Paolo Manasse, 12 June 2015

Greece’s problem came from the bursting of a debt-financed growth bubble inflated with the help of EZ membership. This column argues that the inevitable adjustment was more painful than necessary. The fiscal consolidation was too tight and too front-loaded, and, importantly, structural reform wasn’t properly sequenced. By concentrating on labour market rather than product market reforms, the sharp wage fall could not be paralleled by a similar reduction in prices, and now soaring inequality is undermining support for needed reforms. 

Jeremy Bulow, Kenneth Rogoff, 10 June 2015

The conventional wisdom in Greece is that the nation has suffered years of excessive, Troika-imposed austerity in a short-sighted effort to extract maximum repayment. This column argues that, in fact, Greece was a net receiver of Troika funds from 2010 to mid-2014, with a modest reverse flow since Greece stalled on its reforms. Both sides have negotiated in their self interest – influenced by bargaining threat points that have had everything to do with the direct costs of default and little to do with Greece’s concern about its reputation for making repayments.

Elias Papaioannou, Richard Portes, Lucrezia Reichlin, 19 June 2015

Greece seems to be on the verge of an agreement that would release much needed funds. This column argues that an agreement on completion of the second programme will not restore confidence, nor will it resolve the deep economic, financial and political uncertainties that confront Greece today. The focus should swiftly shift to the design of an efficient, realistic and truly reforming new programme.

Biagio Bossone, Marco Cattaneo, 26 May 2015

Introducing a currency in parallel to the euro could help Greece repay its external debt and resume economic activity. This second column in a two-part series evaluates the different options and their effects on aggregate demand and fiscal sustainability. The authors propose a tax credit certificates programme, which they argue could generate new spending capacity and avoid the adoption of new austerity measures.

Biagio Bossone, Marco Cattaneo, 25 May 2015

To prevent it from defaulting on its debt, the Greek government might need to introduce a new domestic currency, in parallel to the euro. This column, the first in a two-part series, compares the current proposals for a parallel currency and discusses how such a policy instrument could promote economic recovery.

Carlos Cantú, KeyYong Park, Aaron Tornell, 12 April 2015

The wisdom of structural reform during a crisis is a subject of heated debate. This column compares Greece’s experience to that of Mexico during the debt crisis of the 1980s. Mexico did not receive a haircut until seven years into the crisis – after structural reform was already underway. In Mexico that reform was the outcome of an internal conversation – not a diktat from the outside – and it happened during the height of the crisis.

Andrés Rodríguez-Pose, Yannis Psycharis, Vassilis Tselios, 03 March 2015

Electoral results and the geographical allocation of public investment in Greece have been intimately related. This column describes how incumbent Greek governments between 1975 and 2009 tended to reward those constituencies returning them to office. Increases in both the absolute and relative electoral returns for the party in government in a given Greek region were traditionally repaid with a greater level of per capita investment in that region. Single-member constituencies were the greatest beneficiaries of this type of pork-barrel politics.

Lars Feld, Christoph Schmidt, Isabel Schnabel, Benjamin Weigert, Volker Wieland, 20 February 2015

Claims that ‘austerity has failed’ are popular, especially in the Anglo-Saxon world. This column argues that this narrative is factually wrong and ignores the reasons underlying the Greek crisis. The worst move for Greece would be to return to its old ways. Greece needs to realise that things could actually become much worse than they are now, particularly if membership in the Eurozone cannot be assured. Instead of looking back, Greece needs to continue building a functioning state and a functioning market economy.

Thomas Philippon, 10 February 2015

Greece has a problem with debt that must be addressed on way or the other. This column proposes a way to estimate a ‘fair’ level of fiscal consolidation in Greece. The author’s central argument is that contagion risk made the Greek crisis worse by preventing early debt restructuring. If restructuring took place in 2010 instead of 2012, Greece’s debt to GDP ratio would have been 30 percentage points lower today. To bring Greece’s debt under 120% of GDP, it would be fair for Greece to run a 3% primary surplus over the next decade or two. This is less than the current target of 4.5% but still requires a significant effort.

Thorsten Beck, 02 February 2015

The Greek-Troika conflict is roiling markets, boardrooms and cabinet offices around the world.  Crises are best solved by recognising losses, allocating them and moving on, so the biggest risk, this column argues, is that a compromise kicks the can further down the road.  As the can rolls on, the scenery becomes politically and socially less attractive – fuelling the rise of political animosities, nationalism, and fringe parties.  Greece is a special case but indicative of the core problem – deficient EZ governance structures that mean societies are stuck with increasing socioeconomic exclusion and political despair. The crisis will continue until the necessary further deepening of EZ institutional structures is completed. 

