Home > Uncategorized > The largest ‘Bild’ lie ever? Factchecking Bild-zeitung

The largest ‘Bild’ lie ever? Factchecking Bild-zeitung

We wanted to make sure that the … money for Greek bank recapitalisation is for that purpose, not for recapitalisation of the government,” Dijsselbloem said.

Bild-Zeitung, the largest newspaper of Europe, owned by Axel-Springer press, tells its readers that the money used to bail out Greece is used ‘for instance’ to pay pensioners and teachers. It does not tell its readers that  by far the larger part of it is used to bail out creditors and refinance debts… Inspired by a weekend during which I did not have internet but did have  Bild-Zeitung acces (and therefore learned nothing about the macro-econmics of the situation), Inspired by the multi-layered writing of Bild, I thought this might be a way to state the Bild-framing:


(Look here for Günter Walraff, who wrote a ‘reality beats satire’ book about his stint at this journal which portrays a cynical, nihilist world. This is the way Walraff ‘celebrated’ fifty years of Bild). The German paper has nothing about failed austerity policies in Spain, Ireland, Portugal and the Baltics which led to mass emigration in countries with often already declining populations. Nothing about the fact that the only thing which kept East-Germany going during its wasted years of austerity (when unemployment went up to 20%…) was government investments and transfers. Nothing about the fact that austerity didn’t work in East Germany: unemployment only went down because of emigration, not because of net job creation. Greece is indeed very much East Germany without the transfers (and in fact with negative transfers). Bild even invokes mister Waigel (75), a former German minister of finance (1989-1998) who, in the German press, is supposed to have been ‘the father of the Euro’. Well, these (graph 1, source: Bundesbank) were the German government deficits during mister Waigel: -2,5% or more, and in 1995 (when the “Treuhandgesellschaft” was bailed out) even -9,5%. Compared with the 3% Maastricht limit not exactly an awe-inspiring track record for ‘The father of the Euro’!

Graph 1.


As always, the most effective propaganda is what you don’t tell people. After reading the newspaper, it seemed to me that it was best to look for their largest lie. Which is that they do not tell the readers where the bail out money is going. Though they, quite misleadingly, do say that Varoufakis (instead of Greece) needs the money (note the personal style) they are misleading the readers with the next two letters: “z.b.” (“Zum Beispiel”, i.e. “for instance” or, more literally “as an example”). The money is, according to Bild, “z.b.” ‘used to pay pensioners and teachers’. Hmmm… doesn’t Greece have a primary surplus at the moment, which means that all ‘normal’ expenditures are covered’? But the point: we all learn from our trusted teachers that “z.b.” kind of phrases should be used in a honest way, which makes us expect that other people do this, too. However – Bild clearly preys upon and destroys this hard-won social trust by using it in a dishonest way (which by the way reveals that they do know better). And wasn’t the larger part of the bail-out money destined for banks and creditors anyway (graph, source)?

Graph 2


Aside – the small present German surplus seems to be caused by a non-sustainable low level of government investment which is of course burdening the young with the real costs.

Dear Bild-Zeitung, it’s not about Varoufakis. F*ck Varoufakis. It’s about an economic ideology which, in Finland, in East Germany, in Lithuania, in Latvia, in Estonia, In Ireland, in Spain, in Portugal and in Greece led to private (or, in Greece: government) exuberance, mega-debts, ridiculous current account deficits and out of control unemployment. Please, come to grips with this.

  1. February 24, 2015 at 3:18 am

    So the German government is needing the transfusion from Greece and other southern neighbors? Including France?

    • merijnknibbe
      February 24, 2015 at 8:39 am

      At least it thinks so… (but just read an article in De Volkskrant of today which states that more and more money (changed into dollars) is lent by banks etcetera in search of yield, no short term strings attached, to African governments highly dependend on the price level of oil and whatever. That’s where part of this transfusion money might end up, just like before 2008 a lot of German money ended up in sub-prime mortgages). Partly, as I see it, the Germans just want their money back. Partly, they want to define the new rules of the Euro-game. And they do have a point: the Greek government apparatus is not too effective. You do not change this with 25% unemployment, however.

