Has Greek government been own worst enemy during negotiations? Sam Bowman argues NO in City AM

Deputy Director of the Adam Smith Institute Sam Bowman argues that Greece has been treated unfairly during debt negotiations in the City AM Debate Forum.

Greece has been badly mistreated by the rest of the EU. The structural reforms demanded by the Troika are desirable, though difficult in the current economic climate, but Greece has already cut state spending by 20 per cent and cut state employment by 30 per cent.

Greece has been running a primary surplus since 2013, and most of the €240bn in bailout money lent to the country was intended to service existing debt. Irresponsible borrowers, which Greece undoubtedly was, need irresponsible lenders too. At the onset of the crisis, European banks owned nearly $54bn of Greek government debt, and a Greek default would have damaged many of them. These were bailouts for Europe’s banks, not just for Greece.

The Eurozone’s refusal to restructure Greece’s debt, perhaps indexing it to nominal GDP as Greece’s finance minister has suggested, is therefore highly unreasonable. Greece has been at fault, but so have many other players in this sorry saga.

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