Monday, December 19, 2016

The drawn-out drama of Greek debt has no end in sight

by Tony Barber

Financial Times

December 19, 2016

The geopolitical, economic and moral themes of the Greek debt crisis are engrossing. They make it one of the great international dramas of the early 21st century. But 2016 was the year when much of the audience lost interest and turned its attention elsewhere.

Britain’s vote to leave the EU, Matteo Renzi’s defeat in Italy’s constitutional reforms referendum and Donald Trump’s US presidential election victory were compelling theatrical spectacles. The repercussions will be profound for the UK, Europe and the post-1945 US-led liberal world order.

By contrast, spectators of the Greek drama feel cheated. It is a play that seems stuck in its third or fourth act, still a long way from either a happy or unhappy ending and not as likely to shake the world as seemed possible in 2015.

For the drama’s failure to reach a denouement, blame the scriptwriters. These include Greece’s political and administrative classes, the nation’s eurozone partners and the International Monetary Fund. Year after year, each contributes a farrago of actors’ lines and stage directions. Yet the curtain never falls and the play drags interminably on.


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