Euro Crisis

Report on Greece's Attempt at Austerity Could be Delayed to Help Obama


Much of how the rest of the euro crisis develops depends on how inspectors of the troika (European Commission, European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) judge Greece's efforts to implement reforms and austerity measures. If the troika reports that the Greek government has been unable to make the necessary reforms then it is possible that the next bailout installment will be withheld, and Greece will almost certainly default on its debt.

It now looks like officials from Washington might be trying to delay reports on Greece's austerity efforts because it might cause a downturn in the global economy before Election Day.

From Reuters:

A U.S. official said the United States had made clear to European officials that it wanted to avoid any "downside" economic surprises because of the fragile U.S. recovery, but denied that it had anything to do with the U.S. election.

Several sources in Germany described those conversations with their U.S. counterparts and said the message had been that the Americans didn't want surprises before the election.

Recent polling indicates that Obama is doing well, but a global economic shock like a Greek default and euro exit would have the potential to make the presidential race much tighter. It is worth remembering that most European politicians are hardly fans of Republicans.

From the same Reuters piece:

"As far as European leaders are concerned, they don't want Romney, so they're probably willing to do anything to help Obama's chances," said the source, an EU official involved in finding solutions to the debt crisis.

A Greek default and euro exit would almost certainly prompt a downturn in the global economy and potentially accelerate the euro crisis. Despite the negative effects this would have on most people Mitt Romney would stand to gain. It looks like this is an outcome some from Washington have already taken steps to avoid, at least until the election is over.

NEXT: Strikes Spread to Gold Mines in South Africa

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So the global economic apocolypse is scheduled for November 7th. Ha, stupid Mayans. The Obama has spoken.

  2. Why does Europe give a shit if Obama wins or not?

    1. They don’t, but if Europe falls off the map it will be seen as a failure of Obama’s economic policies.

      1. Protests are breaking out all over. Europe is on its way to collapse. It seems like either the entire Obama Presidency will collapse into dust in October and lose in the election or in November leaving him four years to flounder and get blamed for it.

        I am not seeing much of an up side here for him.

        1. But think of all the lulz!!

        2. When Europe collapses, it’s never pretty. I believe it was Shirley Q. Liquor who first said, “You White folks is crazy!”

          1. She was being generous.

          2. Yeah but every other time they went crazy they had global reaching military power.

            Yet in the 90s they could barely put troops in Bosnia…and they have only gotten weaker since.

            If we are lucky they will revert back to swords and we can turn the whole sub-continent into an adult theme park of medieval madness.

        3. leaving him four years to flounder and get blamed for it.

          Blame for it is quite manifestly water off a duck’s back for him. And you are ignoring the really important things – four years of golf and cool hip hop parties in the WH.

        4. Long pitchfork and torches! Short…..additional government programs!

          Eat it T o n y!

        5. That’s the thing about wanting the US President to be the Emperor of Earth. When things go wrong it’s always your problem.

    2. There’s an infinitesimal chance we’ll start getting our fiscal house in order, at least somewhat, if Obama doesn’t win. That would mean that we’d grow while they stagnated. So, naturally, they don’t want that.

      This is not to suggest Romney will actually solve any of our endemic problems.

      1. I guess they figure Obama is more likely to give them a bailout. Can you imagine being a Dem in Congress right now? Either Obama loses and you are totally out of power. Or he wins and no longer gives a shit about the future and proceeds to do any number of insanely stupid and unpopular things leaving you to explain it all in two and four years.

          1. I think even that blind, lame dog is going to die after November.

            1. Shreik and his ilk are very endeared with that dog. They’ll nurse it along no matter what.

              1. I think Monty Python did a sketch about that once. Something involving a parrot.

                1. Ex-parrot, you mean.

                  1. He’s resting.

                    1. He’s pining for the budget?

    3. Probably the same reason all the other Cincinnati radio stations pitched in to save Les Nessman’s life on that Veterans’ Day WKRP episode.

      1. “Monster lizard ravages East Coast!”

