Just in time for the season of sequels and reboots, we are in the middle of yet another “will they-won’t they” moment between the Greek government, the EU (specifically Germany), and the International Monetary Fund (IMU). In the typical mix of bluster and honesty we see in every rehashed release, each party appears to be ready to walk away from the table but is thoroughly confident their unreasonable, unrelenting partner will bend in the end.
We’ve all seen this script; we know how it ends: Greece accepts a little more humiliation, Germany grumbles at a few minor concessions, money changes hands, and the world moves on.
Or maybe not this time. Maybe everyone has finally caught on that the best way forward is to blow up the franchise and move on.
For the first time, some people are refusing to tow the line that Greece will remain in the Euro and friendships will remain strong between nations. Members of the EU and IMU have become increasingly vocal, and yesterday, Greece’s national bank outright predicted the doom and gloom apocalypse summer blockbusters are supposed to narrowly avoid.
In truth, we’ve probably reached and passed the chance for a Hollywood happy ending. Compromise seems more and more impossible, and without the ability to write in a deus ex machina solution, we may be staring at a very real breakdown in relations.
Atypical of most sequels, the answers are not black and white. There are no villains in this piece who only need to be defeated or convinced of their errors for it all to work out well. Germany very rightly wants a return on its investments and stringent proof the Greek government will continue on the road to EU standards (to avoid this situation in the future). Greece equally rightly wants a reduction in its debt burden so it can feed its people and end a devastating six year depression.
Both sides are right from their perspectives and both appear to be unshakable in their rightness. The problem is both sides feel they’ve given as much as they can give. Greece feels it has suffered enough and needs relief. Germany only has to wave its receipts in the air to make their point.
Even if both sides are negotiating in good faith, it seems increasingly impossible for a long-term solution to happen.
So, Greece, perhaps it’s time to take the storyline in a new direction. Perhaps it’s time to leave the Euro.
Giving up on the same old scenarios and the same old outcomes would really work out best for everyone. It will be painful all around for a while. Stocks will go down, the Euro and the new Drachma will struggle for a while to regain any confidence in the market. Money will holiday outside of Europe for the summer.
But beyond its apocalyptic beginnings, the Grexit holds a lot of promise on all sides. Greece can write off its debt, adjust its economy on its own terms. The initial struggles will be severe, but a weaker currency means more exports and more tourists. Most importantly, it means the freedom to set its own future.
Germany too benefits. It’s hard to see them getting back all their money at this point, so reworking the debt could at least get some of their investment back. It also cuts away some of what the Germans clearly feel is deadweight in the EU. Greece represents the worst of several nations not living up to the responsibilities of a modern European economy. Meanwhile, they are holding audience with Putin and are rumored to be taking Russian money. That’s an ugly situation Germany would likely rather be clear of. Cutting Greece loose means cutting off the infection before it spreads, a sign of what can happen to countries that don’t play by the rules.
Greece and Germany seem to have taken a wrong turn in their rom-com. They’re such a dysfunctional couple, it’s hard to see how either one can be happy if they manage to stay together.
So, perhaps it’s time to break Hollywood convention and let a little reality into the relationship. Divorce might not make for good cinema, but it could go a long way to creating a couple happier and healthier countries.