Despite receiving a bullet in the post and having an MP from the Independent Greeks suggesting it won’t be long before someone shoots him, Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras is more likely to be concerned by this week’s “friendly fire” rather than any other kind.
Unhinged Cretans and boorish opposition MPs are hardly the worst that Stournaras is going to face during his time in the scorching hotseat at the Greek Finance Ministry. Attacks from within are a different matter, though.
A number of New Democracy lawmakers lined up to take pot shots at him over the past few days for a number of reasons, top of which was his decision in recent interviews to discuss the fiscal derailment that took place between 2004 and 2009, when Greece was led by Costas Karamanlis and his conservative government. In doing so, Stournaras has broached a somewhat taboo subject.
“I will show you a chart with annual public spending as a percentage of GDP,” he told Sunday’s Kathimerini in an interview. “From the early 1990s until 2006, when it reached 45.2 percent, there were few fluctuations. Immediately afterwards, in 2007 it rose to 47.6 percent, in 2008 to 50.6 percent and in 2009, it skyrockets to 53.8 percent. The only way I can describe what happened after 2006 is an economic derailment.”
Posted in Economy, Greece, Greek politics
Tagged Costas Karamanlis, Costas Simitis, fiscal derailment, George Papandreou, Greece, Greek bailout, Greek debt, Greek deficit, Greek economy, New Democracy, PASOK
The head of Greece’s statistics agency, Andreas Georgiou, is to face a criminal inquiry. An ex-employee of the Hellenic Statistical Authority (ELSTAT), Zoe Georganta, has accused him of colluding with the European Union’s statistical arm, Eurostat, to inflate Greece’s deficit figure for 2009, thereby justifying Greece’s EU-IMF bailout, signed in May 2010, and its drastic austerity measures. Georgiou vehemently denies the charges.
Financial prosecutors have referred the matter to a special magistrate and the Greek justice system will have to decide on the validity of each side’s arguments.
Beyond the judicial process, some observations about the case are needed as it goes to the very heart of understanding how Greece’s public finances veered dramatically off course and the country turned to the eurozone and International Monetary Fund for emergency loans.
Posted in Economy, European Union, Greece
Tagged Andreas Georgiou, ELSTAT, Eurostat, Greece, Greek bailout, Greek crisis, Greek debt, Greek deficit, Greek economy, Greek GDP, Greek statistics, Ireland, New Democracy, PASOK, Zoe Georganta
Illustration by Manos Symeonakos
A year ago, a month ago, perhaps even a week ago, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s comments about Greeks needing to work more would have gone down as badly in Athens as a joke about room service in the Strauss-Kahn household. They would have sparked another exchange of barbed comments between Athens and Berlin and further histrionics from the more rabid elements of the media in the two countries. This time, Merkel’s words landed quietly on a pile of other comments made about Greece over the last few days.
Greeks have been hit this week by a barrage of opinions on debt restructuring, new loan agreements and even political consensus. And at the end of it, they are none the wiser. Restructure now, say some economists and European officials. It is too early, others say. Only soft restructuring should be discussed, argue some experts. Substantial haircuts are required if Greece is to survive, say others. Greece will need new loans to stay afloat, say the whispers in the corridors of power in Brussels and Washington. We are not applying for any more emergency funding, say those who hold power in Athens. Get your political parties to agree, says a European commissioner. It is our democratic right to disagree, says the leader of the Greek opposition.
Posted in Economy, European Union, Greece
Tagged Angela Merkel, EU, European Union, George Papandreou, German pensions, Germany, Germany retirement age, Germany vacation time, Greece, Greece austerity, Greece retirement age, Greece unemployment, Greece vacation time, Greek austerity measures, Greek bailout, Greek debt, Greek debt crisis, Greek deficit, Greek pensions, IMF, International Monetary Fund, Mercer Human Resource Consulting