Research Topics

Publications on Greek economic crisis

There are 37 publications for Greek economic crisis.
  • Greece: Getting Out of the Recession


    Strategic Analysis, September 2016 | October 2016

    The Greek government has agreed to a new round of fiscal austerity measures consisting of a sharp increase in taxes on income and property and further reductions in pension and other welfare-related expenditures. Based on our model of the Greek economy, policies aimed at reducing the government deficit will cause a recession, unless other components of aggregate demand increase enough to more than offset the negative impact of fiscal austerity on output and employment.

    In this report we argue that the troika strategy of increasing net exports to restart the economy has failed, partly because of the low impact of falling wages on prices, partly because of the low trade elasticities with respect to prices, and partly because of other events that caused a sharp reduction in transport services, which used to be Greece’s largest export sector.

    A policy initiative to boost aggregate demand is urgently needed, now more than ever. We propose a fiscal policy alternative based on innovative financing mechanisms, which could trigger a boost in confidence that would encourage renewed private investment.

  • Complementary Currencies and Economic Stability


    Policy Note 2016/1 | January 2016
    A complementary currency circulates within an economy alongside the primary currency without attempting to replace it. The Swiss WIR, implemented in 1934 as a response to the discouraging liquidity and growth prospects of the Great Depression, is the oldest and most significant complementary financial system now in circulation. The evidence provided by the long, successful operation of the WIR offers an opportunity to reconsider the creation of a similar system in Greece.

    The complementary currency is a proven macroeconomic stabilizer—a spontaneous money creator with the capacity to sustain and increase an economy’s aggregate demand during downturns. A complementary financial system that supports regional development and employment-targeted programs would be a U-turn toward restoring people’s purchasing power and rebuilding Greece’s desperate economy.

  • A Complementary Currency and Direct Job Creation Hold the Key to Greek Recovery


    One-Pager No. 52 | January 2016

    Even under optimistic assumptions, the policy status quo being enforced in Greece cannot be relied upon to help recover lost incomes and employment within any reasonable time frame. And while a widely discussed public investment program funded by European institutions would help, a more innovative, better-targeted solution is required to address Greece’s protracted unemployment crisis: an “employer of last resort” (ELR) plan offering paid work in public projects, financed by issuing a nonconvertible “fiscal currency”—the Geuro.

  • How Long Before Growth and Employment Are Restored in Greece?


    Strategic Analysis, January 2016 | January 2016
    The Greek economy has not succeeded in restoring growth, nor has it managed to restore a climate of reduced uncertainty, which is crucial for stabilizing the business climate and promoting investment. On the contrary, the new round of austerity measures that has been agreed upon implies another year of recession in 2016.

    After reviewing some recent indicators for the Greek economy, we project the trajectory of key macroeconomic indicators over the next three years. Our model shows that a slow recovery can be expected beginning in 2017, at a pace that is well below what is needed to alleviate poverty and reduce unemployment. We then analyze the impact of a public investment program financed by European institutions, of a size that is feasible given the current political and economic conditions, and find that, while such a plan would help stimulate the economy, it would not be sufficient to speed up the recovery. Finally, we revise our earlier proposal for a fiscal stimulus financed through the emission of a complementary currency targeted to job creation. Our model shows that such a plan, calibrated in a way that avoids inflationary pressures, would be more effective—without disrupting the targets the government has agreed upon in terms of its primary surplus, and without reversing the improvement in the current account. 

  • Greece: Conditions and Strategies for Economic Recovery


    Strategic Analysis, May 2015 | May 2015

    The Greek economy has the potential to recover, and in this report we argue that access to alternative financing sources such as zero-coupon bonds (“Geuros”) and fiscal credit certificates could provide the impetus and liquidity needed to grow the economy and create jobs. But there are preconditions: the existing government debt must be rolled over and austerity policies put aside, restoring trust in the country’s economic future and setting the stage for sustainable income growth, which will eventually enable Greece to repay its debt.

