Nick Shaxson ■ Quote of the day: tax-evading Greek oligarchs


From an article by UK journalist Paul Mason, published on the eve of the Greek vote:

“As for the Greek oligarchs, their misrule long predates the crisis. These are not only the famous shipping magnates, whose industry pays no tax, but the bosses of energy and construction groups and football clubs. As one eminent Greek economist told me last week:

“These guys have avoided paying tax through the Metaxas dictatorship, the Nazi occupation, a civil war and a military junta.”

They had no intention of paying taxes as the troika began demanding Greece balance the books after 2010, which is why the burden fell on those Greeks trapped in the PAYE system – a workforce of 3.5 million that fell during the crisis to just 2.5 million.”

Our quote of the day is the bit in bold. It’s apt that the word ‘oligarch’ comes from ancient Greek, isn’t it?.

Anyway, the rest of the article is highly recommended. Martin Wolf’s latest article on Greece’s debts in the Financial Times also caught our eye.

He does write about the need for ‘reform’ in Greece – a word that so often conjures up images of spending cuts, wage cuts and the like – but there’s no monopoly on language: we should encourage people to include a crackdown on tax evading and avoiding élites as a central component of any reforms.

Update, a few hours later: Alan Beattie in the Financial Times has elaborated on this latter question of ‘reform’, in an excellent article. In which he argues, among other things:

“The other reason to be cautious about “structural reform” packages is that all manner of boneheaded ideas can get shoved into the grab-bags of policy changes assembled during a crisis. (Rescue loans with lots of shiny deregulation requirements attached to them acquired the unduly poetic name of “Christmas tree programmes” inside the IMF.)
. . .

Actions need to be looked at sector by sector, measure by measure, not corralled together under a crude and biased title.”

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