    4. Why does Europe give a shit if Obama wins or not?

      His economic policies are identical to those of Europe’s. If Romney is elected and tries something different (he won’t but it is perceived that he would) it would be a catastrophe for Europe.

      Also Economics has some relativity to it. Both the Euro and Dollar have been falling to hell…but the fact they have been falling together makes it appear that they are not falling. Again Romney is perceived as breaking that fall (he won’t). Which would be a catastrophe for Europe.

  3. If the Greeks can’t get the next bailout check until the report, I don’t think it matters what Obama wants. The report will be issued, and damn soon, because the Greeks need that check pronto.

    The logic baffles me: a default/exit/catastrophe will happen if the check is delayed/denied, so the Obamanauts are trying to get the check delayed to prevent the default/exit/catastrophe?

    1. Can the Greeks hold on for another month without a bailout? That is all that matters. Or will they drop this little bomb the week before the election? It seems to me that it coming out in the week before the election would be the worst case for Obama. He wouldn’t have any time to lie about it or for people to forget about it.

      If it is coming out anyway, better now than then. But I am beginning to think there is nothing the Obama people can’t fuck up.

      1. It seems to me that it coming out in the week before the election would be the worst case for Obama.

        Nah…if it is only a week the full scope of its effect on the US economy will not be realized.

        You need a good 2 weeks or more for it to effect votes.

        Voters don’t care about Greece. They do care about US companies falling out of the sky and US stock/bond market crashes.

    2. Plus, it seems that regardless of the report money has been fleeing Greece and Spain for months, so it the delay of an expected bad report (I don’t think anyone really expected the Greeks to comply) might just accelerate the capital flight.

      1. At this point what kind of a nut is buying Spanish bonds or has their money in a Greek bank? I can’t believe there is any capital left in those countries.

        1. The ECB

      2. Right, the fact that the report is delayed is IN ITSELF an indicator that it is bad. Why wait for the actual report when you can just watch how the Obama administration is reacting to it?

  4. How many people willing to vote for Obama right now after all the crap over the last 4 years, are going to change their minds when Greece fails?

    1. Probably none. In fact, in the short run I wonder if it would boost asset prices in the US as all those Euro denominated assets seek a (realtively)safer haven?

      1. T-Bills will be the short term winners

        1. T-bills are already priced at zero, and the Fed will keep it that way no matter what. They can’t “win” because there’s no way to bid down the rate on them any lower.

          I suppose they could go negative. The Fed already owns the short end of the market, and will for the foreseeable future under QE2 and QE3. I suppose it might agree to pay Treasury to hold T-bills as a way to further debase the currency.

          1. When I say winner, I mean that there will be demand for them outside of the demand the Fed creates. However, once that demand disappears, they are royally screwed.

            1. I wonder how long that pop will last. I suspect equities would be a beneficiary in the short-term as well?

      2. It would probably really help the value of the dollar since the second greece goes under the euro is put into even more question. The dollar has one less competitor for reserve currency.

        1. The Euro isn’t competing with the dollar for reserve status, and never has.

          The dollar is being incrementally squeezed out of its reserve status through bilateral agreements between various nations (mostly involving China). The dollar as a reserve currency is done; QE3 guaranteed that, if it wasn’t already baked in.

          1. I know it is too late. But I really think Bernarke, Paulson, Geitner and a few others need to be shot.

            1. John, you’re so cute when you think there is actual justice in the world. Just adorable.

              1. I know. I get these flashes of idealism once in a while. Then I remember Ben and Timmy and the rest of those hoodlums are going to be living totally insulated from the consequences of their decisions.

                1. Then I remember Ben and Timmy and the rest of those hoodlums are going to be living totally insulated from the consequences of their decisions.

                  This is what bothers me the most. The rest of us eat dirt and watch out children go hungry while they just say “Oh well, that didn’t work out like I thought but it wasn’t my fault” and then go on to a career in academia.

                  Heads on a pike. Figuratively speaking, of course.

                  1. The rest of us eat dirt and watch out children go hungry while they just say “Oh well, that didn’t work out like I thought but it wasn’t my fault” and then go on to a career in academia.

                    If it makes you feel any better, careers in academia aren’t that great if the surrounding economy has fallen apart. Academics need money from somewhere too.

