Niall Ferguson: "Greece Is The Symptom Not The Cause"

Tyler Durden's picture

In a brief clip from a lengthier discussion between historian Niall Ferguson and ex-Greek PM George Papandreou at this week's Zeitgeist conference, the effusive Englishman lays out perfectly what many are missing with regard to Europe: "Greece is not the problem - it is a symptom of a much more profound malaise that affects the entire monetary union." - just as Lehman Brothers was not the 'cause' of the US's problems. The wasted energy spent moralizing about the 'work habits' of Mediterranean citizens as being the problem is incorrect as this is a European-wide problem - a systemic crisis of European banking and public finance. Papandreou pipes in by noting, in typical toe-the-line manner, that Germany must swerve (in the game of chicken) or there is a major danger of disintegration because "there will be contagion".


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The BEST ever's picture

Symptomatic of a farce of an idea--that a bunch of extremely varied, service-based economies should somehow envelop themselves into a monetary Union whereby the productive members subsidize the early retirement of the chubby ones... sounds sort of like the USSA.... Gold, gentlemen.

flacon's picture

The cause is Fractional Reserve "Banking" with Interest bearing Debt "Money". 

DormRoom's picture

to much debt out there. too much compound interests to pay off, creating a drag effect.

BenLightYear's picture

Not a drag effect at all...just simple created out of debt necessitates a need for continual growth at continual higher rates...once the velocity of growth slows to a certain point it all starts to unravel...the entire system is built and structured to try to maintain continual growth...the error of this is infinite growth with finite resources...I do agree the system is not sustainable indefinitely we have quite a ways to run before the wheels fall off....the same cases made today are the same cases made for the last 30 years

As long as the majority of people look the other way and play along the system will work until resources become strained or the cost to access said resources exceeds the value of said resources...the truth is the majority of Americans are happy with the system as it now stands...yes inflation is theft...yes many fleece the system and take advantage...yes the system is more beneficial overall to some more than others...however life in the USA is pretty damn good even if your on the bottom of the heap

OH poor me I have a 6 year old car, poor me I can't go out for steak dinners 7 nights a week, poor me we vacation at a 1000$ dollar a week resort in Florida instead of owning our own 7 figure beachfront summer home in florida....the problem isn't that things are bad...the problem is everyone wants to live like the richest son of a bitch they have ever heard of...the rest of the worlds resentment toward us is not that we live so's that we live so well then whine like little babies because it's not better...if you want me get off your ass and go get don't have what it is you want for me reason and one reason lack the initiative or the ability...either way it is your fault...success is earned...earn it or go back to sitting on your couch, watching tv, and bitching about how crappy things are for you even though you live better than the majority of the worlds population

When in the future historians look back and write about this period of time it will not be favorably...we have wasted, we have squandered, we have failed to capitalize, all the while bitching about how bad things are when not only are they not bad but they are what they are because of us

When I first became curious in regards to how our economy, money, and society functions I found myself often inflamed at the audacity of those at the top of the food chain. Of those who find themselves in a position to take advantage of the majority who remain ignorant and complacent. I wish I would have stopped then and there. I was a much happier person when my anger was directed at the few rather than the many. Eventually you realize that the many are pillaged and plundered by the few not because they are evil or because they are greedy. They do it because it is handed to them. They do it because in the course of business, profit is the point. The economy is their business and the majority are the non bargaining participants.

Too the few based on advantage and ability. From the many based on ignorance and compliance.

The quote that would have been taken from Das Kapital had Marx and Engels been capitalists.

If you are stolen from and make no effort to prevent it from happening again when said effort would be effective you have become a complacent party in said act of theft.

Knowledge is the answer and the key. Turn off the tv and get you some.

djrichard's picture

People want to enslave themselves to something.  And by people I mean everyone, except for Jesus.  So who do we blame?  Those who want to be enslaved?  Or those who want to do the enslaving?

EuroSovietSerf's picture

'Jesus' wanted to enslave you to a fiction story of some omnipotent 'supreme being' (which doesn't exist). Religion is an invention of the elites to pacify the masses (with false promises of after-death prosperity, and rather amazingly many people actually believe it) so they (the elites) can keep dividing all the goodies.


