Mετάφραση - Απόδοση: TVXS.gr
Perhaps you remember reading about a basket case called Greece. The first domino to fall in the eurozone crisis, it was officially broke and only kept afloat by hundreds of billions in euros from Europe and the IMF. To secure the loans, Athens had to slash spending, lay off or cut pay for thousands of public servants and flog state assets. The result was social uproar, political turmoil and economic collapse. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks took to the streets. The country faced ejection from the euro, what economists drolly dubbed a "Grexit". In short, it was in a deep hole. But if that's your image of Greece then you need to update it: that's so spring/summer 2012.
What's at stake here is a much bigger prize than whether an economy worth 2% of Europe's annual GDP really is on the mend. It's about justifying the shock therapy imposed on distressed members of the eurozone.
If the elites of Europe and Washington can claim to have "healed" Greece, then they can shrug off criticisms of eurozone austerity. And they can also defend an economic model that just three years ago looked as if it had crashed into a wall.
Yet the exhibits the boosters are using do not a case make. Athens shares doubled in the past year?
Cheap money from central banks and investors desperate for returns can play funny tricks. Wages have fallen? Yes, but the business investment that was meant to follow on from that hasn't materialised. The public finances are back in some kind of order? Taking an axe to the welfare state and public services will do that; still, few think Athens could go a day outside the sovereign version of debtor's jail.
Although I was one of those who opposed the austerity imposed in Greece from the outset, I would far rather have been proved wrong. As someone who reported from Athens on a few occasions in 2011, and who has a number of Greek friends, I'd like to see them flourishing.
As it is, the most that can be said for the elusive recovery is that Germany and the rest of Europe have decided to keep Athens in the single currency and to keep supplying it with euros. From that has come a measure of financial stability which has attracted investors. The silent run on the banks, with savers pulling out their money, has stopped; but the financial institutions now function more like deposit vaults than dispensers of credit. And there have been some important cultural and institutional changes, as fund manager Jason Manolopoulos points out. Before the crisis, the government didn't know how many civil servants it employed; now it does. And, should you wish to trade in the middle of a depression, it has got easier and cheaper to set up a business.