Greklands konkurrenskraft, krisen i ett nötskal 8

Rosa Luxemburgstiftelsens hemsida, engelsk information finnsSaknar du också en enkel introduktion till Greklands finanskris? I en serie inlägg som publiceras här på bloggen diskuteras många av de frågor och påstående som Greklandskrisen givit upphov till. Vanliga påstående granskas och sätts i sitt sammanhang. Texterna är hämtade från «Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks»: 20 popular fallacies concerning the debt crisis, utgiven av Rosa Luxemburgstiftelsen. Texten utgår från Tysklands roll, men mycket av det som förekommer i den tyska diskussionen har förekommit i svensk press också.

«GREECE IS NOT COMPETITIVE»

The facts: Actually Greece’s exports rose by 200 % between 1990 and 2008. So the country was successful on the world market. On the other hand, Greece had a high trade deficit for years, reaching 14% of GDP in 2009. This means that Greece imports more than it exports. The main reason given for this was high wage increases, which is why the Greek wage level should fall now, in order to render the country competitive again.

Context: Being competitive is not a feature of a national economy – it’s nothing that it «is». This term merely describes a ratio. The unit labour costs in Greece indeed did increase between 2000 and 2010 by almost 40% (1). This was only a problem, however, because the unit labour costs in other countries increased to a lesser extent and the businesses in these countries therefore had a cost advantage on the world market. The European expert at wage savings was Germany, where the unit labour costs only rose by 5 % thanks to lower increases achieved in collective bargaining. The result was high export surpluses for Ger- many and import surpluses for countries like Greece, Portugal, Ireland or Spain. The German success was therefore merely the inverse image of the failure in the Euro periphery, because Germany would not have gained surpluses if it had not been for the deficits in Greece, Spain and Portugal. And so, Germany’s export offensive allowed it to fill its coffers at the expense of its neighbours. Germany has «healthy companies whose products are in demand around the globe», the BILD newspaper triumphed (2). The mouthpiece of the «man on the street» should not forget, despite its elation, that Germany’s export successes were financed by the sacrifices of the workers. As wages sank or only increased slightly, private consumption within Germany has hardly moved an inch in the last ten years (3). And one more thing: The World Economic Forum defined competitiveness «as a combination of institutions, policies and factors that determine the productivity level of a country … The productivity level also determines the returns on investment» (4). That is what all states measure themselves by: Where can the best returns on investment be gained? The question is, however, whether this is an appropriate unit of measurement for enabling people worldwide a good life.

(1) Commerz bank Research Note: Euro periphery facing a wage revolution? 1.4.2011

(2) BILD newspaper, 5.3.2011

(3) See in more detail in: Michael Schlecht: The Euro is burning. Positionpaper 21.5.2010

(4) World Economic Forum Competitiveness Report 2010

Engelsk text: Stephan Kaufmann: «Sell your islands, you bankrupt Greeks»: 20 popular fallacies concerning the debt crisis, utgiven av Rosa Luxemburgstiftelsen. Sid 9

Greklands kris är en kris för hela Euro-samarbetet. Om valutan ska vara stabil förutsätter det att de länder Euron vilar på också är stabila. Därför påverkar utvecklingen i Grekland framtiden för hela Euro-samarbetet. Ovanstående text fokuserar på Tysklands roll som är den största aktören inom EMU. Men alla länder inom EMU tvingas ta ställning till hur krisen ska lösas och det finns flera alternativ. Om detta har Erik Bengtsson, skrivet två omfattande inlägg: Grekisk hjärngympa och uppföljande Mer om Europas kris här på bloggen.

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