My thoughts go back to Greece today. To Greece indeed, but actually it’s the leaders I’m thinking of. Not just political leaders but business leaders.. And that’s because I want to separate in my mind irresponsible people from irresponsible actions.
The truth of the matter is that even if Greece had implemented all the reforms imposed by Europe, it would have gone belly-up anyway. It is a cert, if you analyse the coverage of the crisis carefully. Had it given in and accepted the reforms, the EU would have won and no one would have tried to get ideas about rescuing the economy by improving its competitiveness while weakening its currency (which at that point would not have been the euro). And if some of that debt would have been forgiven in the process, hallelujah! It’s precisely such ideas that are incubating in Spain, Portugal and Italy. End of decades of European stability, and of peace in Europe. The Greek government took a big gamble.
But there is the other side of the coin: the Greek government is probably the first government in Europe, if not in the world, to have taken its voters seriously. It came into office saying No to the reforms imposed by Europe and kept its word. With its back against the wall, when it was clear that Europe would not back down, the government called a referendum. The nation spoke and backed the government all the way. The move would have the effect of lifting the responsibility off premier Tsipras’s shoulders if by failing the negotiations Greece were worse off than as a result of the widely anticipated cost of the reforms. Tsipras would always be able to say then: I have fulfilled my mandate. Earlier on Tsipras had had much of the responsibility taken off him by members of the Eurogroup – who refused financial help until the referendum took place.
What is the responsible thing to do when faced with the uncertainty of the consequences of one’s actions? What is responsible and what is not? Putting aside all the economic and social aspects of the Greek crisis, we – business leaders – are about to find out from this salutary lesson in history.
For today’s reading I recommend to all of you, and to leaders in particular, an interesting list of 12 people who have brought Greece to its knees … wishing you never to suffer such debacles:
The inquisitive reader might want to study the latest proposals for Greece from the European Commission (agreed between the European Commission, the European Central Bank and the Monetary Fund):