Pierre-Olivier Gourinchas, Thomas Philippon, Dimitri Vayanos, 05 August 2016

The Greek crisis is one of the worst in history, even in the context of recorded ‘trifecta’ crises – the combination of a sudden stop with output collapse, a sovereign debt crisis, and a lending boom/bust. This column quantifies the role of each of these factors to better understand the crisis and formulate appropriate policy responses. While fiscal consolidation was important in driving the drop in output, it accounted for only for half of that drop. Much of the remainder can be explained by the higher funding costs of the government and private sectors due to the sudden stop. 

Paul De Grauwe, 07 September 2015

Economists were early critics of the design of the Eurozone, though many of their warnings went unheeded. This column discusses some fundamental design flaws, and how they have contributed to recent crises. National booms and busts lead to large external imbalances, and without individual lenders of last resort – national central banks – these cycles lead some members to experience liquidity crises that degenerated into solvency crises. One credible solution to these design failures is the formation of a political union, however member states are unlikely to find this appealing.

Timothy Guinnane, 13 August 2015

Greece’s crisis has invited comparisons to the 1953 London Debt Agreement, which ended a long period of German default on external debt. This column suggests that looking back, the 1953 agreement was unnecessarily generous given that Germany’s rapid growth lightened the debt repayment burden. Unfortunately for Greece, the motivations driving the 1953 agreement are nearly entirely absent today.

Anil Ari, Giancarlo Corsetti, Andria Lysiotou, 10 August 2015

Cyprus has been striving to get back on its feet after a painful bailout in 2013. This column examines the lessons that could have been drawn from the Cypriot experience by Greece in its recent attempt to seal a bailout deal. Specifically, lengthy negotiations – while tending to mitigate the risk of contagion – offer little benefit for debtor countries, and capital controls, once implemented, cannot be easily undone. While they come too late for Greece, these lessons can be important for countries in need of financial assistance in the future.

Sebastian Edwards, 06 August 2015

Many commentators continue to think that Greece’s best bet is Grexit and the drachma, but few are talking about what will happen to contracts. This column uses Franklin D Roosevelt’s devaluation of the US dollar to give an historical perspective on currency devaluations and contract litigation. Roosevelt got away with it because the Supreme Court ruled that prices in old contracts were void and, importantly, because everyone trusted the Supreme Court’s rulings. Grexit would mean litigation in international courts – courts that are likely to side with the plaintiffs.

Charles Wyplosz, 20 July 2015

There is a high likelihood that Grexit will be back on the table. This column argues that Greece can strengthen its negotiating position if it is prepared for exit. Grexit remains a disastrous choice, but it has become the default option for Greece and its creditors. However, preparing for Grexit does not mean leaving the Eurozone. A credible threat point may deliver a better outcome. The purpose of the exercise should be to make Grexit a plausible solution, then not to do it.

Nauro Campos, Fabrizio Coricelli, 17 July 2015

Greece’s reluctance to implement ‘the structural reforms required for debt sustainability’ is a recurrent theme in the debate on the EZ Crisis. This column qualifies this conventional wisdom by reassessing the relationship between Greece and the EU over the past four decades. Although Greece has implemented structural reforms that were substantial enough to bring about a turning point in its relationship with the EU, these reforms have been overly localised, badly sequenced and implemented by short-sighted political elites. The role that structural reforms can play in solving the current crisis should not be overestimated.

Carmen Reinhart, 09 July 2015

Contrary to the intent of the designers of what was to be an irreversible currency union, Greece may well exit the Eurozone. This column argues that default does not inevitably trigger the introduction of a new currency (or the re-activation of an old one). However, if ‘de-euroisation’ is the end game, then a forcible (or compulsory) currency conversion is likely to be a central part of that process, along with more broad-based capital controls. 

Ashoka Mody, 18 June 2015

The Greek crisis continues to take centre stage in policy debates. This column provides insight on the topic using evidence from three recent IMF studies. A suggested programme for Greece includes debt relief (debt equal to 50% of GDP and payable over 40 years), scaling down the banking system, and setting a flat 0.5% of GDP primary surplus over the next three years. 

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. 

Charles Wyplosz, 27 April 2015

It seems that there will be no agreement between Greece and its Eurozone partners. Short of cash, the Greek government will have no choice but to suspend payment of its maturing debts. This column looks at what happens next. In brief, it will be very much up to the ECB to decide.

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.

Michael Burda, Holger Schmieding, 14 February 2015

Greece and Europe as a whole are approaching a moment of truth on Greek debt. Posturing by both sides still gives the impression of a slow-moving train wreck that is only weeks away. This column proposes a ‘New Deal for Greece’ that might just avert the train wreck.

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. 

Paolo Manasse, 27 January 2015

With the large Syriza victory in Greece, thoughts turn to forthcoming debt restructuring talks. This column argues that Greece is unlikely to get a large restructuring. Using a Rubinstein bargain approach to generate a back-of-the-envelope estimate, Greece would get some breathing room but not much. Rather than running a structural primary surplus of the order of 5% of potential output, as envisaged in the IMF projection, Greece could get away with a number close to 3.75%.

Daniel Gros, 29 May 2012

If Greece leaves the Eurozone, many expect that it that will be forced to default. This column argues that need not be the case.

Events

  • 17 - 18 August 2019 / Peking University, Beijing / Chinese University of Hong Kong – Tsinghua University Joint Research Center for Chinese Economy, the Institute for Emerging Market Studies at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, the Guanghua School of Management at Peking University, the Stanford Center on Global Poverty and Development at Stanford University, the School of Economics and Management at Tsinghua University, BREAD, NBER and CEPR
  • 19 - 20 August 2019 / Vienna, Palais Coburg / WU Research Institute for Capital Markets (ISK)
  • 29 - 30 August 2019 / Galatina, Italy /
  • 4 - 5 September 2019 / Roma Eventi, Congress Center, Pontificia Università Gregoriana Piazza della Pilotta, 4, Rome, Italy / European Center of Sustainable Development , CIT University
  • 9 - 14 September 2019 / Guildford, Surrey, UK / The University of Surrey

CEPR Policy Research