Marketplace Scratch Pad

Greece, Germany and Goldman

Scott Jagow Feb 19, 2010

You just can’t make this stuff up. Germany trashes Greece for being a nation of “lazy cheats.” Greece snarls back that Germany should pay the Greeks World War II reparations before opening their big traps. There are accusations about Goldman Sachs helping to hide Greece’s debt. And then, Greece fires the head of its debt office and replaces him with a guy who used to work for…

That’s right — Goldman Sachs. From Zero Hedge:

Yesterday’s news about the departure of the head of the debt management agency, Spyros Papanicolaou, was somewhat of a yawner, until we realized that his replacement would be none other than Petros Christodoulou, who until today was head of Private Banking and Group Treasury at the National Bank of Greece… Yet what is oddest, is that Mr. Christodoulou worked not only as head of derivatives at JP Morgan but also held comparable posts at Credit Suisse, and… wait for it, Goldman Sachs… Uh, say what?

I wish I could say that it’s shocking. Meanwhile, Greece’s debt problems are shaking the very foundation of the European Union. The EU has pledged support for Greece, but several EU countries are balking. From The Telegraph:

Holland’s Tweede Kamer has passed a motion backed by all parties prohibiting the use of Dutch taxpayer money to bail out Greece, either through bilateral aid or EU bodies. “Not one cent for Greece,” was the headline in Trouw. The right-wing PVV proposed “chucking Greece out of EU altogether”.

Germany’s Bundestag has drafted an opinion deeming aid to Greece illegal…

The Frankfurter Allgemeine summed up German feelings when it asked why taxpayers should bail out a country that thinks it an outrage to raise the retirement age to 63. “Should Germans have to work in the future until 69 instead of 67 so that Greeks can enjoy early retirement?”

Greek politicians respond this way:

“How does Germany have the cheek to denounce us over our finances when it has still not paid compensation for Greece’s war victims?” Margaritis Tzimas, of the main opposition New Democracy party, told parliament.

“There are still Greeks weeping for their lost brothers,” the conservative lawmaker said during a debate on a bill to clean up the country’s discredited statistical service.

It’s getting uglier in Europe. And of course, ever-present, is Goldman Sachs.

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