Religion is a bit like snake oil, 'they' tell you it will work, and by the time you find out it doesn't, they've run off with the money. And when you die, you find out that all of it wasn't true. Or rather, you don't find out because there is no afterlife.

Sojourner.'s picture

The socialist elites want the masses to rely and worship them and not God. Don't fall for it!!!

He_Who Carried The Sun's picture

The EU must declare "moral bankruptcy"

if it keeps on supporting Greek tax cheaters

who care not a bit about their own country

and who are not willing to fight corruption

and do not put their political leadership in to jail.

With Greece out of the Union there will

be hard times, but at least you will have

countries of taxpayers.

macroeconomist's picture

You should first bark at all the banks and companies that are avoiding billions of euroes in taxes by accounting gimmicks and fraud to pay their share and then ask people of Greece to do so..How about a European financial transactions tax first to fund governments instead of forcing people to give away 25% of their already destroyed incomes?

gwar5's picture

Actually the fiction turned out to be the 19th century Newtonian worldview (Newton fan here) which was completely demolished by 20th century physics.


Your desk is not really solid, it's virtual empty space. If you collapsed it into a black hole it would be so small you couldn't see it -- yet, it'd still be your desk because all the quantum information is still there, perfectly preserved in the singularity, at the surface area. And not only is all the information for the desk there, but the entire history of all the desk particles are there, all the way back to the Big Bang.  

You are very different from your desk because you are also a conscious, self-aware being, with free will. But those inner thoughts and experiences of yours are also Planck scale moments captured in space-time and quantumly entangled with everything else. This is convenient since human brains also have built-in holographic properties and a nonphysical environment where time is not linear would actually be extremely liberating.

Famous last words:

Thomas Edison: "It is very beauiful over there."

Steven Jobs: "Oh Wow!"



Bendromeda Strain's picture

Yup, that whole "Jesus walking through walls thing" turns out to make perfect sense when you consider the space/mass ratio. Energy not being destroyed means consciousness abides, dude.

Jack Burton's picture

Religion also provided a lot off good jobs for the high priests who organized the cult. In return for their running the cult, they got food, wine, sex and a life of lesiure. It has always been so, you name the religion or the time in history. Religion is a scam, whith the cults serving the polticial and economic masters, giving devine sanction to what the elites do.

The poor dumb bastards who buy into the fake cults are followers, independent thought strikes fear into them. Lead me PLEASE!

Harlequin001's picture

How can any of these holy books be wrong when they were written when we absolutely knew that the world was flat?

hedgehog9999's picture

Some smart guy said Humans created GOD or GODS and not the other way around!!!i

A refinement to that is more like Elitist Humans created gods for their own Terra based benefits, while the masses expect to go to some paradise when they are dead, the nature of paradise varies by religion, some are 5 stars , others three or 4 but it is generally very good across the board......



Harlequin001's picture

and in some you get thirty virgins, but who wants that?

Now thirty seriously dirty women is a different matter entirely...

and what happens after you've bagged them all, poof, no more virgins. Sounds like a crock dreamed up by sad old men if you ask me, and not very well thought out either.

Still, doesn't stop a couple hundred million so called adults believing it eh...

poldark's picture

You think the wheels have not come off??

During the last depression not one bank in the whole British empire went bust.

This time three banks have gone done in the UK although two are kept alive on the taxpayer support system.

According to the US national debt is $15.75tn. Tax revenue is $2.24tn. Interest payments are $3.82.

The debt ceiling of $16.394tn will be reached by Sept 14th according to ZH. This will not be good news for Obama before the election.

I would have thought when a country's interest payments were larger than total revenue is when the country goes bust.

Another thing that baffles me is where all the money comes from to lend to the US government and all the other governments round the world.Is it all new printed money?

Marco's picture

Increasingly an inability to be rich is because people are being born in the wrong timeframe ... youth unemployment is one indication, the ever decreasing social mobility is another. The level of initiative and ability you need to get to the top is ever increasing, ultimately the only ability left to get to the top will be violence.

