Looking through a Greek crystal ball

When the Dow suffered a 1000-point nosedive some experts pointed a quick finger at Greece's financial insolvency and social disorder. I'm no international financier, but it seemed odd that such a small Mediterranean nation could so affect the U.S. markets. Are we so fragile? Comparing CIA data on Greece and the United States would say no.

Greece's population (10.7 million) is roughly equal to Ohio's, and only 3-percent that of the United States. Geographically, Greece is about the size of Alabama. Their 50,948 square miles is miniscule compared to the United States' 9.28 million. Alaska is 13 times larger than Greece and seven U.S. states exceed its population.

Greece's GDP is about 2-percent of U.S output, a drop in the proverbial bucket. Thirteen U.S. states produce greater economic activity than Greece generates. Their exports are a fraction of our own and only 5-percent of the total Greek exports find their way to American shores ($106.8 million annually). Our exports to Greece are statistically insignificant.

Given the small role Greece plays in our economy, why did our stock market react so violently to their financial and civil problems? Well, it didn't. It turned out that a trader erroneously entered a $16 million trade as $16 billion, sparking a massive sell off and the associated panic. Greek finances didn't trigger our slide at all. However, their unrest can disturb U.S. markets if America's future is seen inside this Greek crystal ball.

Greek rioters have torched buildings and lobbed Molotov cocktails at police. An Athens bank was burned, killing three bank employees. Why has incivility gripped this cradle of ancient culture and civilization? According to a union leader the Greeks are loosing their rights and their future. However, what actually fueled their rage is the imminent death of the free ride.

I hesitantly paraphrase Jeremiah Wright: Greece's financial chickens are coming home to roost. Greece has long overspent its income and juggled its books. Thus public employees enjoyed escalating salaries, extravagant pensions and numerous unsustainable perks. That gravy train has now reached the edge of the cliff and the beneficiaries refuse to let go of the caboose. The riots are the result of Greece's dependent class, people with no intention of providing for their own needs.

This should sound familiar; America is riding the same train. Just as Greece's fiscal insanity has created a dependent class of government workers, America has also. In fact, we have created an even greater entitlement mentality.

The United States has a burgeoning public sector while private sector hiring is stagnant. Life's necessities have become quasi-constitutional rights in the eyes of a gullible public and a pandering, manipulative government bureaucracy. Our government, just like the Greek government, has issued promises it can't fulfill.

Our national debt is approaching 100-percent of GDP. Social Security and Medicare are going broke, their "trust funds" depleted and their long-term obligations beyond impossible. Medicare Part D will unquestionably follow both into insolvency and now we have a national healthcare system to boot. At least Greece's politicians are attempting government austerity. Our politicians are doubling down on a pair of deuces.

The streets of Greece could be a harbinger of things to come. What happens when our government can no longer print its way into a fraudulent form of financial solvency? What happens when those who've long lived on the public dole discover that the cash cow is dry? If you think they'll sigh and say, "Oh well. Better get a job," you're fooling yourself. They won't graciously accept the end of the free ride, meaning Greece's rioting might resemble a frat party in comparison.

Greece is a prime example of rewarding demand rather than production. Political exploitation and personal selfishness have reduced the once-proud Greeks to begging at the world's feet. Their present may be a glimpse of our future.

 

Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 200 published articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. He can be reached through his website, www.therightslant.com

 

 

When the Dow suffered a 1000-point nosedive some experts pointed a quick finger at Greece's financial insolvency and social disorder. I'm no international financier, but it seemed odd that such a small Mediterranean nation could so affect the U.S. markets. Are we so fragile? Comparing CIA data on Greece and the United States would say no.

Greece's population (10.7 million) is roughly equal to Ohio's, and only 3-percent that of the United States. Geographically, Greece is about the size of Alabama. Their 50,948 square miles is miniscule compared to the United States' 9.28 million. Alaska is 13 times larger than Greece and seven U.S. states exceed its population.

Greece's GDP is about 2-percent of U.S output, a drop in the proverbial bucket. Thirteen U.S. states produce greater economic activity than Greece generates. Their exports are a fraction of our own and only 5-percent of the total Greek exports find their way to American shores ($106.8 million annually). Our exports to Greece are statistically insignificant.

Given the small role Greece plays in our economy, why did our stock market react so violently to their financial and civil problems? Well, it didn't. It turned out that a trader erroneously entered a $16 million trade as $16 billion, sparking a massive sell off and the associated panic. Greek finances didn't trigger our slide at all. However, their unrest can disturb U.S. markets if America's future is seen inside this Greek crystal ball.

Greek rioters have torched buildings and lobbed Molotov cocktails at police. An Athens bank was burned, killing three bank employees. Why has incivility gripped this cradle of ancient culture and civilization? According to a union leader the Greeks are loosing their rights and their future. However, what actually fueled their rage is the imminent death of the free ride.

I hesitantly paraphrase Jeremiah Wright: Greece's financial chickens are coming home to roost. Greece has long overspent its income and juggled its books. Thus public employees enjoyed escalating salaries, extravagant pensions and numerous unsustainable perks. That gravy train has now reached the edge of the cliff and the beneficiaries refuse to let go of the caboose. The riots are the result of Greece's dependent class, people with no intention of providing for their own needs.

This should sound familiar; America is riding the same train. Just as Greece's fiscal insanity has created a dependent class of government workers, America has also. In fact, we have created an even greater entitlement mentality.

The United States has a burgeoning public sector while private sector hiring is stagnant. Life's necessities have become quasi-constitutional rights in the eyes of a gullible public and a pandering, manipulative government bureaucracy. Our government, just like the Greek government, has issued promises it can't fulfill.

Our national debt is approaching 100-percent of GDP. Social Security and Medicare are going broke, their "trust funds" depleted and their long-term obligations beyond impossible. Medicare Part D will unquestionably follow both into insolvency and now we have a national healthcare system to boot. At least Greece's politicians are attempting government austerity. Our politicians are doubling down on a pair of deuces.

The streets of Greece could be a harbinger of things to come. What happens when our government can no longer print its way into a fraudulent form of financial solvency? What happens when those who've long lived on the public dole discover that the cash cow is dry? If you think they'll sigh and say, "Oh well. Better get a job," you're fooling yourself. They won't graciously accept the end of the free ride, meaning Greece's rioting might resemble a frat party in comparison.

Greece is a prime example of rewarding demand rather than production. Political exploitation and personal selfishness have reduced the once-proud Greeks to begging at the world's feet. Their present may be a glimpse of our future.

 

Anthony W. Hager has authored more than 200 published articles for various newspapers, periodicals and websites. He can be reached through his website, www.therightslant.com

 

 

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