Monday, March 16, 2015

The Greek Debt Crisis’ Great Divide

by Nikos Konstandaras

New York Times

March 16, 2015

When CNBC conducted an Internet poll asking which Oscar-nominated song best described the Greek crisis, 51 percent picked “I’m Not Gonna Miss You.” In Greece, we have grown accustomed to tension with our partners in the European Union. But when even a flippant American poll shows impatience with our plight, the magnitude of our isolation is frightening. A Greek television station reported the poll, and my son, who is 16, muttered, “They hate us even when they don’t know us.”

Fatigue with the Greek crisis has taken hold at a crucial time. With state funds expected to run out before the end of the month, the new government needs to persuade its creditors that it will carry out reforms and earn the release of funds tied to a 240-billion-euro bailout agreement it had promised to scrap. The government is trapped between creditors who don’t trust it and hard-line Syriza members who insist on rolling back earlier measures — even at the cost of Greece’s exiting the eurozone, which most Greeks want to remain part of.

When voters elected Syriza on Jan. 25, they were expressing hope for the impossible mission that it promised: loosening austerity and slashing the country’s debt while maintaining the funding from Europe that would allow Greece to stay in the eurozone. Many observers, including prominent economists, hoped to see an alternative to the austerity-for-reform model, which they believe to be a failure. But the past few weeks have been marked by increasing economic instability, with revenues collapsing while a viable deal between Greece and its partners remains elusive.


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