  • Responding to the Unemployment Challenge: A Job Guarantee Proposal for Greece—An Addendum


    Research Project Report, May 2015 | May 2015
    This addendum to our June 2014 report, “Responding to the Unemployment Challenge: A Job Guarantee Proposal for Greece,” updates labor market data through 2014Q3 and identifies emerging employment and unemployment trends. The overarching aim of the report, the outcome of a study undertaken in 2013 by the Levy Institute in collaboration with the Observatory of Economic and Social Developments of the Labour Institute of the Greek General Confederation of Labour, is to provide policymakers and the general public research-based evidence of the macroeconomic and employment effects of a large-scale direct job creation program in Greece, and to invite critical rethinking of the austerity-driven macro policy instituted in 2010 as a condition of the loans made to Greece by its eurozone partners. 

  • Is Greece Heading For a Recovery?


    Strategic Analysis, December 2014 | December 2014
    With the anti-austerity Syriza party continuing to lead in polls ahead of Greece’s election on January 25, what is the outlook for restoring growth and increasing employment following six years of deep recession?   Despite some timid signs of recovery, notably in the tourism sector, recent short-term indicators still show a decline for 2014. Our analysis shows that the speed of a market-driven recovery would be insufficient to address the urgent problems of poverty and unemployment. And the protracted austerity required to service Greece’s sovereign debt would merely ensure the continuation of a national crisis, with spillover effects to the rest of the eurozone—especially now, when the region is vulnerable to another recession and a prolonged period of Japanese-style price deflation.   Using the Levy Institute’s macroeconometric model for Greece, we evaluate the impact of policy alternatives aimed at stimulating the country’s economy without endangering its current account, including capital transfers from the European Union, suspension of interest payments on public debt and use of these resources to boost demand and employment, and a New Deal plan using public funds to target investment in production growth and finance a direct job creation program. 

  • After Austerity: Measuring the Impact of a Job Guarantee Policy for Greece


    Public Policy Brief No. 138, 2014 | October 2014
    To mobilize Greece’s severely underemployed labor potential and confront the social and economic dangers of persistent unemployment, we propose the immediate implementation of a direct public benefit job creation program—a Greek “New Deal.” The Job Guarantee (JG) program would offer the unemployed jobs, at a minimum wage, on work projects providing public goods and services. This policy would have substantial positive economic impacts in terms of output and employment, and when newly accrued tax revenue is taken into account, which substantially reduces the net cost of the program, it makes for a comparatively modest fiscal stimulus. At a net cost of roughly 1 percent to 1.2 percent of GDP (depending on the wage level offered), a midrange JG program featuring the direct creation of 300,000 jobs has the potential to reduce the unemployed population by a third or more, once indirect employment effects are taken into account. And our research indicates that the policy would do all this while reducing Greece’s debt-to-GDP ratio—which leaves little room for excuses.

  • Will Tourism Save Greece?


    Strategic Analysis, August 2014 | August 2014
    What are the prospects for economic recovery if Greece continues to follow the troika strategy of fiscal austerity and internal devaluation, with the aim of increasing competitiveness and thus net exports? Our latest strategic analysis indicates that the unprecedented decline in real and nominal wages may take a long time to exert its effects on trade—if at all—while the impact of lower prices on tourism will not generate sufficient revenue from abroad to meet the targets for a surplus in the current account that outweighs fiscal austerity. The bottom line: a shift in the fiscal policy stance, toward lower taxation and job creation, is urgently needed. 

  • Co-operative Banking in Greece


    Research Project Report, April 2014 | July 2014
    A Proposal for Rural Reinvestment and Urban Entrepreneurship
    The crisis in Greece is persistent and ongoing. After six years of deepening recession, real GDP has shrunk by more than 25 percent, with total unemployment now standing at 27.2 percent. Clearly, reviving growth and creating jobs should be at the top of the policy agenda.

    But banks remain undercapitalized, and lending has been restricted to only the most creditworthy businesses and households. Many start-ups and small- and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) have almost no access to development loans, and for those to whom credit can be extended, it is at disproportionally high interest rates.

    The success of micro-lending institutions in developing nations (such as the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh) has highlighted the positive economic performance of community-based credit, and such lending models have proven to be an important poverty policy alternative in areas where transfer payments are limited. Community or co-operative financial institutions (CFIs) can fill the gap when existing institutions cannot adequately perform critical functions of the financial system for SMEs, entrepreneurs, and low-income residents seeking modest financing and other banking services.

    We propose expanding the reach and services of CFIs within Greece, drawing upon lessons from the US experience of community development banking and various co-operative banking models in Europe. The primary goals of this nationwide system would be to make credit available, process payments, and offer savings opportunities to communities not well served by the major commercial Greek banks.

