Papadimitriou, Dimitri B. Wray, L. Randall Nersisyan, Yeva
Year of Publication:
Public policy brief // Jerome Levy Economics Institute of Bard College 113
Critics argue that the current crisis has exposed the profligacy of the Greek government and its citizens, who are stubbornly fighting proposed social spending cuts and refusing to live within their means. Yet Greece has one of the lowest per capita incomes in the European Union (EU), and its social safety net is modest compared to the rest of Europe. Since implementing its austerity program in January, it has reduced its budget deficit by 40 percent, largely through spending cuts. But slower growth is causing revenues to come in below targets, and fuel-tax increases have contributed to growing inflation. As the larger troubled economies like Spain and Italy also adopt austerity measures, the entire continent could find government revenues collapsing. No rescue plan can address the central problem: that countries with very different economies are yoked to the same currency. Lacking a sovereign currency and unable to devalue their way out of trouble, they are left with few viable options - and voters in Germany and France will soon tire of paying the bill. A more far-reaching solution is needed.