                    1. Fair enough, Tulpa, but guys like Teh Bernank and Turbo Timmy have a lot of stature, deserved or not, and will be able to parlay that into something comfortable for themselves.

                    2. I’m pretty certain they’ve been socking away ill-gotten gain in hidden accounts. They are no different than Arafat, Marcos, etc.

            2. If it doesn’t, we should consider amending the constitution and reelecting Bush. Even if he sucks hard the third time around, at least someone will be taking responsibility for it.

              1. Killazontherun,

                I think we need to put Bush back in for the sake of causality and responsibility. Unless he goes back into office these things will just keep happening like they are acts of God or something. Lets put someone in there that we at least can agree to blame for this.

                1. I think we need to put Bush back in for the sake of causality and responsibility.

                  No more Matrix Reloaded-esque causality discussions, please. That was probably the worst part of the Bush administration.

              2. In answer to John| 9.21.12 @ 2:34PM |#

                I think even that blind, lame dog is going to die after November.

                How did that get down here, I haven’t even read these comments yet.

                I know it is too late. But I really think Bernarke, Paulson, Geitner and a few others need to be shot.

                Yup, I always slip in need to be tried before anything concerning the killing of public masters so as not to set off too many alarms.

                I’m thinking Matt, Tim, and Nick and the fact they have families to support when it comes to moderating the tone.

                1. Not saying I don’t sympathize. Say, if a Hannibal Lector wannabe abducted Timmy, my only comment would be, ‘nice skin suit!’

    2. If it causes a real economic catastrophe enough. You could have asked the same thing about McCain and a bank collapse in 2008.

    3. None. But that’s not who he’s concerned about.

    4. Greece is the first domino (although it could be Spain). When it goes, the Euro banking system is toast and the exogenous shock that our global economy can’t absorb has arrived.

      It will be bad for everyone.

      As for how long Greece has, the article says:

      In the meantime, Greece will be kept afloat by issuing short-term treasury bills and its banks will get access to emergency funds from the Greek central bank.

      IOW, the Euro nations will have to look the other way while Greece issues unauthorized short-term debt. For as long as the bond markets (or the ECB) will take it. Its back to politics: if the Germans kick up a fuss about the ECB buying illegal Greek debt, its game over.

      1. if the Germans kick up a fuss

        Somehow I never thought of pissed-off Germans in those terms

        1. It will be interesting to see how they react.

      2. But the Germans won’t do that because apparently the world has decided they are better off with a village idiot as the American President. So the Greeks probably hang on until after the election. Right?

        1. Merkel might hold on that long, but if she does, she will be political toast.

      3. So is there any asset class that will protect us or is every investment account on Earth going to take a serious beating? I already have a small short position w/r/t Europse; maybe it needs to be bigger.

        1. My inclination is to short China. The US market is very unpredictable right now because of outright manipulation by the big banks and the Fed. However, if Europe tanks, China is in deep crap.

          1. Isn’t China already in the grips of a contraction?

            1. Nobody knows, their data is so cooked. Their (admitted) rate of growth is down, that’s for sure.

            2. Yes, but it has not reached critical mass yet. They’ve been expanding almost exponentially for almost 2 decades now without taking a breath. There are still gobs of misallocated capital that are going to tank.

              1. And that’s not counting the imaginary collateralization.

                SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese banks and companies looking to seize steel pledged as collateral by firms that have defaulted on loans are making an uncomfortable discovery: the metal was never in the warehouses in the first place.

                China’s demand has faltered with the slowing economy, pushing steel prices to a three-year low and making it tough for mills and traders to keep up with payments on the $400 billion of debt they racked up during years of double-digit growth.

                As defaults have risen in the world’s largest steel consumer, lenders have found that warehouse receipts for metal pledged as collateral do not always lead them to stacks of stored metal. Chinese authorities are investigating a number of cases in which steel documented in receipts was either not there, belonged to another company or had been pledged as collateral to multiple lenders, industry sources said.

