Tuesday, July 7, 2015


It looks like the translation of Pikkety's coversation with Die Ziet at Medium has been (hopefully temporarily) been taken down over a copyright issue, but I've pulled some choice quotes from other parts of the web

"What struck me while I was writing is that Germany is really the single best example of a country that, throughout its history, has never repaid its external debt. Neither after the First nor the Second World War. However, it has frequently made other nations pay up, such as after the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, when it demanded massive reparations from France and indeed received them. The French state suffered for decades under this debt. The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice."

"...The first lesson that we can take from the history of government debt is that we are not facing a brand new problem. There have been many ways to repay debts, and not just one, which is what Berlin and Paris would have the Greeks believe."

 "Think about the London Debt Agreement of 1953, where 60% of German foreign debt was cancelled and its internal debts were restructured.

"ZEIT: That happened because people recognized that the high reparations demanded of Germany after World War I were one of the causes of the Second World War. People wanted to forgive Germany’s sins this time!

"Piketty: Nonsense! This had nothing to do with moral clarity; it was a rational political and economic decision. They correctly recognized that, after large crises that created huge debt loads, at some point people need to look toward the future. We cannot demand that new generations must pay for decades for the mistakes of their parents. The Greeks have, without a doubt, made big mistakes. Until 2009, the government in Athens forged its books. But despite this, the younger generation of Greeks carries no more responsibility for the mistakes of its elders than the younger generation of Germans did in the 1950s and 1960s. We need to look ahead. Europe was founded on debt forgiveness and investment in the future. Not on the idea of endless penance. We need to remember this. 

Undiscussed: The fact that the journalist from Die Zeit thinks it's more appropriate that people forgive debt spent on a genocidal purge of unwanted populations than country in the midst of impoverishing defaults explicitly caused by the imposed austerity measures demanded by its creditors.  In other words, massacring people for the sport of war is all good, but trying to keep your country from collectively starving to death is no reason not to immediately reimburse the Eurozone elite.  The mental gymnastics of Capitalist realism are incredible sometimes.

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