Giulio Sapelli, a University of Milan economist who has advocated for a forgiveness of Greek debt, fears more than anything the decadence of the economic thinking of Brussels technocrats who “know nothing about of finance.”
Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, at a meeting of the Syriza central committee, called this “a crucial year for Europe.” In Sapelli’s view, the premier should not accept any more blackmail from Europe and to prepare for an exit from the union. If Le Pen wins, the professor doesn’t see any hope for the E.U. “France has always been the political heart of Europe.” He spoke with il manifesto.
Here we go again. We’re talking about Grexit.
Of course. It was entirely predictable. Neither the economic nor the institutional conditions have changed.
So this requires a different approach to the crisis from Europe and the United States?
Exactly. The IMF now has independence from the Teutonic ordoliberalism that, by contrast, dominates Europe. The IMF is affected much more from the influence of the Fed and a strategy that has worked to keep the Americans out of crisis and that has as its underpinning a state guarantee. Just look how they knew how to handle the banking crisis, where the state eventually even gained.
Still, the IMF and the E.U. are demanding new cuts for Greece.
It’s a grotesque negotiation where they ask for yet another 30 percent cut to pensions.
Is continuing with this policy the right path?
Absolutely not. But the thing that scares me is that an approach of this kind is evidence that these technocrats do not understand anything about finance. We are seeing a real decline of economic thought. Right now in Europe everyone is talking about investment and growth, yet every time they keep coming back for austerity measures. I see that there have been several attempts to abandon this wrong path, but if words do not follow policy initiatives this message is taken up by the new nationalism of the extreme right. A very serious error by us Italians, in my opinion, was to vote in favor of this European budget.
Returning to Greece, lenders want from Athens a primary surplus of 3.5 percent of GDP for many years. Will that be possible?
Of course not! Unless they want to destroy an entire society. What is happening in Greece is not even comparable to what happened in the days of Thatcher or Reagan.
For years, the IMF has insisted on forgiving part of the Greek debt.
I have always supported that. Sure, some creditors will suffer the consequences, but I think saving Greece — also because of its geo-strategic value and for the migration issue — requires a vision that the IMF is shown not to have.
How can Alexis Tsipras get out of this latest blackmail?
Under these conditions he should say no and prepare in a technical and serious way to get out of Europe, maybe looking at Russia. The Russians are waiting for this. If that does not send a strong signal, I see this even approaching the shadow of Metaxàs, the dictator of the 1930s.
All this is going on while the E.U. is openly talking about a two-speed Europe. What do you make of this idea?
This idea of a two-speed Europe does not exist. That’s not what Merkel is asking for, but rather an “à la carte” Europe, where from time to time based on individual issues they can decide where to make greater integration between states. The only sensible thing that should be said is to eliminate the Maastricht Treaty and the fiscal compact.
How will this turn out?
I’m afraid the majority of Europeans will come out for the right. But this time it will be a bloodbath because the right these days belongs to Le Pen. Unless something is done, within four or five years I foresee a entirely black Europe. The economic heart of Europe is Germany, but France has always been the political heart. And if Le Pen wins, the right, unfortunately, will run rampant in Europe.
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