    Our blueprint includes suggestions on the banks’ organization and a framework within which they would be chartered, regulated, and supervised by a newly created central co-operative bank. It also looks at the possible impact that such a network could have, especially in terms of start-ups, SMEs, and rural redevelopment (agrotourism)—all of which are critical to Greece’s exit from recession. 

  • Responding to the Unemployment Challenge: A Job Guarantee Proposal for Greece


    Research Project Report, April 2014 | June 2014

    This report presents the findings from a study undertaken by the Levy Institute in 2013 in collaboration with the Observatory of Economic and Social Developments of the Labour Institute of the Greek General Confederation of Labour. It uses as background the 2011 Levy Institute study “Direct Job Creation for Turbulent Times in Greece,” which focused on the need for direct job creation to address rising unemployment. The focus in this report, however, is different. Here, the aim is to make available to policymakers and the broader public research-based evidence of the macroeconomic and employment effects of a large-scale program of direct job creation program—a cost-effective and proven policy response. The ultimate goal of this undertaking is to draw urgently needed attention to the worsening levels of unemployment in Greece, and to invite critical rethinking of the austerity-driven macro policy instituted in 2010.

  • The Myth of the Greek Economic “Success Story”


    Policy Note 2014/3 | February 2014
    In 2001, a three-year, multicountry study by the Structural Adjustment Participatory Review International Network (SAPRIN), prepared in cooperation with the World Bank, national governments, and civil society organizations, offered a damning indictment of the policies of structural adjustment reform pursued by the IMF and the World Bank in third world countries. The structural adjustment programs in Greece, combined with the policies of austerity, are producing results that fit the patterns outlined in the SAPRIN study like a glove.   This policy note rejects the myth of Greece as an economic success story and argues that current trends and developments in the country make for a bleak economic future. The experiment under way in Greece will produce an economy resembling, not the Celtic Tiger of the mid-1990s to early 2000s, as the current government envisions, but an underdeveloped Latin America country of the 1980s.
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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Prospects and Policies for the Greek Economy


    Strategic Analysis, February 2014 | February 2014
    In this report, we discuss alternative scenarios for restoring growth and increasing employment in the Greek economy, evaluating alternative policy options through our specially constructed macroeconometric model (LIMG). After reviewing recent events in 2013 that confirm our previous projections for an increase in the unemployment rate, we examine the likely impact of four policy options: (1) external help through Marshall Plan–type capital transfers to the government; (2) suspension of interest payments on public debt, instead using these resources for increasing demand and employment; (3) introduction of a parallel financial system that uses new government bonds; and (4) adoption of an employer-of-last-resort (ELR) program financed through the parallel financial system. We argue that the effectiveness of the different plans crucially depends on the price elasticity of the Greek trade sector. Since our analysis shows that such elasticity is low, our ELR policy option seems to provide the best strategy for a recovery, having immediate effects on the Greek population's standard of living while containing the effects on foreign debt.

  • Waiting for Export-led Growth


    One-Pager No. 41 | September 2013
    Why the Troika’s Greek Strategy Is Failing

    Greece’s unemployment rate just hit 27.6 percent. That wasn’t supposed to happen. Why has the troika—the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF), and European Central Bank—been so consistently wrong about the effects of its handpicked policies? The strategy being imposed on Greece depends in large part on the idea of “internal devaluation”: that reducing wages will make its products more attractive, thus spurring a return to economic growth powered by rising exports. Our research, based on a macroeconomic model specifically constructed for Greece, indicates that this strategy is not working. Achieving significant growth in net exports through internal devaluation would, at best, take a very long time—and a great deal of immiseration and social disintegration would take place while we waited for this theory to bear fruit. Despite some recent admissions of error along these lines by the IMF, the troika still relies on a theory of how the economy works that badly underestimates the negative effects of austerity.

  • A Levy Institute Model for Greece


    Research Project Report, July 2013 | July 2013
    Technical Paper
    In this report Levy Institute President Dimitri B. Papadimitriou and Research Scholars Gennaro Zezza and Michalis Nikiforos present the technical structure of the Levy Institute's macroeconomic model for the Greek economy (LIMG). LIMG is a stock-flow consistent model that reflects the “New Cambridge” approach that builds on the work of Distinguished Scholar Wynne Godley and the current Levy Institute model for the US economy. LIMG is a flexible tool for the analysis of economic policy alternatives for the medium term and is also the analytic framework for a forthcoming Strategic Analysis series focusing on the Greek economy.  

