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Opinion

Against the Tide: Government deficits and debt – Greek myths

Greece has a tough road ahead of it to restore economic health and credibility. But those who believe it will default, leave the eurozone or abandon the EU are living in a fantasy world.

Greece will suffer,
it will squirm, it will squeal
and it might fail to do what is demanded of it.
But it will not default


Markets are pricing Greek sovereign debt as though the government will default, or will be forced to leave the eurozone, or be expelled from it. But none of those things will happen. Whatever difficulties the Greeks have in getting their huge budget deficit down to acceptable levels, the country won’t leave the euro or be expelled and it won’t default. The Greeks have promised many things since they became full members of the EU in 1981. They vowed to catch up with the rest of Europe but didn’t. They promised to eliminate corruption but it got worse. They claimed that Cyprus’s membership of the EU would not prevent Europe from dealing with Turkey; exactly the opposite has happened. They imposed economic sanctions on Serbia during the Balkan wars of the 1990s but acted as the main conduit for smuggling. And they claimed that they met all the criteria for adopting the euro but did so by massaging the statistics.

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