Poles were not Greeks

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Just like the term „Polish concentration camps”, spreads across the Internet information that Poles forgot that once they had been Greeks too. To be specific, after 1989, where some of our debts were forgiven.

This is pointed out by the Branko Milanovic, IMF expert, Polish twitter and media.

So… What kind of Greeks were we? I see only one similarity. We both went broke.

However, as for the differences there are so many it’s hard to list them all:

  • Greeks have much much higher standard of living than we had 25 years ago. We are speaking about a relative rich country which still has its GDP per capita close to EU average. Poles in 1989 were beggars. Today help to Greeks would be provided by much poorer Estonians or Slovaks and those who with immense struggle are reforming their countries. Spaniards and Italians. Greece is still the most rich country in their region.
  • Greece already received 100 bln €. Poles in the years 1991-94 got roughly 15 bln $ which after cumulative inflation of 83% gives 27 bln $ in today’s money. That are pennies and do not forget, that Greece’s population is 4 times smaller.
  • Poles were never attached to the central bank’s drip-bag giving virtually 0 % as a interest rate for the whole debt.
  • Poles had left the totalitarian system. Greeks were and will be in the democracy.
  • Poles had not been cooking their statistics for almost 15 years. Sure, totalitarian statistics was pure garbage, but after gaining liberty we reported without any intention to show rosy pictures.
  • Restructurisation of debt was conducted in the accompaniment of gargantuan reforms and transformations. Today, main actors of those days reminisce that during the 31st December 1989 they had been predicting that in the six month period they either would have been hanging on the lanterns or have own monuments installed on the main streets. Reality turned out to be more gray and this success still need to be appreciated by history. At least here in Poland.
  • Greeks till today have only cut pensions and wages but they are not conducting systemic reforms. These were on the table one week ago, on Sunday. Rejected in its entirety.
  • Additional price for the Polish debt restructurisation was privatisation made in the fire-sale style. It was a characteristic barter exchange. It is one of the most controversial matter in Poland’s newest history but back then all the struggles were about to put the whole country on its feet as quickly as possible.  Nobody knew if Soviet Union were to consolidate once more and put their tanks on the streets of Warsaw. North Korea, Cuba have endured to this day with China as well.
  • Greeks have not their economy set in line with the strict demands of its oppressor. 25 years ago Poland specialised in the heavy military industry which produced to satisfy USSR imperial needs. After 1989 this production was unsellable. Alas we had legions of unemployed people whose skills on the free market were obsolete.
  • EU did not have such a huge „moral hazard” problem with Poland than with Greece. Spaniards and Italians make their reforms. Why do they need to pay for Greece which are die-hard to reforms? What about European taxpayers? Maybe they should be asked in referendum?
  • Poland went broke due to surge in the global interest rates, up to 20 % per annum. Greece’s default is in the environment where price for debt is almost zero.
  • Poland was behind the Iron Curtain and not allowed to trade with everyone. Greece is not only a part of the common european market, but have a strong competitive edge in form of almost fixed income from tourism.

Ohhh. There is one more similarity, but vague one.  In 1989, haircut on Polish debt was in the interest of the West. Goal was to drag us away from the USSR orbit and end the cold war.  Today, letting Greece have its own uncontrolled free-fall may push them to the Russian orbit or in becoming just another vilajet of the Caliphate. But what droved Poles to reform, it seems do not trouble Greeks.