Publications on Greek debt crisis
Policy Note 2015/6 | October 2015
The recapitalization of Greek banks is perhaps the most critical problem for the Greek state today. Despite direct cash infusions to Greek banks that have so far exceeded €45 billion, with corresponding guarantees of around €130 billion, credit expansion has failed to pick up. There are two obvious reasons for this failure: first, the massive exodus of deposits since 2010; and second, the continuous recession—mainly the product of strongly deflationary policies dictated by international lenders.
Following the 2012–13 recapitalization, creditors allowed the old, now minority, shareholders and incumbent management (regardless of culpability) to retain effective control of the banks—a decision that did not conform to accepted international practices. Sitting on a ticking time bomb of nonperforming loans (NPLs), Greek banks, rather than adopting the measures necessary to restructure their portfolios, cut back sharply on lending, while the country’s economy continued to shrink.
The obvious way to rehabilitate Greek banking following the new round of recapitalization scheduled for later this year is the establishment of a “bad bank” that can assume responsibility for the NPL workouts, manage the loans, and in some cases hold them to maturity and turn them around. This would allow Greek banks to make new and carefully underwritten loans, resulting in a much-needed expansion of the credit supply. Sound bank recapitalization with concurrent avoidance of any creditor bail-in could help the Greek banking sector return to financial health—and would be an effective first step in returning the country to the path of growth.Download:Associated Programs:Author(s):
Policy Note 2015/2 | February 2015
The Greek economic crisis started as a public debt crisis five years ago. However, despite austerity and a bold “haircut,” public debt is now around 175 percent of Greek GDP. In this policy note, we argue that Greece’s public debt is clearly unsustainable, and that a significant restructuring of this debt is needed in order for the Greek economy to start growing again. Insistence on maintaining the current policy stance is not justifiable on either pragmatic or moral grounds.
The experience of Germany in the early post–World War II period provides some useful insights for the way forward. In the aftermath of the war, there was a sweeping cancellation of the country’s public and foreign debt, which was part of a wider plan for the economic and political reconstruction of Germany and Europe. Seven decades later, while a solution to the unsustainability of the Greek public debt is a necessary condition for resolving the Greek and European crisis, it is not, in itself, sufficient. As the postwar experience shows, a broader agenda that deals with both Greece’s domestic economic malaise and the structural imbalances in the eurozone is also of vital importance.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):
One-Pager No. 43 | September 2013
Unemployment in Greece has climbed to a new record of 27.9 percent and the country is headed toward a third bailout. The obsession with reducing the budget deficit is crippling the Greek economy. Extreme fiscal consolidation in the midst of a major depression can only have extreme effects on output, leading to greater unemployment, widening poverty, massive loss of faith in political and social institutions, and the potential for political violence. This is precisely what has been taking place in Greece since 2010, as fiscal brutality intensifies from one year to the next. Offering Greece yet another bailout package is not the answer.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):C. J. Polychroniou
Policy Note 2013/6 | July 2013
The International Bailouts of GreeceResearch Associate and Policy Fellow C. J. Polychroniou argues that a political solution based on a new economic vision is needed to bring an end to the Greek crisis. Polychroniou observes that what began as a financial crisis has been transformed into a full-fledged economic and social crisis by the neoliberal policies of the International Monetary Fund and the European Union (EU). Instead of growth, these policies have destroyed Greece’s economy, divided the eurozone states, and hobbled a fragile global recovery. The past six years have seen Greece’s descent into economic and social ruin. Exiting the current crisis, for Greece and countries throughout the eurozone, requires more than an end to austerity. Broadly, EU institutions must be radically restructured around the principles of sustainable, equitable growth. Specifically, Greece needs a comprehensive development plan, with massive public spending and investment.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):C. J. Polychroniou
Policy Note 2013/1 | March 2013
A Case against Neoliberal Economics, the Domestic Political Elite, and the EU/IMF DuoThe crisis in Greece reflects the deep structural problems of the country’s economy, its bureaucratic inefficiency, and a pervasive culture of corruption. But it also reflects the deadly failure of the neoliberal project, which has become institutionalized throughout the European Union’s operational framework—with the International Monetary Fund the world’s single most powerful enforcer of market fundamentalism.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):C. J. Polychroniou
One-Pager No. 33 | September 2012
Who’s Afraid of Greece?
As the Greek summer comes to an end, the predatory austerity policies of the second bailout plan are in full swing, while the fiscal consolidation program continues to run its wayward course. Overall, what was once a modern democratic polity is beginning to resemble a feudal state. As the government seeks a broad agreement on its latest spending cuts, the Greek labor movement is set to embark on a new round of paralyzing strikes and demonstrations. This year, the truly hot season in Greece is only just beginning.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):C. J. Polychroniou
Public Policy Brief No. 124, 2012 | May 2012
The Link between the State and the Macroeconomy, and the Disastrous Effects of the European Policy of Austerity
Conventional wisdom has calcified around the belief that the countries in the eurozone periphery are in trouble primarily because of their governments’ allegedly profligate ways. For most of these nations, however, the facts suggest otherwise. Apart from the case of Greece, the outbreak of the eurozone crisis largely preceded dramatic increases in public debt ratios, and as has been emphasized in previous Levy Institute publications, the roots of the crisis lie far more in the flawed design of the European Monetary Union and the imbalances it has generated.
But as Research Associate and Policy Fellow C. J. Polychroniou demonstrates in this policy brief, domestic political developments should not be written out of the recent history of the eurozone’s stumbles toward crisis and possible dissolution. However, the part in this tale played by southern European political regimes is quite the opposite of that which is commonly claimed or implied in the press. Instead of out-of-control, overly generous progressive agendas, the countries at the core of the crisis in southern Europe—Greece, Spain, and Portugal—have seen their macroeconomic environments shaped by the dominance of regressive political regimes and an embrace of neoliberal policies; an embrace, says Polychroniou, that helped contribute to the unenviable position their economies find themselves in today.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):C. J. Polychroniou
Working Paper No. 688 | September 2011
Greece’s Debt Crisis in Context
According to author and journalist C. J. Polychroniou, Greece was unfit to join the euro: its entry was orchestrated by fabricating the true state of the country’s fiscal condition, and its subsequent “growth performance” rested upon heavy state borrowing and European Union (EU) transfers. Moreover, the Greek economic crisis is also a political and moral crisis, as financial scandals and corruption have been major sources of wealth creation.
The EU and International Monetary Fund bailout plan (May 2010), which includes a structural adjustment program with harsh austerity measures, has been a social and economic catastrophe. Such policy ensures that Greece will default and be forced to exit the euro, says Polychroniou, but compelling Greek citizens to take charge of their own economic problems and national faults may be the best scenario. Extreme EU neoliberal policies also increase the risk of the eurozone’s dissolution.Download:Associated Program:Author(s):C. J. Polychroniou