On “Late Night” Thursday (July 16), Seth Meyers carved out a chunk of time to explain the financial crisis happening in Greece. Not only is it full of good, “Weekend Update”-y jokes, but it also distills the complex details down quite nicely.
“There are two major players in this saga — Germany, a country known for precision, order and adherence to rules; and Greece, a country known for yogurt, tax evasion and big, fat weddings,” explains Meyers. “These guys sharing a currency is like Martha Stewart and Guy Fieri sharing a kitchen — it was never going to work.”
“In 2001, Greece ditched their currency, the drachma, and became the 12th country to join the European single currency, after failing to join in 1999 because they didn’t pass the economic tests that were required,” he continues. “So what changed between 1999 and 2001? Well, Greece started filling in their financial documents the way Rachel Dolezal fills out an online dating profile. ‘Ethnicity? All of the above!'”
Meyers then details the bailouts Greece has received since moving from the drachma to the euro. “They received two separate bailouts that were contingent on financial reform. Some of the reform was reasonable … but on top of the reasonable financial reforms, the Greeks also had to submit themselves to severe cuts in public spending and public jobs. This meant Greeks had less money and less money meant less demand, which means the Greek economy hasn’t been able to recover.”
The host goes into the back-and-forth there has been between Greece’s finance minister and the other finance ministers in the European Union, then details the recent austerity referendum the Greeks voted no on.
“The Greeks voted no, but unfortunately, just because a country votes not to pay back their debts doesn’t mean they don’t have to pay back their debts,” says Meyers. “If you take out a bank loan and then tell the bank, ‘I voted not to repay you,’ the bank will likely say, ‘A-f*** a-you.’ Which is what Germany basically did.”
He then appeals to Germany to perhaps ease up a bit, like take 200 billion euros instead of 400 billion euros and make the first payment due in 30 years’ time.
“Look, this cycle has to stop. The Greeks deserve plenty of criticism for how they’ve run things, but you lent them the money,” says Meyers. “Have some sympathy for the elderly who can’t get medicine and the young people who are suffering through youth unemployment of over 60 percent.”
“Now I understand that most Germans are against forgiving Greek debt because they think Greeks are lazy, but remember — after WWII, the Allies wrote off the Germans’ debt and need I remind you, in WWII, the Germans were way worse than just lazy. In fact, thing would have been so much if 1938 Germany had been lazy.”