Response to the report of investigations on the Troika submitted to the European Parliament

14 March 2014 by Troïka Watch

Limited investigations lead to very limited conclusions….

Today the European Parliament votes on the “Report on the enquiry on the role and operations of the Troika Troika Troika: IMF, European Commission and European Central Bank, which together impose austerity measures through the conditions tied to loans to countries in difficulty.

European Central Bank
The European Central Bank is a European institution based in Frankfurt, founded in 1998, to which the countries of the Eurozone have transferred their monetary powers. Its official role is to ensure price stability by combating inflation within that Zone. Its three decision-making organs (the Executive Board, the Governing Council and the General Council) are composed of governors of the central banks of the member states and/or recognized specialists. According to its statutes, it is politically ‘independent’ but it is directly influenced by the world of finance.
, Commission and IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
)”. In Europe in the last three years financial institutions were bailed out in an unprecedented manner at the expense of ordinary people. The report gives no satisfactory answer as to why this happened and how it can be stopped from happening again. Τhe decision to limit the mandate of such an investigation only to Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus is just one of the investigation’s drawbacks. It appears that the Parliament decided to overlook that Spain also signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Troika.

While ordinary people suffered through lost jobs, cuts to wages and pensions and sometimes even died due to cuts in the health system, financial institutions were bailed out usually without even changing their management. The report completely failed to investigate why there were always a lot of conditions imposed upon governments for bail-outs, while financial institutions were bailed-out, and governments were refused the right to have any say in the institutions they are paying for.

For Greece the report notes that there was a debate inside the Troika in which the IMF demanded an early debt restructuring, which was refused by the EU. The only reason given for this in the report is that the ECB was concerned about the fragility of European financial institutions and of contagion if they were to fail. However the report completely failed to investigate to what extent this argument is valid, given the size of the Greek debt problem compared to the GNP Gross National Product
The GNP represents the wealth produced by a nation, as opposed to a given territory. It includes the revenue of citizens of the nation living abroad.
of the Eurozone.

But even if the argumentation of the ECB was true, then there is the question, why do only the people of a few states have to pay for the bail-out of the European banking system and not all states? Indeed, the bail-out happened not only in favor of financial institutions in the crisis states, but also to a big extent in favor of the financial sector in core countries such as Germany and France. While in some countries the people have to suffer and make huge sacfrifices, other countries like Germany can even benefit from the crisis by making profits from loans, benefitting from extremely low interest rates Interest rates When A lends money to B, B repays the amount lent by A (the capital) as well as a supplementary sum known as interest, so that A has an interest in agreeing to this financial operation. The interest is determined by the interest rate, which may be high or low. To take a very simple example: if A borrows 100 million dollars for 10 years at a fixed interest rate of 5%, the first year he will repay a tenth of the capital initially borrowed (10 million dollars) plus 5% of the capital owed, i.e. 5 million dollars, that is a total of 15 million dollars. In the second year, he will again repay 10% of the capital borrowed, but the 5% now only applies to the remaining 90 million dollars still due, i.e. 4.5 million dollars, or a total of 14.5 million dollars. And so on, until the tenth year when he will repay the last 10 million dollars, plus 5% of that remaining 10 million dollars, i.e. 0.5 million dollars, giving a total of 10.5 million dollars. Over 10 years, the total amount repaid will come to 127.5 million dollars. The repayment of the capital is not usually made in equal instalments. In the initial years, the repayment concerns mainly the interest, and the proportion of capital repaid increases over the years. In this case, if repayments are stopped, the capital still due is higher…

The nominal interest rate is the rate at which the loan is contracted. The real interest rate is the nominal rate reduced by the rate of inflation.
for their bonds and taking advantage of a huge capital inflow form the crisis states.

The report notes that there was massive pressure on some governments to bail-out their banks, especially from the ECB. However it is insufficient that the report ‘Stresses that the European institutions need to respect Union law, including the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, under all circumstances’. It should be expected from such an investigation to provide a list detailing who has, when and how violated laws and who should bear personal and institutional consequences from that.

Concerning the proposals of the Parliament, especially the creation of a European Monetary Fund (EMF), a Europe based on solidarity needs other changes than an EMF. Even with such a new institution put in place the European Parliament will probably not become automatically a sufficiently progressive institution ready for the next time financial institutions are to be rescued, as it has proven with this limited investigation on the Troika. We expect from this Parliament more comprehensive investigations on these matters in the future. This, together with other necessary changes in the direction towards a Europe of more solidarity (which also would include stop bailing out banks at any price and going for debt audits) is needed to stop the current redistribution of wealth from the poor to the rich.

Contact details

Stephan Lindner (Attac Germany; Germany; German and English):
stlindner at, +49 176 243 427 89

Thanos Contargyris (Attac Hellas; Greece; Greek, English and French):
thanos at, +30 69 49 72 73 90

Leonie Hogervorst (Corporate Europe Observatory; Belgium/the Netherlands, Dutch and English)
leonie at, +32 2 893 0930

Chiara Filoni (CADTM; Belgium/Italy; Italian, French and English)
chiara at, +32 486 11 98 32

Ajda Pistotnik (Humanitas; Slovenia; Slovenian and English)
ajda at, +386 1 43 00 343

Sargon Nissan (The Bretton Woods Project ;UK; English)
snissan at, +44 20 3122 0644

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TroikaWatch wants to cover news about the Troika, the situation in the countries affected by it and the opposition and resistance against it. TroikaWatch hopes that this can help connecting struggles and be a contribution to strengthen resistance against austerity policies.

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Here are some of the highlights from the report we think worth mentioning. You can find the complete report in the version agreed on in the Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs here.

And a part of an IMF protocol from 2010 with speculations about the true reasons of the Greek bailout:

  • Brazil’s executive director Paulo Nogueira Batista in a prepared statement to the board for the May 9, 2010 meeting:
    “The risks of the program are immense…As it stands, the programs risks substituting private for official financing. In other and starker words, it may be seen not as a rescue of Greece, which will have to undergo a wrenching adjustment, but as a bailout of Greece’s private debt holders, mainly European financial institutions.”

Other articles in English by Troïka Watch (3)



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