What a busy week for Greek Prime Minister Papandreou. First he was able to convince the EU to once again write a check to cover his debts, then he single handedly unsteadied global financial markets by proposing to put the conditions of the $179 billion dollar bailout up to a popular vote (and if you’ve been paying attention to what’s happening in Greece lately, it never would have passed), after essentially threatening to leave the EU and go bankrupt on its own, Mr. Papandreou miraculously survived a vote of no-confidence only to finish the week by dusting off his resignation letter.
With all of this going on, what was amazing to watch was that after a year of struggling through constant negotiations and amid a looming financial collapse that would impact the global economy, Mr. Papandreou looked his gift horse straight in the mouth. The EU’s proposal to loan $179 billion not only saved Greece from a catastrophic financial collapse, but it also shored up markets around the world by instilling confidence that the matter was under control (the DJIA rose over 300 points on the news of the bailout). Then instead of assuring the EU that its money would not be squandered and that he would oversee the rebuilding of the Greek economy, Mr. Papandreou sought the political and financial advice of the protesters. He wanted to know if the people who have been burning cars on the threat of increased taxes and decreased entitlements would agree to the increased taxes and decreased entitlements that were conditions of the bailout. It didn’t take the EU long to see where this was going and offer Greece one last option, leave the EU and go bankrupt.
To help change Mr. Papandreou’s mind, Greek lawmakers offered to relieve him of his duties. With this in mind, Mr. Papandreou decided to accept the terms of the bailout. Apparently though, Mr. Papandreou could read the spray-painting on the wall and has offered to resign. Finally he did something right.