Beware of greeks bearing gifts,

se dice de los griegos, por el Caballo de Troya. El artículo de Vanity Fair sobre la situación económica de Grecia tiene párrafos increíbles. Primero, se trata de un país con una deuda pública de US$ 400 billones, sin considerar lo comprometido en pensiones, otros US$ 800 billones, es decir, US$ 250 mil por cada griego.

As it turned out, what the Greeks wanted to do, once the lights went out and they were alone in the dark with a pile of borrowed money, was turn their government into a piñata stuffed with fantastic sums and give as many citizens as possible a whack at it. In just the past decade the wage bill of the Greek public sector has doubled, in real terms—and that number doesn’t take into account the bribes collected by public officials.

Una forma de robarse a si mismos –y a los extranjeros que les prestan plata–, es a través de las pensiones:

The retirement age for Greek jobs classified as “arduous” is as early as 55 for men and 50 for women. As this is also the moment when the state begins to shovel out generous pensions, more than 600 Greek professions somehow managed to get themselves classified as arduous: hairdressers, radio announcers, waiters, musicians, and on and on and on.

y esto:

“The first thing a government does in an election year is to pull the tax collectors off the streets.”

Respecto al sistema impositivo, un inspector anínimo describe:

a system that was, in its way, a thing of beauty. It mimicked the tax-collecting systems of an advanced economy—and employed a huge number of tax collectors—while it was in fact rigged to enable an entire society to cheat on their taxes.

Increíble. Leánlo completo, especialmente la sección sobre el monasterio en el Monte Athos. Gracias a Marginal Revolution.

Hormigas defensoras

El New York Times reporta una asociación mutua entre hormigas y las acacias. Las acacias proveen refugio y sustento a las hormigas, y éstas se encargan de proteger a los árboles. Las acacias son muy apreciadas por los elefantes, que se comen sus hojas. En su defensa, las hormigas atacan la trompa de lelefante. El resultado es que normalmente los elefantes evitan las acacias que huelen a hormigas.

Problemas del Control de divisas

En Venezuela hay ahora un control casi total de divisas por el Banco Central. Las consecuencias pueden llegar a ser sorprendentes, como lo reporta el Financial Times:

One is the possibility that even government officials may struggle to make mobile phone calls when working abroad.

Movistar, the Opec country’s second-largest mobile phone provider and a subsidiary of Spain’s Telefónica, has suspended roaming on some international calls as it said it lacked enough foreign currency to pay international operators.

La razón es que

Although Brazil and Argentina are larger markets for Telefónica, Venezuela’s oil-fuelled consumer boom in recent years made it the Spanish company’s most profitable regional market. Movistar has repatriated $550m over the past three years, but some $1.8bn in profits remain trapped inside Venezuela, according to the company.

This forced it to suspend roaming calls in 14 countries,[…]