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Sweden's Borg talks tough on Greece debt

AFP/The Local · 16 Feb 2010, 10:58

Published: 16 Feb 2010 10:58 GMT+01:00

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"They must be serious," said Borg of the Greek government. "What we've seen so far is not enough.

Non-euro Sweden was vocal in its demands going into a meeting of all 27 European Union finance ministers in Brussels, at which a decision by the 16 euro countries late on Monday to impose "additional measures" on Greece within 30 days, should Brussels deem progress insufficient, was to be rubber-stamped.

"We need more concrete steps when it comes to taxes, otherwise they can't

keep their social cohesion and we need concrete steps when it comes to expenditure," Borg said.

"We are far from there yet. If they want to build credibility in the markets, they must surpass expectations. And they haven't done that so far."

Borg said that without a more ambitious programme in Athens, the onslaught by fund managers on Greece and, by extension, the euro will only "drag out."

He reiterated Sweden's view, supported by Britain, that a "strong role" should be handed to the International Monetary Fund in the "surveillance and monitoring" of Greek economic policy.

However, eurozone chief and Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker dismissed the call for greater IMF assistance as an "absurd" irrelevance "fuelled by Anglo-Saxon voices" seen as hostile to the shared currency.

"If California had a refinancing problem, the United States wouldn't go to the IMF," he said.

Story continues below…

"Why should the euro area go to the IMF if we have our own resources?"

Juncker also attacked what he called the "irrational" behaviour of financial markets during the deficit crisis, stressing that Monday's decision means that:

"Europe can impose on Greece, by qualified majority voting, the decisions Europe wants Greece to take."

AFP/The Local (news@thelocal.se)

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Your comments about this article

12:11 February 16, 2010 by Nemesis
Borg's need to support idiotic US-UK stances is noted.

Borg should start to take a look at his own country.

I wonder how many illegal monopolies operate in Sweden?

Why can someone from the European Union not get social, instepsprogram or nustartsprogram so as to get started in the workplace,but someone just of the plane from the middle east can?

Why has Borg not started an inquiry into why most of Swedish banking constantly needs bailed out, yet Handelsbanken never seems to need bailed out?

Why is Borg not calling for the fund managers who are attacking Greece and the Euro to be put out of business or restrained?

Why has Borg not called for every US state with a deficit, to be bailed out by the IMF and be regulated by the IMF?

Why does the journalists in the Local not ask lightweights like Borg some hard questions so that people can see the real depth of the problems?
12:37 February 16, 2010 by xavidx
Illegal monopolies operating in Sweden?

Tones of them.

They are good at keeping under cover as well.
13:12 February 16, 2010 by Craptastical

The whole California versus Greece comparison is an apples and oranges comparison.

For one, California is a *state within the US*, it is *not* a nation in and of itself, while Greece is a nation who also happens to be a member of the EU. The EU is not a nation. There is no such thing as a United States of Europe.

You really need to take a deep breath and think things through before you type your knee-jerk reactions to articles.
13:17 February 16, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Craptastical

The EU has a single currency. The USA has a single currency.

The currencies operate in a similar manner.

If you want to call for the IMF to intervene in Europe, do so for the USA as well.

Don't make excuses or run diversion tactics for the USA as it is a fiscal mess, which is a lot worse than anything in Europe.

The IMF needs to intervene directly in the USA.
14:03 February 16, 2010 by Craptastical
That's the problem, Europe and the EU doesn't have a single currency. Or have you forgotten that part?

State budgets in the US are just that, state budgets are derived from *state taxes*. Or did you have this idea that there's some kind of national sales tax etc.? If you're going to criticize the US at least have some clue over what you're talking about.

And no, it's not diversionary tactics about the US, it's calling you out for not thinking things through when it comes to pretty much everything you claim about the US and its citizens.
14:23 February 16, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Craptastical

As I said, the IMF needs to intervene in the USA.
14:30 February 16, 2010 by mannorun
@Craptastical you are on song!

I think the Luxemborg premier made a ridiculous comment for trying to say that If California had a refinancing problem, the United States wouldn't go to the IMF.

Just to reechoe Craptastical, has California now become a country? to the best of my knowledge it is a state in a country.

@Nemesis, you went a little over the board on this one, i could share your facts in other aspects, but on my aforementioned points, even in the next century and if things remain as they are (i.e california still been a state in a country), i will never agree with your reasoning.
14:49 February 16, 2010 by Craptastical
@ Nemesis

In response to your query about getting handouts from the Swedish government... If the person is here as an asylum seeker or has refugee status.... I think the idea is that it's assumed that those people had no choice but to leave their countries and that they aren't economic migrants (that's the idea anyway, whether or not it's reality is a completely different conversation).

On the other hand, if you're coming from another EU country... Why should the Swedish government and taxpayers be obligated to prop up the EU person and support them when the decision to move to Sweden was theirs alone, and that person has never paid Swedish taxes? Please tell me why the tax I pay (yes, I pay taxes here in Sweden) should go to someone who came here on their own volition and not because they had no other choice within their own country.

I would much rather my money help those who are either Swedish citizens, immigrants/refugees who came here because they had no other choice in their homeland, or are here as permanent residents after a predetermined amount of time. And no, poor employment opportunities in your home EU country (or outside the EU) should never and does not qualify you or anyone else to assistance from the Swedish taxpayer.