                Ghost inventories are exacerbating the wider ailments of the sector in China, which produces around 45 percent of the world’s steel and has over 200 million metric tons (220.5 million tons) of excess production capacity. Steel is another drag on a financial system struggling with bad loans from the property sector and local governments.


                1. Definately not good.

                2. China has been the Wild West of loans for a while now. It’s starting to come apart at the seams.

                  I can taste Tommy Friedman’s yummy salty tears.

                  1. To be fair, Friedman only wanted us to be China for a day. It usually takes longer than a day for bubbles to burst.

        2. So is there any asset class that will protect us

          Depends on what you think is coming. In a currency collapse/(hyper)inflationary/deleveraging depression scenario, I think your best bets are the hardest of hard assets: precious metals and productive land.

          The problem is the crazy unpredictability of what’s coming. You can make a case that now is actually the time to lever up, on the theory that a currency collapse/(hyper)inflation will let you pay off those debts with cheap money. If we get a banking collapse/deleveraging depression, though, you have to wonder where you’ll get even the cheap money.

          1. Nothing like a farm. Nothing like being around animals, fixing things. There’s nothing like being in the field with the corn and the winter wheat. The greenest stuff you ever saw.

            1. So you’ve never had sex then?

              1. You’re not familiar with farming, are you?

                1. You’re not familiar with farming, are you?

                  Not Florida farming, at any rate.

            2. Green acres is the place for me.
              Farm livin’ is the life for me.
              Land spreadin’ out so far and wide
              Keep Manhattan, just give me that countryside.

              Tell me Pro, are you married to an extremely cute Hungarian women with expensive tastes and a sexy accent?

              1. He was a lawyer. What a surreal show that was.

                1. I always really liked Eva Gabor. She was in her mid 40s when she made that show. Yet she was cute as a button. Her sisters were annoying. But Eva was fabulous.

                  1. Yes, they aged freakishly slow.

          2. Which suggests to me: add to existing emergency food ammo supply.

            These clowns have really f’ed things up, haven’t they?

            1. food ammo… you mean like a potato gun?

      4. What morons are still out there buying Greek government debt?

        1. I think we already answered that question?

      5. Side question is: Why the fuck do Europeans want another four years of Obama? Surely they realize what that would do in terms of exploding US government debt. And surely they don’t want to see the US devalue the dollar or default on it’s debts either. The EU should be freaking out over the US budget deficits, if they weren’t so distracted by their own.

    5. What happens to Greece isn’t important – it’s the Banks that are important. The French and German and Italian banks hold worthless greek paper. Greece walks or is thrown out, then the fiction of that paper will kill those banks unless their governments bail them out. Of course US banks hold paper and stocks on those euro banks and would take a hit. How hard? No one knows since all those guys lie.

      So there is the possiblility that a Greece crisis becomes a Euro-wide banking crisis becomes a Global banking/credit crisis and then The Obama would be the President begging for a TARP II.

      THAT will get through to voters if nothing else.

      1. TARP II – Electric Boogaloo

        1. Because the first


          just wasn’t enough!

          Moar Moar Moar!
          How do you like it?
          How do you like it?

        2. TARP II: Looting the Dead.

        3. TARP Too: The Legend of Curly’s Gold

      2. Isn’t that just saying it is inevitable? The Greeks can’t pay it back. Any Greek paper is worthless. The only reason anyone has ever bought Greek paper is because their governments forced them too. No amount of bailing Greece out is going to make that paper any good. So really isn’t the collapse just a matter of time?

        1. The new capital reserve rules kick in next year. If they had been in place last year, the banks would have been short almost $400 billion in capital. Spain is saying that their banks are short $80 billion, so figure double that for them. The big banks are set up like dominos now.

        2. Their only move is to have the ECB back/buy the Greek paper. Which begs the question of where the ECB gets the money to back/buy Greek paper. I think the only answer is: it prints it.

          Especially since anything that is done for Greece today will have to be done for Spain tomorrow, and probably for Italy shortly after that.

          We’re in a situation where the best case scenario is massive devaluation of the Euro and the Dollar. And who the fuck knows what’s going on in China, the king of crony capitalism?

