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Monday, July 06, 2015

Paul Krugman: Ending Greece’s Bleeding

What should Greece do now?:

Ending Greece’s Bleeding, by Paul Krugman, Commentary, NY Times: Europe dodged a bullet on Sunday. Confounding many predictions, Greek voters strongly supported their government’s rejection of creditor demands. ...
A “yes” vote in Greece would have condemned the country to years more of suffering under policies that haven’t worked and in fact, given the arithmetic, can’t work: austerity probably shrinks the economy faster than it reduces debt, so that all the suffering serves no purpose. The landslide victory of the “no” side offers at least a chance for an escape from this trap.
But how can such an escape be managed? Is there any way for Greece to remain in the euro? And is this desirable...?
The most immediate question involves Greek banks. In advance of the referendum, the European Central Bank cut off their access to additional funds... The central bank now faces an awkward choice: if it resumes normal financing it will as much as admit that the previous freeze was political, but if it doesn’t it will effectively force Greece into introducing a new currency.
Specifically, if the money doesn’t start flowing..., Greece will have no choice but to start paying wages and pensions with i.o.u.s, which will de facto be a parallel currency — and which might soon turn into the new drachma.
Suppose, on the other hand, that the central bank does resume normal lending, and the banking crisis eases. That still leaves the question of how to restore economic growth. ...
Imagine, for a moment, that Greece had never adopted the euro... What would basic economic analysis say it should do now? The answer, overwhelmingly, would be that it should devalue ... to encourage exports and to break out of the cycle of deflation. ...
Would Greek exit from the euro work...? Maybe not — but consider the alternatives. Unless Greece receives really major debt relief, and possibly even then, leaving the euro offers the only plausible escape route from its endless economic nightmare.
And let’s be clear: if Greece ends up leaving the euro, it won’t mean that the Greeks are bad Europeans. Greece’s debt problem reflected irresponsible lending as well as irresponsible borrowing, and in any case the Greeks have paid for their government’s sins many times over. If they can’t make a go of Europe’s common currency, it’s because that common currency offers no respite for countries in trouble. The important thing now is to do whatever it takes to end the bleeding.

    Posted by on Monday, July 6, 2015 at 08:57 AM in Economics, International Finance, Politics | Permalink  Comments (177)


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