The sooner that you get it through your head that each member of the EU is not a province within the EU, but are actually nations in and of themselves the better off you'll be.
19:17 February 16, 2010 by NickM
Yes Mr Borg - the IMF are really good at sorting out economic problems. Just look what they did to Argentina.

You pony- tailed ninkenpoop.
22:49 February 16, 2010 by Alex Coman
Borg said in fact "Let s punish Greece! Let s give them a lesson, sooooooo, let s call the IMF for them". They don t want people see how the financial markets really are, so they are nervous about this sudden point of public attraction, which is the greek crisis.

I don t know if the man is a just a big mouth or he really can t have too many points on Stanford-Binet scale.
04:00 February 17, 2010 by JoeSwede
The comparison of California to Greece is interesting. Although CA has a stronger economy, the comparison is valid. For both regions, overspending by the government with no end in sight makes it appropriate.

The IMF should introduce tough policies on both CA & Greece. The gravy train is over for both. Lower real wages and improved efficiency is needed.
05:35 February 17, 2010 by Craptastical

Actually, it's not a fair comparison. For one, California couldn't accept help from the IMF even if it wanted to because monetary policy isn't governed by California, monetary policy is governed by the federal government.

A more fair comparison would be (for example) if Jönköpingslän were to be upside down financially. Clearly any län in Sweden can't ask the IMF for help, it has to be the national government asking for assistance.

This is why I take issue with the comparison, it's nonsensical.
07:27 February 17, 2010 by Nemesis

It is not nonsensical.

The worlds bigget debt is in the USA. The country is an economic mess after reagonomics and Bush. The entire USA needs to be restructured.

The USA likes to call for the IMF to be sent into other countries. The USA now meets the criteria for IMF intervention.

The USA has dished it out for decades, now it is time it took its own medicine.
11:52 February 17, 2010 by Craptastical

My god you're dense.

I never said the US was in good financial shape, nor did I defend the US's monetary policy (please, reread my responses to your drivel). What I did and am still pointing out is that the California Greece comparison *is not the same* and *doesn't make sense*. I'm critical of what Junker said because it's clear he said it to provide a soundbite even though it actually makes no sense.

If you want a comparison that actually works, then you have to compare a nation vs. a nation. Politics (including jurisdiction) and monetary policy make every bit of difference. This is also why I said that one can't compare the whole EU to the US when evaluating matters like this. While the EU is creeping towards having something resembling an overarching federal government, it isn't there (yet). The individual members of the EU are still very much independent of each other (which is why they decide on their own whether or not to adopt the Euro). Once the member states within the EU are essentially "states" in the US sense of the word (or provinces if you like) then a direct comparison can be made between Greece and California it will make complete sense.

Whether or not the IMF should or should not be called upon in Greece's or the US's case has not been included in the points I've raised. The point I've raised have been that the comparison between Greece and California can't truly be made.
18:05 February 17, 2010 by Nemesis
@ Craptastical

Actually it is the same.

A IMF intervention in the Euro is an intervention in every single Euro country. Same applies to the USA.

The USA has dished it out for decades, now it is time it took its own medicine.

As for being dense, that subject you would be well versed upon.
23:21 February 17, 2010 by Bender B Rodriquez
I am beginning to see why Nemesis only have managed to date Swedish guys that are obsessed with Playstation and beer; you gotta keep yourself busy to endure all that BS...
03:20 February 18, 2010 by JoeSwede
California and Greece are also similar in how they are governed ( or should I say not governed). They both have fundemental flaws that keeps them from making difficult but needed decisions to improve their economic situation.

For California it's the inability to cut costs or raise taxes. The California compromise is to let the state continue to spend but don't you dare make me pay for it. They are on the dollar and can't devalue.

For Greece, the government has used the strong euro to borrow beyond their means, expand welfare benefits and now they are in trouble. They are tied to the euro and can't get out from beneath it.
07:18 February 18, 2010 by Nemesis
@ JoeSwede

This will give you an idea of who helped Greece get into its present mess.

10:00 February 18, 2010 by Craptastical

Yes, in those aspects they are similar.

I still maintain that regarding use of the IMF it isn't the same situation. California *can't even ask* for assistance from the IMF while Greece can. If Greece did they would most definitely anger a lot of its neighbors, but that doesn't change the fact that they can seek IMF assistance.

I'm not saying and never did say that they *should* or *should not* get assistance. My personal preference is that they get their own house in order without external help so that it makes the Euro even more solid. In the end that's to everyone's benefit.
02:06 February 19, 2010 by JoeSwede

Interesting link. Greece was hiding additinal debt through complicated currency swap transactions. I had to bone up on what a currency swap was... I don't think it was the swap perse but that it was a way to sneak around the safeguards put in place.

In the end Greece overspent and now doesn't want to pay the price.

In California...I don't even know if they realize the huge civil work force pension obligation that they will have...again they overspent and they will not want to pay the price. Also individual mortgage obligations are through the roof.

The IMF can't impose its will on CA... but if it had on the US as a whole, then some companies would have been gutted and the bank system would been adjusted with AIG and others having been revamped with new ownership.

It's not that I like the IMF...if there were another entity that could perform the same function then that would be cool. To gut the system of those who created the debt, lower the real wages and then infuse the system with new money so that the economy can start fresh. Both Greece and CA need it. They need to declare bankruptcy and then start over. Without the adjustment they will both stagnate... Greece with their debt obligations and CA with heavy budget deficits and high mortgage payments.

Any better ideas out there?
09:11 February 19, 2010 by morchad
Call in the IMF because Greece is Mission Impossible lol
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