General Marshall on the Aegean
BERKELEY – It should now be clear to even the most blinkered observer that the Greek economy is in desperate need of help. Unemployment is 16% and rising. Even after a year of excruciating spending cuts, the budget deficit still exceeds 10% of GDP. Residents don’t pay taxes. The system of property registration is a mess. There is little confidence in the banks, and even less in the government and its policies.
Since the economy needs help, here’s a novel idea: provide some. Now is the time for the European Union to come forward with a Marshall Plan for Greece.
Rather than piling more loans onto the country’s already unsustainable debt burden, the EU should offer a multi-year program of foreign aid. The Greek government and donors would decide together the projects that it financed. These could range from building new solar and wind power-generating facilities, in order to turn Greece into a major energy exporter, to updating its ports to help make it a commercial hub for the eastern Mediterranean.