The chapter discusses the increasing international scepticism over the sustainability of the Greek debt during the first half of 2011, despite an agreement by the European Council to improve the repayment terms of Greece’s 110billion Euro loan. The commitments undertaken by the Greek government in the field domestic economic reform (particularly privatisations) were unrealistic. At the EU level, the launch of the Euro Plus Pact, failed to calm nerves in the financial markets.
The chapter discusses the efforts of the European Council to articulate a holistic plan for the resolution of the Eurozone’s problems. The proposals of the German government on a Competitiveness Pact, however, met with opposition within the EU, leading to further delays in its response to the crisis.
The chapter discusses the implementation of the provisions surrounding Greece’s second bailout package. It is argued that the successful completion of the PSI programme offered important breathing space to both Greece and the Eurozone, but did not fully dispel concerns over the sustainability of Greece’s debt. At the European level a network of provisions were now in place as ammunition against the crisis, but their suitability to provide a holistic response to the root causes of the crisis was contested.
The chapter traces the early economic record of PASOK following its electoral victory in 2009. It argues that the new government failed to act quickly and convincingly in order to calm fears over the health of the Greek economy. Instead the government wasted its energies in diverting attention away from the real economic problems facing the country.
The chapter discusses the circumstances under which the Greek government was forced to seek a bailout from the EU and the IMF. It is argued that the economic measures taken by the Greek government did not prove sufficient to restore conference in the international markets, leaving Greece with no alternative but to seek external rescue. It is also argued that the Eurozone itself was unprepared to deal with the severity of the unfolding Greek crisis.
The chapter discusses the political context within which the financial crisis in Greece developed. It is argued that the country’s political leadership became complacent and was unable to either foresee the crisis or articulate a credible plan for its solution. These shortcomings reveal longer-term pathologies of Greek politics rooted in history.
The chapter discusses the spreading of the Eurozone crisis to Italy, leading to the formation of the Monti government in November 2011. The uncertainty over Italy was compounded by fears that the firepower of the EFSF would not suffice in case Italy needed rescue. The launch of the Fiscal Pact and the accelerated entry into force of the European Stability Mechanism were meant to calm fears over the ability of the Eurozone to respond to future iterations of the crisis. Yet, the opting out of the UK from the Fiscal Pact and its apparent intergovernmental nature, created sceptism over the institutional design of economic governance in the Eurozone.
The chapter discusses the intensification of the Eurozone crisis in the aftermath of the Greek election of May 2012, particularly as concerns over the health of the Spanish economy put pressure on the value of the Euro. The ECB warned that the very design of EMU was no longer sustainable, but the building of consensus over the reform of the Eurozone’s architecture proved elusive.
The chapter discusses developments in the Eurozone during the early months of 2012. It is argued that in Greece the Papademos government was fatally undermined by the unwillingness of the coalition partners to endow it with a longer-term mission. Yet, the prospect of a new election halted the domestic reform momentum. At the European level, hopes for the containment of the crisis did not materialise as both Italy and Spain remained under severe pressure from the markets. The prospect of an imminent Lehman Brothers moment for the European economy alarmed the US which pressed Germany for a relaxation of austerity in the Eurozone, but to no avail. The election of Hollande in France raised expectations in Greece that the German policy was about to be reversed. Such expectations, however, proved rather unrealistic.
The chapter discusses the circumstances under which the Greek crisis spread to the European Union. It is argued that, despite the creation of the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) in May 2010, the financial markets remained sceptical over the sustainability of debt in a number of Eurozone countries. This led both Ireland and Portugal to resort to the EU/IMF for a bailout package.