          1. When the shit finally hits the fan its going to be a muthafucka.

            1. That’s what leverage does for you, every time.

          2. That is the thing RC. No way will the Germans, who are half way responsible, suffer hyper inflation to bail out the Greeks. The Germans will leave and go back to the mark before they do that. Germans are constitutionally averse to inflation. They will take a bank collapse before inflation.

            And it is an interesting question what happens when all of the major currencies devalue at once. China is in worse shape than Europe. They just are hiding it better. To have inflation you have to inflate against something. But if all the currencies are equally in the toilet, what are you inflating against? So you tell me what happens when the three major currencies in the world all print money like it is going out of style because I can’t figure it out.

            1. what happens when the three major currencies in the world all print money like it is going out of style

              I guess we find out if Keynes was right.

              1. I think Keynes eventually figured out he was wrong.

                1. I believe his last words were: ‘I’m afraid it is all wrong. All these equations you built up on my theory are worthless, as my good friend F A Hayek pointed out to me the fatal flaw . . . what are you doing with that pillow Mr. Samuelson?’

                  1. FTW, Killaz!

            2. But if all the currencies are equally in the toilet, what are you inflating against?

              Commodities. We don’t know how to inflate oil yet.

              1. There is more to the economy than commodities.

                1. There is more to the economy than commodities.

                  Sure, but when food, oil, steel, copper, all that stuff start spiking up in price, what do you think that does to the rest of the economy?

            3. But if all the currencies are equally in the toilet, what are you inflating against?

              Hard assets, food, oil, stuff like that.

              And its the food inflation that is the real killer. China can’t tolerate inflation in food prices (nor can a lot of other countries; what do you think lit the fuse for the “Arab Spring”?). People barely at a subsistence level now will be starving, and that means revolutions.

              1. All true RC. The food inflation won’t affect the US nearly as much. But it will destroy poor countries. Remember that the next time someone tells you how much these people care.

              2. And its the food inflation that is the real killer.


                Since when has farmers getting a larger portion of the wealth been bad for food production?

                No. What will happen is we will see a transfer of wealth from the cities to the rural farm producers. I would not say this a good for the economy. Especially considering why it is happening. Still wide spread starvation is not in the cards. Simply all the workers who are not farming will have their wealth moved to ag producers….on the whole there will probably more food….which in time will bring prices back down.

          3. The only real question to me is how long before the Germans exit? They’re damned if they do and damned if they don’t, but I think cultural memory will win out and staying with the Euro will become politically untenable.

            1. Whatever they do, the Germans will not take inflation. They will take it in the shorts and suffer collapse with Teutonic stoicism. They will not take inflation.

            2. I think you are correct, Scruff. Not sure when it happens but I think that’s what happens eventually.

        3. Every economy collapses. Someone’s carrying a monetary crisis for you right now, doesn’t even know it. The trick is to die of old age before it finds you.

    6. Past elections have shown that voters have very, very short memories when it comes to incumbent presidents. If the economy is still limping but relatively stable, Obama wins. If the economy takes a sudden downturn in October, Obama loses.

      1. The Fed has decided to support Obama. They have made that clear with QE3.

        Never underestimate the power of the Fed to manipulate the markets in at least the short term.

        1. Which is why Obama said we don’t have a short-term problem.

  5. Cue the Fed.

  6. The Greeks will be forced to exit the Euro so that they can devalue their currency. Obama is devaluing our currency. Birds of a feather.



  8. “As far as European leaders are concerned, they don’t want Romney, so they’re probably willing to do anything to help Obama’s chances,”

    A foreign power attempting to manipulate American domestic political outcomes?

    The bombing will commence in three… two….

  9. Here’s what I want to know: Can I order a liter of Coke with my spanakopita in Athens?

    1. Why the fuck would you have a spanakopita when you could have a gyro, the Greek God of Sandwiches?

      1. The local Greek Orthodox church has a Greek Festival every year.
        Didn’t get the gyro this year. Went for the lamb kabob with some Ouzo and a spanakopita on the side.
        That was a good meal.