Athanasios Tagkalakis, 02 December 2014

Greece is currently implementing a fiscal adjustment programme aimed at tackling tax evasion. This column discusses the impact of recent tax administration reforms on tax compliance in Greece. The intensification of audits, enforcement of penalties, and efficient collection of past debts can induce tax compliance and raise the collected revenue. These findings could contribute to the successful conclusion of the fiscal consolidation programme.

Peter Allen, Barry Eichengreen, Gary Evans, 28 February 2014

Greece needs debt reduction. This column argues that instead of offering another lengthening of maturities and reduction in interest rates, Eurozone leaders should seize the occasion and implement debt-for-equity swaps that would encourage foreign investment, speed privatisation and jumpstart the Greek economy.

Francesco Pappadà, Yanos Zylberberg, 03 February 2014

Greece’s austerity package included an unprecedented increase in the VAT rate, but the resulting increase in revenue was much lower than expected. This column links this disappointing result to the ‘transparency response’ of firms to higher tax rates. In countries like Greece with poor tax monitoring, firms face a tradeoff when deciding whether to declare their activity. Transparency is a necessary condition for accessing external finance, but it also means having to pay tax. Improving credit conditions for small and medium-size Greek firms might shift this tradeoff in favour of transparency.

Paolo Manasse, 31 January 2014

Sales of state-owned assets have been proposed as a way for highly-indebted countries to ease the pain of fiscal consolidation. This column argues that, despite the potential merits of privatisation in terms of long-run efficiency, in practice it is unlikely to improve short-run fiscal solvency. Since governments rarely alienate control rights, the efficiency gains from privatisations are often small. Moreover, financial markets may not fully reflect these gains – particularly during a financial crisis. The implication is that the Troika policy of linking financial assistance to privatisations is inappropriate and self-defeating.

Charles Wyplosz, 23 September 2013

Greece is in dire straits; it will need more debt relief. This column argues that Greece is suffering because northern EZ countries kicked the can down the road by forcing crisis countries to borrow rather than restructure their debts early on. It is time for the ‘generous’ lenders to face the consequences of their short-sightedness. The bad news that Chancellor Merkel ought to break now to her people is that official debt restructuring is inevitable.

Aerdt Houben, Jan Kakes, 30 July 2013

Financial cycles have increasingly diverged across members of the Eurozone. National macroprudential tools are thus key to managing financial imbalances and protecting Europe’s economic integration. This column discusses research suggesting that reasonable macroprudential policies by the GIIPS countries in the euro’s first decade would have helped avoid much pain in Italy, Portugal and Spain. Greece’s public debt problems were far too large and its banks could not have been shielded with macroprudential policies.

Giovanni D'Alessio, Romina Gambacorta, Giuseppe Ilardi, 24 May 2013

The ECB’s recent survey on household finances and consumption threw up some unexpected results – counter-intuitively, the average German household has less wealth than the average Mediterranean household. In line with a recent VoxEU.org contribution from De Grauwe and Ji, this article analyses the principal differences in wealth and income between the main Eurozone countries.

Thomas Grennes, Andris Strazds, 28 February 2013

Can European countries share their debts? This column argues that higher government indebtedness means larger household net financial assets. Thus, any pooling of European legacy debt would be considered unacceptable by countries with less government debt unless it also involved the pooling of households’ financial assets. Yet, this would be legally and technically insurmountable. The EU must face forced Ricardian equivalence: the countries with the largest legacy-debt burdens must reduce them by increasing the tax burden or, alternatively, reduce their budget expenditure.

Jens Nordvig, 17 December 2012

Fears of an imminent Greek exit from the Eurozone have subsided, for now. This column attempts to measure the probability of a Greek exit, finding that the changing fortunes of Greek political parties, and the possibility of an early election, mean that the risk of a Greek exit may actually be quite high. It suggests that, despite investors' efforts to measure political risk, a persistent sense of unease about the Eurozone’s future is set to continue into 2013 and that Eurozone financial assets will thus continue to embed significant risk premiums in the coming years.

Vicky Pryce, 07 December 2012

Vicky Pryce talks to Romesh Vaitilingam about her book, "Greekonomics: The euro crisis and why politicians don’t get it". They discuss the flaws in the original conception of the single currency, Greece’s dire recent economic experiences and how Greek and European policymakers have responded to the crisis. The interview was recorded at the Bristol Festival of Economics in late November 2012.

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