ATHENS—The Greek government announced today that Greece was permanently withdrawing from reality, effective immediately. “After careful consideration of all our options, we have determined that this is the best course of action for Greece at this difficult time,” Greek Finance Minister George Papakantpeydabillous said in a statement written in fairy dust. Asked whether the withdrawal was a response to Greece’s debt crisis, Papakantpeydabillous made clear that the withdrawal was comprehensive. “We’re not just talking about economic reality. We fully intend to ignore reality in every way, shape and form. We’re sick and tired of being straight-jacketed by the inflexible dictates of objective experience,” he said. Papakantpeydabillous added that the withdrawal was not a radical departure for Greece. “Actually, our de facto withdrawal occurred several years ago — we just figured it was time to make it official.”
The action comes after months of hand-wringing in Greece and throughout Europe over the condition of Greek finances and the recent implementation of a drastic austerity plan designed to rein in the nation’s ballooning deficit. In a move that enraged Greeks throughout the country, the Greek parliament last month passed a sweeping fiscal reform package that includes raising the mandatory retirement age to 26, requiring a 35-hour work-month, and curtailing the popular Greek pastime known as “Euro Bonfire.” Despite these measures, Eurostat, the European Union’s statistical agency, announced earlier today findings that Greece’s 2009 budget deficit was 13.6% of GDP — 10.6 points higher than the EU maximum and 10.7 points lower than the whisper number.
The EU responded to the declaration by issuing a stern objection which noted that “nothing in the EU’s as-yet non-existent constitution permits withdrawal from reality” and that, aside from France, such a withdrawal was unprecedented. In a move to protect its economic interests, the EU Commission filed suit in the European Court of Justice seeking a lien on the Parthenon, and announced that the EU was considering even harsher measures against Greece, including blocking its re-election to the chairmanship of EU Secretariat for Fiscal Stability and Accounting Integrity.
Immediate public reaction in Greece to the withdrawal was enthusiastic. Within minutes of the announcement, protesters in Athens ended a riot over the government’s recent decision to trim spending by substituting Androids for iPhones in its free cellular phone distribution plan. Ulica Miphatassous, 26, a retired Greek hairdresser, was elated. “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always wanted to have the voice of Maria Callas and the desirability of Helen of Troy. Now, thanks to this declaration, I do.” Dr. Manima Layseas, 32, a retired Greek physicist, expressed some hesitation at the blanket withdrawal, noting that Greece’s self-exemption from the laws of gravity and motion “might be problematic in the long run,” but added, “Hey, it’s better than giving up my government-funded happy ending massages.”
Shortly after the declaration was announced Moody’s Investor Service upgraded Greece’s sovereign ratings to “Triple A+ With a Gold Star” and placed them on review for further possible upgrade. “Greece’s withdrawal diminishes the risk of default by eliminating the difficult macroeconomic and financial environment that might otherwise exist were Greece to remain firmly in touch with reality,” said Sarah Carlson, Senior Analyst for Magical Alternatives at Moody’s.
Greek financial markets were mixed in response to the declaration. Prices and yields on Greek government bonds fell, while the benchmark ASE Composite rose to negative 0.