Saturday, June 18, 2011

Understanding Greece

What would happen if we put the Greek situation in context for Americans?  Could we understand why they're in the streets confronting riot police and being tear-gassed on a daily basis?  We might...
Imagine that in its worst year of our recent recession, the United States government had decided to reduce its federal budget deficit by more than $800bn – cutting spending and raising taxes to meet this goal. Imagine that, as a result of these measures, the economy had worsened and unemployment soared to more than 16%; and then the president pledged another $400bn in spending cuts and tax increases this year. What do you think would be the public reaction?

It would probably be similar to what we are seeing in Greece today, including mass demonstrations and riots – because that is what the Greek government has done. The above numbers are simply adjusted for the relative size of the two economies.
Of course all of this suffering by the Greeks is totally unnecessary.  Without control over their own soverign debt, they're at the mercy of the IMF and the ECB.  And this rankles.
The European authorities have more than enough money to finance a recovery programme in Greece, and to bail out their banks if they don't want them to take the inevitable losses on their loans. There is no excuse for this never-ending punishment of the Greek people.

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