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SATURDAY SOAPBOX

What Greece needs is Grunorthodoxy

Saturday, July 4, 2015 - 05:50
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The problem with the Greek crisis, or Grisis, is that Gregotiators simply aren't Greative enough.

THE problem with the Greek crisis, or Grisis, is that Gregotiators simply aren't Greative enough. Any fool who understands Greconomics will tell you that neither Grausterity nor Grexit offers the besieged country an ideal solution.

This weekend's Greferendum gives Greek voters a Catch 22, or as they say in Greece, Gratch 22. The way of Grausterity will lead to an even longer Grecession and entrench structural Grunemployment, making it Grimpossible for Greece to repay its Greditors. The path of Grexit, however, heads straight to Grinflation and a loss of Gronfidence even if currency Grevaluation could improve competitiveness.

It's time for Greece to think outside Pandora's box. I have a few ideas.

Crowdfunding

Thom Feeney, a London shoe shop employee, has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo to raise the 1.6 billion euros (S$2.4 billion) that Greece needs to repay the International Monetary Fund.

"It might seem like a lot but it's only just over three euros from each European," Mr Feeney wrote in his campaign pitch.

Hmm, three euros? What's that in, like, everyday terms?

"That's about the same as half a pint in London," according to Mr Feeney, who has raised more than 1 million euros so far.

Seriously, though, the amount of money that Greece is asking for is not insurmountable. It was last negotiating for access to 7.2 billion euros of bailout funds. That's right - 7.2 billion. Warren Buffett puts that kind of money under the table leg to fix a shaky lunch.

Speaking of rich men...

Charity

News this week was that Saudi prince Alwaleed bin Talal has pledged his US$32 billion of wealth to charitable causes, including empowering women, intercultural understanding and disaster relief.

Disaster relief? I think Greece qualifies as a disaster that could use a little relieving, don't you? And after deducting 7.2 billion euros, there will still be plenty of money left over for cultural shows.

But maybe it's too much to ask people to give to Greece and get nothing in return. A more commercial solution might be called for.

Naming rights

Greece isn't without assets. We are talking about the birthplace of one of history's most enlightened civilisations, the birthplace of democracy and major sports events occasionally marred by corruption.

One of the easiest ways to raise money would be to sell naming rights to some of the most famous Greek landmarks. In Singapore, OCBC Bank agreed to pay more than S$50 million to see its name on a few buildings at the new Sports Hub, and that was not even for the main National Stadium. Imagine how much a big multinational would be willing to fork out to have the WalMarthenon in the Samsung Galaxy Acropolis in Athens. I'm not saying it will be an easy sell, but Apple does have about US$178 billion of cash lying around.

Trojan horse

Sometimes, a country in Grisis has got to do what a country in Grisis has got to do.

Way, way, way back in the day, the Greeks built a gigantic wooden horse, stuffed it with soldiers, and subterfuged their way to defeat Troy. There is no need for carpenters in the age of computers - a simple Trojan Horse virus will do. Then, as finely explained in the 1996 movie Independence Day, all Greece has to do is to hire Will Smith to infiltrate IMF or European central Bank headquarters, run the virus on some master server, and remove all traces of Greece's debts. If they can't prove it, they can't claim it.

The bottom line is that Greece's Groblems are not unsolvable, as long as the country can recognise that the Gronventional Grolutions on the table are Grincomplete, at best. When you find yourself standing on the edge of a Griff and the only way out is to take a Greap of Graith, maybe you should just go out with a Grang.

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