Greece finally passed its long awaited package of reforms, which follows the usual pattern. The Parliament was all too happy to raise taxes and social security contributions, but pension reform and the sale of NPLs is much less clear.
No, you did not miss my last article; I have not written since January 24, 2016. And no, nothing has happened in Greece since then ... no pension reform, no sales of NPLs, nothing. And, nothing is likely to happen for the foreseeable future.
Let us not use the Constitution and its revision as an alibi for political power to conceal its inability to tackle a political problem on political terms. And it is sad to see constitutional changes being used as a firework.
Sacrificing Greece will not save Europe from having to come face-to-face with awkward, complex and hazardous realities. Nor is the fundamental question here one of simply centralizing the processing of asylum claims -- generated by a basically flawed system.
Each New Year seems to bring about a renewed optimism (unfortunately that optimism has already disappeared on Wall Street). Even I am beginning 2016 with the Greece glass half full. The weather is beautiful.
To understand what is going on in Greece, imagine Bernie Sanders fighting to pass a significant reduction in social security payments in the U.S. in order to continue to prop up a host of insolvent banks.
Greece is being starved to death by a lack of capital. End the starvation, and the economy will turn around very quickly. In this case, starvation is the NPLs. The non-performing loans are strangling the Greek economy.
The case of Greece is worth standing for: due to its geopolitical burden in troubled times but also due to the fact that Greece belongs to the same community of countries sharing the values of democracy, liberty, social justice.
Syriza remains almost as popular, despite a confusing message. Is Syriza in favor of the agreement with the EU? They say, "Yes," but they recommended a "No" vote in the referendum. They seem to be doing very little to comply with the EU agreement.
Athens is eerily quiet. The restaurants are half-full. If it were not for a few lingering tourists, the restaurants would be empty. Even the Nike store in Kolonaki closed in the last two weeks (in the interest of full disclosure the store was not owed by Nike, it was operated by Folli Follie).
Perhaps the worst news for the Greeks is that the Germans have gone "radio silent." When the Germans were beating up the Greeks daily in the press, the Greeks were getting sympathy ... no more. Greece is on its own.