Dr Jan Fidrmuc, Department of Economics and Finance and Centre for Economic Development and Institutions, Brunel University
Anti-austerity protestors take to the streets in central Athens earlier this year. Getty Images
Following the rejection of EU imposed austerity measures by the overwhelming majority of Greek voters, eurozone finance ministers have once again come to Brussels to try and save the single currency in what is being described as a ‘crucial 48 hours’.
Two thirds of the Greek electorate voted for parties opposed to the austerity measures required by the European Commission, ECB and IMF as a precondition of a further bailout; despite the outgoing government pledging to adhere to these measures.
Without compromise either by the Greeks accepting austerity measures or the EU offering concessions on the proposed package, another election is inevitable. In this case the bailout package will be suspended, Greece will default on its debt and an exit from the eurozone may follow. None of this will offer much respite for the struggling Greek economy.
In the past the EU offered concessions to voters having rejected EU treaties, however this time there is little political will, and not only in Germany, to offer sweeteners to the Greeks to help them swallow the bitter pill of fiscal adjustment.
Why then are the Greeks fighting against the support from the EU? And should the rest of the EU let them resist or should they be offered a sweeter deal after all? Read more
Simon J. Evenett, Professor of International Trade and Economic Development and Academic Director of MBA programmes, University of St. Gallen, Switzerland
Christine Lagarde, IMF managing director
On the face of it, the recently agreed expansion of the IMF’s lending capacity suggests that the IMF is back in business. Since the global economic crisis began no UN or other global public agency has had their resources expanded by governments as much as the IMF. The IMF has also been at the centre of several crisis-era surveillance and reporting initiatives. So is the IMF now even better placed to better contribute to the recovery of the global economy? Maybe not. Read more
By Eswar Prasad and Karim Foda
The world economy is showing scattered signs of vigor but remains on life support, mostly provided by accommodative central banks. Concerns about spillover from a worsening of the European debt crisis and slowing growth in key emerging markets are putting a damper on consumer and business confidence. Equity markets are pulling back from a robust performance in the first quarter of this year as the sobering reality of a continued anemic recovery weakens investors’ optimism.
There are some positive signs in the latest update of the Brookings Institution-FT Tracking Indices for the Global Economic Recovery (TIGER), but also much to worry about as the world economy continues to meander with no clear sense of direction. Read more
By Olafur Arnarson, Michael Hudson and Gunnar Tomasson
Today, from Greece to Iceland, governments are acting as enforcers or even as collection agents on behalf of the financial sector — and Iceland stands as a dress rehearsal for this power grab.
The problem of bank loans gone bad has thrown into question just what should be a “fair value” for these debt obligations. The answer will depend largely on the degree to which governments back the claims of creditors. The legal definition of how much can be squeezed out is becoming a political issue pulling national governments, the IMF, ECB and financial agencies into a conflict, pitting banks, vulture funds and debt-strapped populations against each other. Read more
By Thomas I. Palley
The eurozone‘s public finance crisis continues to fester, reflecting both political and intellectual failure. The intellectual failure is that the crisis has been interpreted exclusively as a debt crisis when it is also a central bank design crisis resulting from the euro’s flawed architecture. The flaw is the inability of eurozone governments to harness the central bank’s power to assist government finances. This systemic weakness explains why US and UK government bonds are weathering the storm, whereas Spain confronts default rumours despite having roughly similar debt and deficit profiles. Read more