Tag Archives: Greek debt crisis

A haircut for the bold or the bald?

Illustration by Ilias Makris

Some people will think that the haircut of 50 percent or so being proposed for holders of Greek debt is a get-out-of-jail-free card for Athens and unfair punishment for investors. They would be wrong on all counts.

The writedown, set to be finalized at the European Union leaders’ summit on Wednesday, is the result of failures by both parties. The banks and hedge funds made what they hoped would be a risk-free investment in a country that they knew was the most badly placed of all those standing on the shifting sands of the euro. The market should have factored in the structural problems that plagued both the single currency and Greece, but it didn’t. In accordance with the rules of the game, both sides will pay a price.

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The eurozone: In the red. A discussion

Joining host David Reed of the Missouri School of Journalism and guest Clark Boyd from PRI’s The World on Global Journalist, a half-hour weekly discussion of international news by a panel of journalists from around the world.

The topic of discussion? Greece and the eurozone crisis:
http://www.globaljournalist.org/radio/2011/10/20/

And, catching up with Jeff Santos on Revolution Boston.
http://revolutionboston.com/podcast/2011-10/3075

Back to 2004? More like 1929

Illustration by Ilias Makris

He meant it as a warning, but when Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos said a few days ago that Greeks’ incomes would be returning to 2004 levels, it could have been interpreted as the most optimistic thing the government has said for months.

In many ways, 2004 was the most hopeful year Greece experienced for decades. It had a growth rate that was the envy of many eurozone countries, it pulled off the miracle of successfully hosting the Olympic Games and the national soccer team became the biggest outsider to ever win the European Championships. It was a time when everything seemed possible.

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A cheap three-chord trick

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

There are many things for which Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos will be called a liar over the weeks to come, but something he said in his muddled news conference on Tuesday rang true: It was when he explained how he found it “impossible to explain” to those outside Greece the opposition parties’ stances on how the country should tackle its economic crisis.

As flawed and damaging as the eurozone and International Monetary Fund-inspired austerity program has been, the alternatives being suggested by the opposition have been even more confused and unrealistic. The prime target for Venizelos’s comment was PASOK’s main political rival, New Democracy, which has elbowed even the Communist Party out of the way in its effort to be in the front line of those opposing the current formula for overcoming Greece’s massive debt problem.

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Blood, sweat, but mostly tears

Minus cigar and bulldog, Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos declared on Sunday that, like Winston Churchill, the government had nothing to offer but “blood, sweat and tears.” It was a preface to his government again demanding from the Greek people that they offer all this plus one other vital factor: more of their cash.

When we come back to look at the time line of Greece’s crisis, there is little doubt that Venizelos unveiling a new emergency property tax in a bid to plug a hole in public finances to meet the targets set by the troika will be seen as the moment the silent majority’s grudging tolerance of the austerity program crumbled under the weight of unfairness and grim financial reality.

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Young Greeks and the crisis: the danger of losing a generation

My latest policy paper for the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung in Germany. I was asked to examine the problems that the economic crisis is causing for Greeks in their 20s.

Beyond dangerously high levels of unemployment, others issues such as a growing brain drain, an absence of political expression and the lack of opportunities for entrepreneurship have to be tackled quickly and imaginatively if Greece is to avoid scarring a well-educated and talented generation.

In English:
http://www.fes.de/cgi-bin/gbv.cgi?id=08465&ty=pdf

In German:
http://library.fes.de/pdf-files/id/ipa/08464.pdf

Staring at defeat

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

Some had hoped for a dramatic and inspiring last throw of the dice to drag a confused, beleaguered and sometimes reluctant country forward, but Prime Minister George Papandreou’s speech in Thessaloniki last weekend felt distinctly like an admission of defeat.

Any address that begins by focusing on the failings of the previous government, as Papandreou’s did by rehashing the argument about New Democracy’s disastrous management of the Greek economy, is condemned to look back rather than forward.

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