Markets have woken up to Greek nuclear risk. Bank stocks on the Athens exchange have crashed 44pc since Alexis Tsipras swept into power this week with a mandate to defy the European power structure.
Greek bonds bought with such zest by investors last April - entranced by the mirage of recovery, and deaf to simmering revolution below - are signalling a rapid slide towards bankruptcy. Five year yields spiked to 13.5pc today. Contrary to expectations, Mr Tsipras has not resiled from a long list of campaign pledges that breach the terms of Greece's EU-IMF Troika Memorandum, and therefore put the country on a collision course with the Brussels, Berlin, and Frankfurt.
He told his cabinet today that the government is willing to negotiate on its demands for debt relief but will not abandon its core promises to the Greek people. “We will not seek a catastrophic solution, but neither will we consent to a policy of submission. The country is holding up its head,” he said. If anything, he is upping the ante. He could have gone in into coalition with the centrist, pro-EU Potami party, and could have explained any softening of his line towards Europe as a necessary move to hold the government together. Instead he chose to go with Independent Greeks, a nationalist party that is even more virulently hostile to the Troika. This has been a cannon shot across the bows of creditor states.
Mr Tsipras is clearly gambling that the Germany and the creditor powers will not let monetary union break up at this late stage, over a trivial sum of money, after having already committed €245bn, for to do so would shatter the illusion that the eurozone crisis has been solved. This may be a misjudgment. “We will immediately stop any privatisation,” said Panagiotis Lafazanis, leader of the Marxist Left Platform, the biggest bloc in the Syriza pantheon. Plans to sell the PPT power utility and the Piraeus Port Authority have been halted. The minimum wage will be raised from €500 to €751 a month as a first order business. This is an explicit rejection of Troika austerity terms.
We are witnessing a democratic revolution. Never before have the EMU elites had to face a eurozone government that refuses to play by any of their rules, and they have yet to experience the lascerating tongue of Yanis Varoufakis, a relentless critic of their 1930s ideology of debt-deflation and "fiscal waterboarding". Mr Varoufakis told me before his appointment as finance minister that Syriza will not capitulate even if the European Central Bank threatens to cut off €54bn of liquidity for the Greek banking system, a move that would almost certainly force Greece to nationalise the banks, impose capital controls, and would - in my view, though not in his - force it to reintroduce the drachma within days.
"A freshly elected government cannot allow itself to be intimidated by threats of Armageddon," he said. His first act in office today was to announce that 600 cleaners in the finance ministry will regain their jobs, paid for by cutting financial advisers. The corridors erupted in cheers. Whether you are "staunchly" on the Left or "unashamedly" on the Right - as the BBC likes to characterise opinion - it is hard not to feel a welling sympathy for this popular revolt. If it takes a neo-Marxist like Alexis Tsipras to confront the elemental folly of EMU crisis strategy, so be it.
The suggestion - almost a mantra in EMU power circles - that Syriza is retreating from "reform" is risible. There is no reform. The two dynastic parties in charge of Greece for over three decades have always treated the state as a patronage machine, and seem to have great trouble shaking the habit.
To read the rest of this article, click here