Greek protesters, European finance ministers, and central bankers: you can go back home now. Financial markets, rest easy. Greece has been saved. Sort of.
After years of pointless eurozone summits, market tension and riots, Greece has come up with a remarkably simple solution: Get a Kickstarter profile, and wait for the billions of dollars in financing to roll right in.
OK, not really. The Kickstarter profile is a joke, the work of John Flowers, a producer for the MSNBC show "Martin Bashir" in New York. He wrote the profile for the humor web site of McSweeney's, a San Francisco-based publisher.
But that does not make Greece, which is in "selective default" according to the Standard & Poor's rating agency and is on financial life support from international lenders, any less desperate for help.
A Kickstarter page for Greece would be orders of magnitude larger than the web site's usual fare. The fundraising site for startups and other projects raised $99 million in pledges in 2011. That is just a fraction of the 130 billion-euro (about $172 billion) bailout Greece is due to receive from its lenders.
Maybe investors would be more eager to pony up cash if they could get some of the perks promised in the fake Kickstarter profile: Donate to Greece now, and depending on the level of your contribution -- preferably in billions of euros, thank you -- your rewards can include historical reenactments that boast "live ammo and actual hostages," tax-deductible yachts and prostitutes, and commission as a "colonel" for you and six of your friends.
Here is a taste of Greece's plea for assistance:
Greece is a small country in the south of Europe known for inventing democracy and western philosophy and for its national motto, "Release the Kraken!" Our shores are a popular destination for backpackers and tourists wishing to relax amid sun-drenched beaches by day and intoxicated British tourists by night.
We wish to continue this good work, but to do so our creditors are demanding 14.5 billion euros ($18.6 billion) by March 20. We do not have this money, nor do we think we can raise it in time: Our asset sales have gone nowhere, and the EU has nixed our plan to close shop and re-open a few blocks away as "Greeze". And so we come to you, our friends, for help.
The Greek government has relied on bailouts from international lenders since 2010, and its government debt has been under pressure since late 2009, when a new government said the old government had been hiding how deeply in debt the country really was. And despite undertaking austerity measures demanded by its creditors, its budget deficit is still growing as its economy wrestles with what is basically a depression.