Tuesday, April 28, 2015


This should have been yesterday's, but I had another fight with Google.  I lost again.

Anyway, after a brutal weekend in Riga, yank Tsapris finally pulled the plug and sat the Rock Star, yanks Varoufakis.  He's still around so ordinating efforts but the day to day work will be done by Euclid Tsakslotos, an Oxford training economist of leftist leanings, assisted by Georgos Houliarkis about whom I know nothing; then again I don't know much about Euclid either except that he wears a tie and appears to bathe regularly which would not altogether be bad things.  The Rock Star?  He was dead meat and had been in the sun too long.  Then, too, the not-so-secret-secret that the Euro-boys (and girls) had already drawn up the terms of separation with Greece made this sort of move inevitable as despite the lack of appetite for a separation on either side, with the lack of progress and the increasing lack of comity, it was becoming a sure thing.  One of the best lines, however, came from the Great Art Cashen on CNBC who mused  as to whether the Rock Star, a well known "expert" in game theory was playing a game all along.  No Art, he was just a jerk and lost the game.

Anyway, on the news of the change, the market for Greek bonds went through the roof.  Either hope springs eternal or there is one born every minute.  You choose.  But as you know I am a bit of a history buff when it comes to these things and have often said that we have seen most of this before.  In the dark days early in the Mexico crisis of 1982, President Jose Lopez Portillo--or "Ho Lo Po" to his...ah...buddies--tilted left and replaced his cabinet with supposedly radical leftists.  Wall Street shuttered but through the short period until the next administration, soothing words kept coming from Mexico not to worry, this too shall pass.  Sure enough, in came the new "moderate" administration with who most felt comfortable if not enraptured, negotiations went forward and the restructuring were completed, money was lost and normalcy returned except for that period of about ten years which were not the best for the people of Mexico.  The alternative?  Well, let's not go there.  I was a banker, remember.

When it was revealed last week that Lee Buchheit was again seemingly in the midst of the Greek talks I wondered whether something was up.  You see, back in 1982, one of the advisors to Mexico was a guy named Buchheit.  The same Buchheit?  Could there be another?  This isn't his first rodeo boys and girls.  There may be a chance here for the Greeks albeit a slim chance as the numbers simply don't work but with the change there is now a chance.  This weekend there was none. We shall see.

And remember that radical government in Mexico?  The short-lived finance minister was a fellow by the name of Carlos Tello a self-styled socialist economist by trade.   After the new government arrived in office, I decided it might not be a bad idea to keep up with the "loyal opposition" and had a meeting arranged with Mr. Tello a bit on the sly.  It was to be lunch at a hotel in the Zona Rosa in Mexico.  I arrived early and decided to have my shoes shined (greatest shines in the world are in Mexico).  In the middle a young child with his mother came begging.  The man in the next chair asked them not to disturb me and they stepped back.  It was a sad sight.  When I was finished, I bought an ice cream from a street vendor, for about fifty cents, gave it to the child and a few dollars to his mother.  It was the day of Mexico's first devaluation and four dollars would probably have bought two weeks worth of tortillas.  Mom tried to kiss my hand.  Things were awfully hard.  My neighbor at the shoeshine looked at me and said in perfect English, "that was a very kind thing you just did.  She should not be begging."  "Yes, I said,  " but she has no choice."  He nodded, and I went into the hotel for lunch.

Five minutes later my guest arrived.  Carlos Tello had just finished his shoe shine.  We talked and laughed and had a hell of a lunch to include two bottles of a de Vogue '69 Musigny that because of the devaluation cost $28...for both!  Having never seen a devaluation the hotel didn't know enough to change the prices.

We kept in touch for a while and then lost track of one another.  He went on to a career in the foreign service serving  as ambassador here and there.  I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere.  Beats me as to where or what it is

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