Paul Lachine

The Greek Tragedy, Act II

A Greek tragedy is typically composed of three acts, with the first setting the scene and the second containing the plot's climax. For current-day Greece, the imposition of “voluntary” losses on the country’s private creditors represents just the end of the beginning.

CHICAGO – A Greek tragedy is typically composed of three acts. The first sets the scene. It is only with the second that the plot reaches its climax. For current-day Greece, the imposition of “voluntary” losses on the country’s private creditors represents just the end of the beginning. The real tragedy has still to unfold.

On the face of it, the “voluntary” arrangement with creditors might appear to have been a big success. The volume of Greece’s foreign debt has been reduced by more than €100 billion ($130 billion). Greece’s European partners have provided €130 billion in new loans. As a result, Greece has avoided generalized bank failures, and it has been able to continue paying its public employees.

But, despite these trumpeted results, the reality is much harsher. Even with the latest deal, Greece’s debt ratio remains at 120% of last year’s GDP. With a projected drop in GDP of 7% this year and a sustained deficit, the debt ratio would exceed 130% before stabilizing at 120% in 2020.

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