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17 Political games with unpredictable consequences Immediately upon his return from Brussels on 31 October, the Prime Minister announced his decision to the PASOK parliamentary group to hold a referendum over the agreement of 26 October. He did not specify with any precision what the terms of the referendum would be, but he said that all Greeks should decide on whether to accept the decisions of the summit. In the Cabinet meeting held the next day, he indicated what was at stake with this vote: ‘yes or no to the deal, yes or no to Europe, yes or no to the euro

in The European debt crisis

This book surveys ‘thrift’ through its moral, religious, ethical, political, spiritual and philosophical expressions, focusing in on key moments such as the early Puritans and postwar rationing, and key characters such as Benjamin Franklin, Samuel Smiles and Henry Thoreau. The relationships between thrift and frugality, mindfulness, sustainability and alternative consumption practices are explained, and connections made between myriad conceptions of thrift and contemporary concerns for how consumer cultures impact scarce resources, wealth distribution and the Anthropocene. Ultimately, the book returns the reader to an understanding of thrift as it was originally used – to ‘thrive’ – and attempts to re-cast thrift in more collective, economically egalitarian terms, reclaiming it as a genuinely resistant practice. Students, scholars and general readers across all disciplines and interest areas will find much of interest in this book, which provides a multi-disciplinary look at a highly topical concept.

The Greek case

The book examines the European debt crisis with particular reference to the case of Greece. It investigates its spillover from a Greek-specific problem to a Eurozone-wide crisis and chronicles the policy responses to combat it. The central argument of the book is that the principal cause of the Eurozone’s problems was, and still remains, the indecisiveness of European elites to tackle its underlying deficiencies. Leading Eurozone countries have been unwilling to commit to a common long-term plan which could deal convincingly with complex and inter-related problems affecting both its ‘core’ and its ‘periphery’. The guiding principle of policy responses thus far has been the pursuit of permanent fiscal discipline. Yet, fiscal discipline alone would not provide the long-term solutions required; a steady course towards economic governance and political unification is necessary.

Through the detailed tracing of the evolution of the crisis, the book provides valuable insights into the crucial interconnection between Greece’s own economic troubles and the wider European search for macroeconomic stability and sustainable economic growth. As such, the book appeals well beyond those with a narrow academic interest in Greece. This is very much a discussion about the future of the Eurozone and the European Union as a whole.

31 The causes of the crisis were not only economic There was a plethora of divergent views across Greek society regarding the cause of and responsibility for the crisis. Political cleavages and affiliations had a salient and tangible effect upon how blame was ascribed. Common along this spectrum of interpretations was a belief in foreign causes: the EU, the EMU, German loan sharks, foreign and domestic capital were all held responsible. As such, Greece’s redemption lay in the ability to rid itself of the debt or to exit the EMU and return to the drachma. The

in The European debt crisis
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The perils of leaving economics to the experts

One hundred years ago the idea of ‘the economy’ didn’t exist. Now, improving ‘the economy’ has come to be seen as one of the most important tasks facing modern societies. Politics and policymaking are increasingly conducted in the language of economics and economic logic increasingly frames how political problems are defined and addressed. The result is that crucial societal functions are outsourced to economic experts. The econocracy is about how this particular way of thinking about economies and economics has come to dominate many modern societies and its damaging consequences. We have put experts in charge but those experts are not fit for purpose.

A growing movement is arguing that we should redefine the relationship between society and economics. Across the world, students, the economists of the future, are rebelling against their education. From three members of this movement comes a book that tries to open up the black box of economic decision making to public scrutiny. We show how a particular form of economics has come to dominate in universities across the UK and has thus shaped our understanding of the economy. We document the weaknesses of this form of economics and how it has failed to address many important issues such as financial stability, environmental sustainability and inequality; and we set out a vision for how we can bring economic discussion and decision making back into the public sphere to ensure the societies of the future can flourish.

environment and climate change, and inequality. Pluralism in economics is crucial for properly understanding modern societies. Finally, we illustrate the political implications of neoclassical economics. As we demonstrated in Chapter 1, economics has never before had such influence over politics and so it is important to Beyond neoclassical economics  61 understand how it has shaped politics. We argue that pluralism in economics is necessary to broaden political debate and build a political system through which to make complex political decisions democratically. Taken

in The econocracy
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Chapter 1 Econocracy econocracy (e·con·oc·ra·cy) n. A society in which political goals are defined in terms of their effect on the economy, which is believed to be a distinct system with its own logic that requires experts to manage it. Living in an econocracy The existence of econocracy is apparent in everyday language. It is commonplace for the media to talk about ‘the economy’ as an entity in itself, and how something will be ‘good for the economy’ or ‘bad for the economy’. The economy can speed up, slow down, improve, decline, crash or recover, but no

in The econocracy

a technocratic system that marginalises citizens and restricts their ability to engage with economic issues. Econocracy is a system where some have access to economic knowledge and authority and others do not. While improving the quality of experts would undoubtedly be good for society, the wider system will still be incompatible with democracy and with some of our most deeply cherished political beliefs. Therefore, to finish we must return to the wider question of society and politics in order to show how we need more than just better experts; we need a new

in The econocracy
A new beginning?

populist and political antiGreek sentiment across the EMU. Greece was increasingly viewed as nation lacking leadership, direction or resolve, a permanent troublemaker, posing a genuine threat to the stability of the EU. Astoundingly, the Greek political parties remained indifferent to the ­country’s precarious position and the frustration such an attitude caused across the continent. They made no effort to promote an environment conducive Greece.indb 265 3/13/2014 1:56:49 PM 266 Part V: Elections of 6 May and 17 June 2012 to dialogue. Domestically, it was widely

in The European debt crisis

responsibility for provision and a system of incentives, controls and overview mechanisms for enforcing accountability. These two aspects of governing systems show up in political science as, on the one side, political process and policy making, and, on the other side, matters of administration and implementation. In economics the former clearly relates to the organisation of demand and the latter to the organisation of supply. Market organisation clearly provides one kind of governance system, in the sense above, and one that is widely used. However, while the conventional

in Market relations and the competitive process