Yes, most people are lazy ... but people have not gotten lazier, opportunity has decreased.

Umh's picture

I agree with most of what you said, but people are being taught laziness and that they will be provided for. 

Al Gorerhythm's picture

Wealth might be earned but then it should be mine to keep and spend.

Seer's picture

Which relies on perpetual growth.

Niall and others who think that the problem lies only in the EU is either ignorant or is a tool (perhaps to themselves).

djrichard's picture

Niall isn't ignorant or a tool.  He's carrying water for his masters.

GernB's picture

I don't think fractional reserve banking is the total cause.

I think it is coupled with a pervasive belief that by your very existence you are owed things that others must provide, and that by giving the government the power to take things that belong to other people they will use it only to take what belongs to people who dislike and spend it to fix your problems and provide the things you are owed.

The US shouldn't have a fractional reserve banking system. The root cause of it having one is people of this mindset voting for government to "fix" our financial problems. Once you decide freedom is less important than having government make sure nothing bad ever happens to you, then you will always be a slave to government and the will of other people.


Marco's picture

The root cause of all financial crisises is greed and ponzis ...

It always amazes me when people say deposit insurance inspires moral hazard ... why the fuck would bankers care about deposit insurance? If their bank goes bust it will go bust, and their cushy jobs and bonuses will go bye-bye either way. The only way it could inspire moral hazard is if they cared about the depositors ... HAHA ... or if banks had transparency and the moral hazard was with the depositors, again HAHA. Banks have been lying about their assets since gold certificates were invented, transparency can only be enforced by regulation.

Bail outs inspire moral hazard, deposit insurance is simply welfare ... being against it because you're against welfare period is fine, but to pretend getting rid of it will actually solve a damn thing except lowering taxes/inflation a bit is silly.

Future Jim's picture

I'm still piecing this together, but perhaps the political desire to protect depositors is THE REASON JPM says that the money it lost was DEPOSITOR money. Therefore, politicians have to give JPM whatever they want or else look like they don't care about the depositors and thus lose reelection.

The depositor insurance money is given directly to the banks isn't it? Don't they have something like 30 years to transfer it to the depositors?

Marco's picture

The bank goes into receivership, it doesn't get any money ... you get your insured deposit either at a different bank or through a check, pretty quickly most of the time. Getting the uninsured portion of your deposits might take a long time to get back, if at all, but that's because you are just a creditor in bankruptcy proceedings and bankruptcy proceedings take time.

Be careful about propoganda, especially if it supports your own viewpoints.

Really the FDIC does nothing to subvert the normal bankruptcy proceedings ... which are what punish the bankers. They just provide a fast track for depositor pay outs together with some welfare to make up the difference between the value of the assets and the deposits.

shuckster's picture

Don't assign blame to inanimate concepts and abstractions. The fractional reserve system is a Jewish concept. The debt money system is created to enslave non Jews to the Jews using the powerful compulsion of guilt and deception

shuckster's picture

The problem is the infectious effect that policies created by Jewish bankers have on their non Jewish victims. These parasitic creatures from outer space come down to the planet and reek havoc on everyone in their path. If you want to solve the problem, start with the Jewish one

WTFx10's picture

start with the Jewish one .  Jewish Criminal,there's a difference. I am starting to believe the Rothschild's encouraged hitler to wipe out the Jews who could not afford to escape just for the martyred aspect. What better way to deflect all criticism of what you do than by tying it to your previously persecuted nationality? (attach the messenger and ignore the message)

What better way to deflect the world's attention away from you lest you be labeled an anti-Semite. It's NOT the JEW just the CRIMINAL Jew ,the Con man,the fraudster,the BANKSTER.


Truth is stranger than fiction. The world operates on a big lie so they can keep what they have stolen.

scatterbrains's picture

I'm not seeing a link.

tahoebumsmith's picture

Just follow the forensic money trail...It always leads you back to the real killer. Seems like all trails lead back to the same place lately... 200 West St. NY NY 

Bloomberg is out with a telling report on how Goldman Sachs helped Greece set up a secret loan swap deal in 2001 that helped the country hide its debt levels in order to meet requirements to join the European Union. 