  • The Greek Economic Crisis and the Experience of Austerity


    Strategic Analysis, July 2013 | July 2013
    A Strategic Analysis
    Employment in Greece is in free fall, with more than one million jobs lost since October 2008—a drop of more than 28 percent. In March, the “official” unemployment rate was 27.4 percent, the highest level seen in any industrialized country in the free world during the last 30 years.

    In this report, Levy Institute President Dimitri B. Papadimitriou and Research Scholars Michalis Nikiforos and Gennaro Zezza present their analysis of Greece’s economic crisis and offer policy recommendations to restore growth and increase employment. This analysis relies on the Levy Institute’s macroeconomic model for the Greek economy (LIMG), a stock-flow consistent model similar to the Institute’s model of the US economy. Based on the LIMG simulations, the authors find that a continuation of “expansionary austerity” policies will actually increase unemployment, since GDP will not grow quickly enough to arrest, much less reverse, the decline in employment. They critically evaluate recent International Monetary Fund and European Commission projections for the Greek economy, and find these projections overly optimistic. They recommend a recovery plan, similar to the Marshall Plan, to increase public consumption and investment. Toward this end, the authors call for an expanded direct public-service job creation program.

  • The Tragedy of Greece


    Policy Note 2013/1 | March 2013
    A Case against Neoliberal Economics, the Domestic Political Elite, and the EU/IMF Duo
    The 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.
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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Greece: Caught Fast in the Troika's Austerity Trap


    Policy Note 2012/12 | December 2012
    On November 27, 2012, the Eurogroup reached a new “Greek deal” that once more discloses that there is no political will to address Greece’s debt crisis—or the country’s economic and social catastrophe.

  • Current Prospects for the Greek Economy


    Research Project Report, October 18, 2012 | October 2012
    Interim Report
    In this interim report, we discuss the evolution of major macroeconomic variables for the Greek economy, focusing in particular on the sources of growth before and after the euro era, the causes and consequences of the continuing recession, and the likely results of the policies currently being implemented. Some preliminary suggestions for alternative policies are included. These alternatives will be tested in a more robust econometric framework in a subsequent report.

  • The Collapse of a Nation


    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.

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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Greece’s Bailouts and the Economics of Social Disaster


    Policy Note 2012/11 | September 2012
    As the decline in Greek GDP should indicate—a contraction of more than 20 percent since the onset of the sovereign debt crisis in late 2009—the economic situation in Greece today is catastrophic. The economy is in freefall, and the social consequences are being widely felt. The main reason for this awful situation is that the country has suffered for more than two years under a harsh austerity regime imposed by the European Union and the International Monetary Fund. The bailouts have proven to be a curse. The nation is literally under economic occupation and sinking deeper into the abyss—and there is very little reason to expect a turnaround in the foreseeable future.
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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Euroland's Original Sin


    Policy Note 2012/8 | July 2012
    From the very start, the European Monetary Union (EMU) was set up to fail. The host of problems we are now witnessing, from the solvency crises on the periphery to the bank runs in Spain, Greece, and Italy, were built into the very structure of the EMU and its banking system. Policymakers have admittedly responded to these various emergencies with an uninspiring mix of delaying tactics and self-destructive policy blunders, but the most fundamental mistake of all occurred well before the buildup to the current crisis. What we are witnessing today are the results of a design flaw. When individual nations like Greece or Italy joined the EMU, they essentially adopted a foreign currency—the euro—but retained responsibility for their nation’s fiscal policy. This attempted separation of fiscal policy from a sovereign currency is the fatal defect that is tearing the eurozone apart.

  • The Greek Crisis


    Policy Note 2012/7 | June 2012
    Possible Costs and Likely Outcomes of a Grexit
    The European Union’s (EU) handling of the Greek crisis has been an unmitigated disaster. In fact, EU political leadership has been a failure of historic proportions, as its myopic, neoliberal bent and fear-driven policies have brought the eurozone to the brink of collapse. After more than two years of a “kicking the can down the road” policy response, it’s a do-or-die situation for Euroland. Greece has reached the point where an exit looks rather imminent (it’s really a matter of time, regardless of the June 17 election outcome), Portugal is bleeding heavily, Spain is about to go under, and Italy is in a state of despair. This Policy Note examines why the bailout policies failed to rescue Greece and boost the eurozone, and what effects a “Grexit” might possibly have—on Greece and the rest of Euroland.
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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • The Mediterranean Conundrum


    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.

