syriza administration of Alexis Tsipras has been the worst of the lot — fuelled by a ruinous concoction of Marxist ideology, an abiding narrative of victimhood and breathtaking incompetence.

There was a deal to be done with creditors. A more mature leader could have sought debt relief in return for fiscal restraint and a drive to stamp out the corruption and clientelism that disfigures Greek democracy. Instead, a modestly improving economic outlook has been replaced by the threat of financial collapse.

The rest of Europe should take no pleasure in his discomfort. Righteous anger is not a substitute for intelligent policy. With Greece on the threshold of euro exit, politicians elsewhere have noted the calm in the markets.

Surely this is proof positive that the eurozone’s firewalls against contagion will hold? I would not be quite so sanguine. Shocks are often, well, shocking even when they have been widely predicted.