Read more:

Dingleberry's picture

I would respectfully add the City of London. That's where money goes to hide.

tahoebumsmith's picture

OBTW if any of you have wondered how California has been able to balance its budget over the past 3 years, please take notice. The last time I tallied the #s it was pushing 38 Billion owed to Wall St. using the same derivative scam and holding America's largest state hostage... So turn the microscope around and look into the big end...See me waving, yup that's me here in the Golden State.

Temporalist's picture

CA is not "America's largest state" but it is the largest economy.

tahoebumsmith's picture

"economy", thx for the correction

TNTARG's picture

Old news. Goldman helped Prodi also (under Ciampi) to balance the budget to get into the Eurozone. An actual "Band of Brothers".

Aziz's picture

Small point Tyler — as a legit bona fide Englishman, Niall Ferguson ain't one. He's a Scot.

skepticCarl's picture

We here are known as Americans, as well as Californians, New Yorkers, etc.  What is it for the U.K.? Kingdomaniums?

Harlequin001's picture

No, just English, Scots, Irish and Welsh... or collectively, Brits.

Internally of course, it's English, Jocks, Micks and Taffs...

though nobody generally wants to be labelled a scouser.

gojam's picture

England and Scotland are both countries spliced together about 400 years ago, Wales is a principality, and Northern Ireland is a province.

Sabremesh's picture

Perhaps uniquely, there is no precise adjective for someone or something pertaining from the UK. "British" is usually used, but this is strictly a geographical term, meaning "from the island of Great Britain". Northern Ireland is part of the UK, but is not part of Britain, and many Northern Irish would not countenance being described as British.

As for Niall Ferguson, he's either a Scot, Scottish (never Scotch!) or British.

TheFuture_MrGittes's picture

I try and see individuals. Identifying yourself or other people as part of a group tends towards disinformation through false homogeneity and may lead to cognitive dissonance when people don't match perceived stereotypes. That said, I'd accept Brit or British, because it identifies the land mass I inhabit rather than the paper fiction/social construct/tax farm that claims title to a percentage of my labour and the ownership of my body when accused of a crime or demanded in sacrifice for war.

lolmao500's picture

What is happening in Greece happened in the Soviet Union and is happening in China, Japan, the US, Canada and Europe. Government corruption + impossible electoral promises + voodoo economics.

kridkrid's picture

Fractional reserve banking + usury, period. Everything else is a symptom.

Zero Govt's picture

Disagree, too simplistic. You need to add the monopoly institution Govt to the pie

Govt steals (taxes) the productive wealth and sucks it out of the economy, and strangles freedom with Law-Legislation. 

This nation-wrecking parasite is the cause of the USSR's demise, Commie China, Eastern Europe, North Korea and now slowly but surely Western Europe, Japan and America

It is not just debt-based money and fractional banking... Govt is the cancer in society

Harlequin001's picture

Mogadishu, heaven on earth eh...

They've got zero govt...

Zero Govt's picture

America has a Govt and 3 illegal wars on the go ...what's your point?

falak pema's picture

Charybdis and Scylla. You are too anti-charybdis to avoid the rock of Oligarchy. Go read the Odyssey, and Plato's republic. Good starters and then keep reading; all the way to Ibn Khaldun who invented supply side economics and social economics. SOme mind, back in 1400...Laffer and Mundel...his sons.

 The Man Who Invented Supply Side Economics « Info Ink

Robert Mundell - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ibn Khaldun - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Harlequin001's picture

If you want zero govt, if you genuinely feel it works, go to Mogadishu. They have no govt, America does, like it or not. The point is that Mogadishu is what you say you want, no govt.

You seem to want to bring Mogadishu to America. My point is that that's just plain stupid. To say that you want no govt or that you would prefer a Mogadishu type situation just because you are at what you claim is an illegal war war is somewhat idiotic. I don't think you've thought this through have you?

falak pema's picture

those who plead for anarchy and "free markets" beget dictatorship and Caesar. Useful idiots. Civilization is a bitch and Sisyphus its true son.