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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Is an Austerity-induced Depression about to Bring Down the Final Curtain on the Greek Drama?


    One-Pager No. 31 | May 2012

    On June 17, Greece will hold a second round of elections, the outcome of which might force the European Union to halt all financial assistance to the debt-strapped country. What Greece desperately needs is a leadership with the ability to explore all possible options and to prepare the nation for the tough challenges that may lie ahead—and to make them aware of the opportunities available to a government in charge of its own currency.

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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • What Are the Driving Factors behind the Rise of Spreads and CDSs of Euro-area Sovereign Bonds?


    Working Paper No. 720 | May 2012
    A FAVAR Model for Greece and Ireland

    This paper examines the underlying dynamics of selected euro-area sovereign bonds by employing a factor-augmenting vector autoregressive (FAVAR) model for the first time in the literature. This methodology allows for identifying the underlying transmission mechanisms of several factors; in particular, market liquidity and credit risk. Departing from the classical structural vector autoregressive (VAR) models, it allows us to relax limitations regarding the choice of variables that could drive spreads and credit default swaps (CDSs) of euro-area sovereign debts. The results show that liquidity, credit risk, and flight to quality drive both spreads and CDSs of five years’ maturity over swaps for Greece and Ireland in recent years. Greece, in particular, is facing an elastic demand for its sovereign bonds that further stretches liquidity. Moreover, in current illiquid market conditions spreads will continue to follow a steep upward trend, with certain adverse financial stability implications. In addition, we observe a negative feedback effect from counterparty credit risk.

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    Author(s):
    Nicholas Apergis Emmanuel Mamatzakis

  • Greece’s Pyrrhic Victories Over the Bond Swap and New Bailout


    One-Pager No. 28 | March 2012

    Nearly two years after becoming the first eurozone member-state to be bailed out by the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF), Greece is officially bankrupt. True, there was never any doubt about the outcome, but Greece’s restructuring of nearly 200 billion euros in private debt and the agreement for a new bailout package signify something much bigger—namely, the formal conversion of a sovereign nation into an EU/IMF zombie debtor, and a doomsday scenario that includes its forced exit from the eurozone.

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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Neo-Hooverian Policies Threaten to Turn Europe into an Economic Wasteland


    Policy Note 2012/1 | March 2012

    We live in a terrifying world of policymaking—an age of free-market dogmatism where the economic ideology is fundamentally flawed. Europe’s political leadership has applied neo-Hooverian (scorched-earth) policies that are shrinking economies and producing social misery as a result of massive unemployment.

    Large-scale government intervention is critical in reviving an economy, but the current public-policy mania, which imposes fiscal tightening in the midst of recession, can only lead to catastrophic failure. The bailouts, for example, do not solve Greece’s debt crisis but simply postpone an official default. What is needed is a political and economic revolution that includes a return to Keynesian measures and a new institutional architecture—a United States of Europe.

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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • EU’s Anorexic Mindset Drives the Region’s Economies into Depression


    One-Pager No. 27 | February 2012
    The coordinated contractionary policy on the part of the European Union is inspired by its belief that this is the most effective way to tackle the eurozone’s “debt crisis.” However, by ignoring the endemic problems of unemployment, poverty, and homelessness—all of which have as their underlying cause the contraction of economic activity—European economic policy reveals a growing gap with the real world.
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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Fiddling in Euroland as the Global Meltdown Nears


    Public Policy Brief No. 122, 2012 | February 2012
    President Dimitri B. Papadimitriou and Senior Scholar L. Randall Wray argue that the common diagnosis of a “sovereign debt crisis” ignores the crucial role of rising private debt loads and the significance of current account imbalances within the eurozone. Profligate spending in the periphery is not at the root of the problem. Moreover, pushing austerity in the periphery while ignoring the imbalances within the eurozone is a recipe for deflationary disaster.
     
    The various rescue packages on offer for Greece will not ultimately solve the problem, say the authors, and a default is a very real possibility. If a new approach is not embraced, we are likely seeing the end of the European Monetary Union (EMU) as it currently stands. The consequences of a breakup would ripple throughout the EMU as well as the shaky US financial system, and could ultimately trigger the next global financial crisis.