  2. nicholbrummer
    February 24, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I may be somewhat confused. But if I think hard, it seems that none of Greece’s ‘creditor countries’ really had to raise the money they ‘lent’ to Greece from anywhere. Not from taxes. Nor by cutting expenditure. Is it even reasonable to give them any credit for acting as ‘creditor’ in this case? The only point when they’d run some risk of loss is if there would be a debt write-off. Hence it is accepted that the primary surplus is too low to ever pay off the loans, while an honest and clear debt write-off is refused point-blank. The first is for free, while the second may force us to either take the losses, or acknowledge that we’ve been using a money printing-press that was hidden behind the curtains.

    This would be the even bigger lie. But maybe I’m just confused?

  3. February 24, 2015 at 10:45 am

    While it’s perfectly possible to say that Greece’s primary surplus covers all its running costs leaving the bailout funds to repay debts and recapitalise banks, it would be equally accurate to say that Greece doesn’t have enough money left to pay pensions and salaries after it’s repaid its debts and recapitalised its banks, and so the bailout funds are needed for that purpose. In truth, it’s all one big pot, and the bailout will go into the pot that’s used for both debt repayment and running costs.

  4. dragan sipka
    May 6, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Piraeus, Greece 05/05/2015

    We are all Greeks! This text is written by a Serbian citizen, whose heart beats Greek sometimes …


    You said that the European Union gave Greece 240bil. euro as a loan, which is equivalent to 100 trucks of which each has 40 tons of banknotes 100 euros. And all told with irony and moaning. But there are some trucks forgotten …….

    Greece has one million dead due to the German Nazis in the Second World War. If each weighed 40kgr.kata average (there were among them many children) then we talk about 40,000 tons dead, 1,000 trucks with 40 tons of dead each. If every dead pourred 4-5 liters of tears of sadness and misery, then this is equivalent to 100 trucks with 40 tons of tears each of them.

    Why you Germans have the right to induce wars, to destroy (twice in 40 years in two world wars), to kill without any price, without consequences; YOUR COUNTRY WAS REBUILT WITH TONS AMERICAN FINANCIAL AID OF THE MARSHALL PROJECT AND MILLIONS OF PEOPLE WORKING HANDS THAT PREVIOUSLY YOU HAD DESTROYED! Where do you draw moral and courage from to be as tough with Greece;

    Where was Mr. Schaeuble 10 years ago to sound red alert when loans were given to Greece without moderation, without red lines that cannot occur in the future the massive debt of the country? But apparently this wasn’t for Germany’s best interest. You sold weapons systems with bribes (submarines). The SIEMENS closed deals with bribes. Even pigeons know that the Greek debt is unsustainable.

    If you have the minimum dignity will sit silently in a corner, without making any reference to any country’s debt! YOU OWE MUCH TO THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY, NOT ONLY TO THE EUROPEAN ONE!

    Now your plan is the death of the Greeks to … installments! You want to force economic asphyxiation, becoming the Greek people modern serfs, with wages 300-400euro and 200-300euro pensions. For you, the Greeks are lazy. If you do not feel respect for the living Greeks, owe respect to the dead Greeks who fell out of your own hands. These dead shout that what you do is wrong!
    Once some they gave your debt, after the Second World War, and gave you tremendous financial help thanks to MARSHALL PROJECT. These dead scream that blood cannot be washed out of your hands with a simple decision, you poured out your debt. You cannot say with such audacity that they owe nothing to anyone!

    For these 1,000 trucks with 40 tons of dead on each and 40 tons tears each, the Greek people is right to ask you to let them die with dignity, if that’s their fate. GREEKS do not wish to die in installments.

    “Trees die standing ……..”


    DRAGAN SIPKA (dragan48bvs@gmail.com)

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