While the rest of us are getting back to work today, the Greeks are not.
That is not only because there are no jobs in Greece. The Greeks are still celebrating Christmas, as they always do until the Feast of the Epiphany on Jan. 6. But this year, they have special reason to do so: They finally got one over on the Germans.
You may recall that, way back in mid-December of 2016, as the whole world and in particular the European project appeared to be completely falling apart, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras decided he wasn’t quite ready to go back to being a civil engineer with a ponytail just yet and that maybe his countrymen might be more likely to vote for him again if he gave all of the government’s money to pensioners just before the holidays. This did not sit well with Tante Angie in Berlin, nor with Greece’s cohort of creditors, which would have preferred to see that $600 million set aside for, you know, them, and they decided to take Greece’s toys away as punishment. What they failed to grasp was that, facing political oblivion for having done everything Greece’s Teutonic masters have demanded over the past two years, Tsipras was willing to go all in and bet that no one had much appetite for a yuletide global financial collapse. He was right: On Christmas Eve, Merkel walked over to Greece’s stocking by the Eurozone Tannenbaum and removed the lump of coal, in exchange for Tsipras promising to never do it again. A Christmas miracle, indeed.
Greece’s eurozone creditors agreed on Saturday to unblock previously suspended debt-relief measures for the country, after Athens assured them that a Christmas gift it offered pensioners would be a one-off….
“Happy to conclude that we have cleared the way for [the eurozone bailout fund] to go ahead with decision-making procedures for short term debt measures,” said Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch finance minister, who presides over meetings with his eurozone counterparts, on Twitter.
“I have received a letter in which my Greek colleague has confirmed his commitment to previous agreements,” he added.