“For those who can’t read Greekdebtspeak, well, you’re on your own”

With European leaders, including Syriza’s erstwhile ally the Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, warning Greek voters that they will be, effectively, deciding whether or not they want to stay in the eurozone, the BBC takes a side-ways look at the wording of the controversial 5 July referendum the Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tspiras suddenly announced at the weekend.  From the BBC article

Here’s the translation of the referendum question

Greek Referendum Question 5 July 2015

As the BBC article notes

For those who can’t read Greekdebtspeak, well, you’re on your own.

The two appendix documents – “Reforms for the completion of the current programme and beyond” and “Preliminary debt sustainability analysis” – don’t sound much more easily digestible than the ballot.

There is still a question over when and how voters will be presented with those documents, and whether world-class economists will be on hand at polling stations to explain them.

Heh. Via the Big G’s live-blog, The Guardian’s Jon Henley has tweeted a blunt plea from a demonstration in Attica.

[Is that for a ‘Yes’, or a ‘No’ vote? – Ed]  Good question. Although it might be too late…

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  • mickfealty

    Yep to that last. It seems that game theorist has gamed the Greek economy back into the ground… https://twitter.com/ManusCranny/status/615609183178764288

  • chrisjones2

    Has he ever heard the phrase ‘pour encouragez les autres’

  • kensei

    Greece is in the ground either way. It can choose a slow death, or a quick one. Stigltz in the Guardian gives a useful counterpoint:


    Most accounts I have seen in recent days seem to indicate that the Greek people are under no illusions that they might well be booted out of the Euro because of it. The overriding theme is that they’ll take the consequences, because their dignity is more important to them. Paul Mason’s article on the situation in Athens and the background of Syrzia is also very interesting: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/29/greece-chaos-syriza-gamble-banks-closed-referendum. Young people creating “structures you can’t default on”. I think Greece as debt and as a morality play has went on so long we forget there has been a hard human cost and unpredictable consequences of which Syrzia is the result, not a cause.

    I’m not sure there is a clear right choice is here – and anyone claiming that this is a “we know what to do but we don’t know how to get elected after” situation is delusional or biased. If Greece defaults and exits the Euro, it’s going to haunt the EU for years to come as well. Even if there is no immediate spillover, eventually there’ll be another crisis and there doesn’t appear to be the systems or solidarity for the Euro to properly function.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thanks for posting the link to the Stigltz article Kensai. It’s the most intelligent think I’ve come across recently regarding Greece.

  • whatif1984true

    When ever have Bureaucrats not chickened out (normally only noticed if you read through the PR spin). There will be blood but it will be fake. The EU reactions show how unbalanced they were by Tspiras actions but those actions will be a catalyst which weakens EU intentions.

  • Kevin Breslin

    Dear God Mick, this isn’t game theory, it’s journalism attempting pantheism.
    One commentator does not influence creditors.

    It’s like comparing gamblers and spiritualists.

    In this case making Pascal’s wager over another person’s soul.

  • mickfealty

    I have no idea what it is you think I’ve said, btw…

  • Kevin Breslin

    I don’t know what you think game theory is or how game theory influences anything, or even how it works.

    If you think game theorist even an amateur one is simply doomsday preaching to devalue assets in a vulture approach then you greatly misunderstand the science of game theory as a stochastic process not an empirical method.

    Not everyone in game theory is a financial speculator, indeed game theory can be used AGAINST financial speculation.

    Doomsday preachers are nothing more than arrogant gamblers or commentators. They are not Game Theorists, they probably don’t care about basic causal action and reaction, just their own egos.


    In Pascal’s Wager, we don’t know that God exists, only that the player exists within the game and chooses to be a believer or an infidel on the believed basis of the payoff, infinite gain, infinite loss, face gain or face loss. Playing Pascal’s wager on another man’s soul means “playing God” over other people’s ability to make decisions.

    Speculators can’t crash an economy through game theory alone, they need gullible or persuaded outside investors and creditors to instigate the financial mechanics because even irrational behavior cannot defy the laws of physics.

  • mickfealty

    I don’t any of the above. I was referencing the ‘belief’ of another. Not my own.

  • D99

    If this was a game theory problem, the position of the two players might be summarised as follows:

    The Euro Zone Group are worried that a Grexit will undermine the future of the Euro Project. If Greece goes, the focus and pressure will be on the next most economically and politically ‘vulnerable’ countries. So they don’t want Greece to leave. But they don’t want to be seen to ease up on austerity, as voters in other countries like Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, etc. will then want less austerity too. And austerity is at the heart of their policies and ideology.

    Greece don’t want to leave the Euro either. Because they know that this could lead to both economic and political disaster for Greece. Current hardship could increase; and there’s a risk that people will turn to extreme right wing anti-European parties like Golden Dawn. But the austerity proposed by the Euro Zone is humiliating, crippling their economy and seemingly endless. Most economists acknowledge that the Euro Zone policies will not growth in Greece or enable them to repay their debt.

    So, what would be the least damaging outcome for both ‘players’ in game theory terms.

    Well clearly the most damaging would be a Grexit. If this happens, everybody loses.

    The best outcome would be a restructuring of Greek debt over a long period of time – in a way that allows both players to save face with their electorate. Because this is more a political problem than an economic one. No more loans to Greece, as the loans don’t actually reach Greece anyway – they go straight to their creditors to pay existing debt. Workable measures to promote growth in the Greek economy that tackle the past inefficiency and corruption permitted by past governments.

    Maybe there’ll be a last minute deal, either late tonight or after the referendum. Or maybe the Euro Zone will gamble on the fear of the Greek voters about the terrible impact of a Grexit and the power of the Media to convince them to vote yes to their proposals.

    Because, after all, this is not a game. The players are not always rational; and gambling and risk taking is what the latest experiment in Late Capitalism is all about. And in the Prisoner’s dilemma from game theory, there’s always the possibility that you can ‘defect’ and ‘win’.

  • mac tire

    This is worrying and dangerous.
    I have read the article, and while the senior German conservative is not named, The Times are calling him “one of Europe’s most influential politicians”.
    Is the EU’s plan to overthrow the Greek government?