  • The New European Economic Dogma


    One-Pager No. 26 | February 2012
    Improving Competitiveness by Reducing Living Standards and Increasing Poverty
    Greece’s new EU/IMF bailout package is all about private sector wage cuts and an overhaul of labor rights. In short, it will do absolutely nothing to address the nation’s economic crisis because it is not designed to rescue Greece’s embattled economy. In fact, it will have the unwanted effect of keeping the nation locked in a vicious cycle of debt—and leading, finally, to its exit from the eurozone.  
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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Put an End to the Farce That’s Turned Into a Tragedy


    One-Pager No. 25 | February 2012
    The 2007–08 global financial crisis was the second most disastrous global economic event of the last 80 years. Thanks to severe austerity measures and a fanatical commitment to fiscal consolidation, Europe’s overall economy is now close to stagnation and extremely high levels of unemployment prevail in many countries, especially in the eurozone periphery. In Greece, the situation is completely out of control, with the standard of living rapidly declining to 1960s levels and the number of unemployed having reached one in five. The second bailout plan will do nothing more than buy extra time for the European Union to build firewalls to prevent the spread of Greek contagion—and prepare the ground for Greece’s exit from the euro.  
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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • Direct Job Creation for Turbulent Times in Greece


    Research Project Report, November 30, 2011 | November 2011

    Countries in crisis round the world face the daunting task of dealing with abrupt increases in unemployment and associated deepening poverty. Greece, in the face of her sovereign debt crisis, has been hit the hardest. Remediating employment policies, including workweek reductions and employment subsidies, abound but have failed to answer the call satisfactorily. Direct public-service job creation, instead, enables communities to mitigate risks and vulnerabilities that rise especially in turbulent times by actively transforming their own economic and social environment.

    With underwriting from the Labour Institute of the Greek General Confederation of Workers, the Levy Economics Institute was instrumental in the design and implementation of a social works program of direct job creation throughout Greece. Two-year projects, funded from European Structural Funds, have begun.

    This report traces the economic trends preceding and surrounding the economic crisis in Greece, with particular emphasis on recent labor market trends and emerging gaps in social safety net coverage. While its primary focus is identifying the needs in Greece, broader lessons for direct job creation are highlighted, and could be applied to countries entertaining targeted employment creation as a means to alleviate social strains during crisis periods.

  • Confusion in Euroland


    One-Pager No. 20 | November 2011
    As the crisis in Europe spreads, policymakers trot out one inadequate proposal after another, all failing to address the core problem. The possibility of dissolution, whether complete or partial, is looking less and less farfetched. Alongside political obstacles to reform, there is a widespread failure to understand the nature of this crisis. And without seeing clearly, policymakers will continue to focus on the wrong solutions.

  • Debtors’ Crisis or Creditors’ Crisis?


    Public Policy Brief No. 121, 2011 | November 2011
    Who Pays for the European Sovereign and Subprime Mortgage Losses?

    In the context of the eurozone’s sovereign debt crisis and the US subprime mortgage crisis, Senior Scholar Jan Kregel looks at the question of how we ought to distribute losses between borrowers and lenders in cases of debt resolution. Kregel tackles a prominent approach to this question that is grounded in an analysis of individual action and behavioral characteristics, an approach that tends toward the conclusion that the borrower should be responsible for making creditors whole. The presumption behind this style of analysis is that the borrower—the purportedly deceitful subprime mortgagee or supposedly profligate Greek—is the cause of the loss, and therefore should bear the entire burden.

  • Greece in the Aftermath of the Debt Haircut


    One-Pager No. 17 | November 2011
    More Austerity, a Deeper Slump, and the Surrender of National Sovereignty

    It is a well-recognized fact that the Greek economy has been going from bad to worse since the first bailout in May 2010, and a leaked document relating to the bailout talks ahead of last week’s EU summit openly admitted that the policy of expansionary fiscal consolidation had been a blatant failure. So why did it take the EU leadership almost two years to recognize the need for a significant haircut on Greek debt?

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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

  • An Unblinking Glance at a National Catastrophe and the Potential Dissolution of the Eurozone


    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.

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    Author(s):
    C. J. Polychroniou

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