From indecision to fast-track privatisations: can Greece still do it?

Pub. Date
03 August, 2011

This paper explains how the collapse of growth after 2008, in combination with soaring public and external deficits, led to the escalation of Greek debt, while the government's delay in responding to the crisis increased the cost of borrowing and necessitated the bail-out agreement with the IMF and the European Union. One year later, Greece is struggling to harness fiscal deficits amidst a deep recession and rising social tension. Debt sustainability has not yet been ensured and another tranche of loans has been negotiated under new terms and conditions, including higher taxes and extensive privatisations of public companies and property. The paper discusses the main failures of the bail-out agreement and why the lack of growth so far has undermined efforts at stabilisation. As an alternative, the paper suggests that with a modest return to growth, combined with fast-track privatisations, the prospects of debt sustainability improve substantially. In light of the recent debate on the European Stability Mechanism, the paper suggests that the bail-out facility should avoid the debt seniority condition, so that Greece could return to normal market borrowing after 2013 without raising new fears of 'haircuts' on private sector obligations.