UnNews:Greece scrounges for cash

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18 April 2015

The Greek Finance Minister (lower right) meets with representatives of the International Monetary Fund (left). Above, Mr. Tsipras contemplates how he might have raised cash by selling tickets to the event.

ATHENS, Greece -- Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has taken that final step, and smashed the cookie jar at the House of Parliament here.

The few remaining euros inside will go to pay government salaries, government pensions, and free electricity for Greeks who "can't find a job" that offers better terms than getting free electricity.

Tsipras had previously scrounged all the mattresses in the visitors' quarters for any loose euros that might be hidden in them, and done a thorough search of the sofas in his executive office.

The move means that a last-last-ditch deal with Greece's creditors will be vital in order to pay €1 billion to its other creditors. This will usher in another round of panicky diplomats on their cellphones rescheduling their flights, which could jump-start Greece's economy. Printing up new banknotes in a new currency and frantically exchanging them back-and-forth with euros will also boost employment, as will the urgent task of adding more zeros to them. The angst will spread to Germany, which will hatch new schemes to evade Constitutional prohibitions on the wheelbarrow-full-of-banknotes thing, which last time led to brief unpleasantness; and from there to the rest of Europe, which is still experimenting with attracting deposits by promising not to return them in full.

Some were skeptical about the last-last-last-ditch deal. "Given the huge stock of financial assets the Greek government has, I am always cautious about reports that it will soon run out of cash," Bruegel analyst Zsolt Darvas wrote. These assets include rolling countryside, whose name of Macedonia makes it ideal for sale to the neighboring country of the same name. The eastern part of the country, or "panhandle," might also be sold off, as well as Greek interests in Cyprus. There is also a large portfolio of waterfront properties where tourists can play checkers and watch armed confrontations with police while waiting for municipal buses, and lots and lots of Feta cheese.

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The International Monetary Fund scheduled crisis meetings about the Greek situation, being reluctant to simply photocopy the minutes from the last crisis. Ministers believe that doubling tax rates again could raise the necessary revenue. They reviewed the Laffer Curve, which famously holds that you don't raise money with taxes at either 0% or 100% but you might do, somewhere in between. The ministers expressed hope that the curve bends back upward somewhere around 120%.