Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Painful choices still hang over Greece

by Martin Wolf

Financial Times

June 7, 2016

Is there a path towards making Greece a successful self-financing economy within the eurozone? What would be required to put it on that path? These are the big questions about the economic plight of Greece and its ghastly relations with its partners. Neither has much to do with what is going on, which is “extend and pretend”: the eurozone pretends Greece is not in default; Greece pretends it will reform; and both play for time. What would an honest reckoning look like?

A starting point must be with the latest debt sustainability analysis from the International Monetary Fund. One can sum this up simply: we would like to apologise for the mess we have made.

The fund admits that the programme agreed in 2010 was wildly unrealistic. Moreover, even the debt relief imposed in 2011-12 was insufficient, unless one believed in the plausibility of the “very ambitious targets for growth, the fiscal surplus, and privatisation” proposed by the Greek government, with support of its eurozone partners.

Subsequent events, however, demonstrate that these targets were indeed unachievable. Finally: “In all key policy areas — fiscal, financial sector stability, labour, product and service markets — the authorities’ current policy plans fall short of what would be required to achieve their ambitious fiscal and growth targets.”


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