Tag Archives: Greek debt crisis

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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What does the eurozone deal really mean for Greece?

Illustration by Manos Symeonakis

The European Commission announced this week that it’s prepared to provide 95 percent of the funding for structural projects in Greece. Members of an EC task force are due to arrive in Athens later this month to oversee the implementation of reforms. Ministers, meanwhile, are trying to put together legislation that will convince Greece’s lenders that it is taking its role seriously.

In one way or another, these actions all stem from the deal agreed between the eurozone and Greece in Brussels last month. Even though the agreement has set in motion such a wide-ranging process, there is still great uncertainty about what the agreement on July 21 actually means for all those involved and how it will benefit Greeks. There is a sense that Greece and its eurozone partners are trying to navigate through a storm with a patchwork map and some untested instruments to help them.

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