Since the 1980s, successive Greek governments drew on external borrowing to sponsor budget deficits created by overspending, an oversized public sector, and tax evasion. In the wake of the Great Recession, the Greek economy was in a very vulnerable position, with unsustainable external sovereign debt. In late 2009, the Greek government announced that it had misreported its deficit figures for years, and that the real figures were much higher.
Fear over the stability of Greece’s finances and economy led international lenders to bar the country from lending, which led it to the brink of bankruptcy by early 2010. The European Commission, European Union, and IMF offered a €110 billion bailout in May of that year, but like all of its bailouts, imposed a strict set of conditions, including austerity measures and general economic restructuring. Political instability and reluctance to implement structural reforms, coupled with flaws in the design of the bailout programs, trapped the country into a vicious circle of anemic recovery. Since 2010, Greece has been marked by sky-rocketing unemployment rates, the rise of the far right and violent street protests.
The severe economic, social and political consequences of the crisis led to a mounting popular pressure to document the causes of the crisis and bring to justice those responsible for the meltdown. Since 2010, a number of politicians, bankers, and businessmen have been prosecuted on charges related to corruption, while a number of fact-finding mechanisms were set up to document the ‘truth’ about the causes of the crisis. Yet criminal prosecutions and fact-finding mechanisms have also been politicized, polarizing further public debates about accountability. The project explores the efforts of the country to come to terms with the origins of the crisis.
Population: 10,775,643 (July 2015 est.)
|GDP||$238.2 billion||$337.9 billion||$286 billion|
|Public Debt (% of GDP)||106.8%||126.8%||171.3%|
|October 2009||Government announces ‘real’ deficit figures, much higher than its reported figures, and gets shut out of international lending markets|
|May 2010||Greece receives three-year, 110 billion euro bailout from ‘Troika|
|January 2011||Austerity begins|
|February 2012||Second three-year bailout for 165 billion euros|
|September 2013||Unemployment hits 27.9%|
|June 2015||Greece defaults to IMF; referendum called by Prime Minister Tsipras|