    2. Only if cups are 16oz or under.

    3. Not only can you have one, but the state will buy it for you.

      However, due to bone-deep austerity cuts, they will only provide you with a medium, not a large.

  10. alt-text “If you squint just right the coins look kinda like boobies!”

    1. Boobies with hair, so, yes, authentically Greek.

  11. By the way, I’d just like to say a big


    Seriously- eat shit and die.

    1. No kidding. And it is just a bunch of hipsters engaging in muffled conversation, every fucking time you access the site.

  12. It now looks like officials from Washington might be trying to delay reports on Greece’s austerity efforts because it might cause a downturn in the global economy before Election Day.

    Help a brother out. Isn’t it the downturn in the global economy that’s causing the downturn in the global economy?

  13. This Canadian is shocked, shocked, shocked that Europeans are Team BLUE lovers despite their ranting about the evil Amerikka.

    1. You left out a ‘k’.

  14. And in other news:

    “DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz hailed the transition to Amalgamated Bank, and noted the longstanding political and financial ties between the two organizations.

    The committee, she said, had a ‘fiduciary responsibility to those who invest in our party.'”…..k-to-seiu/

    1. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) owes at least $8 million to a bank owned by one of the largest unions in the country, according to the committee’s most recent financial report.

      The DNC initiated an $8 million loan with the Amalgamated Bank of New York on Aug. 10, the report shows, accounting for the majority of the committee’s overall debt of $11 million.

      Didn’t this happen once before with union pension funds? Only the first time they build casinos with the money I think.

      1. I find it interesting that political parties can borrow money at all.

        1. Talk about having someone over a barrel…I mean, talk about having poltical leverage!

        2. what do you use for collateral?

          1. Why, other people’s money, of course!

    2. Is this even legal?

      1. I will make it legal!

      2. If the President does it, it’s legal.

      3. Even if it is not, who are you going to call? Eric Holder?

  15. “Additionally, the Romney campaign is releasing a summary of 20 years of taxes, between 1990-2009, detailing their tax expenditures during those years:

    In each year during the entire 20-year period, the Romneys owed both state and federal income taxes.
    Over the entire 20-year period, the average annual effective federal tax rate was 20.20%.
    Over the entire 20-year period, the lowest annual effective federal personal tax rate was 13.66%.
    Over the entire 20-year period, the Romneys gave to charity an average of 13.45% of their adjusted gross income.
    Over the entire 20-year period, the total federal and state taxes owed plus the total charitable donations deducted represented 38.49% of total AGI.”…..52850.html

    1. “The Romneys donated $4,020,772 to charity in 2011, amounting to nearly 30% of their income.”

      Fucking Grinch

      1. Liberals don’t count churches as charity.

        1. Liberals don’t count charity since they think the government should be doing all that.

  16. and I wonder why I’m so damned cynical.

  17. Aussie Treasurer says the TEA Party is crazy…..ister.html

    1. I can’t believe that the Austrians aren’t Austrians.

  18. First the Greeks invent tragedy. Now they live it.

  19. To summarize:

    We’re fucked.

    Nobody can say exactly when or exactly how it will go down, but fucked we are.

  20. Washington might be trying to delay reports on Greece’s austerity efforts because it might cause a downturn in the global economy before Election Day

    So we can infer that the reports don’t say anything good, right?

    The one question is: If we can infer the reports contain bad news, shouldn’t that BY ITSELF carry a risk of a downturn? If the Obama administration is acting like they contain bad news, then the cat is out of the bad, no?

    IMO, the ONLY way to interpret this news is to assume that the reports are bad, that Greece IS going to leave the Eurozone, and default on it’s debts, and that current European leadership is just delaying the inevitable just long enough for the US election to pass.

    Am I right?

    1. But by the liberal economic logic, we’d never know just how much worse it would have been if the reports were released before the election and Romney won.

  21. That looks like its gonna be like way cool. ow.

  22. Where are all the Austrians to tell us that, on the contrary, a Greek default and cascading austerity would actually be good for Greece, good for Europe, and good for the world economy? It would be laughably incorrect, but it would be typical for this forum.

    I’m shocked and amazed.

    Have you learned something?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.