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Thursday, 6 June 2013

The middle is a hard slog (Δύσκολη η ανηφόρα)

The IMF admits it made mistakes in the way it handled its money-lending to Greece. This news is being reported as having made many people in Athens 'happy'. The measures that it asked to be taken were too harsh, they caused loss of faith int he banking sector, and the country lost 30% of its deposits.

While it's true that the IMF underestimated the impact of austerity on Greece, I prefer to look on the austerity measures as inevitable at any rate: there would have come a time when the political and economic conditions of Greece would have become untenable. Where a Greek would have had great difficulty trying to right the situation, an outsider would have had more success. As in any battle, there are some losers and there are some winners. So I'm not going to reprimand the IMF for what it did - it handled an extremely bad situation which looked irreparable most of the time in some kind of way that it thought would work.

In other less phlegmatic countries, their medicine may have worked. The reaqson why it didn't in Greece, though, has more to do with the fact that the IMF did not know Greece very well. It did not understand our culture. This is what led Greece to become a third-world country overnight, as well as the fact that all their measures were 'applied across the board' and they hit the poorest hardest - it was inevitable that something would give in the end.

As a Greek, I can partake the joy of the gleeful in Athens, and point my finger to the IMF as I say "We told you so!" But I refuse to do that because I know that there is a more positive way to look at what happened to Greece. As one of my followers recently commented:
"Or in another view: how the measures spawned a host of different ways to respond, from setting up food co-oops, to supporting bartering and time banking, making Greece that much more resilient."
If it weren't for the crisis, the crumbling walls you see below...


From my photo collection - March 2008

... would not have been transformed into the profitable little business it is now:


I had seen the transformation of this building taking place since some time last year - I saw the final outcome today on a short walk I took this morning.

The Greek economy has now reached the end of the beginning; the middle is a hard slog though...

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