As Eurozone leaders prepare for their weekly telephone conference call to discuss the next steps in their attempt to solve the Greek crisis, one thing is clear; the last month’s worth of high stake phone calls and public posturing has done little to progress the situation in any meaningful way.
At the end of last month the IMF were refusing to budge on their insistence of any additional bailout funds and the Greek parliament announced a referendum on accepting terms for a bailout.
After the frenzied reporting on the referendum and the uncertainty of what a no vote would mean for the Eurozone and Greece’s position in it, then the Greek government accepting terms very similar to the initial terms in the bailout deal, little has changed.
The IMF is still refusing to join any bailout deal for the Greeks and the Greek government continues to battle internally.
With unemployment sitting above 25%, the Greek people have endured five torturous years with no end in sight.
While Eurozone leaders pore over the latest figures coming out of Greece and discuss long-term projections, the reality of life for the vast majority of the Greek people has been reduced to a day-to-day existence with food and shelter becoming the most pressing concerns with an estimated 20% of Greeks unable to fund daily food costs.
With the various austerity measures demanded by previous bailouts, any government safety net has all but vanished for those most in need.
The financial markets are notoriously nervous towards the unknown and everything about the Greek crisis is an unknown.
Never before in the 71-year history of the IMF has an advanced economy missed a payment to them as Greece did at the start of this month.
The legal and financial structures are not there to facilitate a country exiting the Eurozone as it had never been considered before.
Reading through the mountain of opinion pieces that have been written over the past month on the possible outcomes of a Greek exit, they range from financial Armageddon to a new, resurgent Greek economy full of promise and riches.
Added to the financial uncertainty are the always-pressing geopolitical ramifications. The last thing the leaders of the EU want is Greece looking to Russia for assistance, which could potentially alter the political face of Europe and inject massive uncertainty into the region.
The scale of the Greek debt problem, currently standing at €320 billion is staggering.
With over €200 billion of that owed to fellow European countries the repayments on that are not due to begin until 2023 but there is little to suggest that a massive improvement in the Greek economy is on its way.
It’s difficult to say exactly where the blame lies for the situation in Greece.
The Greeks point the finger at the Germans, the IMF, their creditors for extending so much credit to previous governments and the rest of the Eurozone for not appreciating how bad the problem was and reacting too slowly.
On the other side, many fingers are pointed at the Greek attitude to taxes, both paying and collecting, combined with previous governments failure to disclose the depth of their debt and an over eagerness to borrow their way to prosperity.
While the list of culprits, both institutions and individuals, may well be long, there is a clear victim in all of this – the young and vulnerable members of Greek society who now find themselves in a depression that is deeper and looks a lot bleaker than the great depression that the US suffered in the 1930’s.