Real sharks, creditors, and skewed Old Testament justice

July 6th, 2015 at 9:27 am

A quick note before I head to the beach to try to simultaneously relax and avoid being eaten by a shark. I apologize if my last missive for a few days is a touch on the depressing side.

I and others, e.g., Krugman, Stiglitz, Steve Waldman, have advocated for pragmatic solutions to the Greek debt crisis based on what I’ll self-servingly call balanced analysis. See Waldman, e.g., who, in the course of trenchant analysis, clearly does not let the Greeks off the hook, and is even potty-mouthed about it.

Our arguments come down to: let’s find a way out of this that requires Greece to implement needed reforms (i.e., continue to do so, since that process is already underway) that doesn’t needlessly and counter-productively punish the citizenry in ways that undermine the goals sought by both sides: debt reduction for the Troika, and growth and lower unemployment for the Greeks.

As I put in my piece from last night—link above—there’s a chance that the resounding “no” vote could move the debate from its current destructive equilibrium to a better one. But things could just as easily bounce the other way, toward more Old Testament “justice” (OTJ), and skewed justice as that, as reckless borrowers are punished but reckless lenders are exonerated.

Perusing the papers this AM, I see so much of this OTJ that I’m thinking I got it wrong. Check out the headlines over at

Why Greece’s no vote is really no vote at all
–Germany sees no reason to restart Greek talks
And the classic:
–After Germany’s no vote, let the punishment begin

These people don’t want pragmatic solutions. They seek neither analysis nor balance. They don’t want to hold all errant parties accountable. They want blood, OTJ, and the protection of creditors and the politically powerful at all costs.

In this regard, they’re not unlike the sharks I’ll be trying to avoid over the next few days, though that’s really unfair to the sharks, who are instinctual hunting and eating machines. These people are supposed to be humans, with the capacity to understand nuance and even, dare I add, ethics.

Like I said, sorry to be a downer, but at least for the next few days, I’ll throw in with the real sharks.

Until then, keep it real, stay cool, and don’t believe it until you read about here at On the Economy!

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3 comments in reply to "Real sharks, creditors, and skewed Old Testament justice"

  1. Chris G says:

    > See Waldman, e.g., who, in the course of trenchant analysis, clearly does not let the Greeks off the hook, and is even potty-mouthed about it.

    “Words ought to be a little wild…”

  2. Another Matt says:

    It’s in the OT that we find the concept of Jubilee – forgiveness of all debts every seven years – which is an integral part of otherwise harsh OTJ.

  3. Robert Salzberg says:

    It is the opposite of OTJ. In the old testament, charging poor people interest is forbidden.

    Zero interest loans or debt forgiveness would be more in line with the old testament.

    Real OTJ would be full default by Greece and having the money changers get none of the pie,