The chapter discusses the negotiation of Greece’s second Memorandum which accompanied the country’s additional financing, worth 130 billion Euros. It is argued that the three parties supporting the government were excessively preoccupied with partisan self-interest, thus undermining the credibility of the country’s negotiating strategy with its creditors. Mistrust towards Greece was epitomised by German suggestions that the EU should appoint a Commissioner with executive powers over the drafting of the Greek budget.
The chapter provides an assessment of the two Memoranda that accompanied Greece’s bailouts. It is argued that initial assessments over the sustainability of the Greek debt were overly optimistic and based on projections that did not account for the realities of the Greek economy. The same is also true for some of the assumptions of the second Memorandum. The severe austerity paradigm that underpinned the two programmes was based on a defensive reading of the crisis and a high degree of moralism. Fiscal discipline, although necessary, does not, on its own, constitute a credible exit strategy from 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 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 election of 6 May which brought a seismic change to the party system of Greece. It is argued that New Democracy’s underperformance in the election was due to the inconsistencies of its leadership which had initially opposed the Memorandum and subsequently made an embarrassing u term. PASOK too was punished by its traditional power base for not defending the pre-crisis status quo. Anti systemic parties, on the other hand, made significant gains. The electoral impasse that followed necessitated another general election, causing widespread uncertainty over the future of Greece 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 the handling of the crisis over the Spanish banking sector in June 2012.It is argued that this marked an important turning point in the evolution of the Eurozone crisis, as the German policy prescription came under concerted criticism. The decisions of the European Council of 29 June 2012 offered a new paradigm in the management of the crisis, not least because of the decision to allow the recapitalisation of European banks directly through the EFSF and the ESM. This also paved the way for a banking union within the Eurozone.
The chapter discusses the June 2012 election and the increasing fluidity of the Greek political scene. It is argued that the election result made it imperative that pro-European parties should form a new coalition government. Domestically calls for a renegotiation of Greece’s bailout terms grew louder, although the maximalist tone of these demands met with an outright opposition by Germany and the ECB. Amidst intra-coalition disagreements over how best to deal with the intransigence of Greece’s creditors, the PM decided to stick to the deficit reduction commitments previously undertaken by the Greek government.
The chapter discusses the attempts of the Greek government to improve the country’s profile amongst its partners as speculation grew that Greece’s might be pushed out of the Eurozone as a means of restoring confidence in the Euro and applying pressure on Spain and Italy to pursue further reforms. Owing to a number of concessions by the Greek government in the Eurogroup meeting of October 2012, the climate towards Greece began to change for the better. Yet disagreements between the EU and the IMF over the sustainability of the Greek debt, raised fears that the latter may opt out of the Greek programme. These differences were resolved in a compromise stuck at the Eurogroup meeting of November 2012, which allowed for the partial restoration of confidence in the Greek economy.
The chapter reviews the two most comprehensive assessments of the Greek bailout programmes today. The first one, published by the Bruegel group maintains that the programmes suffered by inconsistencies at the European level and inadequate implementation by the Greek authorities. It is also argued that policy mix should have paid greater attention to the side-effects of excessive austerity and the issue of debt sustainability. The IMF report also acknowledges problems with the policy mix and the underlying assumptions that underpinned it.