by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The Greeks have their Bernie Sanders. What they need is their Chris Christie.
The Greek people spent part of the weekend in the streets celebrating their status as international deadbeat. They spent the rest of the weekend hoarding food, fuel, and medicine in preparation for the manmade disaster they have inflicted upon themselves.
Greek referendum voters overwhelmingly rejected bailout terms offered them by their European patrons. Greece’s leftist prime minister, Alexis Tsipras — think of him as Europe’s answer to Senator Sanders, but with enough discipline to be dangerous — insisted that a popular rejection of the bailout terms would put him in a stronger negotiating position. The European Central Bank (ECB) immediately began to disabuse the Greeks of that notion: The first order of ECB business on Monday was — if you’ll forgive me for eliding the financial gobbledygook — choosing a larger sledgehammer with which to jack up Greek financial institutions should Athens fail to sober up sufficiently for Tuesday’s emergency negotiations. The ECB is imposing larger losses on Greek banks, not smaller ones, and may yet discontinue its emergency support entirely, in which case: lights out.
Tsipras assured the Greeks they were voting themselves better bailout terms. They are getting the opposite — if, indeed, they get anything. More than a few well-informed observers believe that the Germans have simply abandoned hope that the Greeks are capable of real reform or willing to engage in it, and that the Greek “No” vote was welcomed with a quiet sigh of relief, providing Angela Merkel et al. with a plausible excuse to scuttle further bailout efforts. The Greeks may have burned their bridge to Europe, but the Germans are roasting marshmallows over the flames.