A Greek exit is not rocket science

Last Wednesday (July 1, 2015), the ABC radio presenter, Phillip Adams, in a wide ranging interview about the upcoming referendum in Greece and the prospects for the nation, asked the then Greek Finance Minister: “My jokes about printing drachmas in the cellars, remain jokes?” The then Finance Minister replied: “Of course they do … we don’t have a capacity … because … Maybe you don’t know that. But when Greece entered the euro in the year 2000 … one of the things we had to do was to get rid of all our printing presses … in order to impress on the world that this is not a temporary phenomenon … that we mean this to be forever … we smashed the printing presses, so we have no printing presses”. The interchange occurred at the 49:46 minute mark in the – following program. In my research for my Eurozone book, which was published in May this year, I studied in some detail how the euro was introduced, how it is disseminated, how the notes are printed and the coins minted and how nations in other contexts had introduced their own currencies. When I heard that interview I wondered why the then Greek Finance Minister would want to mislead the Australian listeners, even though interviews like this are no longer geographically restricted and that he was clearly intent on convincing the world, a few days before the referendum, that Syriza was committed to the euro and exit was not an option. Earlier in the week, I had railed against the lies and misinformation coming out of the EU leadership. The boot was on the other foot in this case. But it also raises questions of how an exit might occur in the event that Syriza actually stand up for its electoral mandate (anti-austerity) and refuse to agree to any further austerity. I doubt they will do